Poetry Ireland announces Poet Laureates for Bailieborough and Cootehill in Co Cavan as part of Poetry Town initiative

PRESS RELEASE Tuesday, 17th August 2021

May be an image of 16 people



Appointed poets to write poems honouring and reflecting Bailieborough and Cootehill and its people


Poetry Ireland has today (17.08.21) announced the names of the Poet Laureates selected as part of the Poetry Town initiative, which will see more than a hundred poetry-related activities take place in 20 towns across the island of Ireland between 10th and 18th September 2021.


Bailieborough and Cootehill in Co Cavan are among the Poetry Towns, and Poetry Ireland, in conjunction with Cavan County Council Arts Office, has appointed Mairéad Donnellan as the Poet Laureate for Bailieborough, and Noel Monahan as the Poet Laureate for Cootehill.


Mairéad Donnellan, whose first collection of poetry will be published later this year, has a strong connection to Bailieborough through her family (further information below).


Noel Monahan, a poet and playwright, has had many connections with Cootehill over the years (further information below).


All Poet Laureates announced today are either from the respective local area or have strong connections with it, and have been commissioned to write a poem honouring and reflecting their Poetry Town and its people.


As part of the week-long Poetry Town celebrations next month, each Poet Laureate will reveal and present their poem to the people of their Poetry Town at a series of flagship online events, one of which will be hosted in each town. Each event will also feature contributions from other local poets, artists and musicians (further details about these events is available on the Poetry Town website).


Further activities will include a series of poetry events involving local poets; poetry workshops; public poetry displays, including ‘Poetry Underfoot’; and a range of physical activities called ‘Poems that Move You’, which will vary from town to town.  Local businesses, including cafés and chemists, will also be participating in the activities to celebrate their towns by distributing ‘pocket poems’ to customers. The full programme of activities for each town will be made available on the Poetry Town website during the last week of August.


Commenting, Director of Poetry Ireland, Niamh O’Donnell said: “We are delighted we could secure such a strong cohort of Poet Laureates for this exciting new poetry initiative, which is characterised by collaboration and communal experiences.


“The aim of Poetry Town is to celebrate the vitality and strength of our towns and communities, and to shine a light on the wealth of creativity and talent that can be found in them. The diversity of this talent is reflected in the selection of Laureates, which includes both well-known visionary poets and new powerful voices.”


Mairéad Donnellan said: “The invitation to be Poet Laureate for Bailieborough for the Poetry Town project prompts me to reflect on its origin, those who founded it and all who have shaped it into what it is today.


“It reinforces my sense of place in this town and its hinterland where my father was reared and where I holidayed as a child. My family keep me firmly rooted here as do all who have welcomed me amongst them. It is a privilege to write a poem for Bailieborough. It is written in gratitude for its people, past, present and those yet to settle here.”


Noel Monahan added: “I’m thrilled to hear of my appointment to Cootehill for Poetry Town 2021. I have had many literary associations with the town over the years. One of my first literary awards was winning The Cootehill Arts Festival Poetry Award, adjudicated by Dermot Healy. Since then, I have given several readings at Cootehill Arts Festival. I very much look forward to the task.”


Poetry Town is an initiative of Poetry Ireland in partnership with Local Authority Arts Offices. It is made possible with funding from the Arts Council of Ireland’s Open Call funding, and is also supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. 


For further information, visit the Poetry Town website:



About Mairéad Donnellan

Mairéad Donnellan’s poetry has appeared in various publications including Crannóg, The Moth, Poetry Ireland Review, Hennessy New Irish Writing and has been widely anthologised. She has been shortlisted in national poetry competitions including Cúirt  New Writing Prize and Doire Press Chapbook Competition. Her poetry has been broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1.


She was winner of the Francis Ledwidge Poetry Award in 2013. In 2016, she won the Trócaire Poetry Ireland Poetry Competition. In 2018, she was awarded the Tyrone Guthrie bursary by Cavan Arts Office. She was selected for Poetry Ireland Introductions series in 2019.

Her first collection will be published by Arlen House in 2021.


About Noel Monahan

Noel Monahan has published seven collections of poetry with Salmon Poetry. An eight collection, Celui Qui Porte Un Veau, a selection of French translations of his work was published in France by Alidades, in 2014. A selection of Italian translations of his poetry was published in Milan by Guanda in November 2015: Tra Una Vita E L’Altra.


His poetry was prescribed text for the Leaving Certificate English, 2011- 2012. His play: ‘Broken Cups’ won the RTE P.J. O’Connor award in 2001 and Chalk Dust, a long poem of his, was adapted for stage and directed by Padraic McIntyre (Ramor Theatre, 2019). During the Covid-19 lockdown, Noel had to reinvent his poetry readings and he produced a selection of Short Films: ‘Isolation & Creativity’, ‘Still Life’, ‘Tolle Lege’ and A Poetry Day Ireland Reading for Cavan Library (2021).


About Poetry Ireland

Poetry Ireland connects poetry and people, and is committed to achieving excellence in the reading, writing and performance of poetry throughout the island of Ireland. The non-profit organisation, established in 1978, combines its role as a promoter and supporter of poetry with advocacy for poets, advancing the art form through solid development goals.


It works to make poetry more accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds across the island of Ireland, through live events, education and publications. Poetry Ireland is currently working with its partner, The Irish Heritage Trust, on a long-held ambition to establish the Poetry Ireland Centre, dedicated to celebrating, supporting and promoting poetry and poets.





17 Aug 2021


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