Simply entitled ‘Strabane’, Maureen Boyle’s poem is blanketed in nostalgia and love as it takes the listener on an journey through Strabane’s sometimes troubled past into its present day warmth.
Specially commissioned for a Strabane-themed episode of ‘Conversations On A Bench’, the elegiac poem is 13 verses in length, and was written across seven A4 pages. It is 15-to-20 minutes long when recited in full.
Though Maureen (57) grew up in Sion Mills, her neighbouring town of Strabane has always ignited her imagination.
Not only was Strabane the home town of her late father, Patrick, but her family moved to the town during her university years and her mother, Betty still lives on the Urney Road. As such, in ‘Strabane’ everything from Maureen’s childhood memories – including the congested lungs of the mill workers to the smoky smell of her father’s bomb damage sale jackets in the family wardrobe – are recalled.
“This programme was one of those lovely opportunities that poetry brings – a chance to write something about the town and my memories of growing up there and in Sion,” Maureen said.
“Sadly, for some, Strabane has a bad reputation, because of its unemployment, its flooding river and the Troubles.
“Though beautifully-set in the mountains, it has endured a difficult history. But Strabane has always been a warm place that compensates for its difficulties through the kindness and wit of its people, and the town should be absolutely celebrated.”
Saturday’s episode of ‘Conversations On A Bench’ will see producer, Anna Scott-Brown talking to many well-known faces about Strabane while sitting on a bench at Abercorn Square, with Maureen Boyle’s recital of ‘Strabane’ interwoven throughout the episode.
While the poem ‘Strabane’ is yet-to-be published physically, Maureen says a limited edition copy of the work may be available soon, so watch this space.
Pick up a copy of ‘The Work of a Winter’ from the Alley Theatre, Strabane; Little Acorns, Derry; or No Alibis Bookshop, Belfast to enjoy Maureen’s first collection of poetry in the meantime.