How Ireland Supports Creativity

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Every May for a number of year I have lead a small group of travelers to explore the music, myths, magic and mystery of the place, the people and the culture.

I am always struck for the support for the arts in Ireland and just discovered a poetry walking tour in Galway City that honors a couple of dozen prominent Irish poets.

One of my favorite stories about the support for creativity in Ireland comes from an experience I had in the village of Doolin, County Clare which has been the epicenter for Celtic music revival in Ireland. Some of the best musicians in the country live there and play in the pubs.

One evening I went up to McGann’s pub to listen in. At one point a young boy about ten years old joined the group with his tin whistle. I learned that his parents brought him now and then, a two hour drive from their home, to encourage his desire to make music.

As he began to play the entire pub went quiet and as he continued one of the experienced musicians picked up his own tin whistle to support the lad through the places he couldn’t quite carry the notes on his own. At the end of the song the entire pub erupted into wild applause.

What if we all got that kind of support for our creative urges? What difference would it make? In Ireland with this kind of encouragement people come together in pubs all over the country to make music. It is a vibrant part of the culture. Three years after first hearing the boy with the tin whistle I was back in Doolin in a different pub and the same boy stepped up to play with a great deal more skill than before.

It’s not just music that is supported. In Ireland up until recently writers didn’t pay income tax and still artists don’t pay tax on what they make on the sale of their work. This honoring of the writers and poets has produced per capita more Nobel prize winning writers than any other country. With a population of 4 million, Ireland claims four Nobel laureates in literature along with a number of other writers of great stature.

How can we find ways to support our children, our grandchildren and ourselves in this vital part of being human. How can we honor the creative gifts that each of us hold in our own way and the world so deeply needs now.

What if it was as simple as a willingness to open up and play with however the creative process calls to us. Can we honor these creative yearnings and find community that supports our explorations. What would this look like for you? How would it feel?

Can you sense of joy fluttering in your heart at your willingness to play and create for no reason and see where the process leads. That will help you unplug from the pressure of feeling like you have to produce something. Rather being creative feeds our spirit and inspiration and support can show up for us in wonderful ways.

Poetry: The Unsayable Said

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I was accomplished at writing essays before I started to write poems. As I ventured into writing in a new form it took me a while to figure out that poems were more than very short essays. I had to learn the rules of punctuation and line breaks and the music the words could make. It wasn't until I read poet Donald Hall's essay on writing poetry titled Poetry: The Unsayable Said that I really got the power of poetry. His advice was "if you can say it any other way, don't write poetry."

As my own experience of writing poetry deepened I began to grasp that poetry was the numinous expressing itself through words. More than in any other written form the poet has to surrender to what wants wants to come through. Poetry gives voice to the ineffable, that which is difficult to describe. Poems capture the feeling or soul of the experience. Once I really understood that my poems got a lot better.

Here's a poem of mine I wanted to share to celebrate the coming of spring. It was inspired by an awareness that kept tugging at my imagination. I then had to let myself be surprised by where the spirit of the poem wanted to take me. This is part of the magic and joy of writing poetry.


Loons drift across the bay
slowly dressing for summer, turning
winter’s drab gray into the elegant
black and white of attraction.

Oaks unfurl their green brilliance
and the melodies of warblers
crisscross the branches
coloring the forest with song.

Still, it is only when the swallows
suddenly appear, looping wildly in a clear sky,
that spring finally opens within me,
as if they have carried the season north.

Suzanne Murray