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Last updated:
October 2008

Aine MacAodha


 

Aine MacAodha    
 
(B.1963)  
Hills of Ireland photographed by Aine MacAodha

Aine MacAodha is the pen-name of Ann Keys. She comes from Tyrone County in northern Ireland. Aine is a writer of many gifts and interests, including photography, and the art of crystal healing. She is the mother of three grown children.

Aine was born in 1963 the small town of Omagh.  She started writing poetry early in her childhood, finding something compelling between the covers of her mother’s collection of old ballad books. Besides her love of writing poetry, Aine is a founding member of Omagh’s writing group, "The Busheaneys". She also belongs to the Irish Haiku Society, and was awarded The Tyrone Guthrie bursary from Omagh District council.

Aine is a keen photographer with an eye for composition. She sees beauty in the world around her and filters it through her words and camera lens. When younger, Aine watched her father take pictures and develop his work and she fell into an easy camaraderie with the camera, especially delighting in framing the beautiful landscapes of Ireland that were off the beaten track. She is drawn to mountain ranges, old ruins, churches, castles, Celtic burial sites and rural scenery. The idea of perspective fascinates her quick mind, and she is equally adept at summoning these images in her poetry.

  Photographed by Aine MacAodha
WB Yeats graveyard
 
Creevykeel pre-historic grave, Sligo

Aine has been published widely in magazines and anthologies in Ireland, UK and the USA.  Her work can be found in : New Belfast Arts Sculpture, Poetry Now, Citizen 32, Oasis, The Herald, Forward press anthology, Argotist Online, Peterloo Poets, Whispers from the Hedgerows, Faces of the Goddess,
Arabesque Review, Luciole Press, Malibu Arts Review, Shamrock Haiku Journal, Haiku Ireland, Red Pulp Underground, Edit Red and ABC Tales, among others.

 

Aine’s work is often an interesting meld of history and the present, her hopes and aspirations, the interweaving of joy and the turmoil of life that produces poetry flavored by the charm of the Emerald Isles. She creates a temporal illusion, taking us back into the past for a fleeting instance, in the land of myths and legends, only to bring us back to the present in phrases that connect ancient traditions with different religious beliefs and warring ideologies.

Ms. MacAodha’s poetry abounds with the vernacular of her native land, flavoring it with a clear authenticity and lyricism.

 

Old Societies

Rain takes on a silver sheen
thundering past the window
encouraging the worm to rise.

Already the blackbird furrows
with his yellow beak, knowing
what lies beneath.
I think of pre-historic societies
leaving their stamps on the land, in
Stone circles, Megalithic tombs,
Standing stones and raths,

I imagine they were signposts
pointing the safest way ahead
to the nearest village, gathering
points perhaps.

Their own creations dotted
about the landscape, I feel a
certain kinship with them, them
who came before.

The worm, I wonder what it’s
aura holds, what has it come upon
whilst pushing clay,
slipping into worlds unseen.

I wish the rain to cease
the blackbird to scarper
and the worm to live another day.

(The Sperrin mountains)

 

Ms. MacAodha is closely attuned to the poetic
heritage of her land and people. Her poems are
rich with imagery of Celtic traditions. Aine’s
affection and respect for the land comes through
in her writing.

 

 

Mass Rocks Among The Sperrins

The Sperrins rise as birds of prey
Span silk wings of green
Unroll slate lakes that house past secrets,
Intimate altars and hedge schools.
Far from the penal laws of the day.

Stonewalls used as seating.
A Mass Rock and simple cross
Emit stamina and stance as dis-eased peoples
Gathered for forbidden meetings.

In the desertedness of distance
Driven beneath society
Masked priests attended the field altar
Clutching life in their hands
Again resistant.



 

Whisperings
 
Our ancient bloodlines
are calling to us
interrogating us
with wisps of insight.
 
They are turning
in their boggy graves
surfaced over time.
 
They rise out from
small lakes hidden
on the land.
 
Through dreams at
night and ponderings
of the daylight,
 
Among glens and forests,
and from branches of the
Thorn and Elder.
 
From the anglers rod
cast on rivers. On Salmon
longing for the open seas.
 
In tales, myths and poetry
their marks will not fade
like snapshots in the sun.
 
Our lands are piled
high and low deep and wide
with blue prints of a time, when
spoken signals were the headlines.
 
Our ancestors are turning
in their graves.

For inspiration, Aine draws upon the rich history and mystical landscapes of her native country. She speaks to her readers in the language of shared traditions of arts and culture. She finds poetry in the blanket bogs and various landscapes in Ireland. This is also present in her photography. Her poems reflect the topography of Ireland, speaking of its natural beauty and characteristics, but also of the marks mankind has made, such as many of the pre-historic sites found in County Tyrone, and the more contemporaneous strife that has been evocative of her life growing up in the North of Ireland. Some of Ms. MacAodha’s poems show her deep connection with her people and land:

I think of the ‘starvation’ that swallowed
my ancestors, an image that stings the air still.
Spirits roam these hills covered in mass graves
or deep in lanes were they fell.”

Where The Three Rivers Meet

 

Her first collection of poetry, “Where The Three Rivers Meet” has been well received by her readers. Editor Karen Bowles of “Luciole Press” says of her:

“Aine MacAodha is a poet whose words bring forth her inner light and fire. She is “The Fire of the Gaels,” for Aine herself is an Epic Hero, an ‘every woman’ who has lived through tumultuous times, troubles, and highs. Aine is a voice of both history and present. Her voice and memories serve as needed reminders of a time in Ireland that should not be forgotten, whilst also presenting a link to the history of Ireland and the future. As a poet, she reveals the trinity of the ‘Goddesses of the deep,’ the Mother, and the Friend in all of her poems.”

Aine MacAodha’s poems

 

Mother
 
I seek you in the lakes of Tyrone
the less known ones whose beauty
remain unblemished by progress.
In the curling streams at war
with the elements and whose
very existence is threatened by
housing developments.
I look for you as summer coughs up
It’s last songs of the season,
I seek your words in her breath.
In the secrets of motherhood
asleep in the elderly, yearning
recall once again.
I seek it too in the faces of youth
in the songs they sing from
the concrete forests they live in.
 
I also seek it in me
when dark clouds
gather up a storm.



 

Luna
 
Losing shadows that follow
from these troubled acres
is hard going at times.
 
When it’s them same shadows
you seek to understand
what it all came down to.
 
Three in the morning brings relief
nature is more calmer and cools
to a creaking lullaby
 
Some birds sleep sound.
The urban ones
blether through the night.
 
The moon solemnly gives orders
to orchestrate the night crawlers
on missions. She casts shadows
 
in dimly lit corners of the globe.
She’ll never be the sun
blitzing the crops, warming
 
the shadows.
But she’ll always be the catalyst
calling you back to the past.


 

 

Endings

The teens have called time, on life
before it’s even begun.

Slavery of a sort hangs in the air
they starve themselves
in a time of fruition
convince themselves that
they’re too ugly to go out
trapped by their own demons
visual demons, who scrape
at their youthful bodies
drilling thin, thin, thin,
from the magazines on news stands
from the plasma screen
in their bedrooms,
they don’t believe in flaws
the odd spot, scar, ruddy skin
eye slightly bigger than the other
they have bought into perfection.

Captive also to drugs that alter their minds
for some, there’s no way back.

They’ve called time on life
before it’s even begun.

(Permission to use all materials for this feature was provided by Aine MacAodha, and Karen Bowles of Luciole Press for the review quoted above.)