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Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Childrens' Primary Schools' (North Tipperary) poetry competition 2017 was judged by Geraldine Mitchell. The were 518 entries to the competition, an extraordinary response. The competition is coordinated by DLF committee member, Margaret Folan.

Junior Section
1st place 
Jennifer O’Leary, 4th Class Kilruane NS

One Thousand Feet Below

The water bright and colourful,
The sun a golden glow,
Small fish dart back and forth
Twenty Feet below.

The water dull and shadowy
all creatures moving slow
The sun and rays can’t reach
Fifty feet below.

The water cold and scary
not a sound to be heard, 
octopus have ink to blow
one hundred feet below

The water silent and creepie
always night, no day
the Titanic lies never to go,
One Thousand Feet below.

2nd place
James Kennedy, 4th Class Bishop Harty N.S., Ballinree


Water is cold
water is warm
water is like a swarm of bees
rushing towards me.

The sea has waves
the river has rocks
the body has sweat and tears

Water can wash your fears away

3rd place 
Mateusz Gadowski, 3rd Class Nenagh CBS


Water is liquid
water is solid
water is gas
what comes first?

I like pools
because they are cool
and there is water
inside them too

In school we
need to drink
it helps us think

Thinking boys are very clever
Will they get in trouble?

Senior section

1st place

Órna Daly, 6th Class Kilruane N.S


Water is in the rain,
that falls on your umbrella,
drop after drop,
they tumble down together. 

Water is in the waterfalls,
that gush from the highest rocks, 
falling to the ground, 
in heavy drops.

Water is in the sea, filled
with fish, in deepest blue,
don’t drink it, because, 
it’s sea water, 
and that’s not good for you

Water is in the floods,
that wash homes away,
destroying parks and playgrounds,
so children can’t go out and play.

But, water can dry out,
in poor countries where it’s hot.
so, to get water to their homes,
people have to walk a lot.

We eat with water,
We drink with water,
We need it every day,
Respect it, Care for it,
Don’t let it wash away.

2nd place
Katie Ní Éilí, 6th Class Gaelscoil Aonach Urmhumhan

The Water Cycle

Hi I’m a droplet
And I say it proudly out loud
For I’ve been going around in circles
Since the day I fell from the cloud.

I am sitting there
Watching my friends, waiting for my call
When suddenly I hear a bang
And out of the cloud I fall.

I landed with a little splash
Into Lough Derg
But then the sun came out and shone
And we were on the run.

The sun heated up the river
And turned us into vapor
And there I was floating in the air
I’ll save the fun for later.

Then we got a bit stuck
And some kind plants gave us help
The plants’ transpiration boosted us up
Which was just our luck.

Then as water vapor
We got cold and felt quite a sensation
And turned into liquid clouds
Which is called condensation.

Then I was resting as a cloud
When things got a bit too heavy
It was hard not to fall again when
We had no preparation for the precipitation. 

I landed back in Lough Derg
Ready for collection
Then I did the circle again
I did the water cycle.

3rd place 
John Meagher, 5th Class Carrig N.S.

I jump off the pier
I hit the water and go deeper and deeper.
The lads are hurling on the shore,
They say ‘1 more minute’ but they get more.
The swans come in for some bread 
so they are well fed
the children are splashing 
and on the shore they are dashing.
The fish are swimming 
And the birds are chirping

I love Lough Derg and so do you

Children’s results 2017: Judge’s Commentary - Geraldine Mitchell

Big thanks: to Eleanor, Margaret, Liz and all committee; to the teachers who encouraged all 518 young people to write a poem on this year’s theme of Water; to the parents and of course the children themselves, every one of whom applied themselves and took obvious joy in the writing and very often the illustrating the poems - sometimes more illustration than words…but that’s ok!  [Although I want to reassure those teachers whose pupils who did not decorate the poems – it’s the words I am interested in – their freshness and flow and the sounds and rhythms the children capture.]

I got to choose the theme and I chose water because of Lough Derg, a lakeside landscape very different from my own Atlantic Mayo coast but also enticing and sometimes menacing.  

“I can easily beat up a piece of salami, but I’m not quite sure about beating a tsunami”, wrote Craig Keneally who’s in 6th class at Kilruane N.S. 
But, more than the menace, it was the pure enjoyment - the splashing and sploshing and diving and ducking in water - that came through most, especially with the younger children. The local tourist authority should look no further than the local North Tipperary schools for copy writers… 

There were environmental activists too. “All of the farmers’ animal waste flows right down into the lake,” writes Mark Manley who is in 5th Class at St. Canice’s (CBS Nenagh), “Stop pollution and save Lough Derg.”
Water is so central to our lives and the children all captured this. No water, no life…Water safety and the RNLI figured frequently, too, and to great effect. Even water charges: “The water charge just got high/We will tell Alan Kelly to change the price…” says Cian Hayes, 5th Class, Ardcroney N.S.

As well as humour, environmental awareness and political concerns, there was a strong current of awareness of those parts of the world where, unlike us, it’s the lack of water people suffer from. There was even a poem about the inventor of a water purifying machine, the Sling Shot, which I had never heard of. Another gave the statistics for the horrifying amount of water needed to grow the cotton to make a pair of Levi jeans (2,273 litres) or a bottle of Coke (4.5 litres).

But what stands out in all the winners (three in each category and ten shortlisted in each too), is something personal, some little extra touch – a rhythm caught, a personal observation captured, a sign that the young poet has understood the magic of playing with words, the power of language to flesh out the imagination.
So to the winning poems – and I must stress how very, very difficult the choice was and in the end it had to be a personal one (on my own!):

3rd and 4th Class:
In 3rd place is Mateusz Gadowski who is in 3rd Class at Nenagh CBS with his poem ‘Water’. The poem starts out with a serious question about the composition of water expressed with amazing concision: “Water is liquid/water is solid/water is gas/What comes first?” Then he takes us to cool pools and his own experience of the pleasure of water. Again just the minimum number of words. And then comes the cheeky ending.

2nd place goes to James Kennedy, in 4th Class at Bishop Harty N.S., Ballinree. There are gorgeous sounds in this short poem and a great central image (read out…) and then the surprisingly mature final message: “water can wash your fears away”. A lovely poem and I love the way the drops of water – or tears – are dropping down the page. Lovely.

And finally, in first place we have Jennifer O’Leary who is in 4th Class at Kilruane N.S. Her poem is called ‘One Thousand Feet Below’ and in four carefully crafted stanzas she takes us under the sea, from twenty feet to fifty feet to one hundred feet and finally 1,000 feet below. The sounds in this poem are very pleasing with a lovely choice of adjectives as light gradually disappears the deeper we go below the surface of the sea. Within 16 lines we go from ‘water bright and colourful’ to ‘The water silent and creepy/always night, no day/ the Titanioc lies never to go, one thousand feet below.’ 

Well done all three and well done to the ten highly commended too and especially to Oisin Kelly-O’Driscoll who is in second class!! in Lissenhall N.S.
Here is his 2-line poem: ‘The Water Poem’: I turn on the water in the shower/when I am done I smell like a flower.

5th and 6th Class:
In 3rd place is John Meagher who is in 5th Class at Carrig N.S. I chose this simple poem because we are right there with John from the very first line, jumping off the pier, going deeper and deeper, while the lads are hurling on the shore and the swans are coming closer, looking for bread… For me this is an example of a poem where you feel the child’s alert and lively powers of observation vividly at work, even though the actual effort of getting the words down on the page may have been be considerable. But the immediacy of the poem shines through – for me, anyway!

In second place is a very different kind of poem, more serious, informative and yet worked in a very clever way taking us through ‘The Water Cycle’ – the title of the poem. It is by Katie Ni Eili who is in 6th Class at the Gaelscoil – which, incidentally, presented  very many excellent poems. Katie grabs our attention from the get-go: “Hi, I’m a droplet/and I say it…..). The scientific facts are set locally above Lough Derg where this drop of water falls from a cloud as rain into the lake, is heated back into vapour by the sun, gets a helping hand from plants and their transpiration and is sent back up into the clouds where at all starts over again… Well done, Eili!

The winner in the senior category is Orna Daly who is in 6th Class at Kilruane N.S.. Her poem is simply titled ‘Water’, but is beautifully presented and illustrated. (I mention this in passing even though it is the poem I was judging.) There are six 4-line stanzas or verses and Orna clearly has a very visual imagination. But he has a great ear for sounds, too, and rhythm. She uses rhyme but doesn’t let it get in the way of the flow of meaning. (Quote second stanza). Orna takes us through all the forms water can take (rain, waterfalls, sea..) but then moves to more serious manifestations of water: “…floods that wash homes away,/ destroying parks and  playgrounds/so children can’t go out to play”. But then we move to the opposite extreme: “But water can dry out…” And we are left with a warning: “…”.
Congratulations Orna and all the winners and all those on the highly commended lists, including Orna’s brother, Conal! It was very difficult indeed to make choices.