Mary O’Malley

1954- ; dg. of a fisherman in Ballyconneely, Connemara; grad. UCG; lived in Portugal, returning to Ireland in the late 1980s; issued three poetry collections from Salmon in the 1990s, followed by The Boning Hall (Carcanet 2002), and A Perfect V (2006); she has contributed a poem to the Paula Meehan special issue of An Sionnach (2009); she lives in Moycullen.

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Asylum Road (Galway: Salmon Poetry 2001), 96pp.; The Boning Hall (Carcanet 2002), 116pp. [sel. with 50 add. poems]; Three Irish Poets: Eavan Boland, Paula Meehan, Mary O’Malley (Manchester: Carcanet Press 2003), 144pp.; A Perfect V (Manchester: Carcanet 2006), 96pp.

YouTube has ...
An Geis - A Poem by Mary O'Malley from A Knife in the Wave - Music by La Luna. [525 mins; brief images of O'Malley appear at 3.20f., 4.18, &c.
online; accessed 30.06.2011.

[Q. title] a poem, in The Irish Times (14 Aug. 2010), Weekend Review: ‘In the heart Dido, at the breasts / cradling a lifeline in the shape of a child. / Rome prevented it. Carthage / betrayed you. A child causes grief, / all kinds of trouble. Hold them twenty years / in your heart’s nook keeping them warm and dry / like bread soda, and warm. They turn / into angry strangers but / veteris vestigia flammae, we want them ... and si there in the ashes, the embers /smothered, gasping until a hand / rescues them. A coupl of long breaths / and they blaze again, one more chance / to burn it all down, quiety. / It is time to let the illusionary child go, / taking the city asunder. Off your knees, Dido.’ (p.11.)

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  • Bernard McKenna, "Such Delvings and Exhumations", in Contemporary Irish Women Poets: Some Male Perspectives, ed. Alex G. Gonzalez (Westport/London: Greenwood 1999) [?p.184];
  • Bernard O’Donoghue, review of The Boning Hall (Carcanet), in The Irish Times (21 Dec. 2002), Weekend;
  • Eamonn Wall, ‘From Macchu Picchu to Inis Oir: The Poetry of Mary O’Malley’, in South Carolina Review, 38, 1 (Fall 2005), pp.118-27.
  • Nessa O’Mahony, review of The Perfect V, in The Irish Times, Weekend (22 July 2006), Weekend;
  • Judy Allen Randolph, ‘Mary O’Malley’ [interview], in Close the the Next Moment: Interviews from a Changing Ireland (Manchester: Carcanet 2010).

David Wheatley writes: ‘ When Mary O’Malley declares that she addresses us across ‘the staked thighs /Of the unsaved women of El Salvador’,13 only the most naive reader will mistake this for solidarity with the wretched of the earth: it is moral narcissism of the rankest stripe.’ (‘Between “Helpless Right” and “Forced Pow’r”: The Political Poem Today’, in The Edinburgh Review, No. 135, Q.d - available online; accessed 28.01.2017.]

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Canvas Currach”: ‘I have no sail to wear but my black dress / clings to my ribs, seamless. / I am a slim greyhound of the sea. / The deeper your oards dig in / the lighter I skim. / I am built to run. Race me!’ (Quoted in Bernard O’Donoghue, review of The Boning Hall, in The Irish Times, Weekend, 21 Dec. 2002.)


It was the roustabout whirl
Of the siege-of-Ennis on the marquee floor
The hot night Summer carnival
The fights, to-be-continued New Year
Easter, St Patrick’s night, young men
Letting off steam with fists. Knives, the scian
The cut-and-come-again
Flash of something dangerous. Borges’ vaiven
Shining in the light of the disco ball. Women
Screamed, one fainted in the direction
Of the knifeman. Up on their tricks
The lads ignored them, upped and skipped
To England, stayed gone until Easter.
What she remembers is the last dance she got
The night it ended – a slow foxtrot
How the band never stopped, just played louder.
Once it was all this and weekly confession
Rehearsed sins. Now it’s a tourist slogan.
Mary O’Malley has written seven books of poetry.

—In The Irish Times ([Sat.] 25 Oct 2014), Books Sect..

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