Work of Cullyhanna poet and storyteller acknowledged at Tommy Makem Festival

October 12, 2010

The poem and songs of Peter Carragher, a native of Cullyhanna in South Armagh were acknowledged at the Tommy Makem festival of Song held in Armagh city at the weekend past.

Peter, who now lives in Gilford,  began writing poetry in the ballad tradition in the Yukon in Alaska in a mining town called Faro in 1979. It was there, five thousand miles from his native South Armagh that the muse first struck him and he discovered he had a gift to put into verse the various happenings of his surroundings, notably anything that was humorous. Eventually he was asked to do a column in the local Faro newspaper where occasionally he had his poems published.

He came home in 1980 on a holiday and went straight into his new found art after two of his uncles had been “caught under the influence”, and wrote the well known “Ballad of Shank’s Mare”. His gift soon developed into the love of the countryside and the ways of the people and he became one of the great chroniclers of the events of his native area.

Eventually he was persuaded by Peter Makem to get all his ballads and poems together and have them formally published, and the result of this was the collection known as “The Rusted Roof” which was launched to outstanding acclaim in his native Cullyhanna.

The citation read in his honour stated“ Peter Carragher not merely belongs to the great South Armagh bardic tradition, the land of Mc Cooey and 0 Doirnin, but to the wider Irish tradition. He has the ability of the true song man and poet to represent the thoughts  and aspirations of the people through his art, to make the fleeting things of life last forever. In this way, history never dies. The deeds of history merely sleep in their works, waiting to be awakened into full life at any moment. And we say to Peter tonight– you have been true to your calling as ballad maker and poet. You have served your people well”.

After accepting a framed scroll, Peter later delighted the 300 strong crowd  which included many family and friends from his native area with a selection of his stories and poems.