In September 2016 The Collins Press published my latest book ‘On Raglan Road – Great Irish Love Songs and the Women Who Inspired Them’. It covers fourteen well known Irish love songs through the centuries and including the story of who inspired such great contemporary songs such as Thin Lizzy’s ‘Sarah’, Mick Hanly’s ‘Past the Point Of Rescue’, Johnny Duhan’s ‘The Voyage’ also the story of ‘Nancy Spain’ , Mundy’s ‘To You I Bestow’ and many more. The book is now available to purchase online as well as book shops nationwide.
The story of the Wilde family across seven generations is an epic saga of sensational triumphs and dreadful tragedies. . Oscar Wilde’s veiled roots in Ireland and beyond are explored as are the lives of his parents, his brother Willie, his wife Constance, sons Vyvyan and Cecil, and descendants still alive today. This fresh narrative, which includes new insights on Oscar’s time in prison and recently discovered information on Sir William’s cover-up of his illegitimate daughters’ deaths in Monaghan, unfolds against a background of a country torn apart by rebellion and famine. The story is often heartbreaking but the cruel fates did not succeed in extinguishing Oscar’s brilliance and the ‘lord of language’ has taken his rightful place among the great writers of the world.
In this, his third collection, Gerard Hanberry goes for rawness and honesty, exploring a deeper well of feeling – while there is humour and celebration he does not shirk the darker shades of regret, fear, anger and loss. While some pieces are pithy and compact, others capture a moment in life with the arc of a short story. Thoughtful, yet sometimes playful, in the best of these poems the personal and political are fellow travellers, while the everyday and the fantastic are inseparable heartbeats. As a teacher by profession, he knows how to close one eye then the other, the role of perception – juxtaposition of contrary positions, the creative tension between knowing yet still asking those same awkward questions.
Gerard Hanberry’s fourth collection explores the fragility of existence in a world where greed, violence and the inevitability of death is counterbalanced by the tenderness found in a loving relationship where ‘we joke of cosy lead-lined coffins built for two, / elaborate arrangements for death and for sex…’. In the title poem, the discovery of the world’s oldest shoe combines with the execution of a prisoner in Utah to reveal the fact that ‘not a lot has changed in five millennia’. It is a world ‘we can’t depend on’ like the great slab of limestone at the cliff’s edge where lovers sit only to discover it is undercut. The evidence of random collapse lies all about. The tone achieved in many of these lyrical reflections on life, on love, on loss, is sometimes wry but not pessimistic and a smile or a loving gesture strengthens one’s toehold on a brittle world hurtling beneath our feet.