White House revival event pays tribute to Limerick poet

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Limerick Poet Mark Whelan

TRIBUTES were paid to Limerick poet Mark Whelan who died in January of last year when the White House Poetry Revival was held last night.

The iconic open-mic poetry event was started in April 2003 by the legendary poet Barney Sheehan and ran every Wednesday night until 2016.

As part of April is Poetry Month in Limerick, the event was revived for one night only.

Many of the poets who guested the poetry event in the past were invited to read a poem on the night, including special guest speaker, poet John Liddy.

April is Poetry Month in Limerick Ollamh/Poet Laureate, Kieran Beville was MC for the poetry event. He paid tribute to the late Mark Whelan.

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”I have fond memories of Mark going back to the mid-late 1970s when we
used to frequent The White House along with John Liddy (poet), John Shinnors
(artist), Séamus Ó Céinnide (journalist), Pád Lysaght (printer/author), Michael
Curtin (author), Willie English (poet) and others.

“Mark occasionally crashed in my flat in Upper Mallow Street in 1979. I remember his two great loves were the writings of Samuel Beckett and the music of David Bowie;” said Beville.

”His memory will be cherished by many in Limerick and beyond. He had a
vision for Limerick to become the poetry capital of Ireland – a mission that has
yet to be fulfilled. May it come to fruition in the near future as a tribute to his
name and memory,” he added.

Mark Whelan was a committee member of Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival. His collections of poetry include ‘Scarecrow Dyptich’ and ‘The Seer of Wounds’. Mark graced the podium at the White House many times in the past.

Dominic Taylor, one of the founding members of the Limerick Writers Centre, said: ”Barney’s White House Poetry Revival was the first modern day weekly open-mic reading in a pub in Ireland and for the next 13 years it played host to some of the best local, national and international poets, gaining a worldwide reputation.

So what began as a small poetry reading in a pub in Limerick in 2003 has sent its ripples far and wide bringing poets from the outside world to Limerick while simultaneously encouraging Limerick poets to travel abroad, to learn, to be heard and to publish.”