There was a great air of bonhomie at the Rockfield Community Center as family and friends from across Ireland gathered for the launch of Gerry McLaughlin’s first book of poetry.
The Donegal writer was joined by a diverse group of supporters ranging from winning hurling and football captains from across Ireland, former Donegal footballers, advisers, fellow press, writers, singers , musicians, members of the legal profession and clergy. And especially important to Gerry were the members of his family and the people of the local community who had come out in force to support him.
He told those gathered: “It doesn’t get any better for me, my family, my relations, my friends, my colleagues and even occasional sparring partners, to see so many of you here tonight for this big night and a million welcome to all of you.
“As it says on the box, the poems are about my race – my father, my mother and my friends, ordinary people who to me were extraordinary.
“Many of them relate to people who are no longer with us but deserve to be remembered and honoured, including our own baby Rose who rests forever in Annagry.
“The place is also very important to me. Meenaleck in the Rosses where I first saw the morning light of Gaeltacht, Marian Terrace, Cloghore; Galway, the city of the forever young; and especially Corlea, the most beautiful city in the world.”
The collection was started by longtime friends of Gerry, Joe Connolly, captain of Galway to All Ireland in 1980, and Irish poet Sean O’Coistealbh.
There was entertainment by musician and singer Gerry Hanberry and recitals of poetry by Joe Connolly, Sean O’Coistealbh, Siobhán McNamara, Eddie Henry and Gerry himself. The MC of the evening was Sylvester Maguire.
Gerry said: “I hope The Breed of Me will ensure that the lives of those who have passed away are meaningful, have value and that their songs are always sung under soft moons.
“So, míle buíochas to all those living and dead and to the places that have inspired me to lay something down in their honor. To me they are all very special because they have enriched me and made me so much better for them. know even though I know I must have tested them many ways over the years.
“We only get one chance to live this life, so we have to make it as memorable as possible, so enjoy this special night, enjoy each other’s company, laugh and live life to the full in the instant, because that is where the magic lies.”
Gerry expressed his thanks to everyone who came or helped compile the book or organize the launch.
The Breed of Me is priced at €10/£10 and is available locally.