ARCHIVE editions of the Mid Ulster Mail have helped uncover rare treasures of ‘The Ardboe Poet’, 75 years after his death.
The writings of John Coleman have been gathered into a new collection by family members scattered across the world, as well as from the archives of Mail which published his work from 1929 - 1938.
John’s poems are wonderful tales of daily encounters, pondering and questioning.
His love for Ireland seeps through the words and touches hearts nearly a century later.
His grief for Ireland’s trouble could be written today and not be out of time.
Through his writing, he is able to give an intimate understanding of the heartache caused by Ireland’s loss for those who went to North America and never came home.
John doesn’t give statistics; he tells the story of the heart and the yearning for the connection that has been lost across the ocean.
Both for those who have gone, and those who have been left behind. John was a fisherman on Lough Neagh, and when he got married to Mary Treanor, he bought land and farmed in Mullinahoe.
His poetry is alive with his connection to the land. His life was steeped in traditions, in the Celtic way of living off the land, in community and shared celebrations and sorrows.
He tells us tales of beautiful summers and harsh winters, and paints pictures of the ever-changing scenery through the seasons.
As John gets older (he lived into his 80s) he reminisces of his own childhood and wonders at how much has changed since he was a boy.
John is well-read and philosophical. He asks questions and ponders the meaning of life.
Death does not seem to scare him, in fact, it is very much part of the circle of life. His faith has been passed down from his mother from an early age, and this comes to his mind more and more as he gets older.
All of his life was lived on the shores of Lough Neagh – from the Coleman homestead to Cove Lodge – he was never far from his beloved Lough.
John has written a record of a distant past that survives only through the Celtic tradition of story-telling.
Thankfully, John took time to write down much of what he has, or it would be lost forever.
‘The Ardboe Poet – the Poetry of John Coleman (1855 – 1938)’ is available to purchase on lulu.com and for kindle on Amazon and also in Sheehy’s bookstore in Cookstown.