Fond memories of Cookstown inspires poet

Pheme Glass will be launching her poetry book in Cookstown on November 16. Photograph by Sandra Vaisnoraite.
Pheme Glass will be launching her poetry book in Cookstown on November 16. Photograph by Sandra Vaisnoraite.

A FORMER Cookstown woman has drawn on her happy memories from childhood as well as recent events to produce a fascinating book of poetry.

‘Seeds of Memory’ by Eupheme Glass (Pheme) recalls many happy memories of her childhood and the many days spent playing with friends in the street in Cookstown. Memories of summer holidays spent at her grandmother’s farm near Plumbridge have also been drawn upon to create poetry for the book.

The second part of the collection is of more recent memories and anecdotes inspired by Pheme’s love of the landscape and events which have evoked strong emotions.

Omagh-based Pheme (nee McLean) is the daughter of the late Robert John McLean from Church Street and Jean (Jane) Campbell from Plumbridge. Her parents lived for a short time in Coagh Street and then moved to Church Street.

Pheme, a past pupil of Derryloran Primary School and Coolnafranky Secondary Intermediate School in Cookstown as it was known, was 14 when she moved to Dunleath Avenue which was the family home until 2007. Sadly her mother passed away in February this year in Knockmoyle Nursing Home where she had lived since 2007.

Eupheme took time out to talk to the MAIL about her poetry which has been inspired by her experience of many of life’s milestones.

And the 68-year-old is encouraging people of all ages to lift a pen and jot down those memories - she is living proof that this can be done.

The first half of ‘Seeds of Memory’ recalls many happy childhood memories, while the second part of the collection is of more recent memories and anecdotes inspired by her love of the landscape and events which have made her laugh and cry.

Eupheme’s name, which is Greek, has always been a source of great curiosity throughout her life.

“It was sent back from America by a great aunt, my mother having had no choice in the matter,” Pheme said.

Fittingly, according to Greek mythology Eupheme, meaning ‘the well-spoken’ was a Nymph of the Helikonian spring, whose waters were believed to inspire poets.

Pheme who shortened her name many years ago said the revelation will come as a shock to some of her close friends who have been calling her ‘Phoebe’ for years.

The Cookstown woman, a former employee of Daintifyt, met her husband Peter Glass from Moneymore when she was 16-years-old.

The couple married in 1966 and moved to Omagh. They had four children - a boy Timothy who died age two in 1969 and three daughters Susan, Paula and Shauna.

“We were married for 47 years when my husband passed away in 2010,” said Pheme.

Her husband’s passing has inspired some new poetry which she is working on at the moment.

“I look at it as a good achievement at my age,” she said. “I have always loved reading. I have no memory of being taught poetry in school but I have always enjoyed playing with rhyme and verse,” she said.

Pheme began to take her writing seriously when her grandchildren were born 15 years ago. Those memories eventually evolved into poems and short stories, and prompted by John Harding and his creative writing classes, she began to write poetry about everyday events in her life.

Pheme studied Creative Writing and the History of Art with The Open University and last year she was privileged to be asked by Briege McClean, The Live and Learn Project co-ordinator to facilitate a series of creative writing classes for the over 50s in the Ulster American Folk Park.

A member of The Open Door Poetry Group which meets fortnightly, Pheme has performed her poetry in the Strule Arts Centre and in other venues, most recently at The Ulster Fleadh in Dromore and Omagh District Council’s Culture night.

Pheme has been published before in various anthologies but it has long been her ambition to have her work published in her own book of verse.

‘Seeds of Memory’ is the realisation of that ambition and in one of her poems The Fort Hill she has mentioned “The Mortons, McElwees, Spiers, McKeowns, the Hampseys and the McLeans” - she is hoping that some of these people still remember those wonderful days of yesteryear and that they will come along to The Hub, Cookstown, on Saturday, November 16 at 1:30pm to re-live those days.

The book is available from Sheehy’s in Cookstown.