Reflections of a ‘Derry Boy’

Castledawson bridge.
Castledawson bridge.

‘A CATHARTIC experience’ are the words used by a Castledawson poet to describe his first published work ‘O Derry Boy.’

The nostalgic piece by Mervyn Cooke revisits a childhood spent in the great outdoors, in hayfields and farmyards, in the 1950s and 1960s.

Cooke imparts that the collection of poems, described by him as “a very intimate portrayal of life,” was penned after the loss of both his parents in successive years.

Each poem is illustrated beautifully with black-and-white photographs that recall summers past, yet cause one to stop for a moment and reflect – like the poetry itself.

Reviews of this very personal collection appear to have one thing in common, with each highlighting that Cooke’s book will not fail to stir the emotions. One reads: “This book will make you cry and laugh and love at what you have and lost,” and another states: “This is a most moving and delicate account of childhood...told simply and purely through photos and poems... Wonderful.”

Now resident in England, Cooke gives poetry readings of his work and that of the Late Bard, Seamus Heaney, whom he describes as “a big source of inspiration, although the realisation was in retrospect.”

To view a preview or to make a purchase of Cooke’s book, please visit:

Full story in next Thursday’s Mid-Ulster Mail