Adrian Rice and Alyn Mearns of the Belfast Boys

Adrian Rice and Alyn Mearns of the Belfast Boys

Adrian Rice and Alice Osborn
Adrian Rice and Alice Osborn

Tonight I met internationally-known Irish poet Adrian Rice at Tir Na Nog in downtown Raleigh. I won a dinner with Adrian since I was the first place poet in the first annual IrishFest Poetry Contest sponsored by Tir Na Nog and the Graham Johnson Foundation. Not only is Adrian a noted poet he’s plays the mandolin with Alyn Mearns’s band, The Belfast Boys. Alyn also joined us for dinner. Alyn met Adrian in 2005 while the two were browsing in the poetry aisle at Barnes and Noble. They started talking and both discovered with were raised by Protestant parents in Northern Ireland. Adrian’s father was raised in a foster family and he eventually found out that his birth parents are Catholic. Such rich poetry material! It’s no surprise Adrian uses political conflicts and current events in much of his poetry. 

Adrian is the author of  The Mason’s Tongue as well as Muck Island and Impediments. He and he wife Molly live in Hickory, NC where he was formally the artist-in-resident at Lenoir-Rhyne College. I first heard of Adrian in the Duke Continuing Studies catalogue where he taught classes using Neil Astley’s poetry compilation, Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times.

Adrian and Alyn were delightful dinner companions — we shared our backgrounds and writing inspirations with a pint of Guinness or two. And then I had the pleasure of listening to them play at Tir Ta Nog’s 12th birthday party and hearing Adrian recite “The Drowning.”  I also learned a new word — “Slainte,” which means “cheers” in Irish.

Slainte!

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