Bard of Armagh


Seamus Carolan from Roslea won back the Bard title with his excellent poem 'Agony Aunt Frankie' at the 2014 Bard Finals.  Seamus last won the title in 2000. He surely gave a mesmerising performance before yet another completly packed and respectful audience at the City Hotel.  He narrowly pipped the great Jimmy Rafferty and his ‘Fifty Shades’ into second place.  Before a magnificent audience of close to 1000 Seamus was masterful and theatrical in his delivery with his timing, pitch, pace and tone perfected.  The poem recreated the ‘Dear Frankie’ scenario which was a hugely popular agony aunt radio programme in the sixties.
Other top prize winners were Rob Barratt from Cornwall, Patsy McDermott from Virgina Co Cavan and Castleblaney’s Phyllis Murphy who won the ‘Best Female Award’ for the second year in a row.

The judging panel remarked that the literary content, the range of themes and the quality of presentation was the best they had seen and this was matched by the responses of the enthusiastic and respectful audience who absorbed every morsel of every presentation.   Writers Groups from  such places as, Belfast, Portumna and Strokestown joined Bard enthusiasts from every corner of Ireland for the much waited for 20thsession of hilarity.
Newcomers to the lectern excelled and soon became part of the great spirit of camaraderie and mutual support created by the more seasoned performers.   Patrick Gormley’s poem, ‘A Grave Mistake’ began quietly, but after a couple of verses, some of the audience spontaneously joined in with the last line of each verse, ‘Going to the cemetery was a grave mistake’. By the end of the poem everyone in the hall, including bar staff, sound technicians, camera crews and stewards created a massive crescendo as they all uttered the line followed by a major eruption of laughter and appreciative applause.  This was just one of the many highlights.
Dave Paddon who flew in from Newfoundland to perform was quite overcome with emotion at the thunderous reception he received as he arrived at the lectern.  Afterwards he was busy collecting the contact details of all the Bards with a view to bringing them over to a similar festival in his home country.   As usual MC Pearse McBride was a central figure as the maestro, seizing moments to infuse his vast repertoire of quick fire yarns and tales to regale the audience.
Hall of Fame for 2014 was four times bard winner and runner up on numerous occasions, Jimmy Rafferty.  Jimmy, always modest in victory and gracious in defeat thanked his family and friends for their  unbridled support  and encouragement over the years.  The Bard committee acknowledges the great support and sponsorship given by Armagh City and District Council and the Lord Mary Ms Cathy Rafferty praised the organisers for their great work into making the event the institution it has now become.
Phyllis Murphy retained the best female award with 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

1 Seamus Carolan 'Agony Aunt Frankie'
2 Jimmy Rafferty 'Fifty Shades'

3 Rob Barratt 'Missing Letterland'
  Phyllis Murphy 'Fifty Shades of Grey'
  Patsy McDermott 'Keep the Home Fires Burning'

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