Celebrating lives along the River Bann

Lives in a landscape,” along the Bann water, by Gilford writer Anne Cairns, is a new collection of poems commemorating personalities, places and events in her native area in the background of the linen industry and the associated crafts that are now largely gone.These poems were written over many years and put together into a really superb collection which was launched last week. The book will bring back memories for those who still recall the times in the Mill and the characters who then inhabited the area, and will introduce the younger generation and students of history everywhere into a way of life that is their inheritance and that shaped generations.

Around eighty people turned up at the launch of Anne’s book in the Laurencetown Community Centre and heard Ken  Mc Elroy state that the launch of a new artistic work  was always a very important occasion for a community or district. “Whether it is new work of art, or of poetry, or short stories, or a play, or a local history, or a collection of songs or paintings-- something very profound has arrived into our presence”. 

“Away down the centuries the old poets and versifiers would arrive and recite their works praising the lives of the people or chastising them for their neglect, maybe reminding them of great deeds in the distant past, reminding them of the beauty of their landscape and so on. These were the chroniclers of their age who captured the life and spirit of their time so that the past would always come alive through their works to the future generations”.  

“Tonight’s launch of “Lives in a landscape,” along the Bann Water by Anne Cairns is fully in keeping with this proud and noble tradition” he stated.

“The Yarn Spinner” “The Linen Weaver” “The Dressmaker” “The Linen Dress Ball” “The Fisherman’s friends” “Ode to an old Scutcher” “Tate’s Hill”  “Poppies” “Starlings” and “The Big Bann Fair” are among the many gems in this rare and superbly crafted collection.

Armagh writer Peter Makem in his foreword stated that because of these poems, the dynamic of the linen industry, the traditional crafts, and the bygone rural ways of the people in her homeland district of the Bann is only dormant, and awakes into full life at the opening of a page.

“Her ability to set a scene is excellent. Through these works the dancers at the annual Mill Ball come out in all their finery to dance again in the sound of their steps and the rise of the music; the weavers and spinners and scutchers appear again in the surge of their work; the dressmaker sits down again at her machine; the fishermen of old reappear along the Bann and the factory horn sounds again; people long dead fall in love again and start life all over, they plant their orchards, stroll the roads again, go to church again, the herbs and flowers and plants in their gardens appear as figures with their own personalities. Few poetic works capture so much of the inheritance of this part of the country so beautifully and so powerfully.” ”Lives in a Landscape” along the Bann water, is an attractive publication with colour cover photography by Brendan Byrne and priced at £6.00 is available from:

The Spar, Post Office and XL Newsagents (Gilford), Post Office and LLT Community Centre (Laurencetown), Trainor’s Costcutter (Poyntzpass). Other outlets are the FE McWilliams Gallery & Studio (Banbridge) Hospice Charity Shops, Banbridge, Newry and Dungannon.