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Breda Wall Ryan

Poet Breda Wall Ryan


BREDA WALL RYAN grew up on a farm in Co. Waterford and now lives in Co. Wicklow. She has an M. Phil. in Creative Writing (Distinction) from Trinity College. Her awarded fiction has appeared in The Faber Book of Best New Irish Short Stories 2006 – 07 and The New Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction. She was selected for Poetry Ireland Introductions Series 2014 and is a founding member of Green Kite Writers and Hibernian Poetry and a trustee of Bray Literary Festival. Among her awards are iYeats Poetry Prize, Poets Meet Painters, Dromineer Poetry Prize, Over the Edge New Writer of the Year, The Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize and The Dermot Healy Poetry Award. Her collection In a Hare’s Eye (Doire Press, 2015) was awarded the Shine/Strong Poetry Award.

Genre: Poetry
Number of publications: 2

Winner of the 2016 Shine/Strong Award

Breda Wall Ryan bears witness to her own vulnerable life, to the lives of others, to the life of the world — and to all that she sees, even in the darkest places, she brings the light of her careful attention.

— Paula Meehan

Sample Work

Sample Poem From in a Hare's Eye

Self Portrait in the Convex Bulge of a Hare’s Eye

My first word for Hare was cailleach,
witch or crone, slack-skinned
hag with blade-edged bones.

I met her again today
where seven hare-sisters grazed
a scrawny field at Renvyle,

face to face inhaled her lepus breath,
gazed through my shadow-face
cupped in her glass-dark eye.

‘Which is my animal shade?’ I asked
the coven of leathern-ears.
Each licked her cloven lip and chanted,

‘I’, ‘I’, and ‘I’. Hare with sea-salt tongue
rolled the dark bulge of her eye,
answered, ‘All of us, all of us here;

we show no map of your journey, we
are you when you get there.’
I grabbed at scut and slippery ear,

begged her to tell more
but rain rolled in from Boffin,
plump drops slicked her fur,

she twitched a salt-crusted whisker,
slipped into Otherwhere
like a white horse in ceo draíochta,

left me straddling a barbed wire fence
with two handfuls of loose belly-skin
and a jagged gash in my thigh.

Sample Poem From Raven Mothers


The match made between them never worked:
acres held back, separate houses
until old bones brought them
under one roof.

Gran favours green:
glossed walls, doors, chairs. Silences.
Sour apples lean over the corrugated fence
that hangs green shadows at the window.

Granda brings The Irish Press,
asks her for the headlines.
He can’t make head or tail,
never mastered book-learning.

She holds the paper high, a silent screen
between her and the clock’s relentless tock.
His blackthorn walking-stick taps impatience.

Stopping home, a man might stifle;
there’s nothing for him but go
to Mary Ann’s without the news.

When she marries Granda, the small girl says,
she’ll read his paper; paint
the whole house white.

A reading of 'Dreamless' by Breda Wall Ryan


Raven Mothers
Raven Mother Poetry Book by Breda Wall Ryan published by Doire Press

ISBN: 978-1-907682-65-0 | Pages: 88 | Published: 2018

With the world on the brink of environmental and social upheaval, Raven Mothers explores — via the prism of the feminine and with a supple and instinctive control of language — the concept of maternity in all its manifestations, from Mother Earth, through Eve to Everywoman and her Outsider sister. Describing and reflecting on home, habitat, and environment, the poems traverse the boundaries of the surreal, mining the realms of historical and personal myth, to pose coherent questions.

In a Hare’s Eye
In a Hares Eye Cover 1920 Poetry Book by Breda Wall Ryan published by Doire Press

ISBN: 978-1-907682-36-0 | Pages: 80 | Published: 2015

Here are poems of wonder, imagination, grief, bewilderment and delight. Drawing on an awareness formed during a rural childhood, they record the natural world and the way we, as humans, live in it, leaving the marks of our passing on the landscape and on our personal stories and mythologies. While exploring our responsibilities to each other and to the earth, these poems cross and re-cross the permeable borders between Christian tradition and a post-Christian world, and between the real and the unconscious. These are lyrical poems that demonstrate a rigorous aesthetic and explore themes of memory, the natural world, a sense of place, the dreamscape and what it means to be a spiritual person in a post-Christian world.