A Place of Pointed Stones

Jessica Traynor writes a history in poetry of the town of Banagher in County Offaly.

First broadcast: Sunday 15th October 2023 on RTÉ lyric fm. Re-broadcast 4 February 2024.

Listen back here: https://www.rte.ie/radio/lyricfm/clips/22308865/

When the town of Banagher in County Offaly decided it wanted its story told, instead of turning to a historian or academic they commissioned poet Jessica Traynor to write a poetic history.

In A Place of Pointed Stones, she explores the history and folklore of Banagher, meets some of the locals, and we hear new poems and a new song inspired by her research.

James Scully and Jessica Traynor

Local historian James Scully takes her around, showing her the bridge over the Shannon, the local Martello tower, hidden graveyard, and locations associated with the town’s literary connections with Anthony Trollope and Charlotte Bronte. He also presents her with two possible versions of the origin of the saying ‘That beats Banagher and Banagher beats the devil’.

Banagher Horse Fair

David Boylan takes in the atmosphere of the annual horse fair, and we hear how composer Elaine Agnew, despite being unable to travel from Belfast during Covid, worked with pupils at St Rynagh’s National School to set one of Jessica’s poems to music. Teacher Lisa Gardiner describes the grand finale, when Geraldine Relph conducted the pupils as they recorded a performance of the song for video.

The pamphlet of Jessica Traynor’s poems, A Place of Pointed Stones, is published by Offaly County Council and funded through the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government Per Cent for Art Scheme. It is available to download from the Offaly County Council website: https://www.offaly.ie/a-place-of-pointed-stones-by-jessica-traynor-2/

The video of the song From the Shannon to St Rynagh’s, with words by Jessica Traynor and music by Elaine Agnew, and performed by pupils at St Rynagh’s National School, conducted by Geraldine Relph (Music Generation Offaly/Westmeath), is online at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1_I0W4Nhuw

The producer of the programme A Place of Pointed Stones is Claire Cunningham, sound mix is by Tinpot Productions, and the programme is a Rockfinch Production for RTÉ lyric fm.

The programme is funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland from the Television Licence Fee and the producer for Lyric fm is Eoin O’Kelly.

The programme is available to podcast on the usual podcast platforms and on the RTÉ Radio Player.