LAST week marked a red letter day in the life of Fermanagh’s best-known islander, John Reihill (now resident on land) with the local launch of is new book, “The Laughter of Young Children” Poems and Ballads by J.J. in the ‘Kissin Crust’ cafe/restaurant in main street, Lisnaskea.
A colleague of John, in Lisnaskea Historical Society, Linda Swindle describes it as, ‘an inspirational book of poetry, not about a day in the life of the author but the author’s life in days’.
“It features days observing his homeland, home, family, community and the living and breathing plants, birds and animals which abound in that life, overlaid by respect both for God and others.”
This was a period when John resided on Inishcorkish, his island farm and home, about three miles out the road from Lisnaskea in the Upper Lake.
Linda explained that Mr Reihill had been writing poetry over a long period of time but, just recently, he decided to collate these into book form.
“The abiding theme throughout is of a reflective, nostalgic nature and, in some instances, is quite melancholy, the author using simple everyday language that is easy to relate to and enjoy without reaching for a dictionary to comprehend the subject matter – no airs or graces, but a poem of everyman”, Linda added.
The book derives its title, “The Laughter of Young Children,”‘The laughter of young children is the sweetest prayer I find’), and, themes of agriculture and God’s creatures, wild and domesticated, abound, for instance, “Protecting Her Young” (mallard duck), “The Neighbour’s Tabby Cat”, and “A Green Avenue”, a tribute to his old horse pervade this remarkable production.
“Generosity”, dedicated to his mother, encapsulates the calibre of upbringing and values we would all wish to be known for (’her neighbour never needed if she had some in store, she’d stretch the little that she had, and start and make some more’).
The poems are threaded through with both humour and romance, the most evocative for Linda Swindle being,”Dreams Of My Homeland.”
And, given John’s keen interest in preserving the local workhouse, “Autobiography of Lisnaskea Workhouse brings the house to life, and all that that entailed for its residents.
The book costs £5 and is available locally in McBrien’s or from John Reihill himself at – 028 67721360.