Saturday, December 19, 2009

I attended the Boyne Writers Reading and Open Mic Night 17th Dec in the Village Hall, Knightsbridge Village, Trim. The night started, with Chairman Paddy Smith, showing off his new Christmas presents, they consisted of one bell and whistle.
Paddy went on to explain the rules, ( as if we didn't know them already), three minutes for a poem five minutes for prose but because of the night that was in it, he would allow two poems. If a reader was nearing the time allowed he would give a gentle ring of the bell, if they went beyond the time he would blow the whistle. Paddy gave a demonstration and I knew by the look on his face, he was dying to try them out in earnest. When it came to my turn his face began to beam with excitement. Paddy sat waiting, ready to pounce, clutching the bell in his left hand and the whistle in his right but I out foxed him by reading two very short poems. You could say, it was a case of once bitten twice shy.

The two featured writers were: Brendan Kinane and Michael Clemenger. They entertained the crowd by reading from their work.
Brendan read nine of his poems which he had in chapbook form and handed a copy to everyone in the audience
Michael read an excerpt from his book " Holy Terrors ", a moving account of the day he made his First Holy Communion.  It was like as if he was reliving the event all over again.  He then read a poem titled " You Were Not Destined To Grow Old ", a poem which I fell in love with the first time I read it.  It stirred a lump in my throat and any poem with the power to do that is a poem worth reading.  I can say the same about his book it's definitely worth a read.

Chairman Paddy Smith, wearing a crown on his head ended the nights festivities with his own version of " We Three Kings " he delighted everyone there when he burst into song and I'm happy to say it was quite pleasing to the ear.

Michael " The Sheriff " Sheils

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Boyne Readings

On Thursday next December 17th at 8pm in the Village Hall, Knightsbridge Village, Longwood Road Trim, the Boyne Writers Group are holding their monthly Readings and Open Mic Session.

Featured writers on the night are Michael Clemenger who I mentioned earlier, he recently published his book, Holy Terrors, ( O'Brien Press ). I have just finished reading Michael's book and I can assure you, it is indeed, a great book. I find myself agreeing with Minister for Transport and local TD, Noel Dempsey, who, on the night of the launch said, "Michael's book should be made compulsory reading ".
The other writer is Brendan Carey Kinane who is a member of the Boyne Writers Group. Brendan wrote the winning entry in the Boyle Arts Festival Poetry Competition 2007 and he has won many awards in international poetry competitions.

Admission on night €5. Tea and refreshments provided.

The Small Impact Writers

Pictured below is Edel Gillick reading one of her stories.

A large crowd turned up for The Small Impact Writers Group Christmas Open Mic Session in Navan Library 10th December. Jimmy Byrne chaired the event and did a great job. There was a great selection of poetry and prose. Edel Gillick read one of her stories, something to do with Land Grabbers invading the fertile plains of Meath. Tommy Murray arrived with a contingent from the Meath Writer's Circle.

Near the end of the night things got a wee bit tense when a man got up to read and introduced himself as a Bog Monster from somewhere in the Galway region of the country. Rumour has it that Tommy Murray sneaked him in the back door aided and abetted by Willie Hodgins.
When the Monster began to read, it seemed to have a soothing affect on him and he turned out to be quite tame as he relayed a story of how he cut down his first tree with his bare hands, a remarkable feat considering he was only 8years old, mind you he had his mate with him who was 12. A number of children read stories and this seemed to please the Bog Monster.

Afterwards tea and snacks were served and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Mission accomplished..

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Congratulations to Michael Clemenger on the launch of his new book, " Holy Terrors ", which took place in Antonia's Book Shop Trim on saturday 28/11/2009.

Michael's book was published by The O'Brien Press ltd, 12 Terenure Road East, Dublin 6, Ireland. It can be bought in: Antonia's Book Shop Athboygate Trim, Easons Book Stores and all good book shops price €11:99.
Pictured at the launch in jovial mood
L/R: Michael Clemenger, Noel French and Martin Moffet in background.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holy Terrors

Michael Clemenger, who lives in Trim has written a book about his childhood,titled Holy Terrors. Michael was handed over to the unloving care of a religous run childrens home when he was a baby. When he reached the age of eight he was transferred to St Joseph's Industrial School in Tralee, Co. Kerry.
While there Michael suffered sexual abuse and beatings at the hands of the so called Christian Brothers. Despite the suffering and abuse which he endured at the hands of the religious? Michael managed to make a successful life for himself. When Michael was a young man of 20years he managed to find the mother he had never known.
Michael's books tells a remarkable story, his story, a story of courage and triumph over the Men in Black.
Michael's book will be launched in Antonia's Bookshop, Navangate Trim, this Saturday 28 November at 6.30pm.
Guest speaker at the launch will be Transport Minister and local TD Noel Dempsey.

Friday, November 20, 2009


The Small Impact Creative Writer's Group who are based in Navan Library, are holding an Open Mic night of poetry and prose in the library on Thursday 10th December at 7pm. If you have any poems or prose you would like to read in public why not come along, all are welcome. Good luck on the night.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Reading a poem from my book ( Short Trousers Days in Navan )

Michael " The Sheriff " Sheils

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's a small world

How often have I heard the phrase," It's a small world "

I can recall my father say to my mother on occasion especially when ever he'd be a bit late home from work. " God Mollie it's a small world, you'll never guess who I met, you remember Johnny from Kells I bumped into him on the Square and he asked me if I'd like a pint and sure it wouldn't be right to say no ". Then there was the times when we visited our grandparents Cathy and Pat Donohue in Delvin, Co. West Meath and I heard the people say to my father, God, Mick Sheils from Navan well isn't it a small world?.

If my grandparents came back they would be amazed at how small the world is now. People are jetting off on foreign holidays two and three times a year. In my grandparents day it was so different if someone left the country it was up to Dublin they went for a days shopping or to get the cattle boat to England in search of work or worse still to fight other peoples wars.

There was no such thing as: television, computers or mobile phones. I did a computer course about three years ago and the inevitable happened I bought a computer.

A friend, Frank Murphy, a member of the Meath Writer's Circle and author of two books "The Marginal Line and Excursions ", told me that I should start my own blog site. Of course I was a bit weary of this and thought it would cost money. Frank said, " no it will cost you nothing, the best way I can explain it is like this, years ago when people first went to America there was so much land that the government were giving it away. They organised races people would gather at certain points and the race would begin first to reach a certain point would stake claim to that land ".
" Yeah land which was stolen from the natives ", I replied.
" I know it was wrong but I'm just using it as a analogy. There's so much space on the Internet that it's going for free and you don't have to dispossess anyone for it". Frank convinced me and after aweek of trial and error I was in business.

Old habits die hard, one saturday evening I said to my wife Josephine, I'll switch on the pc and see if I've any fanmail. Low and behold it said you have a new comment. I clicked on comment and it read, Michael thanks for the nice post, have a nice weekend, David Santos from Portugal and I thought! God, it's a small world.

In August 2002 I travelled to Australia with my son Austin. I wrote a small piece about an encounter which I had in a town called Gungadai and I posted it on my blog 13 May 2008, then on 23rd August I got a comment all the way from Australia and I thought! it's a small world. Then there was the day I rang Seamy my sister's partner on my mobile, the phone rang out and went to his message box, it was my sister Rosaleen's voice, she said, sorry Seamus is not available at the moment please leave your number and he'll get back to you as soon as possible. God I thought it realy is a small world, Rosaleen had passed away two weeks earlier. And that's a journey I'm going to have to take myself some day.

Michael " The Sheriff " Sheils

Monday, September 21, 2009


Customer to barman
" Honky have you any crisps? "
" Yeah "
" What have you? "
" Salt and Vinegar, Cheese and Onion "
" Have you any Bacon Fries or Honky Dories? "
" Ah hold on a minute till I get a pen and paper then I'll take your order "
" Yeah and don't forget your apron "
" Now what would you like sir?
" Have you any Steak and Onion?
" What!!, the last time you saw a steak was in a Vampire movie, a wooden one!!
Laughter in the bar.

Michael " The Sheriff " Sheils.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Navan Railway Station
It seems Our Lady's Hospital is going the same way but our ministers will still claim their exorbitant expenses they have no shame.

The Dublin to Navan train

Will it ever come again?

We've been promised it will by the shower in the Dail

But I have my doubts it will ever come at all

Broken promises of Fiana Fail

Sunday, September 6, 2009


On 23rd April William G Hodgins launched his first book of poetry titled Sunflower. The book was launched by well known Trim poet and writer and leader of the Meath Writers Circle Tommy Murray. I missed the launch myself as I was busy elsewhere but would love to have been there. I believe it was a great night with members of: the Meath Writers Circle,  the Small Impact Writers' Group and well known poet Tom French reading some of their own work. Tom French made the arrangements and according to reports did a great job.

William ( Willie )as I fondly know him by, dedicated the book to the memory of his Deceased Daughter Lucy Sheila who loved growing sunflowers and also loved poetry and prose.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Tommy Murray pictured above reading from his new book " Counting Stained Glass Windows " , had a very successful launch in Trim Library 20 Aug 2009. Members of : Meath Writers Circle, Boyne Writers and Navan Writers Group were in attendance as well as members of the public and many of Tommy's friends. Readers on the night were :Tommy Murray, Frank Murphy, Willie Hodgins Pat Duffy, Marie McSweeney, Sean Reilly sang My Love is Like A Red Red Rose, by Robbie Burns and I made an attempt at singing myself.
Tommy's book was published by Lapwing Publishing and is selling at €8

Monday, July 27, 2009


Click photo to enlarge. Picture of Tommy's new book and page from web site.

" Counting Stained Glass Windows ", is the title of a new collection of poems by Tommy Murray, leader of the Meath Writers Circle. Tommy's new collection will be launched by well known poet Tom French in Trim library at 7pm on Thursday 20th August. It is published by Lapwing Belfast and sells at 8 euro.

Readers on the night will include: Willie Hodgins from Bohermeen, Frank Murphy Dunsany and myself, Sheriff from Navan. I might even give a bar of a song but it comes with a warning you might need a pair of ear muffs.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Knock Knock

It happened during the local government elections. I was canvassing on behalf of Anton McCabe of The Labour Party.

It's amazing what you hear when you knock on some doors. I knocked on a door one evening and the lady of the house answered. She would have known that I was a member of the Sheils family but not sure which one. Her son John Paul " The Pope's Child " is a mate of my son Paul, they often go to the mountains together. They were due to go to Scotland a week later. I said to the lady, " how do you think JP will get on in Scotland?. " Oh! are you Paul's dad ? "
" Yes "
" Use you have a black moustache? "
" Yes that's right , about 25 years ago ". That question didn't do a whole lot for my ego I can tell you.
A little bit of local knowledge can be a great thing when you're out canvassing. One evening I called to a rather big house in Johnstown. There was a game of football on television that same evening and people were reluctant to answer their doors. Two young children answered , is your mam or dad in I enquired, they ran back in to the house shouting, dad there's a man at the door. I waited a while, it seemed as if no one was going to answer. I was folding my literature and was about to leave it in the doorway when a man appeared. " Sorry for disturbing you, I'm canvassing on behalf of The Labour Party ".
" I'm watching the soccer!! and I'm voting for Padraig Fitzsimons "
" That's ok, I drank his beer too ", I replied and left.
I called to another house and didn't recognise the man who answered until he spoke. "Jasis don't be annoying me, my father's Fianna Fail mad "
" He wasn't always ", I said
Silence total silence.
Then there was the night I called to a house on the North side of town. A woman answered the door. I began, sorry for disturbing you, I'm canvassing on behalf of The Labour Party. She didn't answer me, she looked at my companion and said to him rather abruptly. " Where do you come from? "
" Navan "
" What's your name? "
" Noel Smyth "
" There's a lot of you isn't there!!!
Noel was surprised to say the least and I thought where the Hell's this one coming from. She turned to me and shoved a piece of paper into my face, saying, " what are you going to do about this? "
" What's that I can't see without my glasses. I could see the heading in big letters ( CORI ) Catholic Organisation Residential institutions. I began to search for my glasses. " I'll read it for you " she said.
As she read, I said " there's no need to read that to me I'm against abortion I voted no in the referendum.
" Yes!, but what are you going to do about it? " she demanded.
" You're not listening I told you I voted no "
" Yes but what are you going to do about it? " she repeated.
" I told you I voted no in the referendum, I also voted no to the Lisbon Treaty ".
" Yes!!, but I want to know, what are you going to do about it?. She went on to complain about the youth of today, saying, " it was all the parents fault ".
" Not necessarily ", I said.
" Oh yes necessarily, it is!! ". Thinking about the leaflet which she shoved in my face, I said , " it could have something to do with the schooling ".
" Oh!!, now you're going to tell me you got a few slaps at school. A little voice in my head, said,
" Mick are you going to take anymore of this crap!!! I looked at Noel and said, " lets get out of here ". As we walked away she shouted after us, " come back here! come back here!! we have to discuss this ".
" Certainly not with you " I replied, and continued on my way.
The very next day the Ryan Report into abuse in Residential Institutions was published and I thought! what's CORI going to do about this?, if the report came out the day before she wouldn't have opened her mouth.
On Monday 25 June we paid a visit to Claremont Stadium in Navan where Africa Day celebrations were being held. The Lord Mayor was there and other candidates as well. He shook hands with Anton saying, " You're a serious contender this time ".
" I was always a serious contender " said Anton
" You'll be fighting for the last seat ".
" We'll see, we'll see ".
In the heel of the hunt, after the first preference votes were counted, Anton came second to Jim Holloway, ( Fine Gael ) the lord mayor came 10th and it was he who ended up fighting for the last seat and two of his colleagues lost theirs.

Michael " The Sheriff "Sheils.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


After I left school in 1962 aged 13 I got a job in Danny Fitzpatrick's at Town View Navan. Danny was a furniture manufacturer. At 16 I started work in Navan Carpets as a Bankboy to Oliver Plunket. About three years later I moved to London.

I found London to be a very exciting and cosmopolitan city. It could be very strange too at times for a 19 year old coming from a small town in Ireland where everyone knew everyone else.

As I had left school at the tender age of thirteen, I ended up doing mostly manual work on building sites. It was at this type of work that I met many foreign nationals. At first I found it difficult to communicate with some of them. But through our work, I got to know and understand them pretty well. Soon I came to realize, that we had much in common. They had the same fears and concerns for the future as I had. Some of them had fled their homeland because of tyrrany and would never be able to return home. They might never see their families or friends again. It was much different for me I left home out of a spirit of adventure and could return at the drop of a hat. I can't begin to imagine what it would be like never to be able to return home.

I returned in the early 1970s and fell in love with local woman Josephine Walsh. We got married on 27th October, 1973 and settled down. We have three sons: Michael, Paul and Austin and our first grandchild Amelia was born 23rd May 2007 in Poland.

Since returning from London I have travelled to: Bulgaria, Gran Canaria, Italy, the Isle of Man, Tunizia, Turkey, Croatia, Australia, Poland and I have visited Our Lady's Shrine in Medjugorje in Southwest Yugoslavia on a number of occasions. I have also returned to London a number of times.

On one trip to London, in the company of Enda and Jim Nugent, two stalwarts of St. Mary's Musical Society Navan, we attended a showing of the musical Miss Saigon, in the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Miss Saigon is a brilliant musical. It tells the story of a young American GI whose life was instantly transformed by meeting a young Asian bargirl during the crucial last three weeks before the fall of Saigon. There was one poignant scene when the last helicopter was leaving and people were pleading to be allowed out. It reminded me of the terrifying scenes I had seen live on television years earlier.

Now when I see the ever increasing numbers of foreign nationals entering our shores, I am reminded of that scene in Miss Saigon and I can't help but wonder what kind of horrors are some of them fleeing from. Their treatment on arrival cand be a cause of grave concern. Already there have been reports of a small number of racial attacks.

Racism begins with hatred especially amoung the youths, who are not properly informed, or who simply lack experience of life. As people get older they become more aware of the plight of others. Children should be educated to be more accepting of people with different nationalities and cultures. Throughout the world there are many religous and ethnic differences. God created all human beings equal, regardless of colour or creed. We must not forget that Jesus was once a refugee, fleeing from Herod.
In Ireland we have had our own share of upheavals. We suffered a terrible famine, which caused countless numbers of deaths and over a million people left the country in search of a better life. The Irish people are to be found in every corner of the globe. Former President Mary Robinson put a figure of seventy million on it. We were occupied by a foreign power for hundreds of years, who maintained their presence by force of arms. As a result of this, we had many uprisings, in which many people died on both sides. With this in mind and knowing that we as a small nation can not afford to accommodate everyone who comes to our shores, we should however give priority to those who would suffer torture or even death for their beliefs should they be returned.
Those who are allowed to stay will no doubt in time play their part in the future of the nation just like millions of Irish people have done throughout the world. In time they might even become more Irish than the Irish themselves.

Michael " The Sheriff " Sheils

Sunday, June 21, 2009


In the early hours of 21 June 2009 when most people were in their beds Anton McCabe and Jimmy O'Brien were celebrating.
Sorry about wall lights

Saturday, June 13, 2009


On Friday 5th June 2009 the people of Navan went to the polls and elected the following to the Navan Town Council : Brennan Phil Independent, Cassels Shane Fianna Fail, Dean Francis Independent, Fitzsimons Padraig Fianna Fail, Holloway Jim Fine Gael, Jamal Suzanne Fine Gael, McCabe Anton The Labour Party, Reilly Joe, Sinn Fein, Toibin Peadar, Sinn Fein.
Congratulations to all.

Anton McCabe and his proud mother Nancy on the night Anton was elected to the Navan Urban Council 6 June 2009.

Here are some photos.
RIGHT : L/R: Niamh McGowan, Jenny McHugh, Tracy McElhinny all the Labour Party elected to the Meath County Council. Photo taken at the count center Trim 08-06-09


Celebrating Anto's election L/R Elen Smyth, Josephine Sheils
Margaret McCabe, Anto McCabe and Christy McQuillan.

Anton. McCabe, Josephine. Sheils, Christy. McQuillan.

Tina O'Brien and John Doyle.

Anto's angels, how come you're such a hit with the girls?

Michael Sheils and Anton McCabe
Outside the Town Hall the day I signed Anto's nomination papers.

Keeping tabs on the score L/R: Jonathan Brown, Daran O'Brien, Tina O'Brien, Anton McCabe

Jim O'Brien and at the back Ger Lynch.

Right : Noel Smyth, Josephine Sheils, Anton McCabe and

Jim O'Brien director of elections.

Left, Tina O'Brien and Jim O'Brien same name not related at fund raising night in the Balreask Arms Trim Rd.

Right : Rose O'Brien, Elen Smyth, Margaret McCabe and Josephine Sheils at fund raising night Balreask Arms Trim Road Navan.

Third from right Eamon. Gilmore, leader of the Labour Party, Nessa Childers on his left and Anton McCabe canvassing at the Friday Market Fair Green in Navan. Nessa was elected to the European Parliament and Anton was elected to the Navan Town Council.

Below on the campaign trail : L/R  J. O'Brien, Ger. Gibbins, A.McCabe, M.Sheils, Noel. Smyth, Ger. Lynch.

L/R: Ger Lynch,Noel Smyth, Anto McCabe,Jim O'Brien and Ger Gibbins.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


The following story was published in the Meath Chronicle 30 December 2000


Sheriff couldn't believe his eyes. He hadn't intended to go to this mass and if it wasn't for the craic the night before, he would have been at an earlier one. His heart was pounding, his mind racing when there on the altar he saw Brother John, the man who had tormented him over 30 years earlier.
This can't be happening, can it really be him?. How did he ever become a priest? thought Sheriff. Memories came flooding back of that terrifying incident so long ago. He couldn't concentrate on the mass. Turning his head from the altar didn't help. There was no escape.
For a long time, Brother John had been trying to force him to play football.
" You'll play football if it's the last thing you do, I can promise you that, when you go out for the break play football with the rest of the lads if not run around the field 10 ten times" he said. During the break some of the boys taunted Sheriff saying, you better play football or he'll kill you.
In his mind's eye, Sheriff could see himself standing alone in front of the class, trembling, not knowing what was going to happen next?. He had felt Brother John's anger before on many occasions. Brother John had a violent streak in him. Sheriff had seen him beat the same boys day in and day out and all for what?, nothing, just because they had found it difficult to learn.
Nothing had prepared Sheriff for what happened when he returned to the class.
" Well Sheriff did you play football? Brother John roared at the top of his voice."
" No Brother "
" Why " he said menacingly.
" I didn't want to, Brother "
" Did you run around the field? "
" I did a few laps but some of the lads began laughing, why should I put up with that? "
"There was a long silence. Brother John stared at him for what seemed an eternity.
" Dance! " he bellowed with a sadistic grin on his face.
" Why?,Brother. "
" I'll show you why? "
Sheriff felt the full force of his strap. The pain was excruciating.
" Dance! " he bellowed again, much to the amusment of the class. Brother John had worked himself into a mad frenzy. It was as if the Devil himself had taken over and was about to devour him.
" Dance! Dance!! Dance!!! he roared, like a mad dog showering Sheriff's face with spittle. Sheriff felt ashamed and humiliated, although he had nothing to be ashamed of. He managed to escape from Brother John's clutches, grabbed his schoolbag and ran home, returning a week later only to be further humiliated by the greeting, how's my little girl today? "
Now 38 years later Sheriff finds himself reliving that terrible incident, when his innocence was shattered by that brute on the altar. Brother John, ( the priest ), is now giving a sermon, the theme of which is, " every person is a treasure ". How dare you! was I not a treasure when you were abusing me?. Do I have to sit here and listen to your crap?. Look at you now as if butter wouldn't melt in your mouth.
They say the leopard never changes his spots. Brother John changed one collar for another but to Sheriff he is still the same, a well fed bully boy.
Sheriff thought of something Jesus once said; suffer little children to come unto me, for their's is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Sheriff is now a 51-year old man, no longer the child he was then and never again will he dance for Brother John.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


At a meeting of the Meath Writers Circle, Tommy Murray showed us a old postcard and asked us to write a poem based on the card.


They're dancing! dancing! dancing!
Shouts the little boy
As he runs down the hill
And joyous music fills the air
As a man dances with his lady fair
Dancing to a nick nock tune
With joyous spritely steps
Whose the blackhaired beauty
Dancing with your man
Whispers a bystander
She's too good for him
I'll tell you that
Wouldn't you think
He'd get rid of the stick
And take off his hat
No doubt he'll do that
At the end of the day
When the sun sinks in the west
Not if I can help it
Be God I think I'll take a chance
And ask her to dance
Before the sun sinks in the west
If I play my cards right
I could be with her tonight
If not tomorrow
Michael ' The Sheriff ' Sheils

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Wind Of Change

The Wind of Change
January 20/2009
Was a wet cold day in Ireland
But there was something else there
Something in the wind
Something awesome
Something palpable
Trees seemed to bow to the wind
A wind of change
Which blew across the land
A wind with a ghostly rhythm
Which seemed to blow
All the way from Africa
And it was heard to say
Obama! Obama! Obama!
It passed over the Atlantic
And on to Washington
Where it sent a flutter through
The Star Spangled Banner
There multitudes had gathered
Chanting: Obama! Obama! Obama
Yes we can! yes we can!
And I was there in spirit
Carried on the wind
The wind of change
Echoes from history were heard
When Obama laid his hand
On Lincoln's Bible
And the wind of change
Was felt in Guantanamo
Where next?
The Hills of Tora Bora perhaps?
Or maybe Palestine?
The list is endless
Long blow the wind
The wind of change.
Michael ' The Sheriff ' Sheils.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Waiting for you

While I waited for you
The sky suddenly turned dark
and shed an ocean of tears
Then this beautiful rainbow appeared
I thought I'd capture it
and share it with you

Click photo to enlarge.

Photo taken Jan 10th 2009. Building motor taxation office Railway Street Navan.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Carpet of White

L/R Michael, Amelia, Austin.                                                       Right Josephine.

I stood by a wood
on a carpet of white
Which had fallen
during the night
Posing for this photo
which was taken by
my darling wife
who stood on
the same carpet of white

Michael '' The Sheriff '' Sheils
Kedzierzyn- kozle Poland Christmas 2008