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In the great tradition of Co Armagh bards Donald McKenna is up there with the best. Here he regales us with his poem 'The Tragic tale of Tim McCann'  at June's Open Mic Night in Abbey Lane Theatre while the summer heat soared to 30o


''Unreal!''  That was the verdict of the comedian Mark Shields (Coalisland) after experiencing his first Abbey Lane Open Mic. It was also the verdict of the big crowd who enjoyed Marks' take on life, especially in a Tyrone shirt. You can take the man out of Tyrone but.... His critical eye exposed traits of himself, family, neighbours, fellow 'islanders and Strabane! All very funny and probably not true at all. Hope to see you back Mark. Damien Mallon, poet,singer read from his collection 'Off the trees'. Beautiful depiction of life in and around Keady, of young love and cowboys and indians  That's were a lot of cowboys are from Damien! And from the same neck of the woods Donald McKenna, bard extraordinaire had the audience entralled with his ode to 'The tragic tale of Tim McCann' .Kate McGrail introduced us to technological problems and 'commercial breaks' during here great story of her family's trip to see Pope John Paul in 1979. I'll approach committee to install wifi Kate before next time. No such problems with her rendition of Spancil Hill. As a daughter of the famous Harry, the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Thanks to; new comer Malachy Trainor  with poem 'To be performed' orginal work, Bridie Heaney with F Ledwidge's 'June'. Dymphna Ferran's 'Royal wedding', Tim Hanna's dreamteam of NIre taking on Russia  in the World Cup and Malachi 's poem ''Im sure I didn't''. Singers Margueirite with 'Limerick your a lady',Michael Callaghan singing Elvis's 'falling in love with you' and Ann Marie McCourt with 'Streets of London' or Paris!

  Too all our contributors in the Limerick Laughs competition Goretti, Tim, Byddi, Donald,Kate, Joe,Pat,Dymphna, Paddy, Bridie and all others unmentioned THANK YOU! We finished up with the conclusion of Ann Gilmartin's storytelling tale of 'Our Friend with the black mask'  Definitely a NI Screen movie there Ann to follow on from 'Game of Tyrones' sorry Thrones. Thats thon Mark Shiels AGAIN!

With  temperatures in the bammy 20's and the long May bank holiday starting, excuses for missing this month's Open Mic were strong and understandable. But the magic of these evenings still enticed our faithful audience to come in the dozens to entertain and be entertained by their fellow attendees.

This month we were entralled by musicians, singers, authors, poets, yarn spinners and the afore mentioned Magician Ed. Our usual 'warm up' act Dynamic Dymphna gave us red hot flushes with some very personal insurance advice! Author of 'From March to November' Byddi Lee read excerpts from this her first published novel which had all the ladies rubbing their hands with glee and all the gentlemen cringing in notional agony...the War of the Sexes continues. Paddy Mohan fought back on the men's side with his guitar and singing.Malachi's poems 'Golden Cow' and 'Ma wee black pan' followed and the first half was called after Thomas showed us his new talent on flute and whistle.

After some  complimentary refreshments we introduced this month's guest Ed Masters to resounding applause. His enthusiastic assistant for the evening, Paddy Hamill, played the part like a pro.... Ooing! and Aaaing! in all the right places as Ed showed us amazing card tricks. Helen Donnelly then volunteered from the crowd to assist Ed with a flying table trick after she got over the shock of meeting Ed. We were still trying to figure out how he managed that.! Another first for the  OMN's Illusionst and Magician Ed Masters.

Our second author/playwrite was Fionnuala Cassidy from CoTyrone reading excerpts from her latest work for the first time in public. 'Smoke and mirrors' her working title, left the audience wanting more. This evening had another first with Esmee O'Donnell playing her cello beautifully unaccompanied. Marty sang his version of  'Windmills of your mind' and we had the welcome return of Michael Callaghan recently out off hospital to sing from the floor 'My Eileen is waiting for me'. Dymphna won the meal for 2 Limerick Laughs compo and so ended another great night's entertainment in Abbey Lane. Next date Friday 29th June. Limerick Laughs theme for JUNE 'There was a wee woman called June'.  Big thanks to all who attended and participated on the night.

Abbey Lane Theatre was packed as April's OMN got underway with internationally renowned guest artists Finbar Magee & Breige Quinn giving us a taste of their vast repertoire. Finbar's witty and thought provoking songs beautifully accompanied by Breige on fiddle had the audience entralled instantly. Their finale 'Facebook Friday Night' will go down as one of the golden memories of Open Mic Night's moments.


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We were also graced by the appearances of Champions of Performance Poetry Colin Hassard (Banbridge) and Jimmy Rafferty(Armagh) both poets revered in their selected styles

 And what can one say about Dynamic Dymphna from Dungannon. She had us in stitches with her yarns about smuggling sausages  and Timbuktu! Her Big Tom poem was a fitting salute to a great entertainer. Also on stage during the night Brendan McGrath;country melody. Mark Brownlee; original poetry.Ann Gilmartin; story telling. Marguerite Kelly; singing A bunch of Thyme. McGrath brothers, Declan & Brendan; mandolin/guitar trad music. Limerick laughs competition won by Dymphna via audience clapometer with a very strong 'Fantastic' followed by Ann, Byddi, Jimmy,and Joan. well done everyone! Malachi with a weather warning 'Casting clouts' and finishing with Finbar and Breige. Great night FOR A £5!

Mel will appear at Abbey Lane Open Mic Night Friday 26th Jan. First excerpt appropriate for the weather that's in it:


for Pat and Fiona McParland

When the storm arrived in the small hours of the night

we were unprepared-

it flicked up slates, whipped off roofs

and found its voice in the dry throat

of our attic.

Our hearts shook

as if our lives had been entered

by an intruder

and our words to each other

were as gentle as the leaves dropping

onto lawns as the wind passed.


TIESfor Anne McParland

Such a simple deed

now marks the passage of time.

I bend to tie my mother's shoes

where once she bent for mine.



A wonderful turnout for the first Open Mic of 2018 in Abbey Lane Theatre and a great response for our guest poet Mel McMahon. Mel thrilled the audience with his poems from his collection 'Out of Breath' and the endearing stories behind his work. Thanks again Mel. Along with Mel we were graced by the presence of two of Northern Ireland's leading promoters of poetry in Geraldine O'Kane and Colin Dardis from Crescent Arts Centre OMN which has been running for the past 6 years in Belfast. Catch it on the first Friday of the month 8.30 start (Purely Poetry). Thanks for calling, Colin and Geraldine, and your contributions, first class!

It's always difficult to follow great acts but Dymphna Ferran easily rose to the challenge and got us all laughing with her Bus driver yarns. John Goodwin's ''Building up and tearing England down'' was his first contribution in Abbey Lane and likewise Peter Carragher another first time visitor used his bardic skills in his poems of 'Mary Ann' on her bike and the 'The fight in Crossmaglen'. Brilliant stuff Peter and hope to see you'se both back next month.

Thomas Healy; Harp, poems and songs, Daniel Corrigan; original song/guitar, Lughaidh O'Domaile; banjo, Kevin 'Willie' Trainor; original song 'The tail of the Hare' Theresa; sang a Carol King song, Joan and Joe McCool; duet piece poetry and whistle'Michael Callaghan sang; 'Eileen is waiting for me', Dymphna slipped in with another poem (which the jury is out on) Pat Prunty sang; Robbie Burns' ''Peace and joy, love and pleasure'' capping a fantastic night.

'Limerick Laughs' was  competed strongly for by Pauline McKee, Tim Hanna, Bridie Heaney (by proxy Aisling and Colin) Peter Kelly, Dymphna , Pat Prunty and myself . Management introduced new technology to smooth the decision making process which had fallen into disrepute and presented the audience with an online Clapometer. This science indicated Tim Hanna as the winner as the strongest 'FANTASTIC' score. He won a meal for two at the nearest park bench, Pat Prunty chocolates and Pauline McKee wine. The jury is also out on the Clapometer .

NEXT OMN FEBRUARY 23RD Details of guests and Limerick's laughs competition coming soon.


Peter Kelly's limerick

The crowd that attend the John Hewitt

Have made it  quite clear why they do it.

They say that Armagh, Is a place above par

That exceeds expectations - I KNEW IT!!


And the winner by overwhelming audience approval,

Eva Powell (age8)

There was a wee woman from Armagh

Who wanted to travel quite far.

She decided on Milford, but had no will for it.

So she sat at home by he fire.

Excellent Eva, well done and congrats on winning the Meal voucher for EMBERS RESTAURANT ,ARMAGH.


Writers teach and entertain

Poets profess their sweet refrain

With use of quill or pencil or pen

The power of the sword is blunted and drained

Of blood and evil, keeping life humane.



Apology for a sideways on David. He is now off his back and walking with a knee brace, plaster removed.

Hope this image is upright and of a pre-fall David.

David Braziel colour


Inspiration for a poem can strike anytime, anywhere and the appearance of a butterfly at our OMNight in a baltic February triggered two such odes. Coming down from the rafters for the heat of the spotlights Mother nature's entertainer stole the show from us fumbling humans.

The Intruder

by B. Rodney

A butterfly appeared tonight

in the middle of a song, and fluttered

fleetingly into the beat.

I watched its struggle to find the light

that it might land and feel safe for a while.

And I imagined that's

what we had in common, that winged

intruder and I- flopping fearlessly,

fearfully searching for a sanctuary..


And then I got distracted by

a poem, or was it a story? A tale?

Yes, a tall tale.



Open Mic Flight

by M Kelly

February flutters by,

In winter's grasp

A butterfly

Lent a glimpse of summer's heat

A welcome unseasonal treat

To an audience appreciating art

While Mother Nature tears apart

Any challenge, provide we might

To her, poetry, her song, her flight.