CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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A new found poet among us

HONG KONG (SE): Many people in later life decide to try their hand at something new and De La Salle Brother Patrick Tierney, the principal of La Salle College in Kowloon and director of the Lasallian Family in the city, has, during the past few years, turned his way with words into poetry.

He has recently published a collection of 100 poems and on January 16 a display featuring 16 of them was held at the offices of the Consulate General of Ireland to Hong Kong and Macau in Central.

At a simple function hosted by the consul general, Peter Ryan, the Irish minister for Financial Services, Eoghan Murphy, who just happened to be on hand in Hong Kong, opened the exhibition and, in deference to Brother Patrick’s other long nurtured passion, presented him with an Irish soccer jersey signed by each member of the national team.

The 16 poems were displayed around the conference room of the consulate. Artist, Matt Gallagher, has reproduced them in a neat and attractive brochure, which was handed out to all in attendance.

Brother Patrick writes out of his own life experiences. As a school teacher he pens:

The driver longs for days of old,

When teachers really had a hold;

When Heads could freeze

you with a glance,

Or haul you out to make

you dance.


As a long-time resident
of Hong Kong he says:

They rise to the sky in a forest of fingers,

Pointy, stubby, thumby,

Geometrical hulks and bulks,

Chock a block,

Sucking and gulping the air,

Desperate for space to breathe.


As a lover of wild flowers:

And some swing in the wind,

Dance in the breeze,

Weather the storm;

And some peep from the shadows,

Hanging onto the coat-tail

Of mother-nature’s bounty.


As a man of religion
he scribbles:

Let go the cases and bags,

Weighing your soul with rags,

Struggling ’gainst wind and rain,

A paltry possession to gain.


And as a man:

A shifty place this mind of mine,

Rolling with the tides of time,

Swaying like a reed in the wind,

Artfully darting and dodging,

Darting like sparks through tinder,

In the cycle of shuttling flight

As a sympathetic soul, he says of the children of Tiger Mums:

The children must get
A’s at school,

And never, ever, play the fool;

Their stars must always turn to gold,

Else they’re in line for one long scold.


His refined sense of justice prompted him to write of
Tiananmen Square:

The square is calm today, 

the earth at rest unless,

I discover, you try to speak
a bit too loudly

about freedom’s glory and be gently seriously shushed by friends,

convinced that the blind see,

the deaf hear and even the slabs tremble.


Brother Patrick came to Hong Kong from Ireland in 1964 and joined the staff of St. John’s College. He moved to Kowloon in 1990 and became its ninth principal in 1998.

He says that he did not begin to compose poetry until a few years ago, but once he started putting his pen to paper they came spilling out.

However, Brother Patrick is no new chum with the pen. Together with Joseph Fong Fai-cho he has written and published a book of stories of the Old Testament made easy.

Shalom: Old Testament Stories also contains a variety of suggestions, asking a few searching questions that new comers to its pages may profitably ask themselves.

The veteran of years in the classroom says that he sticks with the topics he knows well: nature, education and religion.

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