Image shown: Red House Legends launch

Red House Legends: Woodford to Waterford, A Life’s Journey in Verse, by poet and retired teacher Martin McShea, was recently launched at Waterford Healing Arts Trust. The collection, which came about through the WHAT arts programme, also features original illustrations by artist Zoe Patel. Red House Legends was launched by Dr Elizabeth Abernethy, Consultant Nephrologist at University Hospital Waterford. 

Claire Meaney, Acting Arts Director of WHAT, explains the genesis of the collection: ‘Our arts programme in the dialysis unit of University Hospital Waterford involves artists working in the unit, engaging patients in creating art. The programme is funded by the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund and is supported by the staff members on the unit who are keen to provide positive, creative and diversional activities for their patients.  Martin was supported through the process of putting this collection together by artist Philip Cullen.’

The audience was treated to a number of thoughtful and entertaining presentations by guest speakers who included Dr Celine Healy from Maynooth University; Brenda Ronan, Clinical Nurse Manager at the Renal Dialysis Unit, UHW; artist Philip Cullen and Martin McShea himself.

Martin McShea is an inspiration. Turning adversity into opportunity, he has reached deep into his poetic soul and produced a beautiful collection to bring the reader on a journey of profound riches, from East London to Mosul, from his beloved Clapton and West Ham football clubs to the Basilica at Lourdes and from Shakespearean times to the present day. Known locally in Waterford as one of nature’s gentlemen, this UK native is fondly remembered by his former students, including well-known Ireland international footballer, Chris Hughton: ‘When we reflect on our school days, some teachers stand out in our memories. Martin was one such teacher… He was dedicated and had a great memory for names. Because of his love of sport and especially football, he had a big effect on me in my early and impressionable days, and was a big influence on my sporting future.’

The title Red House Legends comes from the name of the venue in East London where supporters of Martin’s beloved Clapton Football Club gather on match days. Football features strongly in the collection, along with poems with historical, religious and international themes. Speaking about the process of writing, Martin McShea says that it has led him to achieve a greater understanding of himself, adding ‘it helps me to be a better communicator, improves my ability to recall important information and enhances my creativity. Decasyllabic poetry – a form of poetry containing ten syllables per line – is my preferred style. I find that the discipline of structure, interestingly, allows for greater fluency of expression.’

Red House Legends is available to purchase for €10.00 from Waterford Healing Arts Trust. Further details are available from


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