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Nicholas Mackey

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I write. I take photos. Go figure.

LandSea Divide

I can be drawn as an inkblacked vein on a map

I can be a healed scar where land once bled

I can be a seawashedoasiswhere a universe of imagination dwells.

I can be a space of sorrow where the ocean’s solemn sighs prevail. 

I can hold countless grains of sand, an earthly echo of countless celestial stars

I can convey feelings of wonder, or despair

I can be a purepoint of pilgrimage where exuberance of youth can be found

I can speak to your inner soul

I can take your breath away

I can be the divide whereshadows of history play on by the water’s edge.

I can be a whispered promise in the lightof dawn

I can be a refuge for those fortunate to escape life’s relentless fray

I can be the fracture in time’s fragile spectrum

I can be the end of somethinga start of everything

I can receiveyour footprint in my softness for a spell,yet all must fade away

I can be a haven of peace, harmony, heaven

I can be hell, an inferno of war, discord 

I can be a sanctuary from life’s bitter sword

I can be a pulsing border where dreams and nightmares collide 

Salt waters, the feet of many, ideas have crossed over me

I can be barren, and forbidding

I can be bursting with vibrant liferhythm, and welcoming

I can be a windswept landmark to the continuance of being

I can vanish in an instant beneath the fury of apocalyptic storms

I can be rebornfrom seagouged rocks,almighty forces punishing my imperfections

I can be an endless smoothness of strand stretching back to childhood

I can be a citadel with a lighthouse and those entrusted to watch over us nearby

I can recall thunderous war cries of Romans, Vikings, Saxons and Normans striding through

I can be a resting place for shipwrecks, poor sods drowned and even buried treasure

like to weave an aura of hope around all those seeking solace 

I can be open to elemental dramas,a theatre of waves and living things

I can be witness tochippedaway secrets of the past

I have remained a sacred narrow strip fusingfluid motion of the ocean withhardfixed energy of earthly land

What am I?

I am the coast.


A poem by Nicholas Mackey

London, U.K.

1.42pm, Tuesday 26th September 2023

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
Powerful phrases. We are an island/islands 'set in a silver sea' and it's so easy to overlook that great swathes of the world have... Read More
Saturday, 01 June 2024 11:56
Nicholas Mackey
Thank you Rosy for taking the time to make a well-considered and apt comment - as you always do. Your generosity of spirit encour... Read More
Saturday, 22 June 2024 11:24
Rosy Cole
I've been at it for half a century, Nicholas, and I'm still learning! :-) Truly. It was always my hope with Green Room that commen... Read More
Thursday, 27 June 2024 17:53
181 Hits

Upwards And Onwards

Hello Gr8worders/Green Roomers

Over the past 2-3 years, I've been labouring away on a book. It's been a struggle. At first it was just a mass of scribbles in a notebook following a memorable trip to south-east Turkey - now officially designated as Türkiye. Then during Covid Times (remember that?) the thought took hold that perhaps, just perhaps there was a book to be had from the 50 pages of handwritten notes I had taken while travelling through a region once known as Northern Mesopotamia. I had also taken nearly 6,000 photos when visiting places such as Antakya (Antioch), Gaziantep, Urfa, Diyarbakir, Dara, Harran, Mardin and Göbeklitepe.

So, I began writing. And writing. And writing. Eventually I had chalked up 65,000 words (chiselled away from an original verbose manuscript of 130,000 words) and what had started out as a description of the journey travelled, morphed into something much more. It became a blend of travelogue, memoir, history, archaeology, poetry, prose, and memorable imagery – evocative of my coming of age in Ireland with an unquenchable desire to travel, ‘to seek and find’ (Whitman).

Some words of credit: I cannot thank my dear wife enough for her starring role as editor of the initial draft I completed and subsequent versions while keeping my nose to the grindstone. Without her gentle but persistent chivvying this book might never have seen the light of day. I am eternally grateful for her positive energy, her endearing smile and her sensitive encouragement when I thought I was losing my way.

Then, the soul-destroying journey of trying to find an agent or a publisher; and even peeping into the world of self-publishing. What an experience that has been. I could write a book about it! But wait ...

But I did have a bona fide book on my hands of my own creation and I yearned to get it published. The title of my book: 'An Irishman In Northern Mesopotamia'. I was tenacious in my search for a publisher but those dispiriting letters of rejection became my regular reading fare. It was a depressing experience where I began to doubt so much about myself. Then, one day, somebody must have liked what they read and I received a 'come on down and talk to us' letter. I couldn't believe it. My wife noted at the time that I appeared to be floating on Cloud 9.

Just before Christmas 2023 Unicorn Publishing Group agreed to publish 'An Irishman In Northern Mesopotamia' in October 2024. After what appeared to be an enormous unwinnable struggle in getting to the publishing finishing line was at last turning into a reality. But my goodness, did I have to work at it. In some ways, the pathway to securing publication is so much more time-consuming and taxing on the spirit than the task of authorship. Writing is a doddle in comparison to all the rest of the shebang in trying to get one's magnum opus into print.

But I have to give full credit to Unicorn Publishing - they have been incredibly supportive the whole way through. I have learnt so much and I cannot thank them enough. 

And lo and behold, the official launch date was arranged: Thursday, 10th October 2024. Venue: Sandfords Bookstore in Covent Garden, London WC2, UK; time: 7.00pm where 'An Irishman In Northern Mesopotamia' will be unleashed on an unsuspecting world! As fellow Gr8worders/Green Roomers, you are warmly invited to attend my book launch if you can make it to the London location on the given day at the given time.

I would like to thank Rosy Cole and everyone at Gr8word/Green Room most sincerely for kindly permitting me to avail of this marvellous website to help publicise my new book. Thank you very much indeed. Imagine, 'An Irishman In Northern Mesopotamia', my first book published and I a mere whippersnapper of 69 - still waiting to grow up! Whatever next?

Please see attached

Onwards and upwards.

Best wishes to everyone in the Gr8word/Green Room family.

Slán agus beannacht,

Nicholas Mackey

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
Good to hear from you, Nicholas, and many congratulations on the book deal! I bet you can't wait for October :-) What fascinating ... Read More
Tuesday, 21 May 2024 19:15
Nicholas Mackey
Thank you for your kind words, Rosy. You hit the nail on the head when you say, 'Travel always snags the imagination and extends... Read More
Friday, 24 May 2024 12:30
Rosy Cole
Fiction is fraught with all kinds of pitfalls. It's not uncommon for writers to flourish when they have lines to run on :-) So gla... Read More
Saturday, 01 June 2024 11:41
276 Hits

A Visit To Ireland in September 2018

As an expatriate Irishman now based in London who has lived out of Ireland since 1979, I have been back many times over the years but a trip completed in September 2018 to Counties Meath, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare, Kerry, Cork, Kilkenny and Dublin with my wife and two close friends (also living in London) turned out to be an uplifting and moving experience.
Over the six days of our Irish visit, I wanted to explore what Ireland is as a country, its people, history and culture and, of course, what it means to be Irish. It was not all serious of course as there was plenty of craic introduced at many opportunities enroute; thankfully we were blessed with the best of weather throughout.

I had devised an itinerary that started in Co. Meath with a visit to the Hill of Tara, exploring an ancient place with a history going back nearly 6,000 years. The Hill of Tara ranks high in the collective Irish memory where mythology, spirituality, power and the ceremonial have been part of the Celtic psyche for millennia. It can be easily reached from the nearby Jordanstown/Old Ross Road where the entrance is replete with well-presented, informative signage describing the archaeology, geography and the fabled symbolism of the hallowed site. As you walk over the windswept rolling hills of this place, you begin to imagine what sacred and powerful events must have occurred on this soil all those years ago.
For more detailed information, please see:

Afterwards, we headed over to Trim (also in Co. Meath) and visited the magnificent Anglo-Norman castle there built by Hugh de Lacy in 1180. Our friends were captivated by the fact that the Normans had visited Ireland also after conquering England in 1066 but I pointed out that it was the beginning of a sad and bloody tale with the domination of Ireland by a certain foreign power. 752 years of colonial rule kicked off when two Irish high kings, became locked in a sordid squabble for supremacy in their neck of the woods way back in the 12th century CE and one of these kingly protagonists, a certain Dermot McMurrough inveigled the English monarch at the time, Henry II, to send over an Anglo-Norman lord of Wales, Richard FitzGilbert, Earl of Pembroke (aka Strongbow) and a posse of soldiers to enable the aforesaid Dermot M. re-establish his position of power. Looked at from the perspective of the cold light of day, this episode of political shenanigans more than eight and a half centuries ago served as the progenitor of where one country came to be subservient to its nearest neighbour for three quarters of a millennium. But I digress.

After our Hill of Tara visit, we drove westwards through Westmeath, Longford, Leitrim, Roscommon in glorious sunshine and in the afternoon arrived at our destination: the Riverside Hotel in Sligo town where we had a marvellous view of the River Garavogue. We visited the Yeats Society Building in the heart of Sligo where some fascinating details and memorabilia associated with 'W.B.', (one of Ireland's literary Nobel Laureates), are on show to the public - a chat with the curator also proved to be entertaining and enlightening. "Cast a cold eye on life, on death Horseman pass by" - the self-written epitaph on Yeat's grave in Drumcliff churchyard, Co. Sligo "under bare Ben Bulben's head". 

The following morning, in continuance of the focus on classical Ireland, we ventured out of Sligo town and climbed the hill of Knocknarea, an outcrop of limestone reaching 327 metres (1,072 feet) in height on a windy and showery morning. At the plateaued summit, we gazed in wonder at the high rocky cairn, legendary burial mound of Maeve, warrior queen of Connacht - Connacht being one of the five ancient provinces of Ireland: the others were Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Meath. From the top of Knocknarea, we also had a marvellous 360-degree panorama where it is said that six counties can be seen.
Later, we found ourselves at the seaside in Strandhill and ate at the incredible Shells restaurant on the sea front. My friends remarked how delicious the food was and the very high standard of service despite the place being packed. Even though this was only the second day of our visit, we noted the friendliness of everyone we came across.

A further peep into Ireland's past was next on the cards so we visited Lissadell House and our inimitable guide, Leo, who was a tour-de-force character in not only beguiling us with an entertaining account of the house, the people associated with Lissadell such as the Gore-Booths, W.B. Yeats, et al., but Leo also gave us a fascinating albeit unorthodox, no-nonsense view of Irish history which held us in thrall, his delivery peppered with wicked humour.
It may interest you to know that my Scottish grandmother told me when she was a 'gel', that she had ridden on horseback with the Gore-Booth sisters, Eva and Constance in the grounds of Lissadell. But I digress again.

We pressed on to Galway and checked in for two nights at Flannery's Hotel. The following morning, our tummies fortified by a 'full Irish', we embarked on a tour of the city and the only negative experience of the entire trip was when I was scolded by an elderly Galwegian for taking pictures of boats in the harbour; to date I have no idea how innocently taking photos of an attractive local nautical scene could cause someone to become so exercised. Undeterred, we later drove out to Clifden in search of a well-known eatery renowned for its marine cuisine. But this is Ireland and we were not in a hurry so we detoured to Cong, just inside Co. Mayo and visited the charming town along with the ancient abbey. You will no doubt recall that Cong served as the backdrop for the film, "The Quiet Man" featuring Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne - both Hollywood stars with Irish roots.

On the road again via Clonbur and the enchanting Lough Nafooey (known as the lake of the winnowing winds – what an incredible name from the original Irish) where I regaled our small group about a geological field trip I had been on to the area more than 40 years previously as a Trinity College Dublin undergrad in Natural Sciences. I found myself reliving old memories and dreams and I felt this familiar haunting magic when the Celtic world re-enters my soul. We journeyed on past the incomparable Lough Mask, Killary Fjord, Finny, and stopped briefly at Kylemore Abbey where the afternoon sunshine danced on the waters of the lake enhancing the beauty of the place.
Happily our goal was achieved when we rolled into Clifden late that afternoon and as weary, famished travellers, we were treated to a veritable fish feast at Mitchell's Seafood Restaurant. Most memorable as it was delicious.

We returned to Galway city and headed out to the Latin Quarter (yes, Paris is not the only city with such a snazzy-sounding district) which was pulsating with energy and people. Pretty soon we realised that there was music a-plenty on offer and we found ourselves in the famous musical watering hole called, Tigh Cóilí where a live band was playing some Irish tunes. The place was heaving but yet the people present made room for us with a smile and a cheery word as we were kindly given seats as we supped away on liquid refreshment savouring the atmosphere. The craic was stupendous. My favourite Irish tipple being a pint of porter, aka a Guinness.

We returned to our hotel around 11.30pm thinking we'd get the semblance of an early night but as we walked through the foyer it was obvious a hooley to the accompaniment of music was in full swing. We were invited to join the group, drinks magically appeared on the table where we sat and, from what we could gather, we had crashed a hen party Irish-style with men and women present. We were welcomed into the fold, as it were, and the party carried on to the small hours in a very joyful fashion: life itself and the continuation of life with a most noticeable joie de vivre palapable was the essence of this celebration. A heart-warming way to end a wonderful day.
Or, if I think of it from a philosophical viewpoint, a most postive existential experience. Take your pick.

(To Be Continued)

Recent comment in this post
Stephen Evans
Looking forward to the next installment - have always wanted to visit.
Wednesday, 30 November 2022 01:59
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1 Comment

Ride Free

Artist Name - Ride-Free-a-poem-by-Nicholas-Mackey-19-May-2022-1.m4a

Covid Memorial Wall London 24 July 2021 

Love always
Love you Mum
I love you Daddy
Love children
Love you till forever
To my diamond in the sky, I love you


Wear a mask Wash your hands
Care home residents Lewisham
To all the patients of Epsom & St Helier Hospital
NHS workers are 4 life not just 4 Covid
Thank you NHS Love you NHS
All affected by the virus
We love you miss you we lost our world


I love you to the moon and back
I love you 300,000,000 times
To All We Love To All Fighters!
Forever in my heart and always on my mind
Precious memories
Death takes a heart that no one can heal
Love makes memories that no one can steal


You were young, gifted and black
Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name
You are the light of my life
Shine on G man you crazy diamond
No matter what
Love always
For all those who died alone and for the families who never got to say goodbye


So many flashbacks not near enough wishes
For all the staff lost in the Chelsea and Westminster (Hospital) RIP
Vax 4 our kids No Vax 4 our kids
To all victims of Covid-19 worldwide we will remember you always with love
More than 1.1 million people still battling post-Covid Syndrome
Never forget
My heart is broken


All for life and love


Lockdown 20.03.2020
Ar dhéis Dé go raibh a h-anam*
May Allah forgive your sins
Vladimir 16.08.86 – 30.11.20, aged 34 years
Connie 04.12.32 – 03.05.20, aged 87 years, Bye for now
Rest in peace for all those lost in care homes
Big Sis, Little Bruv misses you


Wicked sense of humour
All this fuss over me LOL Bloody rediculus
Gorgeous Grandmother I love you
What would Trevor do?
Biff taken in his prime
Mum fell asleep Valentines Day 2021
Naupani @


They say that time heals. But time has stood still. Love you lots. I got you Babe


Love you, you changed my life, I wouldn’t be where I am without you
Our amazing Superman
You’ll never be forgotten Our hardworking beautiful young Grandma we all love you and we miss you
Still the backbone of the family
our star
Sorry I couldn’t say goodbye
Thank you Whipps Cross nurses you saved my life


Sleep tight
Beloved rapper
Beautiful Soul
A true shaker
Not forgotten
Miss you everyday
Ride free



*Ar dhéis Dé go raibh a h-anam (Irish); translation: may her soul be at the right hand of God


Adapted from the writings on the National Covid Memorial Wall, London; seen Sunday morning, 24th July 2021.

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
Title well chosen! The best memento last. Says so much about the one gone and the one grieving. Thanks for this.
Friday, 29 April 2022 23:18
Nicholas Mackey
We lost two family members to Covid. Meanwhile, another close relative was very seriously ill with it - thankfully, now recovered.... Read More
Wednesday, 04 May 2022 14:00
Rosy Cole
So sorry to learn of your losses, Nicholas. Covid can be a cruel and overwhelming disease. It's strange, though, how grief and sor... Read More
Wednesday, 11 May 2022 19:29
865 Hits

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