Me Myself & Eli by Thomas Gregg

Eoin Meegan

This small volume of verse is the brainchild of local Ringsend native Thomas Gregg. The book is a collection of poems about Thomas’s life in and around Ringsend, and the ordinary/extraordinary people he met along the way. The Eli in the title is his grandson, whose “unique humour and outlook on life has unleashed an unstoppable torrent of beautiful words for me to describe his vision of our world” we learn in the introduction. Other poems in the collection are inspired by his three children, and life partner Polly. The book is also beautifully illustrated by Paula Moen, whose upcycled plate artwork was featured previously in NewsFour.

One of the first poems to grab my eye was ‘Eddie’, dedicated to the poet’s father, where we encounter him meeting his dad each week for a few pints and a chat. Perhaps distant at one time, now, as adults, the pair are more like brothers. I can relate to this poem as I got to know my own father better in the latter years of his life before he passed over, sharing a few pints.

Thanks for coming down son

It means a lot to sit and chat

As he spoke fondly of the old days

I realised he was passing on the hat

While ‘Eugene’ recounts the sad death of a seven-year-old child that the poet recalls from his youth who used to call him Thomas Egg. ‘No friend of Mine’ is a poem about bullies, and attempts to get inside their head and understand that while their actions may come from fear, it can end in tragedy.

Didn’t really mean it is their sad excuse

People end up dying due to what they do.

Another poem I like is ‘Inspired’ as it recalls the poet walking across the bridge into Ringsend after seeing a gig by Raytown’s own Blades. Something about the energy of the band coupled with the fact that they were local boys inspired Thomas, it’s almost like it gave him permission to put his own words on paper.

It’s my ghost of a chance
now we read.

‘Say’ turns to the darker subject of mental health and is a poignant reminder of how we never know what’s going on inside another person’s head or the journey they’ve been through, not knowing the hurt we may inadvertently cause with our unkind words; the poem urges us to just listen and be kind.

‘The Chimlees’ is a homage to the iconic landmark at the Shelly Banks. While ‘Mines a Bitter’ (heavy irony) casts an acerbic eye at the devastation neo-liberalism visited on the mining community of Orgreave back in the 80s. Words of passion and truth, Me Myself & Eli is a book that I think will end up in a lot of homes and will be appreciated for many years to come.

Me Myself & Eli is currently available to purchase in some local shops. Price €10 with 10% of sales donated to NIRP, our local Neurodiversity Irishtown Ringsend group.