Words of Passion and Truth: Thomas Gregg
New Local Voice Emerges on Scene

Louise Whelan

Thomas Gregg lives in the same world as the rest of us, but he sees it a little differently. That’s because Thomas has a poet’s mind. Poets not only see the world around them, but observe and analyse what they see, noticing little details that other people might overlook and search for new ways to express what they are feeling.

Married to Pauline Caulfield (Polly), they have 3 children, Emma, Kellie and Danny and live in Irishtown for the past 22 years. Thomas is self-employed and drives a taxi for a living, and also manages/coaches the Eastern Women’s Football Team B based in St Patrick’s CYFC in Irishtown Stadium.

Born and bred in Ringsend, Thomas comes from a big family of 11 children, his middle sister Teresa sadly passed away in 2018. As a teenager growing up he wasn’t really into everyone knowing what he was doing or who he hung around with. It was only as he got older that he realised how he appreciated the fantastic community and people always looking out for one another, always willing to help and somebody to talk to if you needed a listening ear. Thomas had a huge passion for music growing up, especially punk rock, like The Clash and The Jam, but his biggest influence was the local band, The Blades from Ringsend. The Blades were an Irish new wave band who formed in the late 70’s and regularly played in Dublin’s famous venues as well as having a performance on The Late Late Show in 1981.

Thomas had seen them perform at least 30 times and had made good friends with the band members, Paul Cleary, Laurence Cleary and Pat Larkin. At this time, he had lyrics of his own going around in his head and he used to write them down but rip them up and throw them in the bin as he hadn’t the confidence to fully allow the writer in him to emerge. He had met a lot of new people outside of Ringsend who were also in bands and he was very envious because he lacked the confidence to be in one himself but he knew he had stuff in his head that needed to come out and even though he was good at writing, he never showed anyone his work.

Luckily, that confidence built up over time and Thomas never stopped writing poems and verses, saving them on his phone, making sure he didn’t forget them. Rarely using a pen, he found this method worked for him and a lot of these ‘sparks’ were influenced by him growing up, or little insights he might pick up in his day to day life; he could have 10 lines already formed in his mind by the time he’d wake up.

The Covid crisis was a real eye opener for Thomas and made him reassess his life, as it did for a lot of people. It made him conscious of what he wanted to do and what was important. Inspiration seemed to hit him more during this time and he would have so much in his head to get down.

He had been using Facebook to write birthday verses and special tributes for friends and family for years which were personal in a unique and touching way, so people were aware of his talent and it didn’t take long for an idea to form about getting his poems published and out into the wider community. So, after thinking long and hard about it, he ended up collaborating with Paula Moen, a brilliant illustrator (and creator of upcycled plates with beautiful inspirational words) and also the partner of his good friend, Pat. Paula saw huge potential in Thomas and encouraged him to have this book idea turned into a reality.

Dublin Port sponsors new artists in communities and Thomas had sent in all of his poems to be viewed, and sure enough they funded the design and printing of his book of poems with Paula using her artistic skills on the layout. Launch night was back in April in Clark’s pub in Ringsend which Thomas describes as one of the most inspirational weeks of his life. Seeing his first book of poetry out in the public domain obliterated all the worries and insecurities and lack of confidence in himself, and he was completely overwhelmed by the response the book got. Local businesses sold copies and all of his family and friends were overjoyed with how proud they were of him.

Named Me, Myself and Eli, it captured 27 honest and raw poems including some about his 7-year-old grandson, Eli and the special bond they have together. Some poems were inspired by songs but mostly, they were inspired by life. Thomas also recited a few poems on the night and had special guests read too. He had never performed on stage before but once he was up there, it felt so natural.

Thomas hasn’t ruled out another book but has a more steady normal life now and still enjoys going to gigs, concerts and festivals with Polly, his favourite being The Fontaines and he is a huge fan of the poet, John Cooper Clarke.

Thomas was also involved in Bloomsday, performing his poetry up in St Matthew’s Church in Irishtown to a packed audience which was very well received. He would like to see some of his poems put to music to see how that would go. Also he has a big family reunion in August where he will spend time with his loved ones who live abroad so that is something he is looking forward to.

Thomas is very spirited about the topics he writes about and has a natural flow of words and rhyme and a talent which is innate and effortl ess. He has used poetry for self expression that cannot be felt through other means of communication, like a self-guided therapy that allows the writer to strengthen mental health and connection to themselves and those around them.

Poetry teaches us how to live.

If you would like a copy of Thomas’s book, you can contact him through Facebook and Instagram. See review of Me, Myself & Eli on page 19.