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Christmas poems to stir the senses – and the heart

‘The lamps are trimmed, the candles glow
As we wearily trudge through the winter snow…’

PERHAPS what is so special about ‘Declan Fordes Christmas Cards’ is that it doesn’t just take you on a beautifully-illlustrated journey into the past splendours and characters of Christmases locally – but, indeed, it makes you feel as if you were there, living every moment.

The brand new book is a compilation of each and every unique Christmas card that Declan Forde (pictured) from Omagh has created since 1992, with each one featuring its own poem or monologue, as well as a sensitively hand-drawn illustration to ignite the imagination, swirl the senses and bring the words vibrantly to life.

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As a reader, the tastes, smells, sights and sounds of Christmas are so richly and quaintly described in every one of the book’s 25 works, penned with heart and dripping with nostalgia, that your soul can’t help but yearn for the festive days of long ago.

But there is a particularly heartfelt reason that Declan has chosen this year to compile his works and release them in book form: He wishes to bring warmth and comfort to local people struggling through the pandemic, while helping to raise as much money as possible for the ‘Little Birds Project’.

The project was independently established in Bangkok in 2013 by a small group of Thai health professionals in response to the need to support orphaned children, teenagers and young adults that were born with, and are living with, HIV/AIDS.

Involving more than 50 young people in the greater Bangkok area, the project helps the youngsters organise a peer group to encourage friendship, safe living and care for one another. The goals are to help overcome the society’s prejudice against these innocent children to help them obtain education and meaningful work.

Though Declan, who grew up and lives in a townland called Fernagh, not too far from Omagh, is a schoolteacher, broadcaster, actor, musician, poet, painter, and illustrator; above all, he is a gifted storyteller who brings the past and the present into sharp focus with his memorable tales.

“My poems are nostalgic, and tinged with sentiment, but they are also uplifting, and, sometimes, even comical,” Declan, who likes to be called the ‘Forde of Fernagh, described.

He continued, “In ‘Declan Forde’s Christmas Cards’, I recall the memories of bygone days; I write about friends who have since died; or the ways of characters in and about Co Tyrone.

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“It is a book that I am proud of, and if I can help bring a smile to the reader, help them rekindle a memory of their own, or even inspire them to start writing, then all the better.”

‘Declan Forde’s Christmas Cards’ costs £10, and can be purchased from Boneyard Records.

The book is also available in CD format, available from Boneyard Records and Peter McBride’s Spar shops located at Mullaghmore and the Gortin Road.

• All proceeds from ‘Declan Forde’s Christmas Cards’ will go to the ‘Little Birds Project’ to help support their vital work.

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