A poem.

”Friederike in Germany”

I didn’t even hear her falling.
Dawn revealed her to me, there where she lay.
So matter-of-factly sprawled out on the ground.
Silent. Forlorn. Broken.

Yesterday she stood tall. Upright.
With spindly arms raised skyward,
In some demonstrative act of adoration.
Somehow majestic. Even defiant.

Not today.
Those same arms humbled,
Bony fingers now extended more in an act of desperation.
Hoping someone would catch her. Hoping I would catch her. In vain.

Now she moves not. Her lifeless limbs frozen in time,
Capturing the fateful moment that dislodged her crown and forced her bough down.
The ultimate snapshot. Of an act of God, conspicuous by his absence.
Whose breath blows where it will. Or so they say.

A witness no more, unable to speak
Of comings and goings. Of forbidden encounters or scars that recall liberties taken.
And so the names of her tormentors go with her to the grave.
Etched into her memory, carved now into oblivion.

The rings under her eyes would surely tell tales.
When rooted to the spot as that ferocious storm trooped past, dictating destruction.
Or of people and power and a peaceful turning.
She was there.

Recounting regimes and rules and the common era.
And the wallflower who danced to the wind of change,
Blowing autumn leaves from brown to red to green shoots of new life.
We forget how much she knows. No longer.

Every fall leaves her pale. But the fruits of her labour, all around to see.
Like her, a breath of fresh air. Sheltering, nourishing, expiring life.
Why did I take her for granted?
I didn’t even hear her falling.
Barry Sloan

(Chemnitz, Germany)


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Book Launch of English Edition!!!

engish cover-page-001I am delighted to announce that my book “Pilgern auf Irisch” will be published in English. The English title is: When the Saints go Marching.

Official launch is in Bangor, Northern Ireland (Saint Columbanus Parish Church, Ballyholme) at 11.30 am on Saturday, 21st November. This will be part of the official celebrations marking 1400 years of Columbanus. More details here.

Some blurb about the book to whet your appetite …

Why would a Northern Irish Protestant, raised in a staunchly loyalist community, hitchhike through Catholic Europe on the trail of medieval celtic monks? What role did an Ulsterman play in the creation of the European Union, and what can be done today to break down walls and bring people together? Who was Columbanus of Bangor and why are present-day librarians from all over the world indebted to him? Why does God not like zebras, has Murphy’s Law anything to do with chaos theory, and why are the Germans the reason Ireland had to wait 1900 years to get decent, straight roads?

The answers to these questions are found in ‘When the Saints go Marching’, the story of 6th century Irish saint, Columbanus, and of a 21st century sinner, the book’s author! Weaving history, politics, theology, and personal narrative together in a humorous and readable way, Sloan tells the fascinating story of Columbanus and his colleagues from Bangor and their legacy in uniting Europe. Profound moments of reflection, insight and food for thought are punctuated with hilarious episodes of breakfast with Vikings, an attack by monster bees, and lunch with a talking horse!

From November my book can be ordered from either here on my website (just drop me a line here), or over Amazon or at any good book store (ISBN 978-1-909644-95-3). Hope you like it!



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When the Saints go Marching

Today, the 12th of July, is a national holiday in my home land, Northern Ireland. It is the highlight in the calendar of the Orange Order and many Protestants in Northern Ireland as they celebrate their culture and their Protestantism. As a child growing up as a Protestant in Protestant Greenisland I always looked forward to “The Twelfth“. I was a member of the Orange Order. As a teenager, I played in a Loyalist flute band. It was just what you did – at least if, like me, you didn’t belong to a middle class family who would often use the “Twelfth Fortnight” to take themselves off to sunnier climes on holiday.

Later, when I became a Christian (not just on paper, but deep in my heart!) I began to think about what it means to be “Protestant”. When I hitch-hiked my way through Europe from Bangor to Bobbio in Italy, on the trail of 6th century Saint Columban from Bangor, I reflected further about what it means to be Protestant, but even more importantly, what it means to be Christian (Christ-like). I wrote about this in my book which has been published (and already reprinted!) in German (Pilgern auf Irisch). In the autumn I hope to publish it in English as an ebook under the title, When the Saints go Marching. I would like to share two passages with you today. The first passage, taken from chapter one of my book, describes my visits to Bangor with the Junior Orange Order….

Carrickfergus Castle, where Prince William of Orange landed to fight King James.

The only time I went to Bangor as a child was on Easter Tuesday. In fact I was in Bangor on Easter Tuesday for about five years in a row, because it was the venue for the annual Easter parade of the Junior Orange Order. This organisation, with its annual parades celebrating Protestant culture and religion, was – and still is – an important part of life for many in my community. As a member of LOL 52, I always looked forward to Easter Tuesday, when I would wear my new white shirt, crimson-coloured lodge tie and white gloves, along with the orange sash, clearly identifying me as a member of Loyal Orange Lodge number 52. I was only 10 years old but felt much older, marching with my tribe to th
e beat of the drum around our housing estate before traveling by bus to Bangor, where we joined dozens of other lodges and bands for the main parade. Mehr lesen

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