Columnist who gave her readers glimpse of the Burren calls it a day

 

TWENTY-FOUR years after her first “Country Diary” appeared in the London Guardiannewspaper, one of the Burren’s best-known residents, Sarah Poyntz (84), has stepped down from the role.

Each month since 1987, the Co Wexford native has written a “Country Diary” for the London-based newspaper, recounting to readers, in carefully crafted despatches of 350 words, the surprises and beauty the Burren landscape reveals.

In her recently published final diary entry, she recounts a dawn walk in the Burren near Corcomroe Abbey, where she witnessed “the most perfect rainbow” over the bay, interrupted by a flash of lightning, telling readers how she said aloud in response, “This, our Burren, is beautiful beyond compare”.

A Ballyvaughan resident since 1984, Poyntz said yesterday: “I still walk the Burren and now have to remind myself that I don’t have to write about what I see for the Guardian.”

She remarked: “I’m the wrong side of 84. I’m 85 in March. It was time to stop. I’m quite happy. The column kept going for a long time.”

She added: “I love the Burren and above all I love its people. I love the peace and beauty here. It gives me a complete life as one can have.”

Mercier Press last year published Poyntz’s Burren Villages, which includes contributions from a number of writers on the Burren, and which followed her earlier work, A Burren Journal.

The author and diarist said yesterday that she has been “overwhelmed” by the response from readers since she told them her December column would be her last.

She said: “Some of the letters were upsetting as there was a couple from people who enjoyed the column, but made them very nostalgic and sad for home. They are our people.”

One reader wrote to say, “No more from Black Head, Ballyvaughan and the Burren. Sarah’s observations of the natural world in that wondrous corner of Ireland certainly made this exile feel closer to home.”

Another reader told her by letter, “I didn’t realise I had been ‘hooked’ on your diaries for so long. You will be very much missed by us all.”

The columns allowed Poyntz to combine her love for the English language with her passion for nature.

Her love of English and French led to her spending an afternoon sharing a bottle of wine with Samuel Beckett in Paris in the early 1960s.

She said yesterday: “I loved his work and wrote to him, saying that I would love to see him and he sent me a postcard and we arranged to meet.”

A UCD arts graduate, Poyntz taught at a number of English schools before a bout of ill-health forced her to retire early from teaching.