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Orlagh O'Brien


November 3, 2016

Launch of Tiny Kind Gestures Poetry Book at Cork University Hospital

November 3, 2016 | By | No Comments

Thank you to all who came or sent best wishes and all the many who supported the project that brought Haiku creation to the Dialysis ward patients in Cork. What a wonderful celebration yesterday evening! So proud to have worked with these creative people on dialysis who are now poets!

We are thrilled to know that the haiku are still being created, a few of the poets brought in the latest work!

Thank you all for coming to this launch!! A wonderful way to celebrate this project that was supported by so many people. It’s been a journey of 2 years with a test phase and 2 rounds of funding. 

To you the participants who volunteered : you welcomed us and were so open to the project. You were so generous and open hearted. We are delighted with the poetry you created:it was a pleasure working with you. 

Joanne ( clinical nurse manager – but really “mama of the ward” ) and the staff team – Joanne was brilliant as she believed in the project from the beginning  We couldn’t have done it without her – she didn’t know who we were and she trusted us — and the staff’s silent but warm support while they were working in the background. 

Edelle Nolan – arts and health officer –  a link between two very different worlds.  Healthcare is such a complex environment: the culture is totally different than the art world. She supported us in navigating and sowing seeds in this other universe. She was the link to dialysis which was such a great idea. 

With support from her arts and health team Julianne and Caitríona in the arts department and the generosity of Aidan Warner HSE Arts and Health 

Cork city arts office and Maeve Dineen for initial advice over coffee to funding support.

Mary Grehan of the trailblazing Waterford Healing Arts Trust for writing the foreword that’s beyond expectation. Really brought it all together setting the scene in the imagination of the readers. And coming all the way from Waterford today 

The books were made here on site : staff and visitors were wonderful in contributing drawing the illustration with ink and a quill and general interest throughout the day. 

Mary Hassett for a wonderful article in the echo. Sharing the depth if this project with the 

Dr Liam Plan, National clinical director for Renal Services Ireland for coming today. 



Orlagh O'Brien


October 18, 2016

Orlagh O'Brien


October 18, 2016

Upcoming book launch in CUH is featured in the Evening Echo!

October 18, 2016 | By | No Comments




Orlagh 0'Brien and Tess Leak of Haiku Island Press, in the CUH Atrium. Photo Brian Mac Domhnaill

Dialysis patients attending CUH have created a limited edition collection of poetry, to thank staff for the kindness shown to them during their many visits, writes MARY HASSETT

At first, patients in the Dialysis Ward of Cork University Hospital didn’t know what to make of haikus. Now they’re dab hands at composing the short, three line poems that originated in Japan.
It’s all thanks to Haiku Island Press co-founders, Tess Leak and Orlagh O’Brien, who introduced the patients to the wonders of haiku making. Now the patients see inspiration for poems everywhere they look. They even have a limited edition collection of poetry coming out in November, titled Tiny, Kind Gestures, which reflects the patients’ deep appreciation for the ongoing kindness shown to them by the staff in the Dialysis Unit.
The title comes from a haiku composed by Olivia: “Tiny, kind gesture, Worth more than a million, Ordinary things.”
The staff, in turn would say that they develop very strong bonds with the patients who have to get dialysis treatment on an ongoing basis. Because their kidneys aren’t functioning, patients need to have their blood filtered regularly to remove excess water and waste.
“As we see dialysis patients three times a week they’re like family and you get very, very close to them”, acknowledges Joanne Lyons, Clinical Nurse Manager, Dialysis Unit.
“I know I have done my job if patients are going out the door having had a good dialysis session and they’re feeling happy and looking forward to coming back the next day”, she said.
That’s why Joanne and all the staff are so delighted that the poetry making project was a perfect match for people attending the Dialysis Ward. Patients have to spend a minimum of three hours a day, three days a week attached to a dialysis machine and so anything that raises their spirits and promotes creativity is warmly welcomed. The haiku format means that poems can be made quickly, collaboratively and with mindfulness.
“I didn’t write any poetry before, I didn’t know I could until I got into it”, one participant pointed out.
“The patients got deeper and deeper into the poetry making as the weeks progressed. They thought about making poems on their way to and from dialysis and on other journeys, when they were at home, and when they were out on walks”, says Tess Leak, of Haiku Island Press.
The patients might be bed-bound for three hours, but in their imaginations they are able to roam freely around the landscapes they encounter on their often lengthy journeys to the CUH.
“We really feel that everyone has the potential to be creative, given the right conditions or supports. Everyone can have that potential to surprise themselves”, claims publisher, Orlagh O’Brien.
As well as uncovering hidden talent the poetry making sessions turned out to be lots of fun. There was a great deal of banter and laughter as Tess and Orlagh engaged with the 24 patients who volunteered to take part in the project.
“I didn’t know what haiku poetry was, but what it has done for the patients’ is beautiful, absolutely lovely”, enthuses Joanne Lyons.
“Coming from home into the hospital the patients are seeing things like bright lights in the sky or falling leaves and they incorporate these images into their poems”, Joanne adds.
The haiku poetry making project started off on a pilot basis last year when Orlagh O’ Brien and Tess Leak approached the CUH Arts Officer, Edelle Nolan who immediately saw the project’s potential.
Joanne Lyons and the staff in the Dialysis Unit felt that anything that might benefit the patients was worth a try.
The pilot proved such a success that it was decided to seek funding for an expanded project. Thankfully Haiku Island Press secured funding from the HSE South Arts and Health programme, Cork City Arts Office, and the CUH Arts Programme.
This enabled Tess and Orlagh to work throughout the summer in assisting patients to create their own poems as they were receiving their dialysis treatment on Monday and Tuesday afternoons.
Now the patients are eagerly awaiting a limited edition handmade publication of their poems due out in early November.
What makes the project so unique to Haiku Island Press is the fact that the whole process from poetry writing to book creation took place within the hospital setting.
One of the poems in the collection was composed by Ann: “Windblown cherry blossom, Carpet of pink under feet, Nature’s colour book.”
Earlier this month, Tess and Orlagh carried out a bookmaking workshop in the Atrium of the CUH within sight of the Dialysis Unit. They painstakingly crafted each individual book and invited passers-by, staff and patients to contribute to the artwork of the finished publication.
The book will be launched in the Cardiac Renal Atrium adjoining the Coffee Doc restaurant near the main hospital entrance of the CUH on Wednesday, November 2 at 5pm.
“It is so uplifting to know that patients have achieved something they would never have dreamed of,” Joanne Lyons points out.
She is acutely aware that a sizeable number of the I67 patients who attend the CUH Dialysis Unit have another dream that they earnestly hope will someday become a reality. They dream about receiving a call to travel to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin for a kidney transplant.
“I would really encourage people to carry an Irish Kidney Donor Card”, stresses Joanne.
“When a patient is called for a transplant the excitement here is unbelievable, the whole place is so joyful. You get goose bumps because you know that this is going to change a person’s life.”
However she knows that some of the patients who travel to the CUH from all parts of Cork City and County as well as from Waterford and Tipperary will be doing so for the rest of their lives as they are not suitable for a transplant. That’s why Joanne and all the staff care for each and every one of their patients as if they were family.
For more on Haiku island Press see:
For Irish Kidney Donor cards see:

Orlagh O'Brien


September 20, 2016

Come along to an Open Bookmaking Workshop at Cork University Hospital

September 20, 2016 | By | No Comments


Haiku Island Press invite you to visit us as we make a limited edition book of haiku poetry in CUH. “Tiny, Kind Gestures” is a collection of poems created with patients on the Dialysis ward during the Summer of 2016. Staff, patients and visitors all welcome! Tuesday October 4th, 2016 between 10am and 5pm

Drop-in to the Open Workshop by the Coffee Doc in the atrium to watch the process unfold, find out more and even lend a hand.
Kindly funded by Cork City Arts Office and HSE Arts & Health. Supported by CUH Arts Officer Edelle Nolan with Joanne Lyons, Clinical Nurse Manager.

Orlagh O'Brien


July 1, 2016

Arboretum Project on display at Castletownbere Library

July 1, 2016 | By | No Comments

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

The Arboretum Book is currently on show in Castletownbere library. It displays the booklet produced by Haiku Island Press, the project background and all the poetry made by participants in Castletownbere, Clonakilty and Bantry hospitals.

This follows on from the project which is documented here.