Derek's mother is a Roche from Allenwood, and his father is a Coyle from Donegal. His father was a solider, and was stationed in the Devoy Barrack’s in Naas. Derek went to Kill National School and CBS in Naas.
FIRST KILDARE MEMORY?
When you are from the Kill side of Kildare, you consider the advantages of having a small country town like Naas one side of you, and the city of Dublin by the other. We grew up with horses, green fields, sheep and cows and all that country roads and walks can provide, and then you were on O’Connell Street in half an hour if ‘Speedie’ was driving the bus. Back in the mid-to late 80s that was possible, it seems unimaginable now.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT KILDARE?
Christy Moore. I love Christy’s album Prosperous and the fact that it gave birth to an album like Planxty’s self-titled debut. I was always proud of the fact that the ‘High King of the Pipers’, Liam O’Flynn, was from Kill. His father and mother conducted and managed our church choir all through my childhood.
I love the horse side of Kildare. I appreciated getting Punchestown off every year. And we lived beside Iris Kellett’s famous riding school growing up. Ireland’s famous equestrian team of the 70s and 80s often passed through the village on their way to train with Iris Kellett. I remember spotting Paul Daragh’s Lamborghini passing through the village.
WHAT'S YOUR IDEAL DAY SPENT IN KILDARE?
I love walking around the old campus in the university in Maynooth, where I studied for many years. I like heading up to Newbridge for a day’s shopping or a visit to the Riverbank Arts Centre. I’d love to revisit Oughterard graveyard between Kill and Ardclough, I haven’t been in years. I recently wrote a poem about spending time there as a teenager. It is amazing how historic that site is. And Arthur Guinness is buried there.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE RESTAURANT IN KILDARE?
We recently had Sunday lunch in Lawlor’s and we were impressed with the value there. I’ve always enjoyed a bite to eat in Butt Mullins in Naas. And I love meeting my sister Roisin and my nephew and niece, Thomas and Niamh, and their granny Jan, in Killashee House. It is half-way between Kill and Carlow, where I live now. It is a lovely setting for lunch.
CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOUR WORK AS A POET?
Writing poems is great fun. It is a great pleasure to see something taking shape on the page before you.
I like to read in order to write, books for new ideas, fresh words. In my new book, there are poems about the sea, the earth and rivers, protesting the way we are treating our environment.
I was reading a book about water at the time, and some of the ideas in it informed the poems — that kind of thing.
One of my favourite statements about poetry is from the influential American poet William Carlos Williams. In a recording of a reading at Harvard University he said, ‘if it ain’t a pleasure, it ain’t a poem.’
I think there is something in this.