Reading #Herstory

Saturday 7 January 2017

I’d a great day in Galway at the #Herstory Nollaig na mBan Open Mic.

The Open Mic © Karen J McDonnell
The Open Mic
© Karen J McDonnell

The event was hosted at the Cornstore by Galway2020 who not only provided a great – still festive – space, but also coffee, biccies and buns. Thanks, Nollaig and the gang!

Every one had 3 minutes to read, and was asked to sign off with ‘This is/was _____ and this is Herstory.”

Celeste Augé reads, as MC Susan listens
Celeste Augé reads, as MC Susan listens

Susan Millar DuMars was the MC, and led off the readings. I was called up next. EEEK! But, I guess someone has to go first. Right up to the time I’d to leave the house, I was dithering about what poem to read. I had a few to choose from – having written a whole song cycle about women on the edges of History, some years ago. And there are a couple of new poems in The Notebook!  In the end, I did pick one of ‘my girls’: a poem about my great-grandmother, Lucy May (Louie) Fitzell.

Themes ranged from the woman at home during WW1,  poems interlocking the lives of mothers and their daughters, of a mother- and daughter-in-law, of an anonymous woman handing over her baby at the Tuam mother and baby home. Gráinne Mhaol got great treatment in an animated recitation by Pat McArdle. Pat is a man, by the way …. for yes, men were welcome to take part, and did! Margaretta D’arcy spoke to us about Louie Bennett – a mighty woman not served well by historians, or the State. We also heard excerpts from works in progress – including the ‘delights’ of working for a boss from hell in New York!

Lelia Doolan tells Herstory
Lelia Doolan tells Herstory

All in all, a lively way to spend a drizzly beginning to 2017. I got to meet up with two writing buddies, and heard engaging, diverse work. As Susan said, It would be wonderful if this could become an annual event.  TG4 filmed proceedings for the Róisín show, which goes out on Wednesdays at 8.30pm.  Róisín was there too, and she seemed to enjoy herself!

Thanks, Herstory Galway, for including me in! Go mbeirimíd beo …

Epilogue: Of course, being in the Cornstore, I just HAD to drop in to Charlie Byrne’s for a browse. I picked up some interesting travel books – including the letters of Gertrude Bell. The best thing was, I still have credit on my account with them and didn’t even have to open my purse. Yippee!