And what book have I picked? An impossible choice, as I’m sure you will agree. At first I took the idea a bit too literally – as is my wont. A kids comic, read aged four, isn’t going to hack it. Enid Blyton and the Chalet School books are all a bit obvious. When I’d got through all those and my brothers books, my mother pointed in the direction of her Agatha Christies on the bookshelf in the sitting room. No wonder I was such a ghoulish teenager! But, though my car is called Agatha in honour of the same lady … no, Poirot and Marple aren’t the people for this gig.
So, what have I chosen? As you probably can’t come along to the session in Ennis library, I’ll let you in on the secret. Walter Macken. As the bored child with nothing to read, I was given these Mackens by my darling Grannie. And I couldn’t stop reading his books. I devoured all of my grandmother’s copies, eventually buying more myself. I was still a young teenager.
And for afters? Zola. My father gave me ‘Earth’ (La Terre), when I was about fifteen. My love affair with Zola didn’t diminish. I even ended up buying the whole Rougon Macquart series a few years ago – in French! There they were, in the front window of Scéal Eile – the gorgeous independent bookshop in Ennis. ALL of them. Calling to me. So I bought them.
The list goes on and on and on and on and on and …
Here at the Tyrone Centre, the work continues apace: new poems have been drafted; research and notes are ongoing for a radio segment; and, if you’re interested, Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words are on the iPod.
Today, a short break in the work to give you a link to an article I had published today in the online issue of the Irish Times – marking the fifth anniversary of the death of Seamus Heaney:
I visited Bellaghy at the weekend, staying in a lovely B&B – Dew Hamill. I’d recommend it to you as a lovely place to base yourself if you want to visit the Seamus Heaney Home Place, the local area, and nearby Lough Neagh.
After a lovely brekkie and chat with Margaret & Patrick, I drove to Heaney’s grave to pay my respects. I brought another shell from the Flaggy Shore.
It was the first time that I’d been there since the Home Place was built. I’ll write more about that visit another time.
Reader, I made a show of myself! Tears all ’round. But, a wonderful experience.
Whatever you do today, if you love poetry seek out recordings of Heaney reading his work.
It’s impossible not to feel that autumn is creeping in. Had to put on the woolly socks last night, and the light is dying in the western sky so much earlier these evenings. Even Bessa the cat is back sitting on my lap, or on her car mat in the sitting room!
Sanctuary! After a busy summer, I can’t wait to get back to the haven that awaits at Annaghmakerrig: a whole week to myself. And though it is a working week, it will be fantastic to have no distractions; to knuckle down to a steady period of writing. This stay will be interesting. No new collection to redraft or to edit and collate. A variety of focus: a poetry project with national school children to prepare, a radio brief, and then – only then – more poetry.
But first, to Bellaghy . . . … and the overnight stay that had to be abandoned a couple of years ago. Since then, the Home Place has been built, and I’m looking forward to my overnight visit. The poem ‘Grave Good’, in my collection This Little Worldwas written about my first, flying trip to Bellaghy; made less than a year after Seamus Heaney died. This time around, I’ll be there just a few days before the fifth anniversary of his death. Hard to believe it’s been five years.
No rest for the wicked. While I’m up Ulster way, I’ll be reading on Tuesday 28 August at Cavan Library for AT the Edge – hosted by the indefatigable Kate Ennals. There are three AT the Edge sessions this year, so I’m chuffed to have been invited to take part in one of them. Tanya Farrelly and David Butler are motoring up from Bray, Co. Wicklow for the evening, and there’ll be an open mic also. Kick off is at 6.30pm.
If you happen to be in the neighbourhood, drop by!
A live outside broadcast of The Western Skyline on the Saturday of the mighty Cruinniú na mBád Festival in Kinvara – complete with crying babies and the sound of turf being offloaded from the Galway Hookers at the pier outside our studio!
There are interviews with Gráinne, Claire, and Anna – three of the young artists showing work over at the Courthouse Gallery in the village. Also a discussion with Lily Johnston about KAVA artists’ work which is on display around the village during the Festival. And Paul Crowley joins me to talk everything ‘Cruinniú’ as the Galway Hooker boats edge into the harbour. The grace and beauty of the boats has to be seen to be truly appreciated.
Music from two featured albums – Shaun Davey’s ‘Granuaile Suite’ and La Bottine Souriante’s ‘La Traversée de l’Atlantique. Plus vocals from Rita Connolly.
Yes – it’s a very LIVE Western Skyline this week!!!
No battle of the bands here on The Western Skyline – just an hour of The Beatles & The Rolling Stones … with a minimum of chat or news, for once! Hope at least a few of YOUR favourites appear on the playlist:
Revolution, As Tears Go By, Eleanor Rigby, Ruby Tuesday, Martha My Dear, Rocky Racoon, Play With Fire, The Fool on the Hill, In My Life, Paint It Black, With a Little Help from My Friends, All You Need is Love, It’s All Over Now, Angie, For No One, Tomorrow Never Knows, Waiting On A Friend.
And damn those gremlins … they got at Eleanor Rigby – the poor aul’ gal. I’ll play it in full soon – I promise! I’ve left the gremlins in this podcast … it’s all part of the live experience on The Western Skyline!
On the Western Skyline this week a look at gigs and theatre at the Galway Intl. Arts Festival, plus the line-up in Ennis at the Munster Fleadh. A couple of shows to see at the Courthouse Gallery here in Kinvara, plus music from Earth, Wind & Fire, The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Christians, Genesis, A-ha, Soul to Soul, Nik Kershaw, Swing Out Sister and Kim Wilde.
Oh, and a surprise – thanks to the playlist gremlins!
Fun summer tracks, Arts news including Galway Film Fleadh, Willie Clancy Summer School, Ennis Street Arts Festival and and a preview of the Galway Intl. Arts Festival. Also the Kinvara Alive Concert, and congrats to Mike Mc Cormack on winning the Dublin International Literary Award!
Playing The Lighthouse Family, Semisonic, Free, The Boomtown Rats and The Stranglers, among others!
Lots of Arts news, and the music on the Western Skyline is from films and musicals.
Info about Cruinniú na nóg – a national day of creativity for children; art at the Russell Gallery; comedy and theatre in Galway; congrats to Mike McCormack on winning the International Dublin Literary Award with his novel Solar Bones; details about a conference on the ‘Big House’ happening at the Irish Workhouse Centre in Portumna; a preview of the Sidney Nolan exhibition and symposium at the Burren College of Art in Ballyvaughan; and a tribute to the Irish poet Macdara Woods who died the night before the show was broadcast.
MUSIC from shows and films including Chicago, the War of the Worlds, Cabaret, Toy Story, Django Unchained, Gangs of New York, The Great Gatsby, and others …
Arts and gig news, and two poems this week, with tracks from Alannis Morrisette, Adele, Blondie, Brian Deady, Freddie White, and David Bowie amongst others! Enjoy the sunshine; enjoy the show!
On The Western Skyline: The Silver Branch screens in Kinvara, news of two art exhibitions in New Quay & Ballyvaughan, a callout to young musicians for a new orchestral initiative in Galway, ‘The Only Jealousy of Emer’ – Yeats’ s play is being performed at Thoor Ballylee, Ennistymon Book Town Festival events, and news of the Galway Early Music Festival
Plus tracks by Fat Boy Slim, The Eurythmics, Erasure, Eric Clapton, Derek & the Dominos, Lynard Skynard, M People, Thompson Twins, Madness, and M C Hammer
Comments to @karenjmcdonnell karenjmcdonnell.com or firstname.lastname@example.org