Another week in paradise

TGC Oct 2021

Well, who wouldn’t consider this an offshoot of Paradise? Especially when the view from the desk is this –

TGC Oct 2021 view from John Jordan room TGC Oct 2021 ready to work

That was me six days ago, the desk all set up for a week’s work at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Co. Monaghan. Previous visitors to this website/blog will know how much I love this place, and the people who work here.  This stay was a long time coming. I was lucky to have received the 2020 Tyrone Guthrie bursary from Clare Co. Council & Arts Office. COVID delayed my arrival by a year. It has also placed a great deal of extra work on the staff here, who are going above and beyond the call of duty to keep the ‘creatives’ safe. 

This time I’m in the John Jordan room, and I like it very much. I especially like the wee artefacts in the room that once belonged to the Guthrie family, or have been found in the actual fabric of the house – such as this linen inventory that was stuck to a panel of a door. 

TGC Oct 2021 Linen list

I’ve just realised that I haven’t had a good snoop at the bookcase yet. Time to do that after my last dinner this evening. Yes, tomorrow it will be time to leave. And before I shut down the laptop and head downstairs to join my fellow writers, an artist and a musician, it’s a good idea to think about the work. 

It was a mixed bag this time around: reading around my next project/new collection, researching and drafting some radio essays and a long poem that I’m working on, and finally a review of neglected drafts in an older notebook. I’m happy that I got through the daily lists I set myself. Today was the toughest: some of those earlier poems were drafted in grief; waiting to be reviewed and reworked. Lying in wait to ambush me. I worked through five poems today and, while they may not be at the final stage, they are certainly in a lot better state than they were this morning. 

I keep this old birthday card with my notebooks to remind me of the age-old truth: ‘poems are hard’!

Poems are hard Oct 2021

Apart from the focus that time at Annaghmakerrig allows me to give to my writing, the fact that there’s no TV and that I don’t have Netflix on the laptop means that evenings are given over to reading and actively listening to music on my iPod. I finished Jhumpa Lahiri’s Whereabouts at the weekend, and I’m now reading Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor. It’s a novel about Bram Stoker and his relationships with Henry Irving and Ellen Terry. In a previous life, I had to research that era in theatre history: the days of melodramas, Shakespeare, and the well-made play. I still own an old biography of Ellen Terry. With the evenings drawing in and the leaves turning, it’s a good time of year to be reading about lime-lit theatres & Victorian London. 

TGC Oct 2021 downtime

Annaghmakerrig – where you learn to balance work & time out.  A writer’s paradise – where you’re greeted like an old friend & you make new friends. 

Grateful doesn’t begin to describe how I feel this evening. 

P.S.  Having arrived with two recent rejections under my belt, I leave with a bit of good news. More about that in a wee while!

The Western Skyline Podcast – Spring Podcasts

We go by the old Irish/pagan calendar on this website!  Spring is February, March, & April.

FEBRUARY 2020

Kinvara-based poet Mary Madec joined me on the Western Skyline to discuss poetry, the other work!, and to read from her new collection The Egret Lands With News From Other Parts (Salmon Publishing). Mary also read several of poems from earlier collections. Good music too, of course, and the show is book-ended with arts news.
Not bad going, considering the studio had had a technical meltdown! Hope you enjoy the show.

The Western Skyline Podcast – Winter Podcasts

NOVEMBER 2019

In the run up to Christmas on this podcast of the Western Skyline we look at Christmas events and concerts, and suggest a few gifts for the arts lovers in your life. There’s music from The Cranberries, The Cure, Sigrid, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Doobie Brothers, Bruce Springsteen, and -well, we just had to! – Joni Mitchell

[For some weird reason this podcast uploaded on to the mixcloud of one of the Kinvara FM gang – but it’s still Kinvara FM radio work!]

 

DECEMBER 2019

On the last Western Skyline of 2019 we look at New Year’s customs around the world, there’s news of local arts events, & music from The Travelling Wilburys, Carly Simon, Taylor Swift, ABBA, the Beatles, and Aimee Mann. Here’s to 2020!

JANUARY 2020

On the first Western Skyline of 2020 I was joined by well-known artist Christopher Banahan, who has just published two children’s books which he both wrote & illustrated. Chris’s Zurich Prize shortlisted self-portrait is also on exhibition at the moment in Cork. News of theatre in Galway – as Gaeilge ‘s Bearla – and local art exhibitions. Two tracks from David Bowie (Chris’s choice and also used in the soundtrack of Jo Jo Rabbit – a must-see film). Music too from Lynard Skynard, Buffalo Springfield, & Nina Simone,

The Western Skyline Podcast – Autumn podcasts

There was no Western Skyline in August as the I was working on the day it was due to go out. And as it was a live outside broadcast during the Cruinniú na mBád weekend … well, I couldn’t even pre-record a show for you!

So, here are links to the two Autumn shows:

05 OCTOBER 2019

October’s show showcased the debut album by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Brigid O’Neill, and there’s news of festivals for children and adults, new exhibitions, and a preview of the Kinvara Talks. Plus the long-promised play of Hurricane and other great tracks from Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, & Bruce Springsteen,.

07 SEPTEMBER 2019

Marion Cox dropped into the studio to chat about this year’s Lady Gregory/Yeats Autumn Gathering. There’s more arts news, and music from Badly Drawn Boy, Paul Simon, Annie Lennox, Billy Joel, and Paul Weller. Enjoy!

The Western Skyline Podcast – Summer podcasts

Dearie me! Where has the summer gone? I hope it has been just peachy for all of you.

Time to get up to date with the podcasts from The Western Skyline. Due to writing and life commitments, the show is being broadcast on a monthly basis since June. Here’s what we’ve been getting up to this summer:

13 JULY 2019

Some arts info on this mid-summer Western Skyline, but July’s show is mostly about the music: Stevie Nicks, Don Henley, One Republic, Fleetwood Mac – and it wouldn’t be summer for me without a does of the Spencer Davis Group.
Enjoy. I’ll be back in September as my August slot is during the Cruinniu Festival – and I’ll be working elsewhere!

15 JUNE 2019

Eilis Haden-Storrie dropped in on The Western Skyline for a chat about her book launch. Spotlight is on this year’s Galway Intl Arts Festival, with music from ABC, David Bowie, Kim Wilde, Howard Jones, Joy Division, Blue Oyster Cult, and The Hothouse Flowers. Plus more local arts news.

 

18 MAY 2019

On the show I was joined by four members of The Poetry Collective – poets based mainly in counties Clare & Galway.
Patrick Stack, Knute Skinner, Mary Ellen Fean, & Fred Johnston discuss, and read from, their work. There’s some arts news, and the music is from the Middle East and Africa: Senegal, Egypt, Libya, Palestine and Jordan. A wee change from the Eurovision, which happened to be on that night. Ahem.

 

04 MAY 2019

On The Western Skyline we looked at Fleadh na gCuach as it happened in Kinvara, the forthcoming Galway Theatre Festival, and committee member Tonii Kelly dropped by to chat about the new HEART of Gort Festival taking place on 17/18th May. Plus lots of great music, and news of an arts opportunity for young Co Galway people!

The Western Skyline Podcast – 20 April 2019

News from KAVA artists group, and of a poetry reading in Galway by the Seven Sisters poets, an Easter egg hunt in the Burren Sanctuary, Classical music for Easter by Handel, Bach, Vaughan Williams, Taverner, Morley, and some Orthodox chant. A poem, ‘Aubade’, and a dedication to murdered journalist, Lyra McKee

The Western Skyline Podcast – 06 April 2019

On The Western Skyline – a film music special:

Most featured composer: Thomas Newman. Music also from films by Quentin Tarantino, and composers Gabriel Yared, Hans Zimmer. And, a Mozart aria sung by Renée Fleming & Cecilia Bartoli, and a Verdi theme arranged by Jean- Claude Petit.
Some local arts news, and new of the Cúirt International Festival of Literature.

This is one to enjoy by the fire with a cuppa, or a glass of wine.

Sunday Miscellany: alive, alive – Oh!

A couple of posts back, I scribbled a quick note before I headed into the Ennis Book Club Festival.

Well, I’m happy to report that it was a lovely weekend. The visitors to Ennis really seemed to enjoy themselves. As I grew up in the place, I feel proud that the whole town takes the Festival and visitors to heart. Local businesses had some fantastic book-themed window displays.

Our ‘Seven Sisters’  poetry reading at the Record Break Café was standing room only – we were delighted with the turnout and the audience response. It was lovely to welcome EBCF attendees to Sinéad’s venue, as well as our usual faithful supporters. This year’s readers were Sinéad Ní Síoda, Deirdre Devally, Nicki Griffin, Ruth Marshall, Mary-Ellen Fean, Deborah Ryan, and yours truly.

The Seven Sisters after our EBCF reading at the Record Break Café Photo. Ruth Marshall

I also managed to get to hear Thomas Lynch, in the lovely setting of  St Columba’s Church. By the way: If any of you are around this evening at 6.30pm, Tom will be reading at a Salmon Bookshop gig in Oh La La café in Ennistymon with Stephen Powers and Rain Leon.  I’d already committed to something else and am really sad I can’t be there. It will be a stonkin’ reading.

Ennis Book Club Festival 2019. Photograph by Eamon Ward

The biggie for me was the live recording of RTÉ Radio One’s Sunday Miscellany, which happened on Sunday morning. I was excited and nervous in equal measure. It was a trio of firsts for me:  first time I appeared on the stage in Glór, first live recording, and also my first ‘essay’ for Sunday Miscellany. There was some fine writing, and wonderful music. My thanks to producer Sarah Binchy, and to Carolyn Dempsey for making it all so easy. Also to Cora Gunter of EBCF whose enthusiasm was infectious. Most of the contributions were broadcast last Sunday the 10th of March, including The Hanging Sheriff by Mae Leonard; My First Pint by Joe Ó Muircheartaigh; Preventive Measures, a poem by Caoilinn Hughes; Growing up in Miltown by John Hurley; and Joe Ninety, by Dee Collins    – here’s a link to the podcast https://www.rte.ie/radio1/sunday-miscellany/#103062434

Sunday Miscellany at Glor during the Ennis Book Club Festival. Photograph by Eamon Ward

My own radio essay will be broadcast this coming Sunday, St Patrick’s Day, so keep an ear out for it! I’ll put up a link here, when the podcast is up on the RTÉ website: https://www.rte.ie/radio1/sunday-miscellany/#103067788

Sunday Miscellany at Glor during the Ennis Book Club Festival. Photograph by Eamon Ward

Do listen out for Niall Allsop’s essay on the 24th, and a lovely tribute to her grandmother by Margaret Hickey on Mother’s Day, the 31st March.

The Western Skyline Podcast – 09 March 2019

Here, I’m joined on The Western Skyline by Aoife Reilly, a writer living and working in Co. Galway. Aoife chats about her writing process and reads poems from her pamphlet ‘Lilac & Gooseberries’, which is published by Lapwing Press.  You can read more about her here: https://aoifereilly.com/ It was great to have a live reading in the studio!

Some Arts news also on the show, and music from Coldplay, Keith, The Monkees, Bruce Hornsby & the Range, Carole King, and Bob Dylan.