Culture Night & Che Guevara

A great weekend, altogether.

Last Friday was Culture Night in Ireland – and the goodies on offer were only legion!                       My contribution was reading poetry in two different parts of Clare.

Firstly the Clare Poetry Collective linked up for a reading in the Library in Ennis, with contributions from the floor, including Michéal FitzGearailt – a young man from whom we hope to hear more.

Then it was zoom! off in Might Aphrodite the Blue Polo, back to North Clare and the Salmon Bookshop & Literary Centre in Ennistymon. I joined Eleanor Cummins at 7pm for round two. The shop was cosy with rugs, and lovely lights, and the audience was warm and receptive. Everyone first said what their favourite poem was. Then Eleanor and I read some poems. Thanks Ellie, for having me over and, ‘Get Well Soon, Jessie!

Saturday saw me back in the car, motoring down along the coast to Kilkee. The Clare Poetry Collective had a gig at the Che Do Bheatha Festival.  Is it not the best name for a festival that you’ve ever heard?

Well, Irish people will get it.

Che mural , Kilkee
© Karen J McDonnell

The rain stayed away until we got into the Sweeney Library – which was fine with us.  We read turn and turn about, with contributions from the audience.  Thanks to Anne at the Library for delaying closing up until the last Che-themed poem was read! We really enjoyed ourselves, and it was lovely to meet up with friends from out Moyasta way.  A well-deserved chowder and brown bread in Bay View; where I stayed as a tiny tot with Grannie  (now changed, changed utterly!).  Then it was home again to the Burren.

All in all, a stimulating weekend. And lovely to be invited to participate. Thanks, lads.


Radio By The Sea

The Pollock Holes, Kilkee c.
The Pollock Holes, Kilkee

I’ve spent the last two weeks in Kilkee, Co Clare  – a place rather dear to my heart.

Five generations of my family have holidayed in this place that grew from small village to a Victorian watering hole with seaside ‘lodges’. Now, as when I was young, people come to Kilkee for the great beach, cliff walks, and rock pools … as well as the hurdy-gurdies, candy floss and ice cream.

This time around, however, I was on work placement with the local community radio – Raidió Corca Basicinn –

raidio corca baiscinn

And just before I leave, I want to thank everyone for being so welcoming and for throwing me in at the deep end (HAH!).

I ended up gathering, writing and reading three news bulletins a day and also participating in the daily ‘Everything Goes’ show. And I put together a little package about writer Emily Lawless and her Wild Geese Poems that mention Clare and Corca Baiscinn.

Hell, even the Kilkee Sea Serpent raised its briny head again this week!

Kilkee serpent

You can read an article about the station manager Áinemae in this week’s Clare Champion here.

From this radiohead to Áinemae and all the radioheads of West Clare: thanks so much, lads. It’s been a great experience.



Tracking the Ghost Train

Slieve Callan in shed at Moyasta Junction
Slieve Callan in shed at Moyasta Junction

Here is a link to the mini-documentary I made about the West Clare Railway.

My thanks to all the people who contributed to it and who gave me great leads and stories … enough to make a full length documentary!

It’s dedicated to my mother & and her sisters, my grandmother, and great-grandmother – all of whom travelled to Kilkee on the West Clare.

So after all the work … here is Tracking the Ghost Train


I’d love to get your feedback … and any stories you have about the West Clare Railway.