Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Douglas Hyde Conference 2014

I’m chairing this year’s conference, which takes place on July 18th in Ballaghaderreen. Entitled ‘The Unsaved Harvest: Rural Ireland’s Cultural Heritage’, it celebrates the richness of rural Ireland’s culture, with talks, discussion, poetry, music  and song. Taking counties from the north midlands and northwest as typical of rural Ireland, it will highlight the greatness of figures such as John McGahern, Oliver Goldsmith,  Douglas Hyde,Turlough O’Carolan, James Coleman, Margaret Cousins and Brian O’Doherty, not just in Irish culture, but world culture.
And it asks the question, are we making enough of this  cultural heritage?  When people travel through Ireland, are they aware that they are passing through the landscapes that inspired some of these towering names.
A great line up of speakers and entertainers including Vincent Woods, Brian Leyden, Catherine Marshall, W.J. McCormack ( aka Hugh Maxton)and  Noel O’Grady among others will bring it all life. A wonderful day is in store.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

from Painting Women

Her skin is clear and white (as I see it);
he picks out the heat and cold
that is in her flesh
so her belly is blue and green;
colours I have seen
where rubbish stirs in low tide.
She is a timber frame
a thousand colours.
They are inside each other

wash in and out of each other;
overlapping, under-lapping.
They graze on each other;
slap, fall, meld, hide,
shimmer, swelter, drown;
no rules until completion.
The brush, searching for challenges,
rushes about the page putting out fires
anxious for a thousand perfections

Sunday, May 25, 2014

All Dublin in your armchair

If ever you plan to go to Dublin, I suggest you make a virtual tour first, and you'll no finer way to wander through the city than by Storymap. Meet the story-tellers, poets and writers: Laurence Foster, Dermot Healy, Noel O'Grady, Paula Meehan and a host of  others. Dubliners and non-Dubliners, hear their voices and their stories; arrive in Dublin with your yap in place.

 So, I give you a gateway to Dublin; step through, and enjoy.  

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Irish trad but as you know it

Like the cover design, Ensemble Ériu's music is Irish but not typical; the inclusion of some unorthodox instruments gives it a very fresh sound. It's brilliant. Visit here
Ensemble Ériu are
Jack Talty: concertina, electronics
Neil O’ Loghlen: double bass, flute & whistle
Matthew Berrill: Clarinet
Matthew Jacobson: Marimba, Drums
Jeremy Spencer: Fiddle
Úna McGinty: Fiddle, Viola
Paddy Groenland: Guitar
Sam Perkin: Keyboards
Colm O’ Hara: Trombone
Saileog Ní Cheannabháin: Voice

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Stone: Christian and Pre-christian

Whether it be the ruined castles or celtic crosses, megalithic dolmens or round towers,  Ireland's greatest treasures are made of stone. To my mind, they are at their most beautiful when you come upon them expectedly: unsign-posted, undeveloped. And yet we need them as part of our tourism. It's an old bone of contention now, but I would go for heritage centres  away from these sites. I'd go for centres in local towns that highlight what's in the district, supply maps, information, lore.
If there must be development at the site, I'd go for small; not overwhelming. Carrowmore neolithic cemetery ( 6000 to 3000 BC) in Sligo is a case of the latter; the centre is modest, allowing the megalithic remains their space on the landscape.
St Patrick's Well at Oran, Co Roscommon would be passed in the blink of an eye as one drives around a bend on a road. The remains of the nearby round tower is the only evidence of its ancient importance. The unexpected discovery of the round tower added hugely to the pleasure of seeing the well. 
                                           St Patrick's Well at Oran, Co. Roscommon

St Patrick's Well at Oran, Co. Roscommon
Megalithic Tomb inside Cairn at Carrowmore, Sligo