Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tyrone Guthrie Centre blog#3

Another glorious day in Co. Monaghan. The drumlins are ablaze with furze bushes and the countryside resplendent with goat willow and rowan flower. It was a little cooler today but still sunny enough to ramble about in a tee-shirt. I ‘discovered’ the conservatory which I didn’t know existed and was delighted to see a passionflower trained up a gorgeous stone wall and some variegated perlagonium full bloom – I sat there reading and writing for a good while – did some good work on Daisy Killer plus fleshed out a short story; to be shaved back brutally at some later stage.

Lavinia continues to encourage me to be fatter – divine potato cakes for breakfast with (I think) shavings of scallions in them. N’yum. Lots of lovely cold meats, salad; including ‘real’ lettuce (as per Jemser) – home grown butterhead. Both meals shared with lovely interesting company. I know ye all think I’m mad and talk too much and stuff. But a lot of these lovely ‘artistes’ are the same. So we all speak the same language albeit in slightly different accents and disciplines. I have never met a person in this house that I was uneasy with. It is home.

After lunch the Story Queen appeared on the lawn in front of the house (singing ‘Nellie the Elephant’ off-key) as she approached and talked and read stories to Lavinia’s wee boys – two dotes. Luke was well enthralled – loved ‘Owl Babies’ and took ‘The Gruffalo' away with him. Lavinia’s heart will be scalded reading it to him for the next few years!!

Then HRH waved goodbye and wandered away singing ‘the wonderful thing about Tiggers’ and decided she would like to have her picture taken riding the lovely girly 1930’s style bike in the conservatory. Esther obliged as camerawoman and Lavinia’s boys were delighted when HRH almost crashed into a garden bed. Much hilarity ensued.

Back to work then and the treatment for the animated feature I’m collaborating on with the lovely Karen was polished up to our satisfaction – well, near enough. So off it will go with a kiss and a wish into the big bad world to see can we get a bite from some nice big fish in the world of animation. I shed emotional tears over a few scenes and laughed at others – but then I am ridiculously emotional and sentimental. Here’s hoping. We had great fun doing it anyway.

A walk around the grounds and back in for one of Lavinia’s legendary dinners where serendipity and crazy crazy co-incidences were discussed – with much laughter . Another successful night. Some have drifted off now to work, others to read or watch a movie. There appears to be some wine-supping going on in the kitchen, but I’m just too tired. Me! Too tired to drink!

There was some suggestion of Scrabble earlier – but these are seriously brainy people and I’m just not competitive enough. I’ll sit here in my lovely room, listen to John Prine, check Facebbok and Twitter, ring my babies and after a nice long bath will head to the leaba with a good book – there is a houseful to choose from.

‘Night x

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Another beautiful day in rural Ireland........

Another glorious day in Newbliss. I knew the weather forecast was good and that Jemser and son#2 were coming up for a visit to celebrate his ‘not making my confirmation’ day. So I got up a 6am and the view of the mist over the estate was breathtaking. Then a cuppa tae and some fruit and down to work. Got the treatment for the animated feature I’m collaborating on completed to my relative satisfaction and tidied it up and sent it off.

Down to the kitchen around 9am and a lovely healthy breakfast before a quick stroll around the grounds. Back to the laptop and I did a few hours work on Daisy Killer my new novel. I rambled the few kilometres into Newbliss where I met my lovely men and a deliriously excited Molly – she almost licked the face off me. We bought the makings of a picnic and drove back to the house. The place bowled the lads over as I knew it would and I introduced them to those we met. We sat in the sun in the grounds and had our picnic; then strolled down to the lake. There was no debate as to swimming – no way was son#2 getting in – he decided there were definitely fish in it and quite possibly some sort of Loch Annamakerrig Nessie. Mind you he threw poor Molly in – and she had a grand little swim for herself. Then we walked back through the wood and the gents took their leave of me. Son#2 was really delighted to see me and where I was staying – he only has four more days now to wait until I’m home.

I set him a series of tasks to do for me, he’s a great P.A. – he’s booked Ryanair flights for myself himself and his cousin Oscar for a few days in the sun in Spain in late June. As soon as I get my website up and running he’s going to maintain it for me, reply to mails, post books etcetera. Handy having a twelve year old genius in the house!

When they left I came back to my room to work – but honestly it was too nice a day to be indoors – so I took some of my research books and a notebook and worked for an hour or two in the sun – actually I fell asleep for the last half hour of that! So refreshed after my nap I came back to the house and did some really good work – although that opinion might be reviewed when I re-read it in a month’s time. Time for dinner then – which was of course divine. Lavinia thinks she hasn’t done her job properly unless we leave the house weighing half a stone more than we did when we landed. And all in the company of lovely warm quirky people. Now for some strong keep me awake coffee and I intend doing another few hours work.

It’s all going really well – but then this place is magical. If you ever, ever get the chance to visit grab it with both hands.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Where to start.....Life is Beautiful

Right – where do I start? Last weekend was the perfick weekend – in that I had pints with Jemser of the Friday, after swimmin’ with son#2 for (I think) ten lengths.

Then of the Saturday I did Story Queen in Blanch Library to a most appreciative audience.

Then Sunday and Oor Lizzie was christened over in Sandymount – fandabbydouble dozy church, Star of the Sea. Lovely priest and lots of friendly people doing biccies and tea in the now disused old NS beside the Church - lots of lovely chats with lovely Sandymount people. Don Liam Walsheone – the godfather got the pressie so-o-o-o- right – a reconditioned MAGNIFICENT Silver Cross pram. I always said the proudest days of my life were my pram pushing days - I was a Mammy - somebody's favourite person. I miss my pram pushing days. Anyway, I am going to kidnap both pram and baby some day this summer. She will be pushed all around Swords/Malahide/Finglas anywhere I can push her - not very bus friendly the aul' Silver Cross - but deadly suspension. Plus if it's good enough for HRH in Great Britain it's good enough for oor Lizzie. Then off to Roly's Bistro for the christening lunch - feckin' gorgeous. How did the Walshies end up dining in such a gaff? Plus very very reasonable per head. Mind you I wasn't paying, lovely to be with so many family on such a lovely summer's day - and it only March.

Then on Monday I was tortured into coming to the most peaceful place on any planet – the Tyrone Guthrie in Annamakerrig, Newbliss Co Monaghan. God,t'was hard leaving work and housework for a week to come to the most beautiful place on earth (after Port, Co Donegal of course), miss the lads and Jemser and Molly but as I drove up the avenue I felt like I was coming home…I love it. And then to be spoiled rotten by the lovely Lavinia, Robbie, Esther et all - I might have to kill Lavinia though, or at least disable her cooking skills - her desserts are just too scrumptious. I think she might be a devilish imp in disguise tempting me with glorious food. Kidding - how could anyone be cross with Lavinia!

But I did a 6k walk (or ramble) into Newbliss today - the weather was quite simply too beautiful not to go out, I don't care about word count - good days don't come often in this aul' bog we live on. There are Donegal connected Yanks home and they are claiming credit for the weather. I'm glad Anne Behringer and her daughter Debbie's lads got to see Donegal in the sun - they might just keep coming with their own kids in the future. Cherish our 'diaspora' folks - it'll be what saves us financially.

Now - tomorrow Weds is the Confirmation day in son#2's school. He decided last summer he didn't want to make it so I supported him in his decision, but I think he might be feeling a little lonely tomorrow, he misses me (yes - still!) - all of his classmates are having days being spoiled by their families and neighbours (not to mention the cash!) so Jemser and I hatched a plan and they're driving up to meet me in Newbliss for lunch and we might chance a swim in the lake - if son#2 doesn't wimp out!

The work is getting done - just at slightly unusual hours - almost finished treatment for collaborative exercise with Karen Coleman - songwriter supreme, novel #2 taking shape and hatching a lovely plot for novel#3 - a ghost lover in an artist's retreat........h'mm plus polishing a couple of stories and a children's book. And then there's sleep, reading and eating.

Night night.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Today is the twenty-first anniversary of Mam's death. And the pain is still as raw and gaping as it was on that day. Oh I've learned to live with it - but part of me is missing. I've tried to live my life in honour of hers since her death, for she loved life, was full of it - laughing, smiling, mischievous, loving - she had the biggest heart and always had time for everyone. Her only fault a quick temper - but it passed as quickly as it brewed. She was mad about Dad but they had tough times - too little money, too many kids and demands pulling from everywhere. A Church that had too much influence on a young State did not make things easy. They were a passionate couple and passion doesn't always make the best marriage. But they did their best.

The day Mam died Dad shouted at me 'You don't understand! My life is over!Over!' His heart was broken, his spirit destroyed. He had just 'gotten her back' from the rearing of their brood, he had retired early from the Gardai and they had been talking about relocating to Wexford, his home town - perhaps starting a little fabric shop. Mam loved material, sewing, fashion and had worked all her life as a sales assistant in shops like Cassidys and Hickeys. She made us all lovely clothes (of which we were not in the least bit grateful - or not grateful enough anyway). I had home made hotpants, maxi dresses, angel tops, dresses for special occasions. When I'd moan 'I've nothing to wear' she'd call me 'the best dressed girl in the County Council' when I'd nag her into helping me pick some fabric and pattern and then into making it for me.

I was too shy to go into the open changing rooms in shops then. I hated my big angular body. I was five foot nine and a half and about ten stone on a big frame. I was an awful eejit.The only bit of me I liked was my back - the skin was sallow and flawless so Mam made me occasion dresses to celebrate that. If Mam said I looked fabulous I almost believed her. I never believed anyone else.And I certainly didn't trust my own judgement. I was the oldest, the fat one, specky four eyed bossy know-it-all. Oh what fools we are in youth!And oh how sorry I feel for that young girl/woman - I wish I could wrap mt arms around her - tell her she is wise and strong and compassionate. That she will meet and mate with a good, good man and have the babies she yearned for, that she would find her voice and use it to tell the truth and above all that people would (eventually) understand her.

My Mam made me. And she did a good job. My flaws are the mistakes I made when I deviated from the path she set me on or when I neglected my father's mantra of 'tell the truth'. I miss you Mam, I love you and your DNA is carried on in all of us, in all our children and eventually in their children. In this way you will be with us forever.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Ditch Cassidy and angels' voices

I haven't been out at night much for the last fifteen years - too busy working, minding me wains and reading to be bothered leaving my comfy couch at the end of a long day to struggle through a packed pub where one has to compete with blaring music or bloody sport on TV to chat to friends.

But for the last few months I have taken to joining Jemser on the odd Sunday night in a pub called 'The Slaughtered Lamb' in Swords, ( built on the site of what was once an abattoir) known locally as 'The Lamb'. The bigger lounge in the back caters for the younger crowd, bands and loud music and scantily clad young women - it also attracts a large Easter European crowd - our lovely new Irish who keep our little town going. It is in the smaller bar to the front that myself and Jemser go. The clientele in the Lamb is as varied as the band members of Ditch Cassidy's band - a lot of the audience members of the same age profile Jemser and I belong to , and a nice healthy smattering of younger people who just enjoy a great night's music.

Ditch Cassidy is something of a legend in Dublin - he has been fronting bands singing blues/soul/rock since the 1960s - his voice has that lovely raspy wellworn quality neccessary for a singer in this genre. He works with two other musicians (sorry lads - didn't catch your names ) a fantastic lead guitar who loves the instrument he plays and a solemn sweet young dreadlocked bass player completes the eclectic trio. They bring the house down every night they play (mostly Sundays from 9.30pm on).

Last night Ditch called on a young woman Ciara Moran to sing a few numbers. Jesus! The hairs on the back of my neck stood up! You know the feeling you get when you are in the presence of greatness? Well, Ciara Moran's rendition of 'Somewhere over the Rainbow' gave me that - it was in-bloody-credible, and if her full time job is not somewhere in the music business it should be. A name to listen for folks. Definitely.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St Patrick's Day in Swords Co. Dublin

I work alongside the events management staff of Fingal County Council and had to calm down some of my colleagues frazzled nerves yesterday. They were (of all things) worried about the weather for today's parade - the one thing they cannot control! So I assured them that by the sheer force of my will I would ensure that no rain fell in Swords between 10am and I.30pm! I was right! Mammy is always right.....

I had volunteered the Story Queen to tootle up and down Main Street talking to lots and lots of boys and girls ably assisted by my wonderful little pal Rachel Barker, who took the role of Princess Semolina. We had a basket full of St Patrick's Day lollipops which we distributed regally to all. Molly, my badly home-shorn bichon freise accompanied me with a lovely spray of bright green hair colour on the back. She was sumptuous and proud and a huge hit with the spectators. The Story Queen told the children that when she woke up that morning Molly had all this green spray on her and Ihe Queen got a frightful shock!

But Princess Semolina immediately knew what was wrong - 'Mama' she cried 'We must travel to Ireland - the green is a sign telling us to go!'' Well. I was terribly tired, I am 437 years old after all but Semolina was right and we hopped onto the next Space Shuttle (which is the second planet after the North Pole). We popped into Santa on the way and asked him to have a word with the clouds so that they might keep the rain away, Mrs Clause has just about recovered from the exhaustion she felt after Christmas and they are going to take a nice relaxing holiday next month.

So Princess Semolina, Molly and I chatted to beautifully decorated children up and down Swords Main Street, everyone there had made so much effort on their appearance. Everyone was happy and smiling and waving and clapping. I even got one or two little girls out to dance with me! A very nice Garda Siochana linked me for a few steps of little jig and I had my picture taken as I handed out lollipops to the wonderful Civil Defence people - who were petrified I might make them dance too!

The Parade proper started the with the Lord Mayor waving regally from an open top vintage car (my regal wave is of course the correct one - he was just imitating me) - there were football clubs, athletics clubs, dancing schools, all manner of wonderful floats and entertainment. Colleagues Caroline Bradley (who shaved her head last week and raised 1400 euro for cancer research) and Christine Mullen were exhibiting their wonderful photographs on the railings of County Hall - the staff of Fingal County Council are bursting with creativity and dedication to their community. I felt very very proud to say I worked for the Council today. And you will rarely hear me say that!

No staff member who partook today was paid overtime for their work. Some will be given time in lieu at some later date, others at higher levels regard it as part of their roles. We do take our jobs seriously citizens, we make mistakes but for the most part your public service is just that - there to serve you. And I'm your Queen!

It's St Patrick's Day - a day to dream and philosophize and we Irish do that so well! Maith Sinn.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fally down socks days..........

Mild grey March morning and I'm sitting in my usual spot in the lovely library in Rush – it really is a fabulous building, if you are ever in North County Dublin you should try visit it. And Skerries Mills. And Ardgillan Castle. And – well, the list is endless. Just visit Fingal on the east coast of Dublin and you’ll find lots to see and do – we’re horrid cultured y’know!

Lots of topics I could blog about today but I decided I’d give you all a laugh about my ‘fally-down socks’ day yesterday.

I had to follow Jemser over to Ashbourne yesterday evening to the garage he has his car serviced in (Rath Service Station-brilliant and Eugene is a sound man, totally recommend him – particularly for Saab and Opel.) I switched to the passenger seat in my car coming home as he drives me mad if I’m driving because he makes me nervous, he’s convinced I’m going to do something wrong – and y’know what Will says ‘Nothing’s either good or bad but thinking makes it so’. So in the interests of marital harmony if we’re both in a car together he drives – unless he needs to sleep – then I can take over. I’m rambling – but I’ll get going now, I promise!

Once I dropped Jemser back to our home I left straight away again – I was due to do an interview with the lovely Debbie on Near 90.3fm in Coolock at 7pm and I was supposed to toddle down to my wonderful songwriting/singer/musician / all round creative person Karen Coleman off the Tonlegee Road (mark my words – this lady is going to be the biggest thing in Ireland and abroad since Imelda May) for a cup of tea and a chat. We both have busy lives and always seem to miss each other at different events so we needed a good old chin wag.

Those of you who know me know I have absolutely no sense of direction. The kids used to say it was an adventure getting into the car with me – because you never knew where you would end up! I drove around and around in circles looking for the big white building that houses the radio station. Eventually it clicked with me that the station was in the shared services Civic offices (great idea Dublin City Council btw, hats off to ye) off the Oscar Traynor road and I pulled into the car park relieved that I was still early. I always add a 15 minute ‘just in case’ into timing any journey when I’m driving.

Had a chat and a laugh with two lovely women in Near 90.3fm, Debbie and Rebecca - this is community radio at its best; they cover all that’s going in the North Dublin ( both city and county) area and its all done by volunteer presenters – they are always looking for volunteers so if interested go here

When we went on air I was a bit nervous so decided I’d just be myself – well a slightly less manic version of myself! I spoke too quickly at first but eventually settled down into a chat with the presenters who put me totally at ease - we could have been sitting in a Starbucks shooting the breeze.We spoke about my writing career to date, the novel I self published (available here ) and I even plugged my appearances as the Story Queen (voluntary work) in Fingal libraries on Saturday mornings through out the years. I then read a little passage from The Heron's Flood and although my mouth was dry I got through it. A really pleasant experience. So thanks Debbie and Rebecca!

So, at this stage I was looking forward to my chat with Karen and was dying for a cuppa tay. I went looking for my mobile to check the address she had texted to me. No bloody phone. I’m always mislaying it. Typical! I had probably left it on the table at home when I ran in to collect copies of the which I was donating as prizes in a text-in on the station. So – no phone, no directions to house – what do I do? I debated driving back to Swords to get my mobile but didn’t want to be that late for Karen and Anne (Karen's darling Mam.) No, I thought - I’ll find a phone box – ring home and get them to read me out the address on my mobile. Good thinking Batman. ‘Cept I couldn’t find a phone box – I drove around and around and around – nary a one. Where did they all go? Is there some big warehouse somewhere holding hundreds of phone boxes waiting to be recycled as Superman changing rooms or Dr Whos's Tardis? I felt like Robinson Crusoe – shipwrecked in my Opel Corsa in the Donahies/Coolock/Artane area and nary a Man Friday in sight. Mad.

Eventually I pulled into a little row of shops on the Tonlegee Road and stuck my head into a pharmacy to see if they knew where there was such an archaic device as a phone box - are they collectors' items I wonder?. Well d’y know what – I met the three loveliest women there. Not only did they let me use the phone in the shop they even trawled down through their prescription system to see if they could find an address for me – Karen has special needs brothers and would use the chemist a lot. But. I wasn’t sure if Karen’s surname was her maiden name or married name. No answer to the home phone – as per usual - son#1 not there, son#2 installed in front of the PS3 and oblivious to everything but the game he’s playing and the Jemser was sitting in the kitchen with the headphones on listening to his new best friend ‘YouTube’

Right sez I , I’ll try his mobile – which is the only other number I knew off the top of my head. It went to voice mail. Feck. He told me later he doesn’t answer his mobile unless he recognises the number, but later on curiosity got the better of him and he rang the number anywayto see who had called! Those three women must think we are a family of ding-bats!As all my attempts to find the address had failed I decided I’d have to drive back to Swords to collect phone and travel back to Coolock. Story of my life –


As I headed out the Malahide Road I heard a beep beep and in my peripheral vision I spotted a flash of green from the internallittle cubby hole on the passenger's door. The bloody phone had been there all along, I must have popped it in when I switched seats with Jemser in Ashbourne!
So it's all his fault - as bloody per!

Are y’still reading? Fair play – I’d be away to Twitter by paragraph three. I think my blog is like one of those slow cookers as opposed to a pressure cooker! So - I was now fully armed with the addressand I headed off again; but I still went around in circles. Karen can’t give directions and I can’t take them in – we are like two lost souls but we have these magnets y’see and we always find each other in the end! I stopped the car at a little green and phoned her again,

‘I’m coming out the front door’ sez she. ‘Can you see me now?’

‘No,’ sez I, then in the rear view mirror I spotted her walking across the green, phone to ear and barefoot on the grass. Big hugs all round and we adjourned to the comfortable kitchen of her home where Bear – Karen’s ‘to die for’ St Bernard (Old English Sheepdog maybe) took a fancy to me – He’s no Molly so he didn’t end up on my lap but I’d say if I let him he would’ve had a go!. Karen, Anne and I drank cups of tea and chatted about all manner of things. Chats are lovely. Chats and flirtin' make the world go round.Amn't I right?

Karen Coleman is so talented folks – her songs are beautifully crafted and her talent doesn’t end with music she writes really well - particularly dialogue. I love spending time with her – reassuring her that all she has to do is work hard, do the right thing and shine and the Universe will provide. I KNOW THIS AND IT WILL HAPPEN BECAUSE BY SHEER FORCE OF WILL I WILL MAKE IT SO! She needs one tiny bit of luck – one financial backer and a manager to look after the business end of things. She’s tired, needs minding and space to do what she excels at. Plus she’s about to become a granny and Anne a great granny! Isn’t it brilliant – four generations under the one roof. Family.

If I could help her at all, in any way, I would – because I cannot bear to see talent going unrecognised. Ye better all hide your piggy banks because I’m coming on the scrounge!

So that was my Tuesday – interesting wasn’t it . Oh! And I didn’t get lost going home! Now, I'm away - off to give my first ever creative writing workshop - I feel like a little girl starting in Junior Infants - terrified but determined I'm going to be a big girl, not be afraid and JUST DO IT.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Gardening for the soul

Today was my first ‘official’ day in 2012 to spend some time pottering about the garden. I powerwashed the patio yesterday and today brushed away all the moss, algae and dust it had loosened. I weeded a little and removed some of the detritus of the winter, planned a few small changes in layout and in general relaxed through physical work.

Before you all start giving out to me for gardening a few days after I lay crippled with my back let me say this. Gardening is good for my soul mind, sense of well-being etc. It reduces my continuous boring draining existential angst. And I mind my back. I get down on my knees and have every weeding device known to man at my disposable and I rarely spend more than two hours at it because I have learned to listen to my back – so no giving out! Please?

It was a lovely mild spring day today, albeit a little dull – but thankfully winter seems to be well on its way to the other side of the planet and the evenings are lengthening. It’s funny – for some reason this time of year tends to be the time when I get most of my really bad depressive bouts – no moving no talking crying jags bouts. I don’t understand it – unless it has something to do with the fact that my beloved mother died in late March in 1991. January to early April – every year. Paradoxically it’s actually a time of year I enjoy on another level – again because each day brings new growth about me.

But at least at this stage of my life – twenty seven years into this awful illness I am sure of one thing – it passes. I avoid all cerebral pursuits and shun human company (I wouldn’t inflict my melancholy face on anyone) when I’m unwell – I walk, garden, cuddle the dog, listen to music, veg on the sofa in front of favourite DVDs.I wonder is it because my body is so low in Vitamin D after the winter that this happens? I think during next winter I will try taking a Vitamin D supplement and see how Spring 2013 treats me. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime there is my garden – the daffs are well up cheerfully bobbing their yellow heads at me, aconites, bluebells and the last of the snowdrops – the primulas are coming along nicely and the tulipss will be here soon. The buds are well formed on my wonderful choisya, the clematis are producing new growth and as all three are now a good size I’m looking forward to a riotous display this year. Gardening, like writing, is a long-term project. Never quite finished to our satisfaction and always always needing clipping,tending or tidying.

Of course Molly – the new dog in the house – has caused some havoc in my little plot but she’s forgiven. It’s in her nature to dig so I’ll try confining her to the spots she can do least damage. Anyway I owe the poor bitch for the awful haircut I gave her – she looks like that poor badly shorn sheep dog in the Specsavers ad!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Grubby ceilings and lost boys............

I'm flat on my back with a lower back muscle spasm since Monday morning and finally worked out I can type by using son#2's little netbook open wide against two pillows balanced on my considerable stomach. Not a pretty sight. And I have far too much time to think despite the semi drugged fug brought about by difene and paracetamol.

It reminds me vividly of the time I was expecting son#2. He's twelve next week and I feel him slipping away from me daily. I'm glad for him - he's developing into a funny, caring human being and Jemser and I had something to do with that. But my baby boy!I was gi-bloody-normous and had back problems and chronic insomnia in the last trimester of that pregnancy. Many many nights were spent lying on the floor staring at the ceiling talking to our unborn child - telling him (or her at the time) how great it was all going to be when we finally met.

And it has been great,every single minute. That child never ever gave us a moment's worry. He is healthy, incredibly bright and funny. Like me he can be a bit awkward and is going through an incredibly sensitive phase but he is maturing faster than I ever did and his social skills will be better than mine ever were as a teen or young adult. He's not afraid to talk about how he feels or what plans he has for his future. So much potential.

But for another little while he will be my baby boy, still needing hugs and physical contact. Soon that will be forbidden by teenage withdrawal but it comes back, son#1 doles out bear hugs every so often - just 'cause I'm his Mam, and I cherish each one.

Neck and arms getting sore now, so back to contemplating the mysteries of parenthood and looking at my grubby ceilings. Jemser! Where's the paint brush?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

G'wan De Yella Bellies.........

D’y’know the way I’m always blethering and dramatizing things? Well, that comes from all the artistic DNA I have. Granda Kennedy (on whose life my next novel is loosely based) was an intelligent well read man – he worked in the printing game all his life and loved books and songs and stories, poetry and plays. It was Granda Kennedy who took me for my first visit to the mobile library. Granda Kennedy who published my first poem - on the first page of the Marino Parish Newsletter – all done up in a fancy font with an elegant box around it, I was eight years old and hugely proud of myself. So that’s the maternal side – words.

On the paternal side Granda Walsh was an erudite, dapper little man. He loved theatre, Irish dancing (the real kind – none of your wigs and orange tan). He was a staunch Republican and like many young men of his time was in the IRB, was captured dutring the War of Independence and jailed in Wexford jail, he subsequently escaped. I listened wide–eyed when Dad told me tales of this hero of our country - my Grandad Walsh. Grandad was very involved in amateur drama in Wexford. My father still has numerous photos of Grandad in heavy grease paint and costume, I laugh when i look at them because he he looks so fierce in them!Grandad Walsh's treasured collection of George Bernard Shaw’s plays was left for me when the old man died.

When I started to appear in school plays myself Grandad gave me enormous encouragement – although when our group won the Shakespeare Society’s school drama festival and our picture subsequently appeared in the Irish Times, he was horrified at the untidily darned ladder in Hamlet's (aka mine)gym tights. I was disgraced in front of the nation – and in the bloody Times too! So when I spotted that Wexford Drama Group were appearing in Rush Drama Festival with their production of Bryony Lavery’s 'Frozen' I though I’d go along. Wexford Drama Group group was formed in 1966 and although Grandad was seventy at that time family lore has it that he was instrumental in setting it up – I’m not sure of this though.

By God! If he was instrumental in forming the group (we’ll pretend he was – it makes a better story) he must be lepping a jig or a reel in whatever other dimension he has been in for the last thirty odd years. I knew nothing about the play before I went and it blew me away. I’m not going to tell you the plot – because I’d ramble all over the place and you’d get fed up and stop reading! It’s not easy theatre as the play pushes you out of your comfort zones but if you ever get a chance to see a production of it I wholeheartedly recommend it.

There are four characters in the play and every actor played their roles magnificently. But I’d have to single out John Crosbie for his incredible portrayal of the serial killer Ralph.. The tension created every time he came on stage was palpable – this guy was truly the Bogey man (with a little Gollum dropped in.) The set was fabulous and worked brilliantly well on so many levels – sound effects and lighting ditto. I have seen many professional production of different plays my thirty five years of theatre going and this ‘amateur’ performance can proudly hold its own with them. Bravo Wexford Drama Group. The vibrant amateur scene in Ireland is still thriving I’m glad to see. Actually I hope to get my hands dirty myself again, I’m appearing in the female version of the Portrane/Donabate’s Drama Society production of ‘The Odd Couple’ I play Mickey – the female cop! Won’t yiz all come? All over Fingal there are drama groups and little theatres – particularly in the north county. We are truly a nation of story-tellers, whether it be through literature, music, dance, drama or film. Aren’t we deadly!

G‘wan the Irish – and stop drinking. Alcohol blocks creativity, give up the gargle and we can all shine!