New Beginnings?

I have seen it all before. Wars and rumours of… but let me not be too cynical. As one who has lived through the 1960s and seen the fall of the Soviet Union and the Iron Curtain, the Trump/Brexit/Refugees thing seems quite mild by comparison.

2016 reminds me of the 1960’s, when all that had been certain seemed under attack from all directions. At first the sights and sounds were distant: Kennedy – the first Catholic President in the White House, Civil Rights in America, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, the Vietnam War. Continue reading “New Beginnings?”

Annie Proulx in Leitrim

The inaugural Iron Mountain Literature Festival, based in Carrick-on-Shannon, was held on Friday evening October 7th and Saturday 8th, 2016, replacing the John McGahern Seminar which had run for eight years (2007 – 2014). The programme was loosely themed around ideas such as the language of landscape, place and memory in writings. An archaeologist, geographer and architect were part of the talks and discussions. Continue reading “Annie Proulx in Leitrim”

Suiting Up

I had thought that the confirmation slap on the cheek was the only remaining ritual to mark the end of childhood. I was wrong. I have recently had the experience of being part of a new coming of age ritual which young men of about 17 years go through. It even has a name – Suiting Up – and it is, as you might guess, the buying of the first formal suit, usually to coincide with a school debs.

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A Galway Halloween

Halloween (or Ducking Night as we called it) was one of the best times for children 60 years ago in County Galway. A few days before, the older children would cycle out to Cnoc Ma (the Hill of Maeve) to collect hazelnuts in the woods. The old women, who spoke Irish among themselves and called that night Oiche Samhain, told us about how Maeve, the queen of the fairies, was buried standing so she could look out over her dominions. Everyone reminded them about taking salt with them, so their souls couldn’t be taken by the fairies. Continue reading “A Galway Halloween”

The Great War in Memory, Writing and Drama

The Literature of Irish Exile 17th Annual Autumn School took place on Saturday October 15th at the Mellon Centre for Migration Studies, Ulster American Folk Park. The theme was The Great War in Memory, Writing and Drama  and featured writing by Fermanagh Writers and the Omagh Robins WW1 Drama Group which had been developed in the Living Legacies 2016 Writers’ Summer School.

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