Showing posts from 2014

Happy New Year - in Ireland it's Oíche na Coda Móire.

Happy New Year, everyone. Here at the westernmost end of the Dingle Peninsula it's still Oíche na Coda Móire, a name which means The Night of The Big Portion and is pronounced Eee-heh Nah Cud-ah Moir-eh. Well, not quite like that but something like it. The idea is that you eat the largest meal you can manage to ensure plenty of food and prosperity in the coming year. So, even though I've written a book called   Enough Is Plenty this seems the proper occasion for a post focusing on the pleasures of the large portion. Enjoy! Fógraím iarsma oraibh uilig. Good luck to you all in the new year. Check out Felicity Hayes-McCoy's Author page on Facebook

A (Virtually) Traditional Irish Christmas

It began at The Charles Dickens Museum in London which happens to be down the road from my agent's office and serves seriously good lemon drizzle poppy seed cake in its café. Which makes it the perfect place for a meeting. My agent and I discussed the novel I was writing and talked about sales figures on another book. And then we got down to the coffee and cake stage which is when seeds of new ideas quite often emerge, apparently from nowhere.   That day, prompted by the fact that we were sitting in what once would have been Charles Dickens' back kitchen, we chatted about his little Christmas books.     Just the right size to be stocking fillers, they'd been mood setters for Christmas each year in my childhood home in Dublin. I still have two worn copies, 1886 and 1903 editions, bought for sixpence each by my father from a bookstall on the quays in 1947. I was describing my annual ritual of curling up with those books at Christmastime a

Ireland as a crucible

Nearly forty years ago I was in a production of The Crucible , Arthur Miller's play about the Salem witch trials in the seventeenth century. It's a forensic exploration of individual and communal disaster, set in  a community riven by unspoken jealousies, resentment and sexual tensions, which is eventually destroyed from within by the morbid effect of mass hysteria. This weekend I've been thinking about it a lot. Throughout the last week Ireland's news coverage and social media have been dominated by allegations made by a young woman called Maíria Cahill who says that in 1997, as a sixteen year old in Northern Ireland, she was repeatedly raped by a senior member of the IRA and subsequently, in 1999, forced to go through a 'second nightmare' at the hands of an IRA 'kangaroo court' which, over an extended period of time, summoned her for interrogations and eventually confronted her with the man whom she'd claimed had raped her. The story brok

The Smell of September

It's a kind of a cold smell with mist in it. When you cut back the rattling fennel the spicy scent of pollen tickles the back of your throat. The rich smell of garlic mixes with the smell of damp earth when your spade nicks a bulb as you're digging spuds in the garden Blackberries ripen on briars                bringing the fruity, sugary smell of jam, and the warm smell of soda bread rising in the oven.                                                                     Scented flowers give way to huge, dusky hydrangea heads waiting to be picked and dried.                                                                  And once again you open the door to the dark smell of turfsmoke.                        Visit The House on an Irish Hillside on Facebook

If You Live Long Enough You'll See Everything

In times of general astonishment my mother used to announce that if you live long enough you'll see everything. I'm beginning to think that she was right. If I make it through to the coming weekend I'll be sixty. That's nearly forty years spent as a working writer and, looking back, what I see most clearly is what I didn't do to become one.  I didn't take a writing course, join a book group,  enter a competition, apply for an internship or do a degree in Creative Writing. Instead I read an awful lot of books, skipped a lot of lectures on Beowulf and The Lake Poets, and set out for the Atlantic seaboard at every possible opportunity to do fit-up theatre in Irish.  Very little of my reading happened in my university's state of the art library. The place scared the hell out of me and anyway I'd missed the induction day on the Dewey Decimal system. I imagine I was out on the Naas Dual Carriageway at the time, hitching a lift down to Corca Dhuib

The Tuam Babies

UPDATE: March 6 2017. I wrote this piece in 201 4. More evidence has emerged, and more will , and I find my response ha s not c hanged.    I’m almost afraid to write this post. Which means that I must write it. For the last week there’s been growing outrage at the discovery of the bodies of children and babies who died between 1925 and 1961 in a mother and baby home in Tuam, Ireland, under the care of the Bon Secours nuns, and are said to have been disposed of in a septic tank . This is the latest in a series of disclosures about the appalling treatment of women and children committed to the care of religious orders with the sanction of the Irish state. In a generation shaken by current recession and contemporary financial and political corruption stories, fury about this new evidence of past depravity is increasingly being directed at the apparent hypocrisy and inhumanity of the parents and grandparents in previous generations who ‘must have known’. Because there w