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 calledEnough Is Plentythis 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.

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A (Virtually) Traditional Irish Christmas


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 broke eleven day…

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.

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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 Dhuibhne with a c…

The Tuam Babies