Still in the Cottage of the Red Windows

Another fabulous morning deep in the heart of Kerry, gloriousl sunshine, light sea breezes and wonderful company.  Woke this morning after a very disturbing dream where I was, for some inexplicable reason, babysitting (reluctantly) my friend’s grandson but the baby kept leaping out of my arms and falling on the floor. I was very glad to wake up and see no trace of either the baby or the pool of blood on the floor.

Other than that, I had a very good night’s sleep and leapt with a certain amount of alacrity from the bed. Downstairs was the happy tapping of laptop keys and the sumptuous smell of home made vegetable soup. Obviously one of the friends had been up at the crack of dawn.

After a healthy breakfast of fruit and yogurt, I set off for my pre-writing walk. To my left is the mountain, barren rising up against a blue sky and in front of me the sparkling sea water. I walk uphill as far as the holy well, St. Finian’s. By the time I get to the well, I’m totally out of breath and pretty relieved there’s no one there to witness it. It is not a pretty sight. I’m beginning to think St. Finian might well be the death of me. But the view is breath-taking and well worth worth the near cardiac arrest.

Later after our morning’s writing, we’re off to visit The Old Bog Museum about three miles away which has Irish wolfounds, Kerry Bog Ponies as well as old homesteads common around the times of the famine. Then dinner out  as we have decided to treat ourselves tonight and back to a couple of bottles of wine,

Shure, how bad a life have we?

 

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Deep in the Black Valley in the Cottage of the Red Windows

543CFC5D-9AA1-49EE-970C-4F6345AEC402.jpegAnother lovely morning deep in the heart of Kerry where three writing friends and I have stepped off the busy merry go round of life for a few days. I was awakened by the glorious sound of birdsong and a slight scraping or maybe squealing outside my bedroom door. I was instantly awake. Forgetting about the glorious birdsong, I hopped out of bed. We either were sharing the cottage with a resident ghost or a family of mice. I carefully put on my shoes, I didn’t want the questionable experience of a mouse running over my bare foot and giving me a heart attack. Then, cautiously I advanced to the door with a rolled up newspaper. Why a rolled up newspaper? You may well ask. I have no idea except that I felt more in control of the situation armed. Of course, if it was a ghost, a rolled up newspaper wouldn’t be much of a help. But I didn’t dwell on that too much, reasoning that in that case, i’d just have to improvise. Reaching the bedroom door, I lifted the latch and in one fluid movement, yanked the door open so that it slammed against the wall and sounded as if the whole cottage was falling down around my ears before disappearing into the valley.

Well, I could hardly believe what I saw in front of me. Devil the sign of a mouse or a resident ghost but friend number one in the Buddha position on a rug in the middle of the floor. She looked like she’d actually seen a ghost as I stood there, hair standing on end and clutching a rolled up newspaper. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. The cottage was safe, I could rest easy. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for my meditating friend. I regretted that she’d been yanked unceremoniously from her early morning Nirvana or whatever state you call it and it looked like it might be a tad difficult to return to whatever trance she’d been in before I’d brought her so rudely brought down to earth on my quest for the mice.

The good news though was that all was well with my world. I left my friend breathing deeply and nipped back smartly into my room where my comfortable bed and glorious birdsong awaited me.

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The Cottage with Red Windows.

Someone had the bright idea way back in November that it would be a great idea to take a cottage somewhere at Easter and relax and write for a week or so. The idea was taken up with alacrity and so here we are, laptops, iPads and a brimful of ideas all waiting to be born, in a magnificent stone cottage with red windows deep in the heart of Kerry. There’s a mountain rising out of the mists behind us, a lazily splashing sea before us and a holy well just up the road. Shure, what more could we want to inspire us?😎

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Happy Birthday, William!

Happy Birthday, William!!!
On this day, April 23rd 1564, William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon in England. Considered to be the greatest daramatist of all time, he went to school in Stratford where he would have studied latin and read classical literature. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior and who was pregnant at the time oftheir marriage. Their first daughter was Susanna and the couple later had twins Hamnet and Judith. Hamnet, however, died when he was only eleven years old. Shakespeare left alone for London where he became an actor and playwright for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Among his most famous plays are Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and King Lear. He retired to Stratford and died there aged 52 on his birthday, April 23rd 1616.

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The Shoot

AE9EDBF1-EEAE-422D-9252-C0A873320DFF.jpegIt’s 10am on a manically roasting morning and I’m fully made up-face, eyes, hair and to top it all, I’m wearing a classy summer dress. I look chic and elegant and most definitely not myself. Like I’m preparing for an interview or something serious like that-which, in a way, I suppose I am.

Now I’ve got your curiosity properly piqued. So I’ll tell all. Together with a friend and fellow writer, I’m having myself professionally shot by a photographer friend at her house in less than a hour. How’s that then-impressive or what?

What do you mean, write in plain English? I’m using this phrase because this is the way real professionals speak. They ‘shoot’ people and objects and use drapes and screens and backdrops.They also use big umbrella lookalikes which do wonders apparently with light. They look grave and stare into the camera lens, muttering about reflections and shadows. They also ‘blast you out of it’, won’t shoot thumbs under any circumstances and tell you the shot is ‘interesting’ when they really mean, it’s dire. It’s all very technical really so don’t get too hung up about it.

But to get back to the professional shoot(professional shoot- my goodness, it’s got such a lovely, kind of exalted, ring to it, don’t you think?) we had a great time. We smiled, looked mysterious and enigmatic, gazed away into the midde distance reflectively, pirouetted, pouted. We also did seductive, sort of sexy ones which Viv, our photographer friend declared ‘very interesting’ before promptly deleting them altogether. Clearly, the world is not ready for us doing seduction just yet.

We tried to do the mammogram pose, but it was too dangerous without a nurse present. It’s very hard to keep one’s shoulders back, breasts forward, stand on tiptoe with one leg while thrusting the other underneath one’s hip, while simultaneously tilting one’s head to the left and keeping eyes fixed on the camera in centre, without risking the very real possibility of doing oneself enormous damage. And with the health service in the shocking state it’s in, it’s better not to draw any injuries on oneself, if one can at all help it.

So now thanks to the make up, the chic dresses and tops, the freshly washed hair, but above all to the skill of photographer Viv Buckley and her miracle camera, we’re getting right notions of ‘upperosity’ about ourselves, so we are. Shure, isn’t that the reason, I’m swanning around on the sofa on a seriously torrid day with a flawlessly made up face. It’s also why I’m refusing to put my nose outside the door for fear the stuff will begin to melt on me and I’ll end up looking like a seriously diseased panda about to become extinct.Woman mistakes a camera for a gun

 

 

 

My debut collection of short stories will be launched in the autumn and an author photo was needed for the book. A sincere thank you to our good friend, digital artist and photographer Viv Buckley, for her patience, time, good humour and skill at this morning’s session. 

 

 

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Costa del Under the Bed.

Greetings from underneath a bed somewhere in the barony of Duhallow. I’m surrounded by heat, pitiless heat. Outside the open window, nothing stirs. The sun blazes down, invading every corner of the house, the garden,  vegetation shrivels, plants die, the sound of roaring is heard from Newmarket and I know Teresa, in the West End has cracked and it sends shivers up my spine. Everywhere, the tarmac boils so that Sally O’Brien(remember her) could fry an egg-if she had an egg and if she wasn’t afraid to risk sunstroke, exposing herself to this vicious heat for anything over five minutes.

Myself and the two dogs stretch out in the temporary shade provided by the mattress. I know though that shortly the unrelenting rays of a sun gone mad will find me and the dogs and we’ll have to move again -probably to the bath tub half full of cold, gloriously cold water.

I close my eyes and imagine the wind on my face, the soft caress of raindrops on my cheeks, the gale blowing in from the East, the crunching of ice underfoot,  and me shivering and reaching for another jumper. Oh, it’s a consummation devoutly to be wished for.

But I’m hallucinating because here in Duhallow, under the inadequate barricade of a double bed, I break out in wave after wave of perspiration as the sun moves ever higher in the cloudless sky.

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Reflections on the Old Year

Sitting by the open fire with the lights of the Christmas tree twinkling in the corner, I can almost feel the exhaustion of the old year as it limps towards oblivion while the lively, arrogant young new year waits in the wings, impatient for 2017 to shuffle off into the shadows so that it will have the limelight all to itself.

The new broom indeed!
Time though to reflect on the year almost done. A good writing year overall. This year I became acquainted with Eamon O Cleirigh of Clear View Editing who proved invaluable in helping me polish and edit my novel into shape for submission to publishers early in the coming year. So fingers crossed on that one. In March, together with the hardworking Kanturk Arts Committee, we celebrated a very successful festival with an expanded programme and increased crowds. My short comedy Take Off got a great reception from a packed courthouse, thanks in no small measure, to performers Teresa O Keeffe, Sheila O Connor, Martha Keller and Darragh O Keeffe. The other featured plays at the rehearsed readings also got a marvellous reaction from a great audience.
Throughout the year, I had memory pieces and a short story published by Ireland’s Own.

On a beautiful summer’s day in Cloghroe, friend and fellow writer Mary Bradford and myself met up with some wonderful writers at a workshop on Flash Fiction with well known novelist, Denyse Woods. Out of that workshop came my first flash fiction story which went on to be awarded third place in the Allingham Literary Festival 2017. In September, with fellow writer Aidan O Keeffe, we each put on a rehearsed reading of our latest work at the Daily Grind Coffee Shop in Kanturk. Half an hour before the performance was about to start, the place was packed and we got great affirmation from a very appreciative audience. Again, thanks to my performers, Teresa O Keeffe and Sean Bowman who played a blinder with my comedy Funeral Blues. The following month, I was lucky enough to be accepted for publication in the long established Holly Bough with an article recalling the first car my father had when I was a child – a grey Ford Anglia and the absolute delight we felt when we saw it parked outside the small gate of our cottage in Broadford more years ago now than I care to count.
In early December, I was in Cork County Library reading a story at an event organized by 2017 writer-in- residence for Cork County Library and Arts Service, Denyse Woods. The year is set to end on a high note with one of my plays The Invitation, being performed at the Glen Theatre, Banteer on the 28th of December at an event to raise funds for the visually impaired.

So what do I hope for in 2018?
Well, I hope to get a publisher interested enough in my novel to offer me a contract so fingers, toes and everything else crossed that this might happen.
In February, at a Drama night in Glash Community Centre organized by Mike Guerin, Newmarket, I’ll have a one Act play, By the Light of the Moon, performed by Martin Riordan(Banteer Drama) Sean Bowman and Cliona Broderick(Newmarket Drama) so hoping that will go down well. It promises to be an interesting night with short plays from Mike Guerin, Aidan O Keeffe and performances from some of Mike Guerin’s young drama students. It will be great to see a new generation of actors emerging.
I also hope to get a collection of short stories together and launch sometime mid year. So enough there to keep me busy, I’d say, and out of mischief for the foreseeable future.

On a personal level; here’s  to health, contentment and friendship for 2018. Without those three, there’s nothing we can do.
May I take this opportunity to thank everyone for their friendship and support during the year and may I wish one and all a Happy Christmas and Healthy, successful New Year.

Happy memories from 2017.

 

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