Listowel Writers' Week Fringe

Blogging Listowel's Literary Scene
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Jack Deacy’s Photograph: short story by Mary Lavery Carrig

June 03, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: connections, historical, participants, photographs, short story

JACK DEACY’S PHOTOGRAPH

I had entirely forgotten about the photograph.

Though in my defence, it had been all of ten years since the stranger had brought his soft blue eye to the camera lens. He had captured me forever on that early summer morning as I’d strolled into Listowel’s Square.

You have such an open face!’ he’d declared. ‘ May I take your photograph please?’ His voice was softly American.

He seemed oblivious to my sons, the youngest of whom watched from his pram and to which his older brothers were firmly attached. They peered from behind the pram handles, their mouths smeared in ice cream.

I’d come into our local market town, full of a private anticipation, to savour a little of the Writers’ Week atmosphere, to tuck it up and carefully carry it’s pleasures home with me again.

Thank you so much!’ he’d said and that moment froze in time.

What charm had I displayed? What ever had he seen in my expression?

Despite the shuffling of feet and the dizzy movements of the crowded Square, I watched closely as the American gentleman dissolved away towards the southwest corner of the Square. His white cotton jacket gleamed under the midday sun and I lost my stranger by the entrance to the Arms Hotel.

My attention must have switched then to the group of serious and bearded men who were huddled in the intensity of their talk by the bank’s railing. I’d moved closer to eavesdrop. Three tall laughing women, all in mini skirts, broke into the gathering and the banter and good natured party moved on slowly up the street.

My boys had finished their ice cream cones.

A decade passes and deepens the jagged edged crows feet that hover around my eyes.

I’m searching for a friend and am en route to the smoker’s enclave at the rear of the hotel. It overlooks the rushing river Feale and is a hub for many riveting chat up lines and some excess during yet another year of a Listowel Writers’ Week festival.

Passing through an annex room in order to reach the smoker’s deck, I am moving swiftly. A man looks up from his meal. We exchange a cursory glance.

Some moments later, he is standing by my side and the Feale is busy crooning in the background.

You’re the one!’ he whispers. ‘You’re the one I photographed!

As it does, memory finally comes in torrents. The emotional content spills back.
Gently and gradually, Jack Deacy, (that is Deacy with a ‘c’) guided the process of recollecting.

Yes he has put together a collection of faces photographed on his camera.

As one does at Writers Week, we indulge in one another’s company, in one another’s aspirations.

Stories are traded, backgrounds are filled in and e-mails are exchanged.

Jack plans to travel to Ireland once again for Writers Week. So, what of the recession? There is no credit crunch so heavy as to stop him in his tracks.

He is in the mood for celebration. He is in the mood for forging friendships and sure isn’t that the stuff of festivals anyway?

As for me, my children are bigger now and no longer hold the handles of a pram.

It is time here in North Kerry to watch each drama as it unfolds, to listen to inflections once again..…. to hear a catchy monologue, a rhyme or fresh philosophy…….. to observe ideas merge and become a promise.

I look forward to the layers of conversations where I will finally be released once more into a dappled, sweet apple world, wrapping myself in the revelry of words.

Mary Lavery Carrig JACK DEACY’S PHOTOGRAPH

[hyperlinks added by Paul O'Mahony]

Accommodation in Listowel (3)

May 23, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: Accommodation, localinfo, organisers, participants, photographs, poetry, poets

I’m sorted. Got a phone call this morning from Listowel to say I can stay with the couple who put me up in 2007.

I must have done something right. The universe is looking after me, eh.

This is so much better than staying with someone new, and staying out in Abbeyfeale.

I’ll be able to drink freely, and toddle home late at night after those sessions with George Rowley

George Rowley when he was younger

George Rowley when he was younger

in the New Kingdom Bar.

If you still haven’t sorted out your B&B in Listowel, don’t worry: the universe will look after you – pick up the phone to Norella Moriarty now.

Accommodation in Listowel (2)

May 22, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: Accommodation, organisers

I’ve just been talking to an absolutely fantastic woman.

Norella Moriarty is “accommodation officer” for the festival. I rang her because I haven’t yet solved my accommodation challenge.

I’ve been so focussed on the blog that I’ve neglected to sort out where I’m staying.

If only I’d rung Norella a fortnight ago… She has people crossing the street to avoid her – she’s been so active finding beds.

Fortunately all is not lost.

I’ve found the phone number of great couple that put me up in 2007. Left a message. Fingers and toes crossed.

There’s always Abbeyfeale, and a registered B&B @ Park Lodge (068 31312). If all else fails, I’ll try Abbeyfeale and admire the river.

What’s it like in Listowel? 8.5 days to go…

May 19, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: blogs, journalism, organisers, preparations, Street drama, tutors

Yesterday I drove over from Glanmire.

Out the Mallow road, turned left around the sugar factory onto the R576 through Kanturk, Newmarket, Rockchapel, Kilkinlea and Abbeyfeale. By the R555 with rain all the way into Listowel.

I found parking in the square, 1 euro per hour (bring coins), and scampered for the warmth of the Listowel Arms Hotel.

In terms of Writers’ Week, it would be hard to exaggerate the significance of this hotel. It’s the nerve centre. Yesterday, there were people in the bar at 1130. I had Americano & scone with butter & jam. Kerry prices.

Wrote a few words in my Moleskine notebook:

Two women sit on the long seat. Five women and two men sit in a circle. One woman sits alone, her back to the corner. A couple of men sit at their own table. The carpet is brown. Fruit scone comes with Dawn butter from Kerry Foods, Industrial Estate, Tallagh. Robertson’s Strawberry jam in a plastic pack. The walls are chattering, sound re-bounding.”

Jeremy Gould and his son Thomas arrived for our first meeting.

I was excited and a bit nervous, hoping I wouldn’t put him off chucking in his skills to this project.

Together we ‘rappored’. Thomas played on dad’s Iphone. Jeremy may have emigrated to Listowel recently but he has years of visiting behind him and his wife’s people are Kerry.

We went visiting the festival office.

Moire Logue and Eilish joined us for lunch. We got on great.

Out into the rain with us next. We did the main streets, photographing venues,

Venues for Writers Week

Venues for Writers' Week

and even saw Billy Keane doing an interviewwalk with a man holding an RTE mic.

Billy Keane RTE interviewwalking

Billy Keane RTE interviewwalking

Monday is 1/2 day in Listowel. Brenda Woulfe wasn’t in when we called to the bookshop.

Festival Venue

Festival Venue

Left a message to say we’d called.

Saw a big crowd of schoolboys being escorted to John B Keane’s pub by their teacher.

Into the pub with your teacher

Into the pub with your teacher

Imagine that! No teacher ever took me to a pub.

Networking tools were discussed…

Lots of discussion about how to use all the social networking tools to best effect on this blog. I’m no technophile, but not a technophobe either. The thing I took away was the idea of putting a hashtag [#listww09] into Twitter tweets and Facebook updates. Maybe I should put them into blogposts too?

I remember how the sun shone in 2007, those glorious days at Writers’ Week. If yesterday is anything to go by, bring your wellies & brollies…

It was the search for broadband that made me nervious.

I have visions of writing stuff that gets lost because of systemfail. So I interviewed the receptionist in the hotel.

She showed me the only public place from which I could connect. When I went testing, my system crashed and I lost my post which I hadn’t saved. That’ll learn me. The walls of the ballroom are 4 feet thick, so no wireless signal there. We’ll need a ‘dongle’.

There are two internet cafes in town.

Community I.T. Access, 58 Church Street is open 9-5, Mon-Fri only: 3 euro per hour and he’d be prepared to negotiate a special daily rate. Lovely & warm, clean & tidy, more like an office than a cafe.

I have a photo of the other place which I’ll give details of later.

Internet cafe terms

Internet cafe terms

The thrill of the day was getting Mary Kenny’s piece and putting it up from Listowel…

It came by email. She kept her promise. It’s a lovely piece of writing. Hopefully we’ll have many more pieces from workshop leaders.

I’ll put photos up later.

“Listowel” – a poem by Pauline Fayne

May 13, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: poem

Listowel
Around the twisting town’s
rain-shod streets,
people spill spittled words
along damp-ringed bartops,
overflow unused
by pen, page, poet.

Above the fickle Feale’s
night stolen silver
a dusk drowsy -bird
moves in blunt -winged whispers,
painting himself across my poem


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