Friday, April 30, 2010

On the road again. Again.

A quiet writing morning. Pretty heavenly.

Well, it's Nosey Rosie Roadtrip time: I am headed to Louth and Armagh with the very lovely Sharon Rose, to help showcase her new range of clothes and of course, the book. We shall be at Louth Craftmark (based at the Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda) all day tomorrow, and will be donning spikey hats and reading at 1pm.

I was looking through the Louth Craftmark website: ceramics, woodturning, textiles, art... and I thought of me, in the same room as all those treaty things, from 10.30am-5pm.

I may ask Sharon to confiscate my wallet.

And then I thought: in what possible world is Sharon the restrained one?

In Kray-zee Upsidedown Land, that's right...

Have a lovely weekend, all X

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Burren

One of the highlights this weekend was our guided walk across the utterly unique landscape of the Burren. Where to start... wild orchids, natural bonsai, heart-shaped grooves, wishing trees, holy wells, volcano kettles, undulating organic stone, gentian flowers, fab chocolate cake, a unicorn grove (okay, I made that last one up).

As we walked, famine walls stretched across the mountains away from us; massive stone walls going nowhere, built by the starving. Eavan Boland's great poem on famine roads echoed through my mind; as she observed, the roads are "so powerful in their meaning and so powerless at their origin". But so much of the stone tells stories of the past, from colonial mappers to thirteenth century Cistercian monks to older, Celtic Christian communities, and yet older, pagan ones.

A remarkable place.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Woodn't it be nice...

To kick off the images from the lovely weekend, here is the oh-so-treaty sculpture garden of Liam O'Neill. I headed out there on Saturday afternoon, between brunch and rugby:

Liam's current works draw strongly on Irish mythologies: Finn, the Children of Lir, Dagda's Cauldron; trinities and guardian-warriors and trumpeters...

His website is worth a look through, particularly (under 'Commissions') the 'Brothers' commission from the Pearse museum in Dublin - the stumps on which they're mounted actually formed a single tree. When the tree died, Liam was contacted: he cut down the trunks, sculpted them into a pair of brothers, and then restored them to their place of growth. Lovely. Similarly, when a tree on Fota Island died, Liam transformed it into a Regeneration Circle.

Beautiful wood forms, for interior & exterior. And a lovely family :-)

Friday, April 23, 2010

On the road again

A fitting-everything-morning: will be away (physically and from email) for a few days.

Off to meet up with family, and although I'm a leeeeeetle bit sad that my mom won't be joining us for some gentle walks through the wonder of the Burren, she'll be chilling out in her own inimitable way, and I take vicarious pleasure in that :-)

Bound for the West: for fabulous wood-turning-folk and rural retreats and pints in the heart of Galway and days of leisure in Clare.

Speaking of which, I should fill up my high-maintenance travel mug and hit the road. I hear it's a long long way from Clare to here :-)

Have a lovely weekend, all X

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Cord

Whether you read it or listen to her read it, the whole world should know this poem by Leanne O'Sullivan. Gets me blinking tears every time...

That she wrote it as a teenager - that she possessed so early such maturity of thought and expression - blows my mind. She prefaces it by saying that she and her mother didn't have the easiest of relationships as she was growing up, and that this was written as a gift for her.

And what a gift. Enjoy :-)

The Cord
Leanne O’Sullivan

I used to lie on the floor for hours after
school with the phone cradled between
my shoulder and my ear, a plate of cold
rice to my left, my school books to my right.
Twirling the cord between my fingers
I spoke to friends who recognized the
language of our realm. Throats and lungs
swollen, we talked into the heart of the night,
toying with the idea of hair dye and suicide,
about the boys who didn’t love us,
who we loved too much, the pang
of the nights. Each sentence was
new territory, like a door someone was
rushing into, the glass shattering
with delirium, with knowledge and fear.
My Mother never complained about the phone bill,
what it cost for her daughter to disappear
behind a door, watching the cord
stretching its muscle away from her.
Perhaps she thought it was the only way
she could reach me, sending me away
to speak in the underworld.
As long as I was speaking
she could put my ear to the tenuous earth
and allow me to listen, to decipher.
And these were the elements of my Mother,
the earthed wire, the burning cable,
as if she flowed into the room with
me to somehow say, Stay where I can reach you,
the dim room, the dark earth. Speak of this
and when you feel removed from it
I will pull the cord and take you
back towards me.

From Waiting for My Clothes, 2004
Bloodaxe Books

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Slow going

Yaaaaaawwwwwnn... still trying to get over that under-the-weather feeling. Taking things slowly and quietly. Little sigh.

Found oodles of mermaids' tears yesterday: some very pretty pieces of seaglass, which may be woven or crocheted-with-wire into the wool hanging that I'll do someday. Slowly getting a sense of the hanging.

I should get back to tappy-tap-tapping; even a minuscule number of words is better than none! Meanwhile, some images from the Nosey Rosie launch at Fota Wildlife Park on Sunday (which you can click to enlarge):

Thanks to Fota for being lovely hosts, and to the ten zillion visitors and colourer-in-extraordinaires who shared their afternoon with us.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Seals of Approval

Not only did my car pass its NCT today, but the Ladies of the Glebe approved my application for a weekend pass! :-) Which means there must be much writing over the next few days.

As for this sunshiney day: wandering around Skibbereen, I smiled at seeing Nosey Rosie on sale; the latest batch of duck liver pate is cooling (my contribution to dinner with friends tonight); and right now I am off to wander the shore, in search of mermaids' tears :-)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Exotic Medley

Another stellar weekend.

Friday evening - following the Intervention of the Ladies of the Glebe - was hosted by a local artists' collective in Skibbereen, in their lovely studios, night-lights twinkling as dusk approached: the fabulous Leanne O'Sullivan, who read a selection of her poetry old and new. I hadn't heard her before, and blinked tears at the beauty of many of her sentiments and phrases, that have their roots out in the Beara peninsula. Then musicians and poets and writers - entirely eclectic mix of styles and approaches to the word, spoken and sung. It was my first time attending, and I was made to feel most welcome (and contributed my bit along with the rest).

Saturday was TEDx WestCork: the theme was 'Moments of Astonishment'. And there were a few! Great mix of speakers, thoughts, calls-to-action, poetry (Leanne Treat #2), ponderings on landscape and sense of place (though when one speaker said "I moved to Dublin and felt lonely and isolated..." I chose not to meet the knowing smiles!). David Puttnam was the sole speaker who was defeated by the Ash, but he sent a film that made his point instead. Then onwards for sunshiney (and duskey) pints with the locals, all loving this weather.

And so began the Safari. Sharon Rose had done a beautiful 'Nosey at Fota' colouring picture, and we set up books and hats and crayons and glitter gel tattoo pens :-) We were kept busy for hours! Lots of lovely children and adults. And Nosey took a little time to explore the animals...


Thursday, April 15, 2010


At the Craftey Market on Sunday, Sharon and I rattled on about Nosey Rosie to all and sundry. There's an ease of delivery between us, whether we're talking to kids or pitching to adults; somewhere along the way we've developed an easy style.

With the Dragons' Den airing this evening, I was thinking about how in the lead up to it, the idea of being interviewed and filmed and that film being shown nationwide - as it would with many of us - did not fill Sharon with a happy glowy feeling. She worked hard to prepare for the Dragons: clothing samples, book samples, business plan. She faced a lot of challenges - and fears - in order to walk in that door. I guess for me, I wish circumstances had been such that I could have been in Dublin by her side, just to wait with her, and wish her well until the second she walked in there.

So congratulations Sharon, for your talent and bravery and willpower in getting to that doorway and going through it. I'm glad that I get to toast you tonight in person :-)

And actually, I might have a little pre-toast toast now. It's been a sunshiney day, featuring the Fabulous Baking Lady (all hail her millionaire's shortbread). I seem to have spent much time meandering online trying to find a good illustration of a demon - setting that to one side now! Time to get some writing done :-)

"Do one thing every day that scares you."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Hear ye, hear ye...

In the Printed Flesh: Nosey Rosie is en route to Dublin, and should be on Easons shelves in time for the weekend. As she's brand spanky new to Easons, we would greatly appreciate your help in spreading the word and raising her cute little button-nosed profile. Ask staff about her in sloooow exaggerated voices; walk aisles while brandishing NR books and commenting on the simply darling illustrations; buy copies ostentatiously, with grand dramatic movements... you know the drill :-)

Online: Her website is in its final primping and tweaking stage, but you can get a sneak preview at: *You can buy books and hats online through paypal.

As Seen on TV: Thursday 15 April, on RTE 1 at 22.15, Sharon Rose will lead the lovely Nosey Rosie into the Dragons' Den... dun dun dunnnnnnnn!! For those who have been trying to persuade the brave and lovely Sharon Rose to watch the cutthroat dragons in the cutthroat atmosphere of Jacobs - not a chance! It'll be experienced on home ground, with treaty canapes and wine. Most civilised :-)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Some work done; some to go...

Zippy quick little hello, to say that the sun is sinking beautifully, leaving the sky all pale rose gold and lilacs. Kitties are napping; they've had a long day's playing. And I am flumped out, hoping that if I rest for a smidge, maybe my energy will perk up again.

Maybe some of that saffron & cardamom white chocolate might help. Just maybe :-)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Heritage Weekend

Ah, it was fabulous. Storytelling on Friday night with Ellen Walsh and Neily Bohane, with tales of messages in bottles and holy wells and kings with horses' ears. I was dazzled. Then bee-tales on Saturday morning with the infectiously enthusiastic Tim Rowe: I loved all the evocative language around bee-keeping - hollow trees and virgin queens and princesses. I was idling around 'princesses' for a children's story, when Tim said 'and then the princess kills all the other princesses by stinging them through the side of the cell'. Sheesh.

Skib's play on Saturday evening was a fast-paced farce 'A Wake in the West'. Packed audience, belly-laughing throughout. Extra applause for our own Donagh, who was especially great :-)

The Craftey Market yesterday was a blast: gorgeous maps and metalwork and art and sausages and treaty cakes and coffee and Nosey Rosie and wool and of course, lobster pots :-) I was totally enchanted by the unspun hand-dyed wool (from the sheep of Inish Beg) that was being teased into yarn on a traditional spinning wheel, and I was given a selection in gorgeous colours (soon to appear in a textile hanging near me - thanks, Sandra - so generous!). All the ladies got a delivery of ice-cream (thanks, GP - Paddy was a smidge doleful!), and the Fabulous Sharon Rose gave me a hat-decorating lesson - I was *so* absurdly delighted with myself.

Then sunshiney pints and dinner and late-night pints.

You know that whole 'you don't know what you've got till it's gone' tendency? Well, I rarely suffer from that - I tend to treasure stuff as I go along, from the joy of having a good hot shower to not having a toothache. So I've appreciated this community throughout, but coming up to leaving, its delights are especially moving. Glisteney, in a Paula Marten-shimmery-sequin kinda way :-) Over the weekend there were social invites to sing-songs and writers' sessions, and conversation kept weaving back to me, leaving. Range of reactions from a strident 'And what about the Drama Group's Summer Production???' (thanks, D) to 'This is very sad. The end of an era, really' (thanks, G). And gentle suggestions about alternatives, if I decided to stay. And slagging. And much support.

Photos are gonna take a while, but this'll get us started :-)

Thanks to all, for a fairytale weekend. Quite magical.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Living with Lobsters

One night early last year, I went out to a pub quiz on Sherkin, and fell in love with a lobster pot. A beautiful hand-woven lobster pot: a replica of an 'Inkwell' pot that Cornish fisherfolk introduced to these parts in the late 19th century.

I coveted it. Bought raffle tickets, hoped and hoped, didn't win. And so the year progressed, with oodles of pub quizzes, of raffles, of me hoping. I never won. I came to know the maker of the pots, went to demonstrations on how to make them; I'd point out the pots to visitors, admiringly; I just generally spent a bunch of time loving those things.

This week I'd been talking to a friend about the fact that it's looking likely that my belongings will not be forthcoming from Portugal; that I've lost them all. I'm not a big squirrel, but what I kept with me, I treasured. Big sense of loss. She wisely said that I'll get new stuff; other, different treasures.

So last night, I walked in to the pub and there was a pot. Waiting. A raffle prize. I met the maker of the pot; we joked about how long this coveting of mine had been going on.

I bought my raffle tickets (from the maker - surely a sign, I thought). First ticket drawn: not me. And you get to choose your prize, so I figured obviously, anyone would choose the pot first. But no, someone chose a bottle of champagne. Second ticket: not me. And lo and behold, the second person chose a throw. Still in with a chance.

Third ticket: not me.

Not me, but GP. GP, who's watched me not win for a year now. GP, who nonchalantly said 'what am I going to do with that?' as he gave it to me, as though it was no big deal, as though it wasn't a tremendous, generous, deeply moving act.

The maker came over, said he was glad I got it. Conversation turned to what uses it might be put to, apart from trying to catch something in an urban canal. (For when the book is done, I shall be taking it from here and trying to find it a home Out There). A long-term pot owner commented that it fits a pint glass well (tested & confirmed); other suggestions were cat cage, rounded trellis for miniature sweet pea... there are possibilities.

At home, the kitties investigated, curling around it like a yin-yang symbol. And this morning, I've just been admiring its hues and textures in the sunlight. Just revelling in its loveliness. Heartwarmed.

The Heritage Festival opens this evening, which will make for a pretty action-packed few days. Must carve out space, so there's a balance between writing and all the other treaty options.

Have a lovely weekend, folks X

Thursday, April 8, 2010

things by the sea

Back from a slow walk along Church Strand, picking up seashells, and seaglass - in shades of icy blue and fertile greens. The glass-pebbles glitter like fine frost in sunlight, their once-sharp edges smoothed to soft curves. I remember reading that they're sometimes called Mermaids' Tears. How pretty is that.

And apart from shells and glass, there were also lovely lichens along the way.

Tonight's the pre-Wooden Boat Festival pub quiz - supernerdy nautical. Yes, many naive quiz-goers learned that lesson last year...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Old fiction, newly online

At one of the Nosey readings this year, I was asked about the first story I wrote: I chatted about 'Louisa and the Sea', about a girl who met the sea one day.

I'd been intending to add it online in the Great Website Overhaul, but since I'm currently at a steady oscillation between an organic, rounded look for the site and neat straight lines, not to mind colours & fonts - I thought I'd just put it up there for now, and worry about formatting later.

You can read it over here:

Monday, April 5, 2010

Everything's Coming Up Rosies

A weekend of two Rosies.

First, the Rosie Leak exhibition at The Glebe. Pete Perry gave a wonderful introduction, talking about the baggage that artists bring to the canvas, and how long it can take to let that go. He used Matisse as an example, who spent his career mastering the great known styles, and then let them go, over and over, until he reached the minimalist, clean-cut works of his final years. And then he pointed out a few of Rosie's pieces, and wistfully said how happy he would be if he had produced such unburdened art.

The 'Sold' dots went up quickly, and buyers (and family) took the opportunity to pose with the artist. (I meant to get a photo of Rosie's personal favourite - a swimming pool triptych of shallow, deeper, deep. Great blues...)

You can click to enlarge the collage

And on Sunday, following the Easter Egg Hard Target Search (I'm surprised there's so much as a leaf left in the Glebe) we settled down for Nosey Rosie Storytime. The audience was a mix of locals (who know NR from school visits) and slightly dazed visitors who weren't quite sure what all the hats were about. Then we had photos, and a signing of books (when we ran out of books, I signed Easter baskets instead). And after Nosey Rosie, there was coffee and friends and chocolate cake.

And when I got home, Sharon Rose texted through a prescription for a large glass o'wine, pronto. What kind of lunatic would ignore such sage advice :-)

Thanks to Jean for running the mini-shop, to Liz for fab-and-much-needed coffee, and to Aisling for the NR photos - great job!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

A sunshiney Good Friday. Things are quiet at the moment: later the packed Sherkin ferries head out to the island for some... er... religious service, perhaps? And those who remain behind will set up camp outside the Jolie, order wine with a side order of chips and soak up the sunshine as the sailboats cross the bay.

I think for me, focus will be on the very lovely Glebe. There's an exhibition of Rosie Leak's work opening tomorrow evening, and on Sunday, the Easter Egg hunt kicks off at noon, followed by a Nosey Rosie reading (if the apocalyptic weather forecast decides to spare Baltimore, that is). Anyhoo, it's the perfect environment for families and kidlets - it's a shame that Sharon and her delightful Saoirse aren't with us to spearhead Nosey in proper family fashion, but I shall do my best.

Meanwhile, the Fabulous Baking Lady kick-started the Easter spirit earlier this week with these perfectly scrumptious lemon cupcakes.

We need Taste-O-Vision - the zestiness of the icing... yum yum yum.

Okay, back to writing for me. Safe travels, to all those on the road today. And to those who finally get to *not* travel today, enjoy the treatiness of Easter at home for once.

Have a lovely weekend, all.