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Archive for April, 2012

A Feast of Arts in Achill

24/04/2012 Comments off

Literary readings, three book launches, an illustrated lecture on ‘Women Artists on Achill’ by Catherine Marshall, and a guided walk on the nearby Clare Island, all feature in this year’s Heinrich Böll Memorial Weekend on the May bank-holiday weekend. The book launches include Gisela Holfter’s Heinrich Böll and Ireland, which charts the Nobel Prize winning author’s connections with Ireland. Eoin Bourke’s Poor Green Erin is a compilation of travel writings about Ireland written by German and Austrian authors in the 18th and 19th centuries. And I will read from my own book, The Veiled Woman of Achill, on Saturday, 5 May at the Valley House – the scene of the crime which I narrate in my book.

Manic Scrubbers in Sunflower Yellow

22/04/2012 Comments off

I recently sat mesmerised while viewing the art film Yellow by performance artist Amanda Coogan and film maker Paddy Cahill at the recently refurbished Limerick City Gallery of Art.

The Great Western Greenway – A Train Route Bookended by Tragedy

16/04/2012 Comments off

They say it is now ‘the largest off-road walking and cycling trail in Ireland’. The 42km Great Western Greenway stretching from Westport through Newport and Mulranny to Achill Island is proving to be a wonderful draw for walkers and cyclists alike.

The trail follows the path of the disused line of the Midland Great Western Railway, a line that was extended to Achill in 1894/1895 and from where the last train departed in 1937. Strangely, these dates marked poignant island tragedies, when trains carried home the bodies of the island dead. In June 1894, thirty young people were drowned in Clew Bay when a boat capsized as they made their way to Westport to catch a steamer for Scotland where they would work as migrant harvesters.In 1937, one of the last trains to Achill before the railway was closed, carried home the bodies of ten young boys – again migrant harvesters – who died in a fire  at Kirkintillloch, southwest Scotland.

If the railway line carried migrant and emigrant away from Achill, it also opened up the island to artists, writers, and visitors, such as Paul and Grace Henry who came in 1910 and stayed on and off for almost a decade, while the summer school Scoil Acla attracted artists, writers and intellectuals keen to immerse themselves in the Irish language and culture at the start of the twentieth century.

The Great Western Greenway is a place to immerse oneself not only in its dramatic scenery but also in the history of those bygone travellers who took the train to and from Achill Island.

Making Facts Dance

05/04/2012 Comments off

My piece in the current edition of Writing.ie here describes the path I travelled in writing my nonfiction book The Veiled Woman of Achill and the challenge of staying true to the facts of the story while building a compelling narrative around the 1894 dark events at the Valley House, Achill.

 

 

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