Looking forward to hypothermia: another Irish winter

October 8, 2022 at 6:02 am | Posted in Eleanor Dark Foundation, Perseverance in writing, rural Ireland, writers' habits | 2 Comments
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Eight winters

I am about to fly into my eighth winter in a row, in less than three years. I’m a summer person. I’m a water baby, someone who loves swimming in rivers and the sea, in council pools and country dams, someone who loves walking warmed by the sunshine and cycling under balmy blue skies. How has it come to this, staring apprehensively into a near-future of an eighth-in-a-row cold, rainy, grey winter?

While not a technically accurate fact, every cell of my body feels as if I have endured seven winters in a row. Not even counting the 2019 Australian summer, because wrecked as it was by the thick wall of smoke that engulfed eastern Australia and beyond, closing the swimming pools and preventing walking or cycling, it was of course extremely hot.

I went from that to an Irish winter for my writing residency in County Kerry’s Cill Rialaig https://irishwriterscentre.ie/opportunities/cill-rialaig in February and March 2020.

[My cottage, left, on a rare sunny day] It was a particularly freezing winter, everyone said, with winds from Siberia blowing in from the sea. I sat in my famine cottage, typing my now finished novel manuscript (A Late Flowering) listening to that wind whipping up the Atlantic Ocean outside and downhill a bit from my little wooden door. At night in my tiny loft bed I listened to the wind’s howl, an eerie grieving sound like the moans of the starving famine victims who formerly lived in my cottage. (Like the ghosts of my ancestors who came from that area – probably my novelist’s imagination in overdrive. But Continue Reading Looking forward to hypothermia: another Irish winter…

Gently altering the world – the arts

March 30, 2020 at 11:24 pm | Posted in art, arts and health, Common Good, creativity, humour, humour as medicine, rural Ireland, Stand-up comedy - Australian, stress management, value of the arts, writers' health | 5 Comments
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Returning from a writing residency in Cill Rialaig, in Ireland’s County Kerry – https://cillrialaigartscentre.com/residencies/ – it was weird to be back yet not be able to hop on my bike and see friends, go to tango lessons, films, cafés and libraries or walk around the lake.

I watched that ingenious ABC program You Can’t Ask That and this time it was on nudists. I thought they would just answer the questions in their clothes.

But no – there they were, all shapes and sizes, in the nude. It reminded me of an unusual art exhibition I heard about in Cork.

Near Kilkenny I stayed a week at the fabulous Shankill Castle – https://shankillcastle.com – home of painter Elizabeth Cope and her husband Geoffrey. I have one of her beautiful paintings, pictured above. You can see her work here – she does landscapes, still lifes and portraits. She had an exhibition in Cork of only her nudes. A group of nudists asked if they could view the exhibition in the nude. The gallery said yes. I suppose it wasn’t winter. Continue Reading Gently altering the world – the arts…

Slowing down – A beautiful book on sustainable living: Mark Boyle’s The Way Home

July 10, 2019 at 4:26 am | Posted in Blasket islands, capitalism, digital technology, E.F. Schumacher, Mark Boyle, rural Ireland, Simplifying, Small Is Beautiful, sustainable living | Leave a comment
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The Way Home: Tales from a life without technology. Mark Boyle. (Oneworld Publications, 2019)

It’s a surprise to learn that Mark Boyle has a degree in Economics and Marketing. He lives in rural County Galway in a dwelling he built himself. He chooses to live without electricity or running water. He has no car and of course no phone – landline or mobile – but the thing that really brought home to me his hard-line stance is this: he won’t use matches either.

Once you’d spent the hours and labour (not to mention generating blisters) on making a fire with your bare hands I can’t imagine ever letting it go out.

Mark Boyle writes that he also has neither clock nor watch. Would a sundial count as technology? Probably not, but its use might be a bit limited in western Ireland, which receives roughly twice as much rainfall as the rest of the country.

And lighting? ‘Making a candle is easy. The real craft lies in the first part of the process: the keeping of the bees,’ he writes. ‘Actually, the most difficult part of candle-making is deciding to reject electrical lighting.’ Continue Reading Slowing down – A beautiful book on sustainable living: Mark Boyle’s The Way Home…

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