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Desi's Diary

From These Acorns

The triumph of this year’s Cúirt despite the disruptive Icelandic Volcanic Ash is not just a tribute to the energy and dedication of its directors but also an indication of the increasing importance of the festival in Galway’s calendar year, a fact that is further underlined by the subtle change in the traditional local greeting of “You won’t feel the Christmas” and “You won’t feel the Races” to “You won’t feel The Arts Festival” and “You won’t feel Cúirt”. The positive and immediate reaction of writers all over the country who stepped in enthusiastically to substitute for the writers abroad whose flights were cancelled signals just how culturally important Cúirt is deemed to be nationwide and augurs well for its future.


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These, Our Exiles: The New Generation

For obvious historic and geographic reasons, Ireland has had more than her fair share of Emigrants. There are few, if any, Irish families who do not have relatives living abroad, and the theme of emigration is at the very core of. our cultural expression ever since Colmcille’s self-imposed exile to Iona. Over the last generation, each generation seems to have at least one classic emigrant narrative. Pádraic Ó Conaire’s “Deroaíocht”, Michéal Mac Gahbhann’s “Rothaí Mor an tSaoil”, Donal Mac Amhlaigh’s “Dialann Deoraí”, Patrick MacGill’s “Children of the Dead End”, John Healy’s “Nineteen Acres” and Brian Friel’s ”Philadelphia Here I come” spring easily to mind.


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A Poet’s Colloquy: From Manuscript to Published Poem

It was at a meeting at 11.00 am on what seems like an age ago in Chris Williams’s restaurant The Brasserie in William Street that the idea of Cúirt, Fred Johnston’s brainchild was first floated. Present at that meeting were Fred Johnston, Dick Donaghue, Ronnie O’Gorman and myself.  Johnston had just come to work for a six-month stint in the Galway Arts Centre with a vague literary brief.  Dick Donaghue, the then director, asked him on his first day what he was going to do. Johnston replied that it was a dream of his to organise a Literary Festival in Ireland that was dedicated solely to Poetry. This meeting was held to explore the possibilities of such a festival. The reaction to the idea around the table that morning was positive but there was a long way to go.


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Let The Mocking Bird Sing

Inside the cover of a 2006 paperback edition of the book the blurb reads: “Harper Lee was born in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama, a village that is still her home. She attended local schools and the University of Alabama. Before she started writing she lived in New York where she worked in the reservations department of an international airline. She has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, two honorary degrees and various other literary and library awards. Her chief interests apart from writing are nineteenth-century literature and eighteenth-century music, watching politicians and cats, travelling and being alone”. With this somewhat terse statement, Harper Lee, as behoves the true storyteller, disappears completely and the narrator, eight years old Miss Jean Louise Finch alias “Scout”,


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A Question of Human Rights

During the last couple of months, I have witnessed two incidents where different individuals were in no doubt of the fact that they knew their rights, once at a supermarket check out and the other in a local post office.  It was also patently evident by the unspoken response to these unilateral claims that the recipients thereof, too, were fully cognisant of their own rights as with flashing eyes and squared shoulders returned the compliment with interest. It is sadly probable that the situations in which the four individuals found themselves and which gave rise to these brief altercations were probably in breach of all their rights (the perpetrators being protected by a mass of rules and procedures) and that, finding themselves on unsure ground


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Thank You J.D.

It’s a story that has been told before but, given the recent news, is worth telling again.  In the classroom of a Galway school during the winter of 1966, there was a French teacher of a somewhat volatile nature in that the pupils never knew what was coming next.  For the Leaving Cert students, his was the last class of a Friday.


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A European Odyssey

There is a personal memory of standing in the middle of Charles Bridge the only time I visited Prague and having this overwhelming sensation of being in the very heart of Europe. It was somewhat disconcerting experience as it called into question my conception of Ireland’s status within the European Union and indeed within European History.


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