I got my first taste of the Lismore Immrama Festival of Travel Writing, at the weekend. Despite the name, the festival is not just about travel and offers a wide variety of events, with something to interest everyone. As I’ve recently been reading ‘The Famine in Waterford’, I decided to attend a lecture by Donald Brady, who assisted in the editing of that particular publication. The lecture focused on the Watercolour Society of Ireland, a group of 6 strong and talented women, led by founding member: Frances Currey.
Donald coped magnificently, when a technical hitch left him peering at his notes in the dark. He focused on a photograph of the group, naming each person. The 6 ladies involved were: Frances Wilmot Currey (1848-1917); Harriet Edith Keane (1847-1920); Frances Annie Keane (1849-1917); Baroness Pauline ‘Polly’ Harriet Prochazka (1842-1930); Henrietta Sophia Phipps (1841-1903); and Anna Frances ‘Fanny’ Musgrave (d. 1918.)
Thankfully, light was soon restored and Donald carried on as though nothing had happened. He spent a long time talking about Frances Currey, as she was the dominant member of the group, instrumental at the very beginning and the artist who seemed to produce the largest quantity of work. A member of the audience had brought in an example of her art and from a glance, it appeared to be very vivid, demonstrating a feel for the landscape and an accurate portrayal of colour and feature, complimented by a soft and dreamy quality.
As the lecture took place in the Heritage Centre, we had a little look around the place afterwards. I am a glutton for craft shops, so I headed straight there. The shop contained many tourist items and a good selection of travel books, providing a pleasant browsing experience. I noticed that other rooms displayed paintings and informative text, but must admit to rushing on, as lunch time approached.
We enjoyed toasted specials in a local cafe and were glad to get away from the showers for a while. It wasn’t a wash out of a day, by any means. There was some sunshine, but the threat of a downpour seemed constant! Having satisfied our stomachs, we headed into the park to soak up some of the atmosphere. We weren’t disappointed. The park includes a tree, which has been carved into the shape of a figure, a waterfall feature and an ice house. I was fascinated by the ice house, but must admit I was too scared to go in because it was so dark!
We sat down on a bench, beside the waterfall and I noticed drops of water lying, intact, on the surface of the leafy plants surrounding us. Luckily, I had my small notepad with me and swiftly scribbled down a few lines. This micropoetry lark is very satisfying! Having enjoyed the peace and greenery of the park, we headed to the library for a special reading from the winner of the Molly Keane Creative Writing Award.
This year’s winner is a lady I know, from the Brewery Lane Poetry Group. Her name is Ann Dempsey. I congratulated Ann and had a lovely chat with her, before she took to the spotlight and regaled us with her story: ‘Oscar’s Swim’. The story is about two sisters, in the aftermath of their father’s death. Through subtle hints and stirring atmosphere, it becomes evident that the death is a relief. The ‘Oscar’ of the title is their father’s dog, who resembles him strongly in mood and appearance! I won’t tell you too much more, as you may wish to read the story for yourself.
With regard to my own writing, I’ve had some good news over the last couple of days. I have been awarded a place on an Artlinks Mentoring Scheme, facilitated by Waterford County Arts Office. My mentor will be the high profile author: Grace Wells. I am looking forward to discussing creative business plans with her very soon! I also heard that a piece of my flash fiction: ‘Bones’ will appear as part of the FlashFlood Journal being published this Saturday (National Flash Fiction Day). My piece will appear at 4am, but don’t worry! The stories stay up all day so you won’t have to drag yourself out of bed to read it! The link to the blog is here.