The Return

After a long sojourn… doing nothing out of the ordinary, just not posting on this blog, I am back.

A few things have happened since last I posted, so maybe I have been doing things out of the ordinary. What is ordinary anyway? I digress. Anyway, I originally made this blog to chronicle the creation of my first independent publication, the Attic, which I have released as of the end of October! So, there’s been a bit of a time lapse, I apologise.

So the Attic went swimmingly, we got some excellent talent involved, including the cover artwork from Ann Upton, art student. I can’t thank everyone who contributed enough. I honestly could not ask for more. I love how it turned out. It is my baby. My own wee child. I learned a lot from the experience. Sure, I made a lot of mistakes (which nobody seems to have noticed yet so shush) but I am v. happy with the outcome, and the feedback.

But the Attic has come and gone (and may return, in Issue 2, who knows?), and now I must move on to other things. In particular, I must move on to putting together publications for my university writing society, of which I am the illustrious position of Publisher. Very grand. Our first publication of the academic year, my first publication as publisher, comes out this week. Wow that’s a lot of pubs. I’ll see how it goes and keep you posted… I think it came out wonderfully, but you’ll have to wait and see. I also upkeep the society blog (just as haphazardly as this one, but I’m trying to be good) so you will be able to see the publication in full there!

I should be back soon with more ramblings about writing and such. For now, here’s some pics from the Attic. I’ll be writing poetry and college assignments, and releasing the new pub (see how I abbreviated, that’s a technique right there, take it down if you wish) in the interim. Good day.

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GIAF: Patricia Piccinini’s Puzzling Pictures


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Today I got to see the introduction to the visual arts portion of the Galway Arts Festival. In the Festival Gallery, an exhibition area carved from the interior of the old Galway Tribune printworks, lies just one of the spaces that GIAF has converted for the festival. The old building is perfect for the scene. On the outside it’s unassuming, bleak and abandoned-looking, but stepping along the carpeted walkway, lined with pebbles, past the Festival Hub, and through the doors, there’s a different beast entirely. Beasts, in fact. Illuminated with natural light from the many skylights above are a multitude of malformed and misshapen creations. They are strangely beautiful and thought-provoking. Australian artist Patricia Piccinini has created a horde of these sad alien beings, things that seem part human and part other, in her exhibition titled Relativity. Some animal characteristics are clear, but there’s an uncanny weirdness that infects the work. A sort of horrified awe is how I’d describe my reaction to her pieces, be they in sculpture, film, or photo. She blends those things of nature from which we came with ourselves and in turn shapes us into those things which we created. Along with the shocking organic creations are the inorganic: anthropomorphic machines, human creations with human characteristics. Piccinini blurs the line between man and animal, and machine in turn. The difference is relative. Yet her work doesn’t seem to present any answers, explanations but more questions, constantly questions. What if?

In addition to Piccinini’s exhibition in the gallery, a much more spectacular showcase of her ideas rests on the back of the enormous Skywhale, an air-faring sculpture. Watch the skies of Galway. I know I will.


GIAF is Go


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The Galway International Arts Festival is well under way for its unveiling to the public tomorrow. As part of the Selected programme (basically an internship for the festival), I’ll have a lot of access to the various events and post-show talks that occur during the two festive weeks. As well as that, I’ll be meeting with some of the people who make the whole thing tick behind the scenes, the real muscle of the operation. All of this is to get a feel for how the festival is put together, and how we can add to it. Plus I’ll be volunteering with the Festival Ambassadors, human information points that aim the punters in the direction of their show or exhibition, café or spectacle. Anything you need to know, they know it. Look out for me on the streets of Galway, I’ll be wearing one of those fashionably garish yellow tees. I thought I’d document some of my experiences throughout the fortnight, I’m excited and honestly very lucky to have this opportunity. First stop for festivities is the launch of the visual arts segment of the festival! Watch this space for further GIAF adventures.

The Unique Folklore of Ireland


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I’ve been reading up on the mythology of Ireland and how it treats matters of the supernatural or those that can’t be explained, and the occult in general. It seems that Irish people have developed less of a fear of the unknown than other countries, notably England, which suffered horribly with a fear of witchcraft, and we all know how that turned out. The things that lurk in the dark of the Irish psyche are simply tamer than foreign counterparts.

We did experience a witch-hunting craze, though it had far less of an impact than that of the UK and America. Also, most cases took place in or around Northern Ireland. Witches, while considered to be outcasts of society, are not quite evil here as they are usually portrayed elsewhere. They are most often mischievous and try to hamper the success of their enemies, but nothing outright villainous.

Witch-doctors, shamans, or known here as fairy-doctors (sometimes Men of the Wild), draw upon the powers of the daoine sidhe, the fairy folk, the gentry. These can only be men, owed in the past presumably to the misogyny of society (women are seen as inherently evil in most mythology, and are attuned to powers like those of witches). The fairy-doctors heal and divine the future, though their powers are shrouded in mystery, as they are sworn to tell their secrets to no-one, save their successor, who they reveal all to when they are near to death. They only speak as Gaeilge, as English is seen as a slave language, and Irish is the tongue of the folk. Some fairy-doctors still live in the remote areas of western Ireland, in the hills of Sligo and Galway.

Werewolves are also creatures that have had the taming treatment. Known as the Faoladh, they are sometimes men and women cursed with lycanthropy every seven years of their lives, for a period of seven years. They live in the wilderness throughout the time of their affliction, and help lost travellers to find their way. They also leave fish on the windowsills of starving and ill children. Far from the man-eating savages of other myths. Other versions of the Faoladh can change form at will, as certain folk of Ossory, modern day Kilkenny, were said to have the ability to do, particularly those of the clan of O’Connell.

I’ll write more on Irish folklore in time, I hope to look more in-depth into the way the people tell stories. W.B. Yeats has been invaluable on the subject.



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I’ve been chosen for a place in the Selected Programme, through my university NUIG and the Galway International Arts Festival! For the duration of the festival (13th – 26th July), I’ll have unlimited access to all events, and have an opportunity to get involved myself in the run of things. There’s been no word yet on what exactly I’ll be doing, but I’m excited to see what it’ll be. I don’t really mind what I’ll have to do. Being given the chance to see how it’s all put together is enough for me. I’ve always wanted to immerse myself in the arts, especially in Galway’s community since I’ve come to love the city. This is going to be a great experience in working within those spheres and I look forward to it immensely. Plus it gives me an excuse to spend more time in the beautiful city… not that I needed one. Now I’ve got something more to look forward to over the bleak expanse of the summer… It seems so far away but I’ll find some way to occupy myself. Maybe it’ll be enough to keep my fires burning for a little while.



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We reached our goal on Kickstarter, a conservative one but enough to get us started with the Attic. More fundraising will likely take place over the summer, to get us over the line with our printing expenses. We’re off to a great start though, and I’m looking forward to putting the anthology together. I’m excited to put the designs into practice. We’ve got a nice bank of writers and some illustrators, but more are always welcome. Late September is the projected release. Stay tuned for more updates.

An aversion to superstition


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I came across something interesting while reading one of Stephen King’s novels, ‘Salem’s Lot. One of the characters mentions that most people are inclined to be superstitious, or are willing to believe in the supernatural. He says that the idea that people might not put their faith in such things comes from the author, who is by nature, a cynic. This struck a cord with me. I thought about my own belief in higher powers, in good and evil. And I found that the world had been losing its magic, slowly, as I grew older. I used my writing to get back to that sense of wonder. To recreate the magic that left my life. It gets harder to trust in the unknown every year. It’s easier to rely on the bare facts of life. Well, maybe not easier. Faithlessness doesn’t provide much comfort. So I create things to have faith in, make my own magic to wonder at. Maybe one day I’ll regain that sense of awe.



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I am proud. Proud that the people of my nation could come together and make the right choice, when it came to decide whether or not we would see all people in an equal light. May 22nd 2015 is now an historic day. I myself voted for the very first time, and it just so happens that the debate I weighed in on, on my début was something I had an incredibly powerful opinion on. Some of my closest friends now have the option that I had from birth, to marry who they love. Because they came into this world with a different sexuality, they were denied that right. No longer. This doesn’t mean discrimination is over. This doesn’t mean homosexuality, or other forms of sexual and gender-related variations are accepted by society entirely. But it at least shows how very far we have come, how far we all have come in our acceptance of others, in our acceptance of our fellow human beings. I think that we’re all more human for it.

The Blank Page


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I’ve heard of the fear of the blank page. Line upon line of nothing, waiting impatiently for you to start writing. No one need be afraid of it. Those empty lines aren’t empty. They are full to the brim, with an infinity of possibility. Anything could be created with nothing but a sheet of paper, a pen and your mind. Free yourself and let your blood flow onto the page.

All of history is a palimpsest, a sheet of parchment constantly being scraped away and rewritten on. All of it, that is, except for your blank page. Create a new history, a blank slate, ready for the inception of anything you can think of. The only limit is the imagination, and that, is limitless. In the real world, we are bound by the confines of what is possible. In the unreal world, everything and anything is possible. All you have to do is write. Just put the pen to the paper, and write. Don’t think, something else out there, or in there in your mind is doing the thinking. Just let the history write itself. Let the blood flow and let the page be filled with the possibilities and impossibilities that lie within the human imagination. Just write.



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I’m a pretty suggestible person. It’s very easy to influence me indirectly, though of course, directly I’ll play it off as though you hadn’t. Others infect my mind with offhand comments, passing words and fleeting remarks that linger past their welcome. This susceptibility makes me guarded. Makes me put up my defences when I’m afraid that someone might affect me this way.

But lately I’ve come to accept these affectations. Some of them, at least. Open myself to new experiences and feelings. It has been an education. I’ve found it much easier to introduce new aspects to my personality this way, to allow new parts of myself to coincide with the older. This means I’m far more attuned with my own personality and characteristics, much more comfortable in my own skin. And I owe it all to others. To not relying on myself alone. To allowing myself to become inspired by those around me. Thank you, all of you.