Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Anam Cara Cascade, March/April 2009

Hello again and welcome to the latest issue of The Anam Cara Cascade, the newsletter intended to keep you up-to-date with what's going on here and with each other.

In order to keep up more continuously with your work, events, announcements, ideas, and suggestions, we have created the Anam Cara blog at http://anamcarawritersandartistsretreat.blogspot.com and invite you to follow it and contribute to it. If you would like something included in this bi-monthly newsletter, please let me know, via the new e-mail address, anamcararetreat@gmail.com. If you have taken photos that you would like to have added to the web site's Picture Gallery, please send those along to the new e-mail address as well, including a short description of the image.

I again send my best wishes for continued success with your own creative work, Sue

Anam Cara Updates

Workshops Scheduled for 2009

For more information about any of these workshops, please contact Sue at anamcararetreat@gmail.com. Bookings for each workshop are limited to a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 15 participants on a first-deposit-in basis.

The Poem and the Dream
Leaders: Paula Meehan, an award-winning Irish poet and playwright and a member of Aosdána (established to honour those artists whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland), and Juliet Clancy, a dreamworker whose mentor is internationally-known dreamworker Jeremy Taylor

One-week residential retreat from Saturday, 27 June through Friday, 3 July 2009

Following on from the success of this workshop at Anam Cara last summer, The Poem and the Dream is a midsummer poetry workshop using dreamwork as a tool for poets to make connections to their poetry and as a guide to reading and understanding the poems of self and others. The focus will be poetry, making it and making it better. This workshop is suitable for those starting out and those already writing poetry.

Writing from Within: Haiku and the Spiritual Dimension
Leaders: Maeve O'Sullivan, a leading Irish haiku poet, a founding member of Haiku Ireland, and an experienced haiku workshop leader, and Kim Richardson, a published haiku poet and experienced leader of meditation retreats

One-week residential retreat from Saturday, 18 July through Friday, 24 July 2009

Also following on from the success of their Writing from Within workshops held at Anam Cara in July 2007 and 2008, this workshop is again designed to help you develop paths to your inner inspiration -- the path within. Toward this goal, the group will work with the ancient medium of haiku poetry and its related forms, with their links to Zen and its emphasis on mindfulness. Combining the haiku work with meditation, breath and light practices, the outstanding natural beauty of the Béara Peninsula and the peace and quiet of Anam Cara, the aim is to heighten levels of awareness and to open creative channels.

Writing the Short Story
Leader: Leo Cullen, an Irish short story writer, novelist, and regular contributor to "Sunday Miscellany" (national radio programme)

Three-day residential or non-residential retreat from Wednesday, 29 July 2009 through Friday, 31 July 2009

Working through the senses, the workshop will explore the building blocks of the short story -- character development, location, and plot.

Writing in Ireland: A Workshop
Leaders: Karen Blomain, an American novelist, playwright, and poet, and Michael Downend, an American playwright and scriptwriting coach

One-week residential retreat from Saturday, 26 September through Friday, 2 October 2009

Returning to Anam Cara in 2009 after a great success in 2008, this relaxed-format workshop is designed for writers at all levels of accomplishment -- from the novice wishing to try her hand at writing, to the seasoned writer who needs a jump start for his muse for a new project, to those wishing to challenge themselves in a different art form. Appropriate for all genres. Non-writing spouses/partners welcome; they'll find the peaceful, Irish vistas the perfect getaway and may even find themselves drawn into their own creative outlets.

Poultry Report

This year, the ducks are out-doing themselves! They have already layed over 150 eggs for the annual Easter-egg-decorating sessions at the two National Schools in the Eyeries Parish, and they still have about two weeks of egg-laying days to go! The hens are laying profusely as well, and the two, six-week-old chicks are doing fine.

New Book about the Beara Peninsula

"David Yeadon's excellent writing and evocative illustrations have earned him a reputation as one of the best travel writers in the world." Rocky Mountain News

Well-known travel writer David Yeadon's latest book, At the Edge of Ireland: Seasons on the Beara Peninsula is now available in bookstores and on amazon.com, where it is described as "Bursting with color and life, At the Edge of Ireland is an intrepid wanderer's celebration of a magical, unspoiled, and unforgettable Éire." David and his wife Ann lived in Allihies while he researched and conducted interviews for the book and quickly became part of the community here. A retreat alum, Bobbi Pochman (Seattle, Washington, USA) just wrote to say that he has included a very nice section called "At Anam Cara." I've ordered a copy for the library; can't wait to see it!

A Gift That Keeps on Giving

If you're looking for the perfect present for that creative someone in your life, how about a retreat to Anam Cara? Just let me know, and I'll send along a gift card that you can present, leaving the booking arrangements to be made later.

Residents' Updates

Kim Richardson (Uxbridge, England): "I just heard the other day that my haibun, 'Plate Tectonics,' which was published in Contemporary Haibun Online (http://www.contemporaryhaibunonline.com/), has been selected for inclusion in an anthology, Contemporary Haibun Vol. 10, to be published by Red Moon Press in April 2009.

Michael Untiedt (Denver, Colorado, USA): As well as being an accomplished and much-collected artist, Mike writes an entertaining and informative newsletter, The Right Brain Express, that is included on his web site (www.michaelomeuntiedt.com). You will also find, among many other things, a "Critique Blog" where you can view other artists' work and leave your comments about them.

Martha R. Keller (Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA): "Great to hear from you via The Cascade -- loved the poem 'Green.' I currently have a show of ten paintings at WSG gallery on Main Street in Ann Arbor (see www.wsg-art.com)."

Fran Schultzberg (Westchester County, New York, USA): "I am up to my ears in creating jewelry and furniture -- the wood I started after we moved from North Carolina two years ago to New York. ..... Who woulda' thought?!!"

Iseult Murphy (Blackrock, Co. Louth, Ireland): "I just got word my flash fiction will appear in the June/July edition of Alienskin Magazine."

Greg Lukianoff (Brooklyn, New York, USA): "I am optioning a screenplay I wrote, and my novel is finally pretty much done. Now I have to figure out what to do with it! And my weird little story, "Big Secrets," was awarded Cynic Magazine's 'Best of 2008,' and another one of my stories will be in an anthology of Philly Writers called Philly Fiction 2 out later this year. So a big year for me in fiction." Greg is president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and is a blogger for The Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-lukianoff.

Laura Riddell (Sydney, Australia): An exhibition of Laura's glass work, entitled "Reflections through Glass," was recently opened at the Swedenborg Centre in Sydney. The event included an interactive presentation during which those in attendance experienced first-hand the creative characteristics of glass from temperature variance to light refraction and the process by which glass and objects from it are made as well as their own reactions to the medium. At the conclusion of her artist's talk, many commented on how inspiring it was to hear someone speak about working from her passion and that her passion and enthusiasm were contagious, inspiring them to try something creative for themselves.

Barbara J. McGrath (Hobbs, New Mexico, USA): Barbara's latest book of poetry, Heart Lineage (San Francisco Bay Press, 2009), has just been published.

Eileen Cunniffe (Havertown, Pennsylvania, USA): "I have had a good winter hibernation -- lots of writing. My big project is moving along, with encouragement and suggestions from my writing group. The Connemara piece still needs work, but it's far more complete than it was when I left [the Postcard Room]. Another piece, 'Ghost Story,' about the experience of being a ghost writer, has been taking up most of my writing time lately and is almost ready to go out into the world. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I thought you might enjoy this travel story from another trip I made to Ireland: http://www.besttravelwriting.com/btw-blog/great-stories/most-unforgettable-character-category%e2%80%94silver-winner-pilgrimages-to-the-edge/."

Vanessa Gebbie (Rigmer, East Sussex, England): Fish Publishing has just announced that Vanessa has once again won Second Prize in their annual Short Story Contest and will, once again, be awarded a week-long retreat at Anam Cara as well as travel monies. Congratulations, Vanessa! Your dedication to your writing is truly inspirational.


Computerworld: If you are a bibliophile, you might find the following from Computerworld (http://computerworld.com) of interest: "Amazon's Kindle 2 is thin, beautiful and very useful for downloading all the books you want, but bibliophiles who can't or won't buy one can find reading material in other ways. Try these online book sites: http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9128540."

Cinnamon Press Newsletter: Check out the latest [March] Cinnamon Press Newsletter (www.cinnamonpress.com). Among other things, this edition includes news about the London series in aid of the Cold Weather Shelter as well as services for writers. It also includes a submission call for pieces of microfiction, sometimes called short short fiction or flash fiction, and pieces of prose poetry that tell a story in under 600 words. There is no minimum word limit.

Glimmer Train Press, Inc. (http://www.glimmertrain.com/): "Together we are making our way through the new year, a year of challenges, yes, but an exciting one, too. More writing, more reading, the opportunity to commit to our priorities and to break new ground, bringing our lives into better focus. It's good sharing this road with you. We eagerly anticipate reading your stories and awarding $52,600 to short-story writers over the course of the year. And to pique your curiosity, we'll be adding an altogether different submission category before 2009 closes.

"Thank you for letting us read your work and for supporting Glimmer Train by buying our publications and spreading the word about them. Without you, Glimmer Train would have neither the reason nor the means to exist. (Although our printing and mailing costs have shot up massively, we are holding our subscription rates level again for the seventh year in a row so you can keep reading as well as writing.)

"You've probably heard that in the recent edition of The Best American Short Stories, of the top '100 distinguished short stories,' ten appeared in Glimmer Train Stories, more than any other publication in the country, including The New Yorker. We are pleased to say that, of those ten, three were those authors' first stories accepted for publication."

Submissions and Competitions

U.S. Government Grant: Just got this information -- it's too late for this year, but you might want to put the application opportunity on your calendar for next year:
"The Access to Artistic Excellence (http://www.nea.gov/grants/apply/index.html) application deadline has been extended to March 19, 2009. [Material that must be mailed directly to the Arts Endowment must be postmarked (or show other proof of mailing) no later than March 20, 2009.] The deadline has been extended due to technical issues, beyond the agency's control, with www.grants.gov, the U.S. federal government's online application system. If you have already successfully submitted an application, you do not need to submit it again."

Shamrock Haiku Journal: "Shamrock is an international quarterly online journal that publishes quality haiku, senryu and haibun in English, and has a home page at http://www.shamrockhaiku.webs.com. We are calling for submissions from local, national and international haiku poets for the next issue, which will be out in early June 2009. Please submit your work to the editor, Anthony Kudryavitsky, at irishhaikusociety@hotmail.com. See submissions guidelines at http://www.shamrockhaiku.webs.com/submissions.htm."

The Mutation: "Hoping that if you have a minute just click and check out our ezine at www.mutantspace.ie; there are lots of good articles, recipes and odds and ends. I hope you all like it and remember we're always looking for more articles, reviews, essays, music, art, videos, etc. The March issue of The Mutation ezine is now online at http://themutation.com/.

The Stinging Fly: The Spring 2009 issue is available now with even more new writing and more new writers at http://www.stingingfly.org/current.html. We offer the best new Irish and international writing and are accepting submissions. Online subscriptions and regular updates are found at http://www.stingingfly.org.

With Words International Online Haiku Competition 2009: "Here at With Words (http://www.withwords.org.uk/comp.html), we believe in acting locally and thinking globally, so half of any profits from this competition will go towards literacy work with children in developing countries, and half will go to supporting With Words literacy projects in the UK. Submission deadline: 31 March 2009.

Paperworks 2009 International Juried Competition: Artists with innovative work who use paper as their primary medium are invited to submit up to three works of art -- drawings, graphics, sculpture, 3D, bound books -- no paintings or photography. Winners' Exhibition of selected works will be August 1-31 2009. Juror: Maura Heffner, Exhibitions Manager, The Whitney Museum of American Art. Entry deadline May 29, 2009; $35 entry fee, US funds only. Download prospectus at www.bjspokegallery.com or send SASE.

Jan van Eyck Academic Institute for Research and Production: The Institute is inviting "artists, designers, and theoreticians to submit project proposals for a one-year, two-year, or variable research period at the Jan van Eyck, starting January 2010." There are also "a number of collective research projects for which researchers can apply. These are: 'After 1968, What is the political?', 'CLiC, Circle for Lacanian ideology Critique,' 'Design Negation,' 'ExtraStateCraft,' 'Imaginary Property," and 'The Cross-Cultural and the Counter-Modern.' The application deadline, for both individual and collective projects, is Wednesday, 15 April 2010." (http://www.culturenet.hr/default.aspx?id=24580)

From the Neighbourhood

In Beara, many people -- and the families they come from -- have nicknames as a way of differentiating them from others with the same Christian and family names. According to Riobard O'Dwyer -- a much-published genealogist, former schoolmaster, and All-Ireland Triple-Jump Champion and Box Player -- from Eyeries explains here how some of those nicknames came to be.

"An old butcher who used keep a few rams in one of the rooms upstairs was known to all and sundry as Tady the Ram. Another man had very big, bushy eyebrows and, when he blinked, they looked like two sheep's fleeces -- which gave rise to his nickname, The Woolwagger. Another had a large moustache, and he was mighty fond of drinking porter. He was known as Cur (pronounced Coor -- like a pigeon coo-ing). Cur is the froth that you would see on the top of a wave when it is "breaking" over a rock. Every time that Cur put his mouth into the pint of porter, his moustache came up out of it covered with "froth," hence his nickname. A very, very, tall man was known as Hand Me Down the Moon. One of my own ancestors was Principal Teacher of the Castletownbere School. He was a thin, hardy, wiry man, wearing a goatee beard. He strode around the classroom like an oncoming hurricane, and some wag in the town 'christened' him 'Fury the Goat.'

"There were cases, especially where there were many Sullivans, of adding mothers' Christian names to their sons' Christian names, e.g. Paddy Biddy, Tim Katty. The job a man had was often added on to his Christian name, e.g. Paddy the Ambulance, Mick the Cooper (a cooper made hoops for barrels), Paddy the Baker, Sean Saw Bheara (he was in charge of a big sawmill).

"In 1582, when Pope Gregory XIII updated the calendar, there was a difference of 10 days between the old Julian calendar, which had been in existence for about 1500 years, and the new Papal (Gregorian, or new style) one. Many people accepted the new updated calendar; others did not. Among those who did not agree with it were the monks on the Skelligs Rock off the coast of South Kerry, but close to the Beara Peninsula as well.

"In those days, marriage was not allowed during Lent, so if people weren't married by Shrove Tuesday night, they would have to wait until Easter. But those who kept to the old calendar rather than to the updated one of the Pope could go out to the Skelligs Rock and have one of the monks perform the marriage ceremony up to 10 days after the Papal date for Shrove Tuesday had expired.

"This also gave rise to the renowned "Skelligs List" when poems were made up matching together all the eligible, unmarried people who hadn't "tied the knot" by Shrove Tuesday night. They were the source of "amusement" in pubs or in gatherings in houses at night -- until, of course, some one of the eligible bachelors "coupled up" found out the name of the "poet" who composed the rhyme making fun of him. Then there followed the real meaning of the old Irish/Gaelic saying "'Tis often a fellow's mouth was the cause of getting his nose broken!!" I retired from "poetry" after one such narrow escape!! At the time, I was very involved in athletics, and sprinting came in very handy!!

"Anyhow, back to the Papal 'new dates' calendar. For example, the new Papal date for Easter was ten days ahead of the date according to the old calendar. Some Harringtons in the Beara peninsula followed the old calendar. But other Harringtons there adopted the Papal calendar giving the new date for Easter. The Gaelic for Easter is Casc [pronounced cawsk]. These Harringtons were thereafter known as Harrington Casca (in other words, the Harringtons of the new Easter). That branch of the Harrington family is now known as Harrington Caskey/Causkey, hence, the name of the pub in Eyeries owned by Donal Harrington Causkey."

From Writers-and Artists-in-Residence

From Writer-in-Residence David Reynolds (Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA): "I attended the workshop with Billy Collins in 2002. I have fond memories of Anam Cara and my week there. I still head the English department at Fountain Valley School in Colorado Springs, and my poetry was published in three literary reviews this fall." The following is a poem written for the workshop while at Anam Cara:

Irish Walk

I take a walk and hike up Mishkish,
The grassy hill that looms over this hamlet.
Take a left by the cemetery
And follow the skinny road
Up to the cheese farm with the sign
That barely whispers its name.

I head up the green and boggy hillside,
Amazed the earth can hold so much water.
The way is steep and the legs pump,
And it is so good to be out
In the air and sun and wind
Gaining altitude and perspective
On the houses, sheep, and roads.

And as I summit and survey the land,
Seeing how this road leads to the church
And that one to the pub,
I want my life to be laid out,
Map-like, beneath me.
So I can see all and understand
How I got here and who I am.

From Writer- and Artist-in-Residence Susan DeBow (Maineville, Ohio, USA): "It is hard to look at yourself in a mirror and see, really see, what you look like. Time is not an equal opportunity destroyer of looks. There are days I accept the changes and days when I cringe at how I have allowed time and lifestyle choices to expose their secrets on my face and body. It's hard to paint rosacea and age marks and the changes in the skin, each mark having its own texture. And jowls. And where did that upper lid on my eye come from? Did it creep down from my forehead, losing its memory to where it is supposed to be? That crevice that extends down past my mouth, the mouth with nonexistent lips just like my father's, looks as deep as Cheddar Gorge in England.

"When I see people, should I tell them that once, I had shiny, thick hair, a beautician's dream, but now hair that is thin on the sides caused by 56 years of lying on my side? Maybe I should wear a sign around my neck that says, "Once, I was pretty." I had cheekbones that rose toward Saturn and deep-set eyes that flirted as a common practice. In my mind's eye, when I am in bliss, out of my body and into that person in my mind who is really me, the one no one could ever see, including myself, I have a long narrow nose, wide-set eyes and lips, oh my God, I have real lips, and breasts that are as high as my dreams.

"I am on that road to invisibility. It's a lonely road, one that sometimes I can overcome with a shimmering personality, but for the passerby, seeking a sexual fantasy, I walk by unnoticed."

"Self-portrait" --16 x 20 acrylic on canvas

From Writer-in-Residence Larry Dunn (Denver, Colorado, USA):
I'm not sure
Nothin' dances
On a precipice of time
In a darkened kitchen

But, still enjambment
As an old man dances
Away from the window.


Shrove Tuesday is the Tuesday before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. It's a day of penitence, to clean the soul, and a day of celebration as the last chance to feast before Lent. Shrove Tuesday is sometimes called Pancake Day after the fried batter recipe traditionally eaten on this day and most often topped with confectioner's/powdered sugar and lemon. At Anam Cara, I use the incredibly delicious "hot cake" recipe created by Bernie, the owner and host of the Russell Inn in Peru, Vermont, which he, of course, served with his own maple syrup.

3 cups flour
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 ½ - 2 teaspoons bacon drippings
3 tablespoons baking powder
3 eggs
3 cups milk


Anam Cara's new e-mail address is anamcararetreat@gmail.com, the new blog address is http://anamcarawritersandartistsretreat.blogspot.com, and the web site is www.anamcararetreat.com.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In Irish, Happy St. Patrick’s Day is Beannachtai na Feile Padraig [pronounced ban/ocked/tee nah fail/eh pawd/rig], and on this day:

May there always be work for your hands to do,
may your purse always hold a coin or two.

May the sun always shine on your windowpane,
may a rainbow be certain to follow each rain.

May the hand of a friend be always near you,
and may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.

Slainte! [Good Health]


The Irish/O’Bama* Connection

Here in Ireland, this year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration is taking on a bit of a new lustre -- U.S. President Barack O’Bama [as his name is written here with a shamrock in place of the apostrophe] is Irish! His maternal great- great- great-grandfather, Fulmoth Kearney, was born in Moneygall, Co. Offaly, and lived there until he left in 1850 at the age of 19 for Ohio. Members of the extended Kearney family began emigrating to America in the late 1700s, but it was the 1848 death of Fulmoth's uncle Francis in Ohio that sparked the departure of his immediate family. In his will, Francis left land to Joseph, Fulmoth's father, but only if he came to America to claim it. Joseph left in 1849, and Fulmoth and a sister followed in 1850; Fulmoth's reluctant mother and remaining brother and sister made the journey in 1851. While living in Ohio, Fulmoth got married and had eight children; he later moved to Indiana, next door to the state that O’Bama represented in the U.S. Senate.

Taken, in part, from the article “Four Green Fields” by Megan Smolenyak, a professional genealogist who is half-Irish and Chief Family Historian for Ancestry.com (Irish Times, 9 March 2009)

*In case you haven’t heard it yet, you’ll find a musical tribute to President O’Bama and his Irish heritage at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/us_elections_2008/7718583.stm

The Saint Behind the Day

St. Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland, was born into either a Scottish or English family in the fourth century. He was captured as a teenager by Niall of the Nine Hostages who was to become a King of all Ireland.

He was sold into slavery in Ireland and put to work as a shepherd. He worked in terrible conditions for six years drawing comfort in the Christian faith that so many of his people had abandoned under Roman rule.

Patrick had a dream that encouraged him to flee his captivity and to head south where a ship was to be waiting for him. He travelled over 200 miles from his northern captivity to Wexford town where, sure enough, a ship was waiting to enable his escape.

Upon arrival in England, he was captured by brigands and returned to slavery. He escaped after two months and spent the next seven years travelling Europe seeking his destiny.

During this time, he furthered his education and studied Christianity in the Lerin Monastery in France. He returned to England as a priest. Again, a dream greatly influenced him when he became convinced that the Irish people were calling out to him to return to the land of his servitude.

He went to the Monastery in Auxerre where it was decided that a mission should be sent to Ireland. Patrick was not selected for this task, to his great disappointment. The monk that was selected was called Paladius, but he died before he could reach Ireland and a second mission was decided upon.

Patrick was made a Bishop by Pope Celestine in the year 432, and, together with a small band of followers, he travelled to Ireland to commence the conversion.

Patrick confronted the most powerful man in Ireland, Laoghaire, the High King of Tara, as he knew that if he could gain his support then he would be safe to spread the word throughout Ireland. To get his attention Patrick and his followers lit a huge fire to mark the commencement of Spring. Tradition had it that no fire was to be lit until the King's fire was complete, but Patrick defied this rule and courted the confrontation with the King.

The King rushed into action and travelled with the intention of making war on the holy delegation. Patrick calmed the King and with quiet composure impressed upon him that he had no intention other than that of spreading the word of the Gospel. The King accepted the missionary, much to the dismay of the Druids who feared for their own power and position in the face of this new threat. They commanded that he make snow fall. Patrick declined to do so stating that this was God's work. Immediately, it began to snow, only stopping when Patrick blessed himself.

Still trying to convince the King of his religion, Patrick grasped at some Shamrock growing on the ground. He explained that there was but one stem on the plant, but three branches of the leaf, representing the Blessed Trinity. The King was impressed with his sincerity and granted him permission to spread the word of his faith, although he did not convert to Christianity himself.

Patrick and his followers were free to spread their faith throughout Ireland and did so to great effect. He drove paganism (symbolised by the snake) from the lands of Eireann.

Patrick was tempted by the Devil whilst on a pilgrimage at Croagh Patrick. For his refusal to be tempted, God rewarded him with a wish. Patrick asked that the Irish be spared the horror of Judgment Day, and that he himself be allowed to judge his flock. Thus, the legend -- that Ireland will disappear under a sea of water seven years before the final judgment -- was born.

Patrick died on March 17th in the year 461 at the age of 76. It is not known, for sure, where his remains were laid, although Downpatrick in Co. Down in the North of Ireland is thought to be his final resting place.

His influence is still felt to this day as nations the world over commemorate him on March 17th of every year.

Taken from The Information about Ireland Site (http://www.ireland-information.com), Michael Green, editor (michaelgreen@ireland-information.com)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Spring is here!

Sarah Dunn, whose second novel Secrets to Happiness: A Novel (Little, Brown),is due out this month, rang the other day to give me her good news and to say that blogs can be conversational and casual. (Because I think I'm still a bit afraid of the blog concept, I really appreciated her input.) So here goes.

l February, St. Brigid's Day, is the first day of spring in Ireland, and now a month later, it's really here! Daffodils are bobbing in the sunshine in all manner of nooks and crannies. Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent this week, and the Anam Cara ducks are well into laying their white eggs for the kids from the two National Schools in Eyeries Parish. They keep at it for the forty days of Lent, and then just before the Easter school holiday, I hard boil the eggs and spend an afternoon showing the kids how to dye Easter eggs, something they don't do much because the hen eggs here are brown and don't take colour very well. We have a great time, and the kids produce some absolutely fabulous eggs a la Faberge! The fun lasts well beyond the day as we wave to each other with our tie-dyed fingers until all the colours wear off. Our hens are beginning to lay as well, a sure sign of spring; in fact, the bantam hen hatched out four chicks about a month ago. She was very early, and because of the cold, two of them didn't make it, but the survivors are extremely chirpy and growing their teenage feathers.

The Friday Night in Eyeries fundraising series for February featured readings by Leanne O'Sullivan, the much-lauded Beara poet, who launched her second collection, Cailleach: The Hag of Beara (Bloodaxe Books), and well-known Dublin poet, Maurice Harmon, who launched his third book, The Mischievous Boy and Other Poems (Salmon Publishing). Thanks to the generosity of those who share their talents and those who attend these evenings, the Beara Chernobyl Children's Project can now sponsor four more children to spend six weeks this summer in Beara!