Saturday, March 23, 2013

Book of the Year Award Winner at Anam Cara

We are proud to present: A reading by award-winning author, Donal Ryan. His book, The Spinning Heart, was named Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards in 2012.

Praise for The Spinning Heart:

"There will be many novels which explore the effect of the crash on the people of Ireland but I can't imagine a more original, more perceptive or more passionate work than this. Outstanding." John Boyne

"The Spinning Heart uncovers a fragmented, troubled society struggling under the weight of betrayal and regret. Sorcha Hamilton (The Irish Times)

Donal Ryan has an imaginative insight into his characters that's all his own and a furious energy to his prose that gives arrestingly vivid life to these blighted souls. … a darkly persuasive debut. John Boland (Irish

Most beautifully written and plotted. What a writer! It is amazing to read about such grief and pain and yet end up elevated by the quality of the writing. A wonderful book. Jennifer Johnston

Saturday, April 6th, 8 pm
Donations in aid of Pieta House Cork are welcome.
To guarantee a seat, please call Anam Cara on 027 74441.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Colouring Easter Eggs at Scoil Chaitigheirn

Every year, Anam Cara sponsors a morning of colouring Easter eggs at the two national schools, in Eyeries and Urhan. This photo is of the 3rd and 4th class students at the Eyeries National School, Scoil Chaitigheirn, each with two of the four eggs that they decorated this year. We use duck eggs because they are white or light blue and will take the Easter egg dye. Most hen eggs in this part of Ireland are brown so don't work very well. I usually begin collecting the eggs from the nine Anam Cara ducks at the beginning of Lent and have plenty of time to collect enough eggs. It was cold enough, and Lent began while it was still cold, that the ducks didn't really get into the spirit of things soon enough; so, Jackie and Jerry Murphy, who have a flock of ducks, had to come to the rescue of our Easter project for which we are all grateful! Not only did the Eyeries kids produce incredibly creative and beautiful eggs, but they also came away with the annual tie-dyed fingers that let everyone they meet know, in case they've forgotten, that we're getting close to Easter.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

In Honour of the Day and Beara....

St. Patrick’s Day

Ireland has rubbed off on me..
my shoes are stained with it,
my feet calloused by it,
my body peninsula-shaped,
my voice roughened by the auld songs
my hips creaking in waltz time

These flat feet of mine find
the road to Eyeries in the rain,
and they cling to the boreen
as it winds to the strand where
heart-shaped shells and pebbles,
spiral marked, glisten in the sun.

Then I climb to Gort’n Boulliga,
the graveyard on the hill where I
wipe my feet on the mat during the
Mad Cow scare and pay tribute
to Michael’s parents with
a daffodil on their grave.

(“Why did you do that? Michael asked.
“Somebody has to,” I answered.
“Visiting makes me too lonely,” he said.)
Now it makes me lonely to visit his grave
just two rows down where I leave hydrangeas.

My eyes are Irish now.
shedding tears of grief and wonder.
My arms are Irish arms.
Clasping the arms and shoulders,
of companions who help
me across ravines through
storms, like Battie, the mason, and his wife
Rosarie who can do anything.

“Rosie the Mill” watches from her house
at the crossroads-- Rosie who can instantly
marshal tractors to scare off marauders,
and can dance the night away.

I welcome Denis “Batt” who raised skyscrapers
in New York and returned to build a house
near his mother for his wife Mary.
I have seen the poet, Leanne, change from child
to Fairy Queen whose metaphors
conquered the castle, and I have joked
with Father Sean, singer of vintage songs
and Maggie whose healing hands rubbed
old hurts away.

My appetite changes to an Irish hunger
for potatoes, cabbage, oatmeal.
Rosarie’s sponge cake,
Mary’s apple tart,
mussels and scallops,
goose egg merengue,
Sue’s omelets.

My Irish legs are strengthened by slogging
through the mud, over the stile at the Ardgroom
stone circle where my daughter and I
prayed for our hearts' desires and left
cockle shells as offerings

I linger at Sue’s Retreat, a haven nourishing
the creative process wherever it may be lurking.
My spiritual yearning opens me to words
flowing freely in Yeatsian harmony.
halfway between heaven and earth,
with moonrise in the morning and sunrise at night.
My Irish knees bend at the golden church
under stained glass windows and glorious
stations announced by Father Brick
whose ecumenical voice
welcomed Mormon me as one of the “good
Christian woman on the road to Urhan,”
my face an Irish face
branded with ashes from Fr Brick's hand
on Wednesday after which he
came down on my Irish head
with a blessing. “May you have the
spirit of Christ forever with you.

Now I have an Irish breast, too old
to suckle, but beating with a heart
as strong as any in the village,
beating with dancers
like Denis and Deccie,
patiently teaching me to follow
the Irish way to friendship, loyalty and love.

Mary Lythgoe Bradford
Leesburg, Virginia, USA

Monday, March 4, 2013

Gerry Galvin Has Left Us...

Gerry is shown here (on the left) with Irish President Michael D. Higgins, who launched Gerry's first poetry collection in 2010.

Gerry Galvin, an extraordinary chef, gifted writer, and a much-loved and much-missed friend, passed away on Friday, 1 March. When he first came to Anam Cara as a writer-in-residence in 2002, he had recently retired from his long career as a restauranteur, first in Kinsale, where he was instrumental in turning that town into a destination for food lovers, and then at his and his wife Marie's Drimcong House restaurant in Moycullen, Co. Galway.

But I didn't know any of his history at the time. He arrived on a Sunday, and beginning on Monday, we all gathered after breakfast to listen to a pre-recorded Gerry on the radio reading one of his essays a day for the week, essays written based on some of his own poetry. On Tuesday morning (after I had served him four meals), we heard the announcer say, "The name Gerry Galvin is probably very familiar to you, but not yet as a writer. He is known as the first gourmet chef of Ireland!" I was gobsmacked (and appalled)! But Gerry in his consummate generosity assured me that all was well. His sweet acceptance of my offerings cemented our friendship, and he honoured us by preparing something wonderful for us each time he was in residence. One of my fondest memories is cooking with Gerry as we got ready for my stations mass for the Eyeries parishioners of Inches townland.

Our last visit was in Galway in April. Phyl McCarthy and I went to the Festival to hear Gerry read from his latest novel and to spend time with the poet Billy Collins and his fiance Suzannah, both of whom thoroughly enjoyed Gerry's reading. Phyl and I then spent a beautiful, sunny afternoon with Marie and Gerry in their lovely home in afternoon that included lunch!!! The company and the meal were fabulous -- A treat I will remember forever.

Rest in Peace, dear, dear Gerry.

(His obituary can be found at: