Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cill Rialaig : Retreat to Advance

Thanks to Nuala for news of a private viewing of Emer Martin’s exhibition “Oh Rider of the White Horse” based on ‘stories’ by seanachaí Seán Ó Connaill at the Origin Gallery next week. The main purpose of the evening is to inform writers about the proposed 6 MONTH (!) WRITERS RESIDENCY PROGRAMME AT THE CILL RIALAIG RETREAT in KERRY from OCTOBER 2009 – MARCH 2010.

You are invited to go and have a glass of wine this Thursday 16th April 2009 from 6.30 – 8.30pm at the Origin Gallery, 83 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2 and hear what writer and artist Emer Martin got from the Cill Rialaig Experience.

I went to Cill Rialaig for 2 weeks in February 2007, thanks to my understanding family (who probably enjoyed the break too). I found it to be a splendid isolation, which did wonders for my head, heart and the scruffy bag of metaphysic that passes for a soul.

Participants are given the use of restored (rebuilt, actually) houses - on the site of a small village, deserted since Famine times. The basic, yet comfortable accommodation is (was?) free, with an expectation that visitors will donate something to the project. Be churlish not to. It's easy to donate visual art, for sale in the gallery there - not sure how writers might donate (royalties?) other than in cash? I'd guess an anthology may be in the offing at some point.

I can highly recommend it. The rugged beauty of the area is one benefit, also the solitude - although one can choose to commune with visitors in the other houses, or not. The site is apparently named for a 'church of the regular orders' - a long-departed community of monks, whose atmospheric, but easily-missed settlement ruins are sheep-enhanced a little further up Bolus Head. There is long, deep history here. It's a good base for exploring the wider area too, if you bring car or bike.

Thinking about it now, I'm hankering to return. But it won't be for a while yet.

The slideshow above shows work-in-progress photos from my visit, and here's a poem, likewise;

Last Night in Seán’s House

There’s handwriting upon the sea
But not a one can read it

Churning surf below the head
Is marble in the night

Beyond the swollen stomach earth
Skellig teeth are waiting

Away by Coomanaspic, six bar gates
Are fluting tube steel airs

Wind sings the empty flue
Pierces seams of window sash

Mozart consecrates the room
Yet here I am alone

Layered up under rafters, duvet
And an ashen sleeping bag

On Bolus Head tonight within
these walls of re-awakened stone

edit: © PJ Nolan 2009