Inishlacken – Show and Tell


I like islands. I was born on an island within an island; born between the bridges of Enniskillen. I began to write on Rathlin. Three of the best holidays I have experienced have been Manhattan, Sardinia and Crete – all islands.

I can settle myself on an island and love the crossing to be done – the transition from one space to another; something happens. It’s an internal thing and it’s a state of mind, a ‘freeing’ prompting a deeper breath and something that lets the shoulders drop.

Going to an island makes me look more at the sky and off out into the horizon. I pay more attention to distance and to nearness. The boundaries of myself loosen and decompress. The shift between all that is up close and that which is far away, play off one another, in an agile and nimble way – the mind doesn’t have to fend much off. Yes. I get to decompress. The imagination gets to play. Islands hold out to the press in of the sea. There’s a synergy in that.

In June, I went to the island of Inishlacken in Connemara with a group of other artists. Rock on Rosie McGurran. She has that wildness about her – the sea on stone dynamism. She followed Gerard Dillon and she beats a path along which we trail north and south, between Belfast and Connemara. Other places too, but many of us between Belfast and Connemara.

It’s collegiate, I think. Yes, I think that’s the best single word to describe the vibe – the give and take, that goes on between people. We do our own work, but we also spark off each other. We look out for one another. My own experience is one where when people are at their best, the work gets done, and this includes the work, of mucking in with the cooking, the clearing up, hauling water from the mainland, throwing in for fire and kindling, the making of soup, stews, drinking wine spody-ody; breaking bread. At its best, everyone gets it that our actions have impact on each other, and that small things done with grace make for better things for the group as a whole. All ships can float. 

Come culture night this Friday, we are gathering work produced for exhibition, and we’ll read some. We’ll play music. We’ll check out how the documentary film is coming along. I checked the weather just now. At this stage the longer term forecast suggests we might get some warmth of 17 degrees, and that it might be dry, with a low of 11 degrees. Woo hoo. 

We want to get out to the island – bring back something to it to show and tell and to have the chance to gather ourselves and to belong a while.   The work exhibited will include, Margaret Irwin, Kathleen Furey, Mick O’Dea R.H.A., Pearl Kinnear, Michael Doherty, Helen McDonnell, Catherine Gaston, Jennifer Cunningham, Susan McKeever, Caroline Wright and many others. Rosie has even organised to include work by Gerard Dillon. (Yay!) Music will be by Fiachra O’Reagan and others. 

More later after I have been there and done that…..




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