January though not quite gone will for this last week lack a little laughter and son as we faced the final curtain last night. The Claremorris Musical Society Anything goes came and went on a wet and windy Saturday evening in the Town Hall of Claremorris. We worked and partied hard last night and I slunk home after 5 in the morning yawning copiously but woke content after a melodious nigh in the company of many strange voices on familiar faces. It funny what a bit of helium can do to a talented Tenor just a little bit tipsy. Music and dance brought out the gypsy in many last night and after the last few days it was great to see so many ladies letting their hair down literally. The Chinese convert in me kept me sober while a rather saucy lady in red reminded me of a bruise I accidentally inflicted when I karate kicked her on the shin many moons ago on the night I became her Romeio. Last night she once again serenaded me from the ship's balcony. Unfortunately along with many other paying customers, the fluzzy! Married now to another Johnny, alas that ship has sailed but at least I loved you when you were sweet sixteen and we parted with such sweet sorrow that there were no regrets for tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.
“Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Another Scottish Lady regained me with her philosophy on life and though she may be as cursed as me when it comes to matrimony, she is always bright and bonny, singing hey nanny, noon.
Sigh No More: sigh no more no more, one foot in sea one on shore, my heart was never pure, and you know me, and you know me.
Balthasar sung it differently:
Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never.
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey, nonny nonny.
Sing no more ditties, sing no mo
Of dumps so dull and heavy.
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leavy.
Then sigh not so, but let them go
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey, nonny nonny.
"I'm amazed that a man, after watching romance turn another man into a fool and laughing at that man, can turn right around and become the thing he’s scorned. That’s the kind of man Billy Crocker is. I knew him when he listened to nothing but the military drum and fife; now he would rather hear the sweet and refined music of the tabor and pipe. I knew him when he would’ve walked ten miles to see a well-crafted suit of armor; now he spends ten nights awake in his room designing himself a fancy new jacket. He used to speak plainly and to the point, like an honorable man and soldier; now his speech is elaborate and flowery. His words are like a miraculous banquet, full of strange new dishes. Will I be changed like that, and see the world through a lover’s eyes? I’m not sure, but I don’t think so."
I spoke and thought like Benedict did having loved my Beatrice, like Dante did once but hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and now some speaks poniards:
That a woman conceived me, I thank her. That she brought
me up, I likewise give her most humble thanks. But that I
will have a recheat winded in my forehead or hang my bugle
in an invisible baldrick, all women shall pardon me.
Because I will not do them the wrong to mistrust any, I will
do myself the right to trust none. And the fine is, for the
which I may go the finer, I will live a bachelor.
But better to have lost in love than never loved at all. Strange that I should have heard these words uttered by the oldest and youngest of the men in whose gallant company I sallied forth last night only to be enchanted once again by the beauty of the angels who danced and sang with such unabashed generosity.
Truly you are poetry in motion and I will be horribly in love if ever one of you should be foolish enough to give me hope. Not that Hope I hope some other kind of hope.
I will not be sworn but love may transform me to an oyster,
but I’ll take my oath on it, till he have made an oyster of me,
he shall never make me such a fool. One woman is fair, yet
I am well; another is wise, yet I am well; another virtuous,
yet I am well; but till all graces be in one woman, one
woman shall not come in my grace. Rich she shall be, that’s
certain; wise, or I’ll none; virtuous, or I’ll never cheapen
her; fair, or I’ll ever look on her; mild, or come not near
me; noble, or not I for an angel; of good discourse, an
excellent musician, and her hair shall be of what color it
You see before you a man enchanted by an English accent and poetry
I don’t want to live in the shadows anymore
I’m tired of being cool in the shade
I want to feel the burning passion of the sun
Of you my gold locked one
I want passion not pretence
I want truth not half truths
I don’t want to read between the lines
I want to see something as simple as a smile upon your face
That causes in me a state of grace
Where silence speaks
Where I have peace of mind
Where I don’t feel like a blind man
Wandering in the dark
With the scent of some flower or woman
You’ve given me something no other Lady has and the last one I loved took a way,
my desire to write and play
This courting game and suffer the bittersweet pain
Of unrequited passion and restrain.
no, no, that won't do. It's too....
What compels me to put feelings into words that are easier spoken?
A flower, a love token, all this I can do
Though not yet for you.
Though you delight yet you frighten me
And despite my love for thee tamed I cannot be.
Yet there is always a price to pay
For not having the courage to say
I love you.
Pure and simple like my smile
Which waits a while to reveal its splendor
In case like words too crude it should offend her.
But if the truth be known these shall remain words unspoken
For a heart that has been broken takes time to mend.
So this I may never say or send until my trust in thee has grown
And then with eyes and mouth wide open
I’ll let you take my hand and guide me through this untamed land.
More worthy of the Bard surely but alack, alack, too much self-pity
Perhaps this then when I learn to sing and share the sound of music in your company again
I will be your Sun
Wake up everyone
Wipe away your fears
Make rainbows from your tears
I will be your sun
My darling little one
Say goodbye to sorrow
Sunny day tomorrow
I will be your sun
Though I shine for everyone
When that sky is blue
I’m saying I love you
I will be your sun
Love you like no one
Clouds will fade away
But the sun is here to stay
Forget those rainy days
Lost in misty haze
For now the sky is blue
And I’m still in love with you
I will be your sun
Love you like no one
For the light that shines from me
Is for all eternity
I will be your sun
My darling little one
All you have to do
Is say I love you
And I will be your sun
Friday 18th September, Culture Night & Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th September 2015, Claremorris community The Non Prophet Festival: For all the family and nearly all free, so join in our homespun fun.
Teacht le chéile: Carrchlós an stáisiúin. Colman O’Raghallaigh - Conradh na Gaeilge & Padraig O’Cathain - Claremorris Historical Soc. historic bi-lingual tour of the town departs promptly from Claremorris Railway Station at 6pm.
Culture Night - Friday 18TH September: G
6 PM Historical Bilingual Tour of Town with Colman O’Raghalleigh & Pat Keane Claremorris Historical Society (booking required)
Teacht le chéile: Carrchlós an stáisiúin.
1. Stáisiún traneach Chlár Chlainne Mhuiris / Claremorris Railway Station
2. An Chearnóg & lár an bhaile / The Square and Town Centre
3. Eaglais N. Eoin - An Leabharlann / St. John’s Church – Town Library
4. Séipéal N. Colmán – St. Colman’s Church
5. Leacht Cuimhneacháin Theach na mBocht – Poorhouse & Infant Memorial
6. Críoch / End
7.30 PM Non Prophet Festival Opening Reception - in Claremorris Library:
Saturday Sept. 26th: A Forum Theatre Workshop (12-5pm) with Ala Participatory Theatre is an introduction to community empowerment through theatre and drama. Workshop cost of 20€ includes ticket for The Claremorris Players A Wake in the West at 8.30pm in the Town Hall Theatre. Book your ticket at http://townhall.ie, Tel: 094 931 0999 for this festival fundraiser and opportunity to see this hilarious and final production with its stellar cast of local performers, guaranteed to bring tears of laughter to your eyes.
Family Fun Day with Performance Picnic:
Sunday Sept. 27: 2-5pm in McMahon Park is a family fun day with pageantry, bouncy castles and playful activities for young and old: Chris and Lynda Huxley from Mayo Naturalist's Field Club with will lead a guided walk around the park to discover the flora and fauna of Ireland. There will be an orienteering natural treasure hunt for the more intrepid through The Land of the GIANTS!
Mac Tire Bushcraft will be teaching families how to survive in the wild forest.
will round off the festival weekend with @ 8.30pm in the Town Hall Theatre. And the festival after party begins at the town hall bar!
Presence is participation and we greatly appreciate welcome your support to help sustain the thriving community spirit, natural talent and beauty of Mayo.
Cost: All events are Free (except Festival Fundraiser: A Wake in the West) (Sponsorship/Donations graciously accepted)
Organiser: The Non Prophet Organisation
Tel: 085 7506104
Though I’m from Mayo you wouldn’t think it at times. I had to look up Finny on the map after googling it and being sent to the U.S. The trouble with technology is it thinks globally and not locally like me. I rang Mr. Joyce not once but twice to make sure the lake district walk was going ahead and I was on the right route travelling from Claremorris to Ballinrobe through Clonbur and onto Finny a few kilometres further on between Lough Mask and Lough Corrib for the start of our walk in the Partry mountains. Maumtrasna was our destination that day and we set off in glorious sunshine putting on sun cream and soon striping down to one rather than the typical three layers one needs.
While walking can be a relatively inexpensive form of exercise one can also spend a fortune on equipment when all you need is a fairly decent rain jacket, good boots and in general stuff that is waterproof. It’s probably more important to have more than less as you can always take off what you have to put on in the first place but if you find yourself freezing to death on the mountains it’s because you’ve failed to properly prepare for all eventualities and in Ireland on the mountains you need to be ready for the four seasons in one day. Having begun walking in earnest last year I’ve built up a collection of maps and equipment that is still pretty basic. I’ve gone out in the right weather for me so I generally come home with a bit of colour on my cheeks and a healthy glow.
There’s no need to blow a thousand euros when you can go to supermarkets like Aldi and pick up some of the stuff you need relatively cheap. It won’t last a life time but nothing does nowadays. Look after it and you’ll get a good few years. Take it for granted and like any relationship that isn’t shown a bit of TLC it'll die more quickly. Enough lecturing, let’s walk. We followed the road and turned in on a path that brought us towards our destination. I was in the company of seven others all with a bit of walking experience and no one had a map but me. This was the leader's backyard and he had been up here before so didn’t need to worry about losing his way even in the clouds. However I’m learning to read maps and would like to lead so it's important for me to have my map and compass at hand and to stop and look around me. I was going to time the ascent but forgot when we stopped for lunch to turn my stopwatch on again. It’s probably better to look at your watch before you begin and when you come down again. That’s the length of your journey when your logging it in your notebook and one should also take into account the time it takes you to get there and home again because that’s really what a day in the mountains means. I needed to drive approximately 40kms as the crows flies but when your driving or walking in the mountains you don’t travel directly from A to B. It’s more like the stages of any journey, starting with the decision to go on the journey in the first place. Once that decision is made one has to prepare. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail as the saying goes. You usually begin by checking the weather forecast for that day and then you choose what to wear. I tend to throw more things than I need into my bag or into the back of my little camper van. This means that when I get to wherever I’m going I'm prepared for all eventualities.
Come spring I’m usually ready to be on the road again and it’s hard even on a day like today to be stuck inside because work keeps getting in the way. I could of course be writing in the back of my van today with or without a laptop but I’m also looking after an aged parent and doing things on the internet. As I said earlier, natural progress and technology seems to oblige me to stay put or move in a certain way when I’d rather be free from the shackles of mortality. C’est la vie.
Maybe because we or at least I spend so much time in front of a screen it’s almost more customary to communicate with people through a screen. I notice now if someone calls me unexpectedly or I don’t know the number on my screen I don’t always answer if I’m not feeling socially inclined to talk to them. It’s a different story when face to face with somebody as we’re communicating without necessarily speaking by the way we walk. I like to walk alone for a time and gradually begin to clear my thoughts and breathe in the fresh air and open up once again to what is natural within: curiosity of the world around me. I spoke to everybody but listen more readily than talk and intervene when something or someone strikes me as engaging. I find I learn a lot more saying less and just observing although if we all did that perhaps it would lead to suspicious minds. We are social creatures after all and gifted with possibility of abstract thought and many means of communicating with ourselves both the past and the present. Then there’s the rest of our natural environment and it’s hard to believe that there still exists areas where we haven’t yet thread or left our indelible footprint. From the top of Maumtrasna one can see south as far as Clare and in the opposite direction as far as Achill probably although I remember most seeing Croagh Patrick from what we’d normally consider behind.You’d hardly consider it a peak or know of it's steep and stony rise to the little chapel on top if it weren’t for the visible scar that continues to mar this beautiful and holy mountain, which can be seen from afar.
There was no great difficulty get to the top of Maumtrasna and it’s easy to know you’ve reached the spot height because of the concrete column on top albeit weather beaten.
We made our made down the valley that lies between Maumtrasna and Buckaun following the Srahnalong river that flows into lough Mask. We parted company with it’s lovely little waterfalls and pools which I would have gladly dipped my sweaty feet in had I been leading. Nothing was stopping me really but the lack of a towel as we weren’t rushing but I’ll get a chance to dip my feet into the river again as I’ll definitely be going back there again in the company of other friends.
There is quite a lot to see from the heights but what is impressive and relieves the pressure on the knees as you descend is to look around at the steep rock faces both sides of you and the sheep whom you always see in the strangest of places picking there way across these stony faces. Some never make their way down again falling to their death and thus the walls and fences we found in the strangest of places. After all why would you be bothered building a wall at the top of mountain but to stop people and sheep from going to close to the edge on a cloudy day and with a strong gust of wind meeting their end. The only other thing crying in the wind apart from the birds are those foolhardy sheep and people pausing and posing in places they shouldn't be. I miss in some ways not taking my camera with me but it obliges me to pay closer attention to the memory etched in my body and not captured virtually.
Walking in the mountains leaves a lasting physical experience for days to come. I feel a little tired today but not because of the climb or the game of badminton afterwards but from staying up much later than I normally would to wind down more than anything else from a day of exercise in the heaven and the depressing return to civilisation with all its competitiveness and conflict.
Maybe that’s why I find such solace in the hills and mountain far from the madding crowd. I must read this book once again just to see if Hardy captures that feeling or whether my writing can one day emulate the great writers that inspire us to keep seeking new routes to inner peace. It’s probably this that I search for more than happiness or beautiful scenery to cope with the constant negativity one has to absorb from society and in particular the media. Long live my silent friends the hills and mountains of Ireland.
Monday 13 April 2015
After a ten-day retreat in relative silence it’s not so easy to maintain the silence inside. Thoughts flood in once again, too many to keep them from taking over again as I silently sit and feel the weight of the world once again upon me. I start slowly, breathe deeply, burn oils and try to concentrate without too much tension on all.
I started by opening the arts council letter. I was hesitant as I was not looking forward to bad news before writing my thoughts. But why let oneself be effected by a positive or negative response in relation to funding for projects. The one thing I did learn to focus and work on is equanimity:
One is able to confront the daily crises with equanimity: composure, calmness, calm, level-headedness, self-possession, self-control, even-temperedness, coolness, cool-headedness, presence of mind; serenity, placidity, tranquillity, phlegm, impassivity, imperturbability, unexcitability, equilibrium; poise, self-assurance, assurance, self-confidence, aplomb, sangfroid, nerve; informal cool, unflappability; rare ataraxy. ANTONYMS anxiety.
I put off opening the letter until today for the simple reason that I didn’t want to start back straight into working on projects outside myself or contacting people, even friends after ten days learning to seek within myself the peace perhaps we all seek and will someday succumb to. I went and played badminton yesterday evening and left a little earlier than usual feeling I’d had enough and that though pleasurable even if not so much in defeat it didn’t really matter so long as I as was focused and aware of what I was doing. I spoke to the girls about the vipassana course without going into too much detail but that overall it was a learning and enlightening experience. I don’t know how far I went or if I was even heading in the right direction as regards self-enlightenment but I did go pretty far as regards breaking things down in minute sub-atomic particles and the relationship between mind and matter and without speaking in the third person as I feel I am know I have begun once again to commit myself to the path, a way of life or art of living that I’d like to reflect in my performances and writing:
What I’d like to do now is revisit the scripts once again and to tell them from this new perspective. Writing is a case of constant rewriting and as I sat meditating thoughts about what existed in the script or what I had taken out and what I should perhaps put back again came to me over and over again. It’s at moments like these I wondered whether I was wrong to ignore them or listen to these renewed thoughts and how and why I should incorporate them. Which thoughts I wonder came from my own personal craving for attention and which came from some ultimate goal of purity. It is perhaps with this in mind that I need to question and re-question and examine every line over and over again and weed out any impurities if I know ultimately that the goal is enlightenment not just for me as the words of Buddha came to me, for there is no me, no I, no my. If this was so, whether or not I could prove it so would be reflected in the writing that would not be mine but that would come manifest itself through me. I thought of how Dante must have felt when he wrote The Divine Comedy and how he must have worked on himself over and over again so that divine inspiration could flow through him. Whether or not he achieved total equanimity and awareness so he could look upon his own and others actions without a trace of craving or aversion I cannot say. When we we read we cannot help but write ourselves into the story. Try as we may it is almost, though not impossible to read impartially, which is why there exists the scientific approach of only relating to what is on the page before you and to not interpret it from an overly subjective point of view but instead using techniques that have been in existence long before you or I came into being, at least in this life if you believe in reincarnation or karmic conscience moving from body to body. I won’t go into religion or religious beliefs not because I don’t believe in them but simply in this instance and in our writing it greatly and perhaps ultimately limits us to what is our final destination. For Dante or Siddhartha, who became known as the Buddha, meaning the enlightened one, belief for one and self-belief for the other lead to a similar if not the same destination. Although the description may sound like two different destinations it is so but only in so far as the languages differ and the cultural characteristics that shaped their journey in the first place: One coming from a Christian culture and the other from Hinduism Culture. There is no origin for spirituality, there is only life and materiality and where it leads us in mind and matter depends so much on our beliefs. I feel no great flow at the moment and find it hard to let go of my desire or craving to be possessed in that sense and for some eternal life force to flow through me, so the words would come automatically and I neither have to look up or down to know where the keys are to unlock the gates that lead to eternal liberation. Do you pray my mother had said to me on a number of occasions and I answer in my script Pray! as if the concept is alien or ridiculous to me. With no belief in God or perhaps religion at the time I judge my mother and her values as wrong. In the midst of all this is my father, a bedrock of common sense and natural law, both closer to nature and god than I may ever be. I don’t see myself surpassing them in wisdom and I regret my ignorance on so many occasions, where I may have felt myself superior and looked upon them as inferior because of the lack of education but you learn as you get older one learns that they do have the experience of life although not necessarily the means to communicate it so articulately as someone like me versed in languages but without their natural goodness and wholehearted simplicity. I can recall so many lines in poems and plays where I misjudged or misinterpreted them and continue to but that I can still correct before publishing them if and when that day comes. Today’s letter let me know that I could continue to write to David from the arts council and expect to be treated it with respect and that my writing was read and that he had taken the time to get back to me.
I think when it comes to all my work what I need to do now is hand it over to someone I can trust to give me as objective a response as I can hope for about what’s rings true and what rings false or seems somewhat contrived. Contrived in the sense that you feel the writing or the writer putting those words in someone’s mouth though they don’t belong there and that they don’t ultimately share anything of value with the reader or listener other than the author’s opinion.
What is it we’re listening for I ask myself and hope the answer comes from life itself. We’re listening for the truth in the silence, where breathe and sensation come together once again as they did in the past, now in the present and in the presence of an audience in order to transcend the individual experience and connect once again with the past in order to transform the negative unconscious experience into one we may all experience and witness without judging it or desiring it to be or do something other than just be. Not for me but just letting it be what it is: a rising and raising to awareness of our subconscious cravings and desires or aversions.
What comes out should I believe be for the good of humanity and if it seems objectionable should not be so much censored as understood as some ignorant sense of the impermanent reality or fleeting sensation of a moment in time that does not flow with the natural order as perceived by others who have a stronger mind and grip on reality based on the wisdom of experience.
I try so hard to capture the ultimate truth of my existence in words and my reactions to others, often I may add as a silent observer who manipulates history to suit me, but if there is no me, no my, no I ultimately then what if any purpose does it serve to share my thoughts or performance? It is to expose myself and accept the judgement of this moment, this world in which I exist and see what comes of it.
Though I am no saint, no guru, no prophet, no seer but a seeker of truth, and a would be vessel so that truth can speak through me it is ultimately either a gift I’ve been given, which I can chose to share depending on how much care and compassion can come into being through these thoughts that I must ultimately accept as mine and learn to let go off if they can lead others towards peace and harmony. Writing that is simple makes the path clearer to me so I try not so much to write intelligently or syntactically correctly but with words that sound or seem to come naturally to me.
John looks like a cistercian monk with that hair cut was one of those lines I felt like putting back in because as I did the course I thought about resigning myself to a life of contemplation and self-searching to reach a state of enlightenment. But I wonder how would that serve a higher purpose and perhaps selfishly I am not ready to renounce the pleasures and pains of the body, even if my thoughts and actions end up destroying me, so be it. There’s a hard won spirituality and liberation from this body, family and society that cannot be gained by denying or hiding or averting my gaze from the real world around me: That is not facing reality. It is waiting for it or fearing its reaction or not feeling ready to answer with complete sincerity or from a place where a holy spirit speaks through me. Isn’t that ultimately what was meant by the apostles learning to speak in tongues? As I sat meditating all these thoughts I let flow through me and I said thank you for the visions that came to me. I let my conscious body be pulled this way and that with all sorts of physical sensations and some imaginary ones as I tried to physically see in the darkness of my mind how mind and matter continue to be or not be the shapers of this impermanent reality. I merged to the best of my limited ability with the sensations and thoughts flowing through me. Tried hard not to crave or avoid what was happening to me, tried to stop myself, felt I wasn’t ready for what lay ahead, felt and still feel I don’t have the strength to go much further and yet wanting more and less of this experience of emptiness and oneness with all. Felt the vibrations and the waves like electricity consciously running to top to toe and back again, the universe expanding and contracting, breathing and entering the black holes of Stephen Hawking and wondering whether this is what had happened to him. I caught a brief glimpse of the number four and thought of the divinity of number and many images of the matrix and how perhaps technology’s search for this ultimate rapidity could take us with warp speed from this galaxy to another was all within reach through the breath and sensual awareness of my own impermanent presence as a witness of this experience.
I had not floated away or disappeared. I did not look down and see myself from outer space but felt myself in other spaces and places beyond my capacity to experience and only wished it wasn’t me that was trying to bring this back with me but that I had the courage to let go and accept that this life was now over as I knew it and that if I wanted to remain on this higher plan of sensation I would need to let to of all craving, all clinging, all attachments, all relationships of a sexual nature, all notions of ownership, of possessing someone or something else, all selfish desire and aspire to serve others at all costs and I wonder now and continue to wonder whether all my actions up until now have served any purpose other than pointing towards the true path and that it was, is and will be my destiny throughout eternity to discover and share this journey with all its depravities and epiphanies until there is no path for me to follow and I can only choose or be chosen to go back and begin the journey again and again in a natural cycle of reincarnation of mind and matter flowing forever on.
The material solidity comes from the attraction of like patterns and waves and vibrations drawn to each other. As I said to my mother aithníonn ciaróg ciaróg eile: it takes one to know one; literally, "A beetle recognises another beetle”. It’s an Irish proverb meaning we are drawn or crave those that share our sensual world and we avoid or avert our eyes from those that we don’t desire to see or see us to such a degree that we cannot hide who or what we are or feel in their presence. Passion rules reasonable equanimity when we see only what we want to see or believe only what we want to believe about the world around us, which ultimately leads to ephemeral joy and misery if we become too attached or try to avoid the ever-changing nature of reality. Believing by becoming too attached to ourselves or something else creates the pleasant or unpleasant sensations we experience within our body that leads to tension and pangs of pleasure and pain forming like knots within our body. We absorb the world around us within us and apparent conflicts with this superficial world, we see displayed superficially or projected upon our world stage in the endless wars and games we play to in the name of love and hate, good and evil, natural and unnatural actions and reactions all pertaining to some self-seeking purpose that may or may not be the path to happiness or ultimately enlightenment for everybody. However if you go beyond the opposites and paradoxes and you come to a place or feel a sensation however brief it may seem of peace and happiness then you are at least momentarily freed from the endless emotion of life and death and can enjoy the experience of eternal stillness.
The Non Prophet Organisation recognises the essential role of the wider community in partnering with us to achieve our aims. The involvement of volunteers is a key element in this partnership.
We seek to involve volunteers in order to:
• Ensure that our services meet the needs of our community
• Provide new perspectives to community and volunteers alike
• Enable volunteers to develop and contribute to all areas of our work
• Increase our local and global network to create with other communities
• Maintain an independent public presence within our organisation to help ensure our belief in the participation of everyday experts within a wide range of fields.
The Non Prophet Organisation recognises that without the valuable contribution of the community and the many roles volunteers have played in the creative process these words would be those of “a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. […] A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”
We depend hugely on enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers to help transform the town over the weekend celebrating culture and creativity. As a volunteer you'll be part of a team who create the Festival spirit, meet the public, greet audiences at venues and welcome visitors. At all events we put our audience at the heart of everything we do and whatever role you play as a volunteer remember that its for the greater good of community.
Audiences can expect a very high quality artistic programme with a superb literary, musical and performance content which like last year’s festival again will have the community arts of Claremorris and the surrounding areas as a central focus with creative writing, music, film & theatre workshop and indoor and outdoor performances taking place in the locality for the duration of the festival.
We all know what funding is but who knows what punding is?
A stereotypy (/ˈstɛriː.ɵtaɪpi/, "stair-ee-oh-teye-pee") is a repetitive or ritualistic movement, posture, or utterance. Stereotypies may be simple movements such as body rocking, or complex, such as self-caressing, crossing and uncrossing of legs, and marching in place. They are found in people with intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, tardive dyskinesia and stereotypic movement disorder; studies have shown stereotypies associated with some types of schizophrenia. Frontotemporal dementia is also a common neurological cause of repetitive behaviors and stereotypies. Several causes have been hypothesized for stereotypy, and several treatment options are available.
What's the connection I hear you say. Yesterday I went through the ritual of applying for funding for theatre projects: Hours spent in front of a computer, installing programs just so I could apply, staring at my words on the screen, trying to figure out if what I'm saying makes sense and fits the criteria. The competition is stiff and with the sun shining outside I sometime wonder am I wasting my life away seeking funding to create or should I just do what I say I'd like to do. Funding like punding is gathering bits of information into little piles, like my Dad does with dust. He had Parkinson's and this annoying repetitive behaviour used to get on my nerves until it was explained to us by a neurologist as a symptom of the onset of dementia for people suffering neurological disorders such as Parkinson's. Of course there are a lot of strange modes of behaviour all around us and none more so than the ritualistic performance we go through everyday of lives. This ritual is our culture that defines our thoughts and actions and almost everything we daily do.
I've noticed some of my own rituals and what happens when for one reason or another that ritual is upset. I went to get my teeth cleaned on the eve of St Patrick's Day: I was going to be in the parade and I was told by our town councillor that RTE were going to be there so naturally I had to have my telly teeth smile ready and waiting to flash for the cameras and eye of the Nation. What nonsense! Of course I didn't get them cleaned because of the TV but because I drink two to three expressos daily as well as cups of tea so my teeth have gradually faded to fifty shades of grey and yellow. I wouldn't really care except I like to smile and became conscious that it might not be such as an attractive or healthy sight for the fairer sex whose pearly whites shine back at me. In an image conscious and somewhat superficial world we subconsciously notice the signs of aging and ill-health in the whites our eyes, our posture and facial expression. In brief once we step out there we're on stage and we aim to give a pleasing performance for all to see.
Which brings me to my application for a theatre trilogy I've been working on for some time. Not yet completed but well on its way:
I’ve written, performed and had publicly performed readings of a collection of literary and theatrical pieces that examine, from an autoethnogrpahic perspective, our dramatically orientated culture as we move towards a postdramatic automated society. Stories shape our lives but it is the dramatic narrative that defines the structure of our lives. Storytellers are the narrators that shape the spect-actors thoughts and actions. We speak truth to power when our words are given voice but we rarely question the social environment that shapes our own story. In theatre we’ve moved from community dialogue to professional monologue and I am moving back again to engage with audiences. I chose a rural setting to create with everyday experts because there’s a growing market and need for creative facilitators in rural community theatre. The organisation and performances I’m creating promote dialogue and local participation alongside professional representation to address the role of theatrical performance in shaping our culture. I’m looking at practical and participatory ways in real life contexts as well as dramatic representation to address how we deal with psycho-social dislocation in our environment. Working with other professionals the goal is to effectively communicate through theatrical representation to examine dysfunctional relationships and transform behavioural patterns through conscious performance.
The trilogy of performances will go from the individual to societal experiences by way of a Dantesque-like journey from urban isolation to reintegration and existential acceptance of personal responsibility for community, culture and environment. I’m not a prophet but trying to create performances as a rehearsal for life. These are works designed to reengage our creative and childlike imagination using theatrical practices from Aristotelian dramatic practices to Shakespearean soliloquy to post Beckettian theatrical practices where theatre plays an active role in shaping society. I’m concerned about the role of technology as a means of speaking truth to power by virtue of its omnipotent presence in capturing and controlling our actions. On our mulit-media world stage our attachment to technology is effectively replacing rather than representing humanity while theatre is about making our presence felt through the collective unconscious transformed by the theatrical gathering.
The pieces come together in a non-linear narrative moving from dramatic techniques and influence to postdramatic transparency examing the creative editing process of the leisure industry using multi-disciplinary performing arts and multi-media, to the rawer documentary style theatre back towards community theatrical performance as a rehearsal for life and active participation. The aim is to preserve and perpetuate theatrical storytelling practices and active participation by many rather than fewer people on stage due to technology and economic circumstances.
It's a never-ending process of discovery throughout life and despite the dis-ease we feel at times within ourselves and the lack of support and funding that seems to block our way, there's our indomitable will to survive and passion to live life free from the shackles of our culture and society, which is as ephemerally brief as our ideas of how to be. Be in the moment, be in the mystery of existence and beauty of being.
In the virtual words of Stephan Hawking or his representation in The Theory of Everything “While there is life there is hope. I beg to assert...that as long as a man's heart beats, as long as a man's flesh quivers, I do not allow that a being gifted with thought and will can allow himself to despair.”
― Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Cultural Rights in Ireland:
A Joint submission to ICESCR: Equality and Rights Alliance and Blue Drum
Article 15 of the ICESCR sets out States Parties obligations regarding cultural rights: 1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone:
(a) To take part in cultural life;
(b) To enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications;
(c) To benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any
scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
The Irish State’s third periodic report under ICESCR usefully focuses on work being done across various public sector bodies in pursuance of these rights to promote respect for cultural diversity and the identities of minority ethnic groups (including Travellers) and migrants. However, investment in any form of integration strategy based on such respect has ceased over recent years. Beyond this narrow, albeit important, focus on respect for the cultural diversity of minority ethnic groups, the Government report uses a narrow interpretation of cultural rights. It limits those rights to the consumption of and access to cultural products (arts and cultural events, libraries etc). This is an inadequate understanding of the breadth of the right to ‘take part in cultural life’ and highlights the need for a systemic shift in mind in State thinking that the arts can be a significant place where some individuals and communities discover a place to participate meaningfully in society.
The UN Committee on ESC rights, following deliberations on the scope and meaning of “cultural life” in Art 15, concluded : “Culture is no longer an expression of knowledge or demand for recreational activities as consumer goods, but reflects a way of being and feeling, in short, the community’s way of life and thought.”1 Article 15 must also be read with reference to Article 1 of ICESCR which states that “all peoples have the right of self- determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” The concept of ‘self-determination’ is an important element in promoting, respecting and fulfilling cultural rights. Self- determination focuses on the capability to have agency over the creation and production in one’s cultural life rather than just consumption. It raises the issue of having the capability to directly shape the way one takes part in cultural life.
Within the restricted focus on cultural rights, adopted at national level, important questions arise; who is ‘culture’ for? What groups create culture and participate in cultural life? All the evidence presents a stark picture of significant barriers to participation for disadvantaged groups and a failure to remove these barriers.
1 E/C.12/1992/SR.17, General Discussion on the Right to Take Part in Cultural Life as recognized in Article 15 of the Covenant, 11 December 1992
Two seminal national reports on access to the arts and culture in Ireland were published in 2007 and 2008.2 A key finding from the 2008 study was that people with lower educational attainment and from lower socio-economic groups are “many times less likely” to participate in arts and cultural events in Ireland than people from higher socio-economic groups, despite equivalent levels of interest across groups (inclusive of events perceived as ‘high-arts’ and as well as more mainstream such as film and music).3 The 2007 study raised important questions regarding the lack of available data on the allocation of exchequer funding to address cultural inclusion and a lack of data to determine whether the spend in this regard was effective. The report notes: “Apart from not knowing even in broad terms the relative sums of public money allocated to cultural inclusion, there is also extremely limited evidence relating to the impact of such funding.”4
The main funding source for the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is the revenue raised by the National Lottery.5 National Lottery funding also provides about 90% of State funding to the Irish Arts Council. Lottery revenue is gathered disproportionately from lower socio-economic groups. From the available data it is almost certain that the substantial public money spent on the arts is regressive meaning it is a transfer of resources from the less well off to the better well off.
The dominant arts and culture discourse and State-supported practice largely excludes disadvantaged and marginalised communities and is seen by those communities as having little relevance to their lives. 6 This results in a denial of cultural rights for these communities and groups in Irish society. The Government must therefore address how it has committed resources to stimulating and supporting an arts and culture discourse and practice that includes marginalised communities, that engages the creativity of these communinities, and that enables these communities to have control over how they participate in cultural life. This has not been addressed in the Irish State’s third periodic report under ICESCR.
Community arts in Ireland are now a well-established and growing aspect of EU and global cultural life, reflecting an increasing concern about inclusiveness and equality. While there is a wide diversity of understanding of this term, in the public and voluntary sector it is understood as working with others (artists and non-artists) to bring about social and cultural change. Community arts have a key role in empowering and recognising the capacity of people to create wider and deeper well being. It is about supporting communities to express and explore their situation collectively.
During the 1980s and 1990s community arts practice evolved in areas of disadvantage through: youth services, the Community Development Programme, family supports, and the Drugs Task Force. In the early 1990s, the Combat Poverty Agency integrated community arts practice and developed imaginative and wide-ranging policies and programmes to address poverty at local, regional and national level. However, these areas have seen significant cuts in recent years. This has diminished the practice of community arts and served as a barrier to these communities exercising their cultural rights. The funding to the Community
2 Lunn and Kelly (2008) “In the Frame or Out of the Picture: A Statistical Analysis of Public Involvement in the Arts” commissioned by the ESRI. And National Economic and Social Forum- NESF (2007) “The Arts, Cultural Inclusion and Social Cohesion” . NESF report No. 35: Dublin
3 IBID pg 13
4 NESF (2007) op cit pg x
5 Irish Government. December 2013.Revised Estimates for Public Expenditure. Dublin: The Stationary Office p. 228, Appendix 1
6 See for instance the Witness Statements to the Dáil Committee on Utilising the Arts to Combat Disadvantage (2012). For example,
swathes of our society do not engage because they do not believe that they have a right to the State’s resources.” (Quote by Liz Meaney,
Arts Officer, Cork City Council).
Development Programme has been reduced by 35%; from €84.7million in 2008 to €55.3million in 2012. The Family Resource Centres are funded through the Family Support Agency, which has seen its budget reduced by 17%; from €36 million in 2008 to €29.8 million in 2012.7 Youth services that deliver significant cultural work to disadvantaged young people have also been cut by 33% since 2008.8 It should be pointed out that these cuts are disproportionate when compared to cutbacks in the wider public sector. At local government level, while the existence of local arts officers and arts centres has the potential to widen access to the arts, the data show that awareness is also heavily skewed towards those in more advantaged groups.9 Hence, at present, these components of the arts infrastructure reflect, rather than counter, the bias towards the better-off.
Despite the level of informal support, community arts have not been adopted as a domain for policy in Ireland. To this end the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Arts Council have taken no positive actions to combat disadvantage in the Arts. It has blocked any attempt to adopt this practice in its policy. There is an absence of a nationally coordinated response to policy-making or resource allocation to supporting and developing the practice of community arts and the realisation of cultural rights of communities. The current Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has stated that “much of the programmes aimed at community arts fall outside the remit of this Department and the Arts Council.”10
Community arts remains marginalised within the mainstream institutions for arts and culture. It remains excluded from the mainstream resource channels for arts and culture. There is no human rights and equality proofing mechanism applied to policy or the allocation of resources by public bodies (including, for example, the Arts Council and local authorities) that control the development and resourcing of culture and the arts at national and local level. While a dedicated Dail Committee on Utilising the Arts to Combat Disadvantage sat in 2012, to-date no report has issued.11 The distance then, and now, between aspiration and action is unacceptable.12
We contest the fitness of our cultural system for action in the area of utilising the arts to combat disadvantage; there are systemic problems with the way arts funding is delivered at Department of Arts, Arts Council and Local Authority levels.
Cultural rights are denied to the most marginalised and disadvantaged groups in Irish society;
Barriers to access arts and culture as consumers are significant and have not been addressed;
The opportunity to create arts and culture has been limited, and to better resourced groups and communities, and is increasingly restricted;
7 Harvey, Brian (2012) “ Downsizing the Community Sector: Changes in employment and services in
the voluntary and community sector in Ireland, 2008-2012” for the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Dublin. pg 12
8 National Youth Council of Ireland (October 2013) Budget 2014:“Further Hardship for Young People. Post Budget Analysis. Comhairle Náisiúnta na nÓg: Dublin p. 3.
9 NESF and ESRI (February 2008) In the Frame Out of the Picture Seminar Report. Dublin: NESF pp. 11,25. available to download here: //files.nesc.ie/nesf_archive/nesf_seminar_series/NESF_seminar_report_1.pdf
10 Letter from Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Mr Deenihan TD, to community arts organisation Blue Drum dated 4 March 2014 in response to the Community Culture Strategy, which looked to renew, refresh and reinvent Community Arts. The full strategy is available to download here http://issuu.com/bluedrum/docs/pamphlet_10_community_culture (Accessed 10 June 2014.)
11 As of June 2014
12 Submission by Blue Drum Community Art project to the Oireachtas Committee on Arts and Disadvantage 2012
Community arts practice has been marginalised and remains without resources and without a policy framework;
Public bodies with responsibility for arts and culture need to apply equality and human rights impact assessments in their policy-making and resource allocation;
The Irish Government must reinvest in locally based community initiatives that provide the key settings for community arts practice and reverse the cuts in funding that have compromised Family Support, Local Development and Youth Service programmes.
My love story
I see so little of love nowadays,
I need to go retrace my ways
My magic and romance.
Less morose or melancholy,
Or fear to enter the fray
And say in a peaceful way
I believe our fated love story
In mind and body.
Love should still be something sacred,
Something more spiritual than real,
That I cannot quite capture, only know,
Only feel with every beat of my heart,
Every breath I take,
Every look upon the creation
Curled up in bed
Like a fairy.
I once upon a time found
sleeping next to me who I awoke
From some romantic dream
Who so softly spoke and disappeared
before it could be captured
I search the sheets in vain
Still feel now the pain
Cheated many times
By the loveless features of my age
Still seeking creature comfort
Like some lonely girl or boy
To fill this lovelorn page
With the hope and joy
to awake one day
My dream to stay
The poem I wrote yesterday doesn’t seem so great the next and perhaps that’s a natural reaction when the intensity is no longer there. It can be improved and I hope it will be over the coming days.
I woke at 4am this morning because it was cold so I got up and made myself some Ovaltine, gave a drop of warm milk to the cat, went back to bed and read the introduction by John Guest on the life and works of Oscar Wilde. I sometimes think that we bring about our own destruction and perhaps we need to fall for others to rise. There certainly can be no level playing field in a society with so much disparity.
I think we are entering into a new age of decadence only rather than the individual attitude and aesthetic movement that formed around Oscar Wilde with its excesses I think we need or should I say I need to move towards a larger measure of self control, frugality and socialism not merely because economic circumstances requires it but because it is the right thing to do.
In Wilde’s restless times there was a growing sense of individual freedom and responsibility but according to Guest it seemed couple with a recklessness, not in keeping with Victorian morality however hypocritical it may have been with its laissez faire standards leading to the mechanisation of Britain at the expense of the poor and working classes.
The part I find interesting in this introduction is that ‘Imagination, fantasy and romanticism, which had been restricted from excess by the decorous tone of the previous period, took their head, and a new aestheticism, claiming to be a law unto itself, sallied forth unhampered by moral restrictions. ‘Beauty had existed long before 1880’, wrote Max Beerbohm. ‘It was Mr. Oscar Wilde who managed her debut[…] Wilde was the focus point of a spirit, ready and anxious for release, rather than a prophet in a hostile land. In leading the dangerous way toward new experiments, he had no lack of applause.
Throughout his writings one finds rapier thrusts at established codes of thought and behaviour: ‘There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all’; ‘The first duty in life is to as artificial as possible’; ‘I can sympathise with everything except suffering’. […] There was an underlying seriousness of purpose but his own decadence or moral falling off led to his critique of society to also being rejected. His own artistic or personal lust for experience went beyond the limits: ‘sensation is no sooner satisfied than stranger and rarer fruits are demanded to stimulate the jaded palate.’
The party was over and the individual held accountable was in jail.
Despite Wilde’s own belief that ‘an artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them’ he would perhaps have avoided censure if he had curbed his aesthetic life in accordance with what undoubtedly rings through in his social satire.
It is hard to know what is the most effective way to communicate with the masses but I personally believe I must live the kind of life I’d like others to emulate and that must be a life that is not artificial but sincerely reflected in one's work.
It occurred to me that I should perhaps volunteer to give an online course in the art of storytelling on our local radio so that among other things to activate my activism in the community this year.