“All the churches were shouting at each other in different languages”.
This quote from Michael Harding and Pat McCabe was part of their conversation at the Irish Writers Centre. Both writers agreed on the significance of the various churches and religions in crafting the literary tradition of counties Cavan and Monaghan
This gem among others peppered a thought provoking and skilfully conducted interview by Philip Doherty at the Irish Writers Centre as part of the Looking for the Right Word event. The diversity of religious belief in the border counties, the origins of the peoples who have settled in the area and the way Irish and English became enmeshed has provided rich pickings for past and current crops of literary talent.
Harding spoke about the influence of the language and dialect in particular the French influence on Middle and Early Modern English and the power of Shakespeare over our writers. Harding, Doherty and Mc Cabe referenced the importance of Tom Mac Intyre to our theatrical reputation and spoke of the influence of contemporaries Shane Connaughton, Noel Monahan, John Mc Manus and the late Dermot Healy and their contributions to film, poetry, theatre and the novel. Theatricality in Cavan writing was to the fore and included mention of Livin Dred’s Padraic Mc Intyre and the actors Aaron Monaghan and Derbhle Crotty. These musings by the distinguished writers were part of an extraordinary night of emerging and established talent from Cavan. Three writers Sandra Hales, Maura Moloney and Eilish Beglan members of the Brian Leyden ‘writing for radio workshop’ entertained the audience with witty and dramatic vignettes.
Heather Brett, poet, co-editor of Windows Publications and consummate Master of Ceremonies continued the Window Motto of “the business of encouragement” introducing the new voices including: Patricia Doole, Antoinette Rock, Audrey Hayes, Declan Collinge, Margo Gorman, Geri Schear and Carmen Cullen.
Kate Ennals from At the Edge and Freda Donoghue from Ramor Writers groups shared short stories. The evening was curated by Kate Cunningham from The Irish Writers Centre. The Director Valerie Bistany, spoke about the Centre’s work in Cavan to support the needs of writers at all stages of their career.
Catriona O Reilly, arts officer referenced Tom Mac Intyre who credits the haunted lakes of Cavan for the abundance of writers in the county. She said “I can imagine no better way to finish this marvellous celebration of Cavan writing and to calm the ghosts back to the lakes of Cavan than a performance by The Strypes”. The Cavan band brought the evening to a close with a suitably haunting performance of musicianship and vocal magic.