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Sailing to St Macdara’s

03.06.2017

For the first time in our dubious existence, the Literary is actually on the coast. It’s a landmark, surely, and rather nice. There’s lots of seabirds and Irish foliage. Guinness is never more than a quarter-mile away.

Kate O’Brien once lived down the street, and her Farewell to Spain is a solid book, so we’re hoping for the best. Supposedly Sting lived there for a time as well, but we don’t think that means anything.

JM Synge (rhymes with Sting) traveled through here, back in 1905, and Padraig Pearse lived for a spell in a cottage just over the boggy horizon, as the chough flies.

Frank O’Connor never lived anywhere near here but the man is fantastic, and his An Only Child has been keeping us company at night. We’ve also been reading the likes of Seamus Heaney and Eamon Grennan, Brendan Behan and Edna O’Brien, none of whom ever lived here, though they might have, and Grennan could have been writing about it when he wrote (about somewhere else):

I would like to let things be:

The rain comes down on the roof
The small birds come to the feeder
The waves come slowly up the strand.

Three sounds to measure
My hour here at the window:
The slow swish of the sea
The squeak of hungry birds
The quick ticking of the rain.

Then of course there are the trees.
Bare for the most part.
The grass wide open to the rain
Clouds accumulating over the sea
The water rising and falling and rising
Herring-gulls bobbing on the water.

They are killing cuttlefish out there,
One at a time without fuss.
With a brisk little shake of the head
They rinse their lethal beaks.

Swollen by rain, the small stream
Twists between slippery rocks.
That’s all there’s to it, spilling
Its own sound onto the sand.

In one breath one wink all this
Melts to an element in my blood.
And still it’s possible to go on
Simply living
As if nothing had happened.

Nothing has happened:
Rain inching down the window,
Me looking out at the rain.

It’s true, nothing has happened, though we’re in a different place, and they kill lobster here instead of cuttlefish.

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