Interview with Rosie McGurran

Cover image ‘The Black faced lamb’ by Rosie McGurran

 

Rosie McGurran is a painter who lives and works in the village of Roundstone in Connemara. Originally from Belfast, Rosie studied fine art at the University of Ulster. She has received many awards including the Conor prize for figurative painting at the Royal Ulster Academy of which she is now a member. Rosie has her own gallery in Roundstone ‘The Northern Star.’ I met up with her recently to talk about her work and her practices.

 

 

Why did you decide to live in Roundstone?

I was always fascinated by the light and landscape of Roundstone. I was invited to the Arts Week residency in 2000 and I decided to stay to see what it was like in the Winter.  Twelve years later and I’m still here. I was also aware of the legacy of all the artists who had spent time in Roundstone in the past and I wanted to find out more.

 

 

What are your favourite subjects? What do you paint?

My main focus in on people, I like to tell stories in the work and set the figures in the local landscape like a parallel world that we can’t see all the time.

 

'Blue faced doll' by Rosie McGurran

 ‘Blue faced doll’ by Rosie McGurran

 

 

 

Where do you get your inspiration? What other artists have influenced you?

When I was at art college I was primarily interested in painting the human figure, I also had a strong idea that I wanted to create a figurative language that was not quite literal or totally realistic. I was influenced by Stanley Spencer at that time and the Glasgow painters of the 80’s/90’s.

 

 

Do you see your work as autobiographical at all?

There is a definite autobiographical thread to my work. I use elements of things I see every day. Sometimes I have a very strong idea of what it means, sometimes I have no idea. I think it is important for me not to over explain the work as the act of making it is explanation enough.

 

Photo of Rosie

 Rosie with one of her paintings

 

 

 

What mediums do you use?

I work in acrylic on canvas, pastel, watercolour and charcoal, not all at once though. I love drawing – it is my favourite way of working. I always work on a dark surface, I paint on a very dark red canvas, it makes the colours more vibrant. When drawing, I work on brown paper – I enjoy drawing the images out of the darkness.

 

 

What themes crop up in your work? Do these themes re-occur?

Recent recurring themes would be the sea and the landscape, water has always been a strong theme. I love the sea and I don’t like being away from it.

 

'Spring - Inishlacken' by Rosie McGurran

‘Spring Inishlacken’ by Rosie McGurran 

 

 

 

What are you reading, looking at or listening to at the moment to feed your work?

I have just finished reading ‘Art in America’ by Ron McLarty – it is a hilarious story about an unpublished writer who ends up in the depths of the Mid-West trying to write a play. I listen to BBC Radio 4 constantly – I enjoy the arts coverage and the documentaries and plays. I saw a lot of art recently in New York and I went to see the Government collection in the Ulster Museum in Belfast last week. That was an amazing exhibition, a mixture of traditional painting and contemporary art – it was probably one of the most inspirational shows I have seen.

 

 

Where do you work and how do you make the space work for you?

I work in my studio at home, it is very private and the phone doesn’t work so I can really shut myself away. I need plenty of space and I use a large piece of glass as a palette and set out the colours in sequence. When I finish a body of work I scrub down the palette to start again fresh.

 

 

What are you working on at the moment? Are you involved in any upcoming shows or events?

At present I am working towards an exhibition with Gavin Lavelle for Bog Week in Letterfrack. I will also be showing in Clifden Arts Week. I am hosting an exhibition by Margared Iriwin as part of the Bealtaine Festival in May. Also I will be holding the Inishlacken Project residency in June. In November I am going to Rome to spend six weeks preparing a solo exhibition.

 

 

 

What is the best piece of advice you have been given? What advice would you give to an aspiring painter?

The best piece of advice I was given – someone once told me if you don’t get out of bed in the morning and go in to your studio no one will care. It is your own personal responsibility to make the work and I would tell any aspiring artist that.

 

The Dash

Spring might just be on it’s way after all. We’ve had a whole week of dry weather which is very welcome indeed after all the rain we’ve been having since Christmas. Although it is very cold ( oh yes that wind can slice the skin ) it is a tonic to have clear blue skies overhead and to feel the sun again. My garden is slowly beginning to recover and harden from the sludgy waste ground it had become. There are spots of colour too reaching out in the few daffodils forgotten since last year and the bursts of new growth by the roadside. Every bit of this is long awaited, long earned.

I came across a poem which expresses this beautifully. It is called ‘The Dash’ and it is written by Kathleen Jamie whose book ‘The Overhaul‘ was shortlisted for this years Costa Book awards. Kathleen is from the West of Scotland and her work has been honoured with many awards throughout her career. ‘The Overhaul’ is a collection of poems which seem to breathe the landscape where Kathleen is from. There is an engaging use of Scots speech in her poetry, much of which has similarities to gaelic and this gives the writing warmth and musicality. There are many similarities between Scotland and Connemara – the wildness and the ferocity of nature’s relationship with the land and the gentleness of it too – the beauty of the everyday and all it’s treasures.

 

 

 

The Dash

 

 

Every mid-February

those first days arrive

when the sun rises

higher than the Black

Hill at last. Brightness

and a crazy breeze

course from the same airt –

turned clods gleam, the trees’

topmost branches bend

shivering downwind.

They chase, this lithe pair

out of the far south

west, and though scalding

to our wintered eyes

look; we cry, it’s here

 

 

Kathleen Jamie

 

 

Image of Hawthorn by the roadside by Deborah Watkins

It’s a Hens Life

This post was inspired by fellow blogger, musician and writer Robin McArthur who recently invited me to send some pictures of my hen house for her blog. Well that just got me thinking about my own hens and how much I value them.

We decided to get some hens three years ago this Summer. It was something I’d hankered after for a while, inspired in part by stories about my Great Aunt Rita and her brood of hens in inner city Dublin a generation ago. She would invite her nieces and nephews to put cocoa in the hen food on Easter Saturday which miraculously turned into chocolate eggs for Easter Sunday, a treasured memory of my mothers. These hens would have been more than a fancy, they would have provided food for the table – breakfasts and suppers and supplies for baking. This lady made a wonderful Buttermilk cake with egg which my mother and I make regularly today – I think of Rita when I make it myself.

 

Bottoms up!

Bottoms up girls!

 

 

 

There is something important about these simple values – good husbandry and good housekeeping that we are beginning to return to. The pleasure that these productive creatures bring is hard to quantify.

Getting started does involve some work however and some investment. You will need a secure coop with nesting boxes and a safe run for your hens to exercise. Our hen house was a gift from my Dad. It’s a very handsome one and suitable for up to six hens.

 

Winter coop

Our coop with three hens – ‘Pip,’ ‘Cocoa’ and ‘Muffin’

 

 

 

We started off with two Rhode Island Reds which we were told are the best layers. We reckoned two hens would provide ample eggs for our family’s needs. I had been advised that having too many hens and therefore a lot of eggs is a consideration since you then have to then decide what to do with the surplus. If you have lots of family and friends who would welcome the eggs on a regular basis then this might not be an issue but the eggs still have to be collected and delivered. Once your coop and run are secure, the main threat to your hens is human error. I learnt this the hard way when I left the coop open for the first time in almost two years and the fox took both hens overnight. I’d been in Galway for the day and came home late, forgot to assign the job to another family member and forgot to check myself. I thought that this was just very bad luck but an expert later told me that the fox most likely goes round all the gardens every night. One error is all it takes for a happy fox and a very unhappy hen owner.

After a suitable mourning period ( we have three young daughters ) we decided to get three hens, one for each girl, which they chose themselves. This new brood consists of two Rhode Island Reds and one Bluebell. The Bluebell doesn’t lay as frequently as the Reds who produce one egg each every day but I believe that her laying life will be longer so she will be productive for more than two years. It’s an impressive production and something I feel grateful for on a daily basis – such hardworking girls! If your hens are happy, well fed and have as much roaming around room as possible, they will lay well. They need a bit of extra care over the Winter ( as do we all ) and so you need to make sure they are reasonably warm in low temperatures. I line the coop with cardboard and put a thermal picnic blanket and an old carpet over the top of the house for insulation.

I am the chief hen caretaker in our family and taking care of them is now a part of my daily routine. It takes me less than ten minutes in the morning to let them out, clean out the coop and put out enough food and water for the day. I usually check up on them during the day and I lock them up in the evening  – they can’t see in the dark so they usually make their way in themselves at dusk. I simply could not recommend this way of life enough and apart from the trauma of losing them to the fox ( may you learn by my mistakes! ) I cannot think of a single reason not to have hens. Did I mention that they make excellent models for painting?

 

second hen - third stage

 

Hen painting in progress

 

 

 

I leave you with my Aunt Rita’s recipe which is especially nice on the day it is baked with butter and hot tea.

 

 

Rita’s Buttermilk Cake

2 Breakfast cups Flour

2 oz margarine

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bread soda

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup sugar

fruit ( a generous handfull of raisins )

1 egg

8 fl oz Buttermilk or sour milk

 

Sieve flour into a bowl. Add baking powder, bread soda and salt. Rub in margarine. Then add sugar and fruit. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with the buttermilk. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients with enough milk to make a stiff batter. Pour into a greased tin ( I prefer a large loaf tin – my Mum likes to use an 8″ cake tin ) and leave for 15 mins before putting into a moderate oven ( 170 degrees ) for 45 mins. You’ll know it’s cooked when it becomes a warm golden brown colour and the base should sound hollow when you turn it out.

 

Irish Folk Furniture

 

This beautiful Irish film is debuting at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and is available to watch on YouTube. It’s an animated documentary short directed by Tony Donoghue and was it funded by the Irish Film Board, RTE and the Arts Council. It charts the restoration of sixteen pieces of traditional Irish furniture from the forgotten dusty corners of old sheds back into the homes where they once held pride of place. The film which runs just under nine minutes, took three years to make – the furniture took several months to dry out before it could be worked on and the outdoor animation was often problematic due to the vagaries of the Irish weather.

In an interview ‘Road to Sundance 2013,’ Donoghue described the film as a piece of ‘pro furniture propaganda: an attempt to show the beauty and social significance of this rural furniture’. He talks about the inspiration for the film as the desire to investigate the discarding of furniture that had been part of families for up to 150 years. He found that there is a strong historical association between these old pieces and general hard times but he also talks about the love of the people and their stories – ‘ I was shocked by the beauty of the personal histories associated with every single item.’

It’s a gem of a film and lets hope it gets the success it deserves at Sundance.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrfDAIqn6KE

 

 

Proserpina

Cover image ‘Proserpine’ by Dante Gabriel Rosetti taken from Lankaart

 

 

I came across this song recently and loved the story behind it. ‘Proserpina’ was written by the late Kate McGarrigle and is performed by her daughter Martha Wainwright. It recalls the ancient Roman myth which tells of the birth of Winter.

One day when Proserpina, the daughter of Ceres – the Goddess of agriculture – was gathering flowers, she was abducted by Pluto, God of the Underworld and carried off to his kingdom. Ceres was consumed with grief and in her anger she scorched the earth, rendering the seeds useless and preventing new growth. Jupiter was forced to intervene and negotiate a compromise. He proposed that as long as Proserpina had not eaten anything while in the Underworld, then she would be set free. Pluto had however offered her part of a pomegranate, which she accepted. She could not be released but an agreement was reached whereby she would spend part of the year in the Underworld  ( Winter ) and part of the year with her mother ( Summer ). When Proserpina is with Pluto the earth is cold and barren and when she returns to her mother, Ceres enriches the earth with her blessings of warmth and growth to welcome her beloved daughter home.

I love the romance of this story and the notion of the forces of nature as the will of the Gods, cursing and charming the Earth with their powers. It’s a soft wrath we have here in Connemara compared to other climates and what a lovely thought it is to imagine the rain as the lament of Ceres as so beautifully portrayed in this song.

 

 

 

 

 

Proserpina

 

Proserpina, Proserpina, come home to momma, come home to momma

Proserpina, Proserpina, come home to mother, come home to momma now

I shall punish the Earth, I shall turn down the heat

I shall take away every morsel to eat

I shall turn every field into stone

Where I walk crying alone

 

Crying for

Proserpina, Proserpina, come home to momma, come home to momma now

Proserpina, Proserpina go home to your mother, go home to Hera

Proserpina, Proserpina go home to your mother, go home to Hera now

She has punished the Earth, she has turned down the heat

She has taken away every morsel to eat

She has turned every field into stone

Where she walks crying alone

 

Crying for

Proserpina, Proserpina, come home to momma, come home to momma

Proserpina, Proserprina, come home to momma, come home to momma now

She has turned every field into stone

Where she walks crying alone

Proserpina, Proserpina, come home to momma, come home to momma

Proserpina, Proserpina, come home to momma, come home to momma now

 

Kate McGarrigle ( 1946 – 2010 )

 

 

 

Stratton Mountain Tragedy

Cover image ‘Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening’ by Follow The Raven 

 

I’ve been thinking about including this song somewhere on the blog for quite a while. It’s based on a poem written by Seba Smith in 1843 and collected by Helen Hartness Flanders in the 1930’s. I came to know it when I discovered the writing and music of Robin McArthur and I never fail to be touched by the words. It seems to me to be a fitting piece to include here on the brink of Christmas as a tale of love and loss and ultimately survival in Wintertime.

It’s a true story about a woman called Lucy Blake and her daughter Rebecca who got lost on Stratton Mountain in Vermont during a snowstorm in 1821. Writer and musician Robin McArthur is also a native of Vermont and she and her husband Tyler Gibbons form the band ‘Red Heart the Ticker.’ They have recorded ‘Stratton Mountain Tragedy’ in their album ‘Your name in Secret I would Write’. In an article in the arts website ‘Gwarlingo‘, Robin tells how she sang this song at the Marlboro historical society and how people there contributed their knowledge of the story. One woman said that every Spring she visits the cemetery where Lucy Blake is buried and noticed there was a red rose on her grave. She later found out that Lucy Blake’s ancestor still lives in town and puts a rose on the grave every Mothers day. Extraordinary how history can be brought to life and made real again through story and song – words and music connecting people through time and across generations.

These are the words.

 

 

Stratton Mountain Tradgedy

 

Cold was the mountain’s height

Drear was the pasture wild

As through the darkness of the night

A mother wandered with her child

As through the drifting snow she pressed

The babe was sleeping ‘neath her breast.

 

Bitter blew the chilly winds

Darker hours of night came on

Deeper grew the drifting snow

Her limbs were chilled, her strength was gone

‘Oh God,’ she cried in accents wild

‘If I must perish, save my child’

 

She took the mantle from her breast

Bared her bosom to the storm

As round the babe she wrapped the vest

She smiled to think that it was warm

One cold kiss, one tear she shed

And sank into that snowy bed

 

A stranger passing by next day

Spied her ‘neath the snowy veil

The frost of death was in her eye

Her cheek was hard and cold and pale

He took the robe from off the child

The babe looked up and sweetly smiled.

 

Seba Smith ( 1792 – 1868 )

 

 

Click on this link below to hear the song.

 

 

Stratton Mountain Tragedy’ by Red Heart The Ticker

 

 

I wish you all a happy and a peaceful Christmas and I’ll be back to you again sometime in January.

Deborah

Other Landscapes

I’ve just bought a book by poet Bruce Snider based on a couple of poems by him that I discovered on the Gwarlingo website. The thing that drew me to them straight away were the vivid descriptions of his hometown of Paradise, Indiana. I was struck by the way he uses landscape as a means of expression and also as a powerful kind of grounding force to that expression. The poems are rich with descriptions of the land, it’s trees and highways, ditches and rivers and these are woven with moments from the past so that somehow he makes these intensely personal experiences into something more accessible, something more universal that we can all understand.

The suicide of the writers cousin ‘Nick’ is at the centre of the collection, simply titled ‘Paradise, Indiana’ but the poems are never indulgent or sentimental. He manages to convey the weight of human grief and loss in a few carefully chosen words that create vivid flashes of imagery, his landscape acting as a kind of compass for memory as he seeks to make sense of the inexplicable.

I especially like this one, called ‘Epitaph’. The images are by Connemara based photographer and hill walking guide Inez Streefkerk.

 

 

Epitaph

 

Because I could be written anywhere,

I loved the hard surface of the blade,

my name carved into barn doors, desktops,

the peeled face of a shag-bark hickory.

I pressed my whole weight into it, letters

 

grooved deep as the empty

field rows along Tri-Lakes* where I’d seen

my cousin Nick buried in ground so hard

they had to heat the dirt with lamps

before they could dig. I gutted squirrels

 

my grandmother fried, hanging

skins from the window,

and with the same knife gouged a B

at the base of the frozen creek bank,

the season breaking

 

like the rose our teacher, Miss Jane,

dipped in nitrogen so it would shatter.

There were more atoms, she claimed,

in the letter O, than people in the entire state.

I could feel God inside that letter,

 

the vast sky configured, buds scrawled

on the black limbs of trees.

Trucks carried spring feed down

Highway 9 as I wove through the headstones,

tracing names in the late frost,

 

looking for Nick’s plot

with the wax white roses,

his lucky fishing lure. I could sense

him down there, satin-lined,

curled like the six-toed cat

 

we’d found bloated in the creek, alive

with lice and maggots. Sometimes

I was sure I could hear him, restless,

waiting for me, the Wabash*

pushing its icy waters, my tongue

 

humming with the fizz. It never ended,

that stretch of road snaking back home

like an artery through my own heart

where an owl gripped a rat in its claw

over I-80*. I’d put my hands in my pockets

 

and walk, dreaming of the places I’d go,

the things I’d do, the dump rising

to meet me at the edge of town,

chrome bumpers twisted as the owner

himself, withered arm swinging a fist.

 

I waited for something to escape –

mouse darting from a glove box, oil

from a cracked sump. I could stand

on a crushed Chevy, feeling it all

thaw inside me: asphalt

 

and barbed wire, cows and steaming

pails of milk, even the graveyard

rising, new stones nursing old griefs,

slow bones and winter’s cherry trees

making their long walk to leaf.

 

taken from ‘Paradise, Indiana’ by Bruce Snider

 

Twisted Oak by Inez Streefkerk

 ‘Twisted Oak’ by Inez Streefkerk

Cover image ‘Birch Bark’ by Inez Streefkerk

 

 

*Tri-Lakes

*Wabash

* I-80

November

November is a difficult month. It’s the shock of losing the hour and the suddenness of it – it always feels more like losing two when overnight it’s dark at 6.00pm instead of 8.00pm. A sixth of the day gone, just like that, slipped out of the day and vanished into the blackness. I think the body reels from it for a while, misses the light without knowing what is the matter or what it is missing. It seems like a starker thing here in Connemara where nature is magnified; bigger spaces, bigger winds, giant silhouettes of mountains and grey days of rain in blustery torrents or invisible misty sheets. It’s taken me a long time to learn an acceptance of this and I have spent too much time resenting the end of the year and fighting the gloom of the approaching Winter with a grumble and a moan.

This changed for me after a trip to Brigit’s Garden just outside Galway city where I began to see the Winter garden sculpture (below) for what it is. This image of the sleeping woman is such a beautiful one. She is so peaceful looking and such a quiet, gentle figure in the space that you want to tiptoe around her for fear her slumber might be disturbed. Unexpectedly, it was she who woke me up to the reality of Winter as a necessary time in the cycle of the seasons. Just as we humans must sleep at the end of the day, the earth needs to rest and recover, to shed it’s leaves and all it’s colour and to sleep, so that it can prepare for new growth ahead. The secret for me was to see this changing time as a human form.

 

Winter garden sculpture in Brigits garden

 Image taken from Stream

 

 

Robert Frost has personified the gloominess we might feel at this time of year in his poem ‘My November Guest’ (below).

 

My November Guest

 

My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,

Thinks these dark days of autumn rain

Are beautiful as days can be;

She loves the bare, the withered tree;

She walks the sodden pasture land.

 

Her pleasure will not let me stay.

She talks and I am fain to list;

She’s glad the birds are gone away,

She’s glad her simple worsted gray

Is silver now with clinging mist.

 

The desolate, deserted trees,

The faded earth, the heavy sky,

The beauties she so truly sees,

She thinks I have no eye for these,

And vexes me for reasons why.

 

Not yesterday I learned to know

The love of bare November days

Before the coming of the snow,

But it were vain to tell her so,

And they are better for her praise.

 

Robert Frost ( 1874 – 1963 )

 

 

The humanising of sorrow in this poem lessens it. It is no longer an overwhelming feeling but a human being, a woman who has simply stepped in, although she is uninvited. Frost acknowledges her presence and by doing so he accepts these feelings while he tells of the beauty of Winter, the ‘faded earth’ and the silver ‘clinging mist’. It’s a struggle because she ‘vexes him for reasons why’ but he is listening and seeing nature’s beauty for himself, he has learned to ‘know the love of bare November days.’

As I think perhaps I have too.

 

 

Cover image is ‘Harsh Life’ by Inez Streefkerk

Sea Week Exhibition 2012

Letterfrack’s annual Sea Week  festival is underway. It’s an exciting programme of events – music workshops, conferences, walks and visual art all of which have the subject of the sea at their core. This annual celebration is running for many years now under the guidance and boundless energy of Leo Hallissey and it is always a welcome opportunity for the community to reflect on the gift of our natural surroundings here in Connemara. Last Saturday night, I went along to the opening of the Small Works exhibition taking place in the Connemara National Park. This year the theme is the ‘Island’ and this exhibition is a collective whereby artists who are living and working in the area are invited to participate. The really interesting thing about this show is that everyone presents their work anonymously. In this way, established artists ( some known on an international scale ) are shown alongside much lesser known artists and the viewer is invited to see each piece on it’s own merit, without partiality or bias. Another distinctive feature of the show is the prices – everything on view is for sale at the agreed price of  €90.00 unframed or  €130.00 framed. This idea of bringing art to the people by making it affordable is supported by all of the artists who allow their work to be shown at a low value and it gives people here the opportunity to buy an original artwork, some perhaps for the first time. Leo introduced the show with this in mind and he spoke about it as a ‘hymn of hope and generosity’ and a ‘reclaiming of values’. These things are worthy of praise, what we are left with really after the shock of the last four years and the excess that went before it.

 

Where Sea meets Sky by Karina Heaslip

‘Where Sea meets Sky’ 

 

 

 

Music is always an important part of the evening and this year was no exception as we were treated to a number of tunes from young local musicians before Galway city arts officer James Harrold took the floor and officially opened the show. He spoke about the islands in terms of mythology and dreams, as symbols of life and interesting places to explore. He was full of praise for Letterfrack as a thriving community of artists and a place of enormous energy and diversity, characteristics which make this small place shine out among other larger western towns. He also spoke about our unique landscape and coastline, how privileged we are to have the sea at our side and how enriching this is for our community when so many counties are locked in by land.

 

Detritus of my Studio arranged as an island

‘Detritus of my studio arranged as an Island’

 

 

 

My own first impressions of the exhibition took account of the way it was presented and all credit to the meticulous eye of curator and artist David Keane and painter Mary Hession. The show has a real sense of cohesion in spite of the enormous variety of work and scale, framed and unframed pieces. I recognised some of the artists by their style of painting and drawing and in some cases by their chosen materials. However I was unable to pin down most of the pieces and I really enjoyed the sense of mystery that this brought about and the close examination of each piece that it prompted. I found it inspiring to see such a variety of responses to one theme, like a chorus of quiet separate voices singing together. Some of the pieces can be clearly read as island forms, other paintings suggest it with colours and other imagery. All of them made me look at my own work in a new way and question how I might explore new materials in the future.

 

Untitled by Alice Coyle

Untitled

 

 

Untitled by Colin O Daly

 Untitled

 

The artists participating in this exhibition are – Barrie Cooke, Margaret Egan, Bernie Dignam, Mary Donnelly, Debbie Watkins, Alice Coyle, Brigid Sealy, Laura Cull, Jill Scott, Angie Williams, Oilbhe Scanell, Gavin Lavelle, Margaret Irwin West, Tania Gray, Mary Hession, David Keane, Leah Beggs, Will O’Kane, Karina Heaslip and Dorothy Cross.

Don’t let this one pass you by, it’s well worth a visit and it runs till October 29th.

 

 

Cover image by David Keane

Blog Awards Ireland 2012

I attended the Grafton Media Blog Awards Ireland as a finalist last Saturday night – I drove up to Dublin on my own on Saturday morning (always  a bit of a treat to have free rein with the radio) and went along to the Osprey hotel in Naas with my parents that evening.

It was a great night and all down to the hard work of Lorna Sixsmith, Beatrice Whelan and Amanda Webb ( above ) and their team who put a lot in to this years awards and the event itself which was packed full of entertainment. We were directed to a beautifully decorated room – balloons aplenty and two giant screens at the front, with a live feed from twitter which was updated every few seconds. I was instructed to make my own name badge with the materials on the table – markers, glitzy stickers and stars while my Dad kindly went to the bar to furnish us with some alcoholic beverages to calm the nerves. A magician came to the table shortly afterwards to entertain us with some slight of hand tricks – this was a great icebreaker and really set the tone for the evening which was high spirits, celebration and fun!  I met a couple of bloggers at our table and got chatting with Holly from Holly’s Pantry ( who kindly took this photo of me and my parents below ) and a very nice couple from The Movie Blog.

 

Me with my parents at the Irish Blog Awards 2012

 

 

 

Kildare native Susan Boyle was MC for the evening and she got the ball rolling by announcing that we would get our starters after the first ten categories were read out, followed by the next ten and our dinner and so on until the whole thirty winners were awarded their prizes and everyone had been fed and watered. This turned out to be a very good arrangement and with just enough food to quell our appetites, a speedy succession of winners in between and some very speedy speeches. The arts and culture category was the first one to be awarded and I have to say that I was thrilled to be included with all of these finalists whose blogs are of a very high standard. All the names went up on a giant screen and were read out by Susan who then opened an envelope in Acadamy Awards style to announce the winner. I really was delighted that Built Dublin got this award, the best in the category in my opinion and truly deserved. The lifestyle category ( the second one my blog was included in as a finalist ) was read out later and went to A year in Redwood – again tough competition and although I was disappointed, it was a relief to be able to sit back and enjoy the rest of the evening.

So what now for this blogger? To be honest, I feel tired just at the moment as there has been a degree of pressure, knowing that my work has been under the eye of the judges since July this year. I need to take some time to find my feet again and perhaps at a slightly slower pace so that I can unwind over the winter and do some of the other things that I enjoy – knitting and sewing for example, meeting with friends and cooking. This stuff has been sorely neglected since the Summer along with my house which needs a good going over with the hoover and a duster!!

There’s no doubt that I have caught the bug however because blogging is now part of my life and something I genuinely enjoy. Onwards and upwards!

 

 

Cover photo taken by Damian Carroll of Cearbhuil Studios