Roddy Doyle is an internationally bestselling writer and winner of the 1993 Booker Prize for the novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. His first three novels-The Commitments, The Snapper, and The Van-are known as The Barrytown Trilogy. Doyle will read from and sign his eagerly anticipated new novel The Dead Republic, the triumphant conclusion to the trilogy that includes A Star Called Henry and Oh, Play That Thing. Raucous, colorful, epic, and full of intrigue and incident, The Dead Republic is also a moving love story-the magnificent final act in the life of one of Roddy Doyle’s most unforgettable characters, Henry Smart.Roddy Doyle will be at the Tattered Cover Book Store 1628 16th Street Denver, CO 80202 (303-322-1965 ext: 2736 ) Monday May 10, 7:30 pm.The Celtic Connection”s Mary McWay Seaman interviewed Doyle by email in Ireland last month)Interview…MMS Congratulations on your new novel, The Dead Republic, the third of a trilogy. How did you decide to set Henry Smart up with legendary characters like John Ford and Henry Fonda on a California landscape?RD Thank you. As I was finishing the first volume, A Star Called Henry, I knew that Henry would be leaving Ireland and going to America, and I knew that I”d need an excuse to bring him back to Ireland, for the third volume, The Dead Republic.I”d read a biography of a veteran of the Irish War of Independence, called Ernie O”Malley. The biography included the fascinating, almost absurd, detail that O”Malley had assisted John Ford in the making of The Quiet Man, and was credited as the “IRA Consultant”. So, I thought, “I”ll make Henry the IRA consultant.” Then I had to come up with a way for them to meet. Ford made many films in the desert, so I sent Henry to the desert. MMS Have you ever personally suffered what Henry did by editorial attempts to sentimentalize some of your work? If so, how did you fight back?RD Never. MMS Please tell us a bit about your research in preparation for this book. RD A lot of reading ” biographies of Ford, Wayne and anyone who seemed close to Ford, books about the making of The Quiet Man ” anything at all that might give me a glimpse of the people or the weather or the setting, both in Los Angeles and Ireland. I stared at photographs, watched a lot of movies ” never a hardship. I researched and read as I wrote, added little details if I thought they”d add to the story. Henry returns to Ireland in the early “50s, and the closer he got to Dublin ” my home ” and my time ” I was born in 1958 ” the less research I had to do. He was wandering my streets ” and my head!MMS So many characters, so many backgrounds! How do you prepare for the assortment of voices and their testimonies? RD Again, reading helps, trying to find words that characters might have used in their own particular ways. For example, Henry meets Louis Armstrong in Oh Play That Thing, the second volume. Armstrong carried a typewriter everywhere he went, for years. He left behind two memoirs and thousands of letters. He used the word “nice” a lot. It”s usually a bland word but, in his hands and from his mouth, it was lively and funny. So, I took that word and made him use it in the novel. Getting to know the characters and their distinctive rhythms and words is a gradual process, and very slow at first, until I feel I know them. MMS Does the 1974 Dublin bombing act as a turning point? How was Henry changed other than physically? RD I suppose it is. Henry is caught in the bomb and its aftermath, and his name becomes public ” so the IRA finds him, and uses him for the rest of the book. Also, the bombs wakes him. He becomes aware again about the Troubles in the North, that there seems to be unfinished business, that the trouble didn”t end just because he left Ireland in 1922. MMS Has the Celtic Tiger bitten into Ireland”s strong regional and cultural differences? Please share some observations. RD I”m sick of even seeing the term “Celtic Tiger”, let alone thinking about it. That”s an honest observation, by the way. MMS Who are your favorite authors and why? What daily reading do you do? RD Dickens. I”ve been reading and re-reading his books every decade of my life, and they seem to get better. Philip Roth ” I love his anger and his brilliance, and he makes me laugh like no other writer has ever done. MMS Favorite music? Favorite food? Favorite drink? RD The last few days I”ve been listening to Joy Division, Galaxie 500, Gil Scott Heron, and an Icelandic composer, Johan Johannson. I don”t have a favourite food; it”s not something I get worked up about ” unless I”m hungry. A pint of Guinness, occasionally, and a cup of coffee, almost constantly. MMS Please tell us about your early education and how you came to be a writer. RD I don”t remember much about my early education. I was only a kid and I didn”t take notes. I started writing because I loved reading. MMS Favorite travel destination?RD I was in India earlier this year. I”ll go back. MMS Ireland is so different today from when I first visited in the 1980s. What is your favorite place in Ireland (besides home)?RD Dublin is the best place on Earth, and Ireland is lucky to have it. I like Wexford, in the south-east. It”s friendly, relatively rain-free ” and near Dublin.MMS It seems that Ireland”s privations of the past are completely lost on young people. Is this a good thing? RD I wouldn”t want to inflict privation on young people just because they”re young.MMS Do you think that former Irish rebels are still admired and revered as heroes? RD Yes. MMS What is your opinion on the decline of print media? Will it level off or continue to slide? RD I honestly don”t know the answer to this question. But my gut tells me it will level off. Too many people like the smell and the feel of books ” there”ll always be a market. MMS What differences do you notice between the Irish and the Americans? (cultural, social, philosophical ” that sort of thing.) RD Sorry, there are several books in this subject.MMS What are the best and worst parts of book tours? RD The best part is the reading events. The worst part is the almost daily early morning flights, and loneliness.THANK YOU!(from May 2020 Celtic Connection)
In 1995, Father John Pahls, an Episcopal priest, third-generation County El Paso native and a weaver, designed the pattern that became the Colorado Tartan. On January 1, 1997, the Scottish Register of Tartans accepted it as a “district” tartan that may be worn by any resident or friend of Colorado, whether or not of Celtic heritage; on March 3, 1997, the Colorado General Assembly passed a resolution adopting it as the official tartan of the State of Colorado and designated July 1 as Colorado Tartan Day. After passage of that resolution (making Colorado only the second state in the nation to have its own tartan), it was also registered with the International Association of Tartan Studies. Father Pahls was inspired by the colors of those things that are uniquely Colorado; the blue of the skies, the green of the pine and spruce trees, the lavender and white of the mountains and their snowcaps and the colors of the columbine. The gold represents the mineral wealth that helped build the state and red the sandstone soil and rocks that give the state its name. Even though the official State day is July 1, the Colorado Tartan Day Council, an auxiliary group of the St. Andrew Society has been observing it in the spring for the past eleven years to coincide with National Tartan day on April 6.This year, the celebration will be held on Saturday, April 10th from 9:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. in McIlvoy Park in Olde Town Arvada at Ralston Road and Upham Street where there will be performances by pipe bands, Mulligan Stew, the Rocky Mountain Highland Dancers, Moriarty/Moffit Irish Dancers, and the Ren-Scots and Castle Wall Productions, historical re-enactment groups. There will be booths with vendors offering Celtic merchandise including Thistle and Shamrock, Gilded Dragon and Calico Custom Jewelry, a magician, face painter, caricature artist and others. In addition to the Colorado Tartan, attendees will also be able to see the tartans of over 20 Scottish clans ranging from Clan Campbell to Clan Wallace at their booths.Other activities will include a Highland tea and silent auction in Bread Winners at 12:30 P.M. (rumor has it that the tea will be served by kilted-gentlemen”) and a tasting conducted by Master of Whisky Robert Sickler at 3:00 P.M.The evening will be capped off by dinner and a ceildh at the Arvada Elks Lodge just east of the Park with entertainment from Gobs O”Phun at 5:30 P.M., a kitchen pipe band competition at 7:00 P.M. and to wrap up the night, a grand set by Angus Mohr at 8:00.Admission to the park and activities there is free. Tickets will be required for the other events and may be purchased online at a discount from the price paid at the door for each event. Funds raised will be used to support the activities of the Colorado Tartan Day Council.For more information and to order tickets, please go to www.coloradotartanday.com .
“Fiery Scots”One of the best living examples of the humor, passion, and majesty that imbues Celtic music.” – Dirty Linen “Old Blind Dogs play with a compelling energy and intoxicating rhythm as players and audience seem to share a wild ecstasy of emotion,” -The Scotsman Celtic Events/Celtic Connection,Swallow Hill, and the Colorado Scottish Festival presents the OLD BLIND DOGSSat, June 26, 8 pm Show (7pm doors)Swallow Hill Music 71 East Yale Ave., Denver, CO 80210.Tickets $22 adv; $25 day of ($2 discount for Swallow Hill/Celtic Events Members)Since forming in the early 1990′s, the Old Blind Dogs have stood on the cutting edge of Scotland”s roots revival. The band has developed its own trademark style, with an energetic mix of songs and tunes. The only group to win ‘Folk Band of the Year’ twice at the BBC Scots Trad Music Awards, the Los Angeles Times has said “Old Blind Dogs bring freshness and color to acoustic music steeped in centuries of Scottish folklore and history.”The Dogs latest album ‘Four On The Floor’ also picked up the IAP ‘Best Celtic CD’ Award. Call Swallow Hill 303-777-1003 or Celtic Events 303-777-0502
by Susan HaroldIt would have been three years this July since I had traveled “home” to Ireland. Seeing the Aer Lingus ticket sale in the Denver Post one frosty winter Sunday Prompted me to once again travel toward the Isle of Tears, good Craic and precious friends.My plans were to circumvent the island starting in Dublin moving down to An Daingean, up to Westport, on to Convoy, then to Cushendall, Belfast and back to Dublin. Along the way I wanted to visit four places: Ceann Sle”, the Abbey Church on Clare Island (St Bridget”s Church to some), the North of Ireland where I have spent very little time in past travels, and The Hill of Tara. However, for this particular article I would like to focus on my visit to Cushendall and the Ballyeamon Camping Barn owned by storyteller Liz Weir.Pat McCullough introduced Liz and I through email and plans were set in place for me to spend four days at the Ballyeamon Camping Barn. Liz offered me the option of renting a separate room, which would allow more privacy and quiet. We made plans for her to meet me at the train station in Ballymena, Liz”s birthplace, and from there we would drive to the Barn. This would be my last full week in Ireland.After saying goodbye to my cara (friend) Sorcha in Convoy, who happens to be Mick Bolgers (Colorado band Colocannon/Irish language instructor) sister, I headed by bus to Derry to catch the train to Ballymena. The stop in Derry was a bit tense because I could not get a straight answer about the connecting bus to the train station. The fun part while anxiously waiting was watching all of the uniformed students coming from school and going directly to the snack bar for munchies. They had that end of a long day look: Shirts were un-tucked, shoes scuffed, and hair all askew. The students use the city buses, which scatter in all directions in and around Derry delivering precious cargo when school is out for the day. Relieved to see the correct bus appear I was happy to be on the move once again. The train station was just over the bridge much to my surprise but too far to walk with heavy suitcase and aimsir ceobhr”nach (drizzly weather).This leg of the trip was uneventful and go h”lainn (beautiful). The train tracks run along the sea for many miles and signs inside the train suggest we travelers watch for different kinds of birds and waterfowl. The trains also allow space for people in wheelchairs and they were being used. As we chugged along the late afternoon light softened the landscape and seascape. Clouds of white changed to pale blues and pinks that reflected in the water. It was lovely to watch evening come. I was happy I had chosen the train for this part of the journey and would recommend the trip. Liz was waiting at the station in Ballymena as she said she would be. By now it is dark and snowing. She immediately whisks me off to a writing workshop she is facilitating. I am happy to say I learned new ways of approaching writing and how to develop ideas. The students were all veterans of the class except for two, a mother and daughter, and all were serious about improving their writing skills. After the rang (class) we drove toward Ballyeamon Camping Barn. The snow continued to fall but the gritters had been out clearing the roads making for a safer journey. By the time we arrived the sky had cleared and we could see the realta” (stars). The air in the hills was crisp. We breathed deep before going inside. Liz showed me to my abode, introduced me to her barn manager and said she would be very busy that week. I would see little of her for the next tr” days. We were by then very tired and made short the conversation.On Tuesday maidin (morning) I awakened to a clear view of the Antrim mountains surrounded by the Glenariff National Forest: A view soon to disappear behind a wall of white. For the next three days the snow fell wet and heavy. It blocked the view of the hills, as did the fog coming in from the sea. I was without a cell phone, a computer, a car, and I did not turn on the teilifis. I stayed cloistered in my artist studio leaving only for two meals a day, breakfast and tea. It is normally a self-catering kitchen however because of the weather I was able to use some of the food in the kitchen. In my room I had a stash of apples, dates, almonds, and of course the daily supply of seacl”id (chocolate) agus cup”n tae. I can survive on simple fare.The barn is a two-story structure painted white with red trim. The bright exterior is a welcoming sight. It is a very attractive building lovingly cared for with an interesting history. Behind the barn is an area that looks like an old canal but is actually where the train tracks were that went to the mianach iarann (iron mines). Liz lives in the attached cottage at one end of the barn with her two beloved German shepherds.Rick the barn manager had the kitchen turned upside down while he hurriedly plastered cracks and finished painting for he was soon to leave to work near Corcaigh. Because of this we ate in the activity room where there is music and storytelling every Saturday night unless the weather prohibits travel. As I looked around this room I felt this haven that Liz has provided for friends, neighbors, and strangers like me was a healing place, a place where we put down our swords. She is a respected storyteller, works with conflict resolution, writes children”s books, teaches people to express themselves through writing, and hopes for a continued moving forward and away from the conflicts of the past in the North. And sometimes she stops and breathes.As most of you know who have visited Ireland the heating system is different from ours in the United States and used sparingly. The Irish are a hardy breed. There were times when I had on three or more layers of clothing. Thank goodness for silk thermals and the exercise machine in the studio. I am not complaining. I am spoiled. There was a great classical BBC radio station, which helped me focus on reading, editing some writing, and painting small watercolors. In spite of my struggling with the cold it was a fruitful visit and a spiritually challenging experience.My time at Ballyeamon Camping Barn was what I had hoped it would be. Liz Weir was welcoming and generous. I felt renewed in spirit and rested for the last leg of my trip to Belfast and then on to the Hill of Tara. If you are hoping for time off the beaten track while in Ireland find Ballyeamon Camping Barn and Liz Weir owner both on the Internet. Take time to appreciate the quiet beauty of the Antrim Hills and the surrounding forest.www.BallyeamonBarn.com (Susan Harold lives in Greeley Colorado where her hobbies include gardening, visual arts, music/singing, and Irish language)