Belfast IrelandDonegalIrelandFrom Belfast to Donegal and around Ireland with author, Maeve O’Lynn

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Jackie De Burca
Today’s guest was described as a “force of nature” by a BBC journalist This force of nature is the award-winning author and poet from Belfast, Maeve O’Lynn. Amongst her many achievements, Maeve has won the TU Short Story Competition at Redline Book Festival in Dublin in 2019. She was also long-listed for the Seamus Heaney Award for new writing in 2019. Maeve has published short fiction and poetry in Banshee, The Stinging Fly, Fallow Media, The Honest Ulsterman, Abridged, and The Tangerine. Maeve, you’re really welcome today – is it as cold today there in Belfast as it is here in Spain?

Maeve O’Lynn
Pretty frosty I would venture that it might be colder.

Jackie De Burca
Really what to what degrees are you dealing with there? Maeve today?

Maeve O’Lynn
Well, I’m not too sure of the number on the thermostat but I’ve just been out for a walk and it’s very slippy and slidey out there very freezing.

Jackie De Burca
Ok probably we are just ridiculously cold for the area of Spain that I am in, it’s probably about three degrees Celsius here today, which is like really cold for this neck of the woods. But anyhow, not to be waffling on for too long about the weather. Let’s jump in with what I feel is a crucial question, Maeve. How closely is your creative output connected to your local and favourite environments?

Maeve O’Lynn

Well, Jackie, I think place is crucial. Because, you know, if you can capture place, well, you can transport the reader and you can have them see your world through their eyes. So it’s a really special and powerful thing, I think.

Jackie De Burca
Okay, perfect. And tell me something Maeve. When and where were you born?

Maeve O’Lynn
I was born in the Royal Victoria Hospital in West Belfast in 1984.

Jackie De Burca
So you’re a spring chicken compared to myself then? I’m 1968. What kind of childhood memories do you have of Belfast, you’re growing up, obviously 80s into the 90s. What are your memories of Belfast from those days?

Maeve O’Lynn
Yeah. So Belfast in the 80s and the early 90s was, in many ways, a very different place to the city today. I spent a lot of time with my Mum’s parents when I was very young. And my parents were working. And my granddad had a heart bypass operation when I was about two or three. And as part of his recovery, he had to go out for these long walks every day. I used to go out on these walks with him and we’d go all around Andersonstown up to the corner shop to get sweets and buy the paper and go into the Busy Bee, the chapel, Casement Park.

I find it both very strange and also very comforting that I am now walking these same streets with my own children, especially during these lockdown times when we’re all staying closer to home. And I get to walk past my grandparents old house, and it sort of feels like time has come full circle. And the two cities exist at once. So the one I remember during the eyes of my much younger self and the one I see today, and the topographies diverge and overlap.

Jackie De Burca
Okay, I think that must be really beautiful for you to have that kind of melting together of three generations of your family, Maeve.

Belfast City Hall

Maeve O’Lynn
Yeah, it’s really special. And it’s not something I kind of, I suppose when I was younger, I didn’t necessarily picture that I would spend so much of my life in Belfast and in this very same locale, but it’s something that just feels really right. And there’s a real sense of home to me here.

Jackie De Burca
So you’re one of those people in the series up to now, you’re one of those people who really, you feel like you were born in the place that was right for you to be born, that it kind of nurtures you?

Maeve O’Lynn
I think it sounds surprising for many people to hear that you were born in the kind of middle of the 1980s in West Belfast, and that would feel like a nurturing place. But I think, yeah, there is a real sense of community and a real sense of home. And it’s been lovely to kind of spend so much time here and watch the city evolve and change in the same way that, of course, we ourselves are evolving and changing all the time.

Jackie De Burca
Okay, as a child, obviously, if you were spending quite a lot of time with your grandfather, would that have been a little bit similar to down in the south of Ireland where maybe you were hearing a lot of stories from a man like that or not?

Maeve O’Lynn

He was a great storyteller. He had a brilliant imagination. We used to sit and he would pretend that he was a bus driver in the living room of my grandparents’ house. And we would be driving off on all these magical adventures and he’d be describing, to me all these things we could see from the window and these sights.

And my granny did oil colour paintings as well. So she had these lovely paintings around the house. And they used to talk about little cottages by the shore that they were going to someday retire to. And it’s something that’s really comforting now that they are both gone. I kind of pictured them there together.

Jackie De Burca
That’s really beautiful, Maeve. So the artistic influence of your grandparents that seems like it was very significant and strong. Did they encourage you to start writing? Or are there other family members or school teachers who also played important roles in your creativity?

Maeve O’Lynn
I think well, my mum was always and continues to be a great champion of my writing and a recommender of books. And she like me, she’s an English teacher. And she spent my childhood making laminated flashcards to teach me and my sister to read long before, things like that were fashionable. And taking us to the library and buying us entirely inappropriate, but amazing books like Jane Eyre, with the Gothic red rooms and the heaving passion. These days, this was my Mum, she would come to my readings, and she buys me lovely books. And you’d also hear the vocal talents of my sister who is an incredible actor and a singer in a lot of the audio work I put together. And so it’s great to be able to collaborate with someone who knows your vision and your strange imagination so well, that you need hardly any direction to bring the work to life.

Belfast Henry McDonald Mooneys Pub May 26, 1938.
Belfast Henry McDonald Mooneys Pub May 26, 1938. Courtesy of Belfast Live

Jackie De Burca
That’s fantastic. And is your sister younger or older? What’s the age difference? between the two of you? Maybe

Maeve O’Lynn
She is younger than me and my sister Susan, she’s five years younger.

Jackie De Burca
That’s lovely that you can collaborate with somebody so close to you.

Maeve O’Lynn
It’s been really, really nice. And we have worked together on all sorts of different things from the Xenophon Project. And she has been the voice of kind of the far distant future in some of our audio installations. And at the moment, we’re working together on audio which will be ready, hopefully, later in 2021, as well.

Jackie De Burca
Okay, that’s, that’s great. And what age did you notice? Or do you remember sometimes, as adults, it’s hard to kind of delve back into your childhood and be very specific about age but do you have any special memories have I like really been writing creative stories, your imagination as a child, anything like that?

Maeve O’Lynn

I always love to read, but I suppose I began writing in earnest around the age of about eight, when I began a series of these kind of imaginary travel logs in my exercise books in school, in which my sort of avatar may have the explorer set off to visit exotic and unlikely locations around the world haunted castles and the Bermuda Triangle and start to the Loch Ness Monster. And after that, I was it was addicted. And though it waxes and wanes, depending on what else is going on in my life, I find that I always come back to both reading and writing over and over again.

Jackie De Burca
Okay, um, as a younger person, you know, did you have alters that you feel were important during your formative reading years.

Maeve O’Lynn

As a child, I loved Irish myths and legends and novels like The Bookshop on the Quay and The Turf Cutter’s Donkey by Patricia Lynch. And then I think I was just about the right age for Marita Conlon-McKenna’s Under the Hawthorn Tree trilogy. And I find that I still love the evocative drama of a family saga that takes place somewhere rainy and wild.

Jackie De Burca
But you were certainly born in the right place for that kind of thing. Now as a child, you also spent some time in the Gaeltacht in Loch an Iuir. What impact do you think that this beautiful place and also, Maeve, the practice of speaking Gaelic or Irish, have on you?

Maeve O’Lynn
Donegal, that really is a place that is rainy and wild. My Dad’s Mum, she was a native Irish speaker from the Mullet Peninsula in Mayo, and she met my grandfather. He was from Belfast when he was going on a fishing holiday. And I often think what it must have been like for her to leave this remote rural area by the sea and settle in Belfast, which was such a different way of life, a different language, a whole different rhythm.

Sadly, she died quite young when my Dad was just a teenager, so I never had the chance to get to know her.

But I did find that learning to speak Irish albeit the Donegal dial was a way to sort of understand how she must have thought and felt. But me personally, I suppose I don’t associate the lovely musical cadences of Irish, purely with rural Ireland though. I’m very proud to live in an urban Gaeltacht area. And although I certainly can’t claim to be fluent, I think it is a great thing to hear and to see the language grow and sort of Briobha and Beo from the city to the sea.

Donegal after the storm
Donegal after the storm

Jackie De Burca
Okay. Yeah, I did one year myself as the 10-year-old in collusion arena. So I have like yourself, I Well, obviously, at this stage of my life, I wouldn’t have had hardly any vocals coming easily. But But I have a great girl. I translate that for the non-Irish speakers a great love for them for the language. And I absolutely connect with what you’ve just said, you know, and what are the places Maeve that would have been important in your younger life? Do you remember today?

Maeve O’Lynn
Well, I went off to study in Glasgow as an 18-year-old. And the four years I spent there were really incredible times. I spent a lot of time walking around that city as a daydreamy English Lit student, were very prone to that type of thing. Go into my classes off to the library and my litany of various part time jobs, as well as kind of go into the free galleries, the festival, the vintage clothes shops, and of course the pubs do Glasgow i wrote for the student paper, and I had the chance to run a club note with like live music with two of my very good friends there. And my whole time there has left early indelible imprint with the energy and the noise and the creativity of the city and the people there.

glasgow author Maeve O Lynn

Jackie De Burca
Okay, what which, which of your stories I forgotten the name, excuse me. Where you’re making your way back from? You’re making your way back over to the north, and you’re very badly hung over?

Maeve O’Lynn
Yeah, yeah, true story.

Jackie De Burca
That’s the name of that what it means please remind me.

Maeve O’Lynn
I know that one has a few different names. It’s gone by but um, it’s sort of it’s in the honest Ulsterman. And I believe it’s something to do with the water. The title story? Yeah. Yeah.

Beautiful Watery Fermanagh in 2014 - Maeve O'Lynn
Beautiful Watery Fermanagh in 2014 – Maeve O’Lynn

Jackie De Burca
I can’t remember. Not back in the back in the water or something like along those lines? Yeah. So yeah, no, I loved that. And so out of all the places that are connected with your younger years, which of those have featured in your creative works to date? Maeve

Maeve O’Lynn
You know, I suppose, obviously, I would write a lot about Belfast and about Ireland more generally. I mean, I spend so much of my time here. And I wrote a piece that was published in unabridged publication as part of the virtual Galway 2020 programme. And it’s set mainly in Galway, following a residency I did there a few years ago at one of the science departments in the university. And there’s a passage in there, but the journey between the two cities between Belfast and Galway, that maybe encapsulates for a lot of people, a lot of kind of Irish road trips and travel and all the types of borders you cross as you go.

Jackie De Burca
Would you like to Yeah, would you like to read that for us?

Maeve O’Lynn
Yeah. Okay.

The first drops of rain hit the windscreen around Craig aven. And they both subsided into silence, punctuated by the occasional staccato bursts of small talk. As they bypass Nuri and sleeve golian onto the long section of road, friends with evergreen, the digital radio signal began to come in and fix and starts the ghostly signs of the BBC struggling to reach the hinterlands of its oldest and closest colony. The drive to Galway was beset by hundreds of shifting borders North the site, setting the country east to us, and of course, the tool Ruth. She fished frequently in the centre console for coins to throw into automated baskets. After an awkward encounter with the human cashier, who looked as taken aback by the aggressive tunes on the stereo with Simon was the city mercifully began skipping and she took the opportunity to substitute her brother’s encyclopaedic collection of EDM for Kumasi, Washington. A warm exuberant blues fanfare serenaded their arrival to the rolling golden emptiness of the Midlands, nothing but GAE pitches and farmland from miles overheard. A scene was struck by the sudden appearance of dark birds against appeal, Sky, eye rolling murmuration of starlings In stark contrast to the quiet field spinning,

Contrast of light in the sky. - Maeve O'Lynn
Contrast of light in the sky. – Maeve O’Lynn

Jackie De Burca
that’s absolutely beautiful. I really enjoyed that. And also for me, maybe because right now I haven’t been able to get back to Ireland, because of the lockdown, and I’ve been able to travel safely. That particular passages is, is very reminiscent of my own journeys and art. And so I really enjoyed to hear that. And good. Go back to Belfast may imagine if Belfast was like a boyfriend or a husband or a girlfriend or a partner of some source, how would you describe the relationship of you and Belfast as it is now and how it has actually developed over the years?

Unknown Speaker
Um, well,

Maeve O’Lynn
it’s a difficult analogy in the sense that it is really difficult to have an objective and fair sort of view of your home time, particularly when you still live there. I suppose you know it inside out. And there’s things that you love about it, things that you hear things that you’re bored of, and things that you forget to appreciate. But somewhere, somewhere along the way, you’ve changed from being the child and the teenager discovering the city for yourself, and you become the person introducing the city to your own children. And it completely working on it’s a place that in some ways you feel sort of responsible for. I wrote a passage and a story which called the international language of Smith that was published in the tangerine a couple of years ago, that I felt captured that sort of in between moods, when you’re no longer in the first blush of excitement, of the freedom and independence of being an adult in the city. And you begin to kind of realise the difficulties that come along with it. The need to earn your own money, find a place to build your own network of friends beyond the people that you know and your skills, and all those things. Okay, yeah, yeah.

Jackie De Burca
Do you mind reading another passage out for us? That’d be that’d be great Meave

Maeve O’Lynn
Oh, good. Okay. Let me find it. Here we go.

Joe awoke, or maybe more accurately came to lying on his stomach, mouth dry hair tight. Do they bunched up dine near at the room. His room was cold. When they had signed the lease on this first floor flat in May, the clouds of blossom on the tall trees and the soft light of the long side Belfast evenings pouring in the sash windows had made the high ceilings and general air of genteel decay seemed bohemian. Then it got to Halloween. And the nights during the weather got better. And they realised the single glazed glass and the soaring ceilings and the unused fireplaces meant the flat was in fact, permanently cold. Even when they remember to top up the gas card and put the heating on. There was always a fan tense of them. Not that they’d had the heating on recently, between Christmas coming up and extra shifts at work and might float on the last. Nobody had been in much except the sleep and char. The chill in the air signified perhaps the Victorian red bricks frosty regard for their uncouth behaviour. The house had a name Adeline. The Lisbon road for the festive season was bedecked in blue lighting that seemed to be on around the clock. Not red, green, or gold, blue. All snowflakes and stars. The alien blue and silver light they shed seemed cold and distant, like a transmission from the farthest reaches of space. Joe noticed belatedly that outside it started to snow. He walked through it past the corner shop which had apparently closed already and onto the supermarket further down the road. On his way back to Adeline carrying a few ready meals, a bag of tortilla chips on Mars bar, rolling tobacco skins on a six pack he would enjoy in bed tomorrow TV on. He saw parents carrying presence from carpets and garden sheds through flurries of snow into their houses, or children slept fitfully, awaiting Christmas Day. The nighttime streets were pockmarked with icy puddles. And Joe idly imagined he was a cosmonaut on a spacewalk teetering on the edge of the abyss tethered but barely.

View of East Belfast.
View of East Belfast.

Jackie De Burca
Wonderful Maeve, thank you very much again. And now hopping into something that you mentioned far earlier on in our chat and since 2015 you’ve actually been collaboration with visual artists Javan Macgibbon, on designer fun project. Can you tell us a bit about the project and how it all came about, please?

Maeve O’Lynn
Yes, of course. Well, I have been working with Siobhan. And actually, I must say Dr. Siobhan Macgibbon, who recently passed your Ph. D. Viva. Right in the middle of this whole pandemic. So this one, I have been working with Siobhan on our interdisciplinary sort of post feature eco feminist collaboration. And since we were introduced by our good friend, the curator and editor, Greg McCartney, who is the mastermind behind a breads and the honest Ulsterman on a plethora of other artistic endeavours as well. And Greg had created two volumes work previously. And she had contacted him said that she wanted to meet a writer who had an interest in Gothic and gender to write an essay for a catalogue to accompany a series of new work she had completed in 2015, for a show in I think it was Galway City Museum but, and so Greg put me on to Vaughn in touch. But then as we work together, that’s sort of evolved from being an essay for a catalogue into a creative response series of find audio pieces instead. And before we knew it, we had sort of created this entire Universal Time slip dystopia, utopia and ritual practice, which is the Zenfone project. Look,

Jackie De Burca
Ok, that’s, that’s, yeah, I I was looking at some of the information about that. And I have to say, as a female, I found it quite fascinating. And also, the fact that in 2019, Maeve there was the life with life inside that was partially inspired by COVID kind of decor, Can you let us know how that happened?

Maeve O’Lynn
Well, our show Van afaan life but life inside was on in the Three Rivers Art Cente, and Cove in Cork. And we love the idea of Cove for three different reasons, I suppose. So firstly, the serious Art Centre is a beautiful and very grand building with huge windows for all this beautiful light, but it’s right on the water. And a huge part of the invented world of xenophobia is related to water, and these ideas of submersion, cleansing thought to them for an appellation. And so that was, you know, cork plays right on on the sea was quite important to us. And we were also very moved by coves history as a port for so many Irish immigrants who were leaving their home in huge numbers, often because, you know, they had no other options. And they were setting out on these very uncertain and dangerous journeys to their destiny, on what hope for futures and new lives. And I suppose, in the van reform project, in our work, we want to take people on journeys to distant realms of the imagination, exploring aspects of our lives, particularly the lives of women, which are very much rooted in the present. And the life of life inside show drew upon the long journey towards reproductive freedom. And the new context that this give to motherhood in Ireland. And finally, to I suppose we were really interested in Anna Shinnok, the island and cork harbour, which is very visible from Cove that has so long been emblematic of our casual disregard of planets and its ecosystems, with the islands reputation as being one of the country’s worst polluted former industrial sites, and right to something we find really interesting as well.

Jackie De Burca
Okay, and yes, I haven’t been too cold for far too long, though. It’s an absolutely gorgeous, gorgeous part of art, obviously, talking about water. It’s a question that’s come up with one or two of the guests made. And if asked about water and creativity, what what what are your own feelings? Not I’m not necessarily talking about female creativity, just creativity in general.

Maeve O’Lynn

I think particularly for anybody, whether you’re a writer or a musician or an artist, if you live on an island, even if you’re kind of inland. Ireland is a small island and you have this constant sense of the sea wherever you go. And it sort of seems to seep into your work, sometimes whether you’re conscious of it or not. And there’s something so hypnotic and mesmerising about watching the water sort of come in and come out whether that’s a lake or a river, or in so many cases alongside the sea. Mm hmm.

Minerstown, Co. Down - Maeve O'Lynn
Minerstown, Co. Down – Maeve O’Lynn

Jackie De Burca
Yes, it’s actually a really interesting point about Ireland that I never thought about before. You also said to me Maeve that you did a fair bit of exploring of art and when you had just your two boys, I think as well as well,

Maeve O’Lynn
yeah, yeah, it was a few years ago. We had a campervan Yeah.

Jackie De Burca
Okay, and you travelled to where did you go to Ireland in your campervan?

Campervan - Maeve O'Lynn
Campervan – Maeve O’Lynn

Maeve O’Lynn
I work well, the 1989 campervan was almost a sort of member of the family and its own right. And it was a really temperamental member of the family that was prone to kind of given up in various highways and byways across rural Ireland. So we ended up spending time unexpectedly in all sorts of places, while lovely Lithuanian men fixed broken parts of it outside kokanee. And, you know, it’s quite easy to travel at a very different pace. And I’d say, we really saw the length and breadth of Ireland we were doing in West Cork, and skibbereen. We were in Kilkenny, Wicklow Coney Island, I said ardglass, and right up in the north coast in Castle Rock, as well. And we took it to France. So it really got a fair bit of action. And it was, well, the time I spent, I, the time I spent with my family is really precious to me. And nothing makes us happier than the sort of long walks on the beach and just pay more doors.

But I was thinking, you know, along the lines of like the amount of travel you get to do and conversely the luxury and privilege of just spending time, right by the sea in your comfort bond or no, we have a static caravan, listening to the waves, it always makes me think of families who are not so very different from mine, and not so far away, either, who are having to enter the sea Under the most harrowing and dangerous circumstances. And I suppose, you know, it seems maybe like a kind of dark way to look at it. But it’s just this kind of recognition of the privilege we have, I suppose, and maybe the responsibility upon us to, you know, be better citizens in the world and to be more empathetic and more welcoming to people who find themselves in these dire straits. And so I suppose this is where a poem I wrote called an ocean just as hungry came from, which is published in the Mighty slagel literary broadsheet, the cormorant. And I can read that for you if you would like.

Jackie De Burca
That’d be great. Thank you.

Stroll on the beach - Maeve O'Lynn
Stroll on the beach – Maeve O’Lynn

Maeve O’Lynn
An ocean just as hungry.

I always thought I like the Sea until the week we spent and carry. At night you could hear the waves. And in the morning, and everywhere you walk to drew the relentless abing flowing, needy tides crashing.

They told us the story of an English artist who rented the house two days painting and the German lady on holiday with her two young sons who asked him where the beach was the one in the picture. He told them and they went to the beach, and one of the boys was swept out to sea and his mother drowned trying to save him. The artist never forgive himself for the beach. The local people had told him already was cursed, cursed by a priest in the link starving famine times when the fisherman coming in. wouldn’t share their catches with the famish parishioners and though the sea itself is hungry, a monstrous thing. They told him that he didn’t think it was tree. He painted the water instead. So beautiful and it shifting shades parish and blues and pressure and blues that lowered a woman to her death then they gave us the Wi Fi password and a box of Lego for our son to play with. And we fell asleep that night. listening to it sobbing roar sea, while others far away fifth the dark in rubber rocks trying to cross a different sea an ocean just as hungry.

Jackie De Burca
Wow, that’s that’s almost got me in sort of into a trance because of the I suppose being Irish may were brought up thinking about the the mythology of the sea as well. And I’m asking myself as you were reading it out. Is it true that during the famine that the fishermen were doing that?

Maeve O’Lynn
Well, certainly the story we were told so really, I suppose it’s an oral memory somewhere but where the truth of it lies I suppose is sort of buried in the past but that that time that famine time I think stays with us that idea of hunger and one

Jackie De Burca
Yep, that’s that’s something I thought I thought about recently again, because of the lockdown, bec ause of the huge shift in perception about health. I think if you think about health, particularly as women in you know, in the 20th and early 21st century, we’re open to this. Everything was just about your, your body image, you know, being slim and all that type of thing. And certainly for me, that’s gone right out the window.

View of East Belfast.
View of East Belfast.

Maeve O’Lynn
Yeah. Suddenly your priorities seem to shift. And

Jackie De Burca
yeah, I’m just like, happy I’m here. I’m relatively healthy and so on and so forth. You know? Yeah, absolutely. So, this is just going back to more recent developments and lace in October of 2020. You were given a grant from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s and to develop a project that’s called the ink on the page. Can you tell us about this fascination project made?

Maeve O’Lynn
Okay, so the ink on the page is about the Austrian and the Austrian It was a passionately internationalist, art collective, ambitious, they tried to where they aim to create an understanding of and a market for modern art. And they avoided the traditional 1930s, Northern Ireland. And they had this exhibition in 1934, which sought to unify disciplines. So their exhibition contains sculpture, pottery, adding architectural design, oil, and watercolour, and exploring new media in an attempt to bring contemporary art closer to design. They were really avant garde forward thinking, and they included a high number of women artists, which was sort of reflecting the increasing involvement of women in the arts and crafts society at the time. And the Secretary of the orchestra unit with poets, curator and art historian john Heath.

So they’re one and only exhibition took place in Belfast in December 1934. And the show received really mixed critical reviews, it was even called Hocus Pocus by the Belfast newsletter, and it was an abject commercial failure with hardly any work being sold, and they never shoot together again. So in the income, the pitch, and what I wanted to explore was what became of their ambition. And their manifesto won several figures from the unit went on to prominent artistic careers. So painters and sculptors like john Luke, Colin middle film, George McCann, and john here to suppose himself as a poet. What I wondered was what became of the women. So I began my investigations with artefact one for mana landscape, which was a pull my route based on the life and work of Kathleen bridle. And this poem was then long listed for the Seamus Heaney award, and within the Community Arts partnership, poetry and motion anthology. And this sort of inspired me then I thought, well, this is just one of the artists what became of the others. So this began the basis of the research project, ink on the page, which I began in October, and I’m working alongside my good friend and fellow writer Laura Morgan. And since then, we have been conducting interviews with family members, we have located paintings that were believed to be gone for good. And we have been collecting together academic and genealogical research. And we’ll be continuing this right through the spring.

Jackie De Burca
Okay, fantastic. So, Kathleen bridals that you’ve mentioned, and can you tell us a bit more about her Maeve? And maybe if you felt like reading out your poem? Sure,

Maeve O’Lynn
um, what Kathleen brighto was one of the artists from the Ulster unit and like me, and like so many of us she appears to be have always been drawn to water. And she was the daughter of a Coast Guard so she was brought up around the coast. And she eventually made her solitary way to Enniskillen and which is the time parked right on the hermana lake and right on the edge of Empire, and she made her home there. So I find her a really fascinating figure and the quality of her work to be just this kind of, she had a long artistic career and you can really see how it evolves and changes over time. And so I wrote this poem artefact, one for mana landscapes based on really, I suppose, an imagined painting because I wondered what her work would have looked like when she showed it as part of the Austrian in 1934. And I looked at art she then created in late 1930s, and 1940s. To try and get a sense of that, and through this, through this art through this work, try and get a sense of who she really was. And, and I will read the poem and you can judge for yourself whether I have caught the the heart of the matter.

Jackie De Burca
Okay, thanks Maeve

Rainbow - Maeve O'Lynn
Rainbow – Maeve O’Lynn

Maeve O’Lynn
Artifact, one four mana landscape. My work at that time was sparse, parochial, they called it later isolated. It was true in a way. I was for so many years, completely alone. A colour palette that added between spare and muted watercolours of peel sandspit with jagged rocks, fallowfield, hydrangeas bide under the very effort of being alive. It would change later, I would transition through gloomy shadows of church interiors, leaving me feeling curiously light and free. Rainbows of colour would catch fire on my canvas, in my vivid bluebell scenes 17 years later. But first, a self portrait in oils. Three years after the end of the war, one of the wars in any event. I was satisfied at the time with the full Frank is the lightly expressionist touches. A woman on adorned unashamed, uncompromised, who met the viewers eye. It was only so many years later, I appreciated just how very sad I looked.

Just how very sad I was. So where to dine. The violence, yes, the long hours and work to but also palpably, the solitude. It is written there beneath the skin, a shapeless, rootless, living mark of alienation. Perhaps it was my birth across the sea, and can’t my father a Coast Guard, and upbringing. Some would later call peripatetic a nomadic existence, but it always felt to me that the difference I carried within me was deeper inscribed in my bones after all, nowhere stuck. Not Hollyhad not Dublin, not London, nowhere until I reached Enniskillen, upon balanced precariously on the water on the edge of Empire, and then newly constituted state, a state that mirrored my own. In the place I made my home, or silver waters for Latin skies, spoke to some hidden part of me. I didn’t sell much work that night, I was a funder of a unit that could not stay united. But my work remained my life until the very end. And if I kept secrets, held something back. It was simply just the way I was. Kathleen Brighto died at Lakeside nourishment nursing home, found the lack on the 25th of may 1989. She is buried in Brand drums cemetery. Many of her paintings are untitled.

Jackie De Burca
Well, that is extremely powerful. And actually, as a poem, it is entirely reflects what I’m wishing to achieve with with the podcast.

Maeve O’Lynn
And well was that.

Jackie De Burca
Just bringing out for for both listeners and for guests. Exactly that connection with environment. And in our particular case, how she obviously had this nomadic existence, presumably because of her father. And it was only until she got down to Scotland that she felt that she had come into her into her own environment, the place that mirror

Maeve O’Lynn
Yeah, and the sort of I suppose the the bravery and the independence sometimes that you need to have to find that place, particularly as a woman, a single woman on your own in those days to sort of strike out away from your family and away from your friends and find out this is really quite inspiring.

Jackie De Burca
It is it is really fantastic. I mean, you say even in those days, in those days, it must have been, I’d say, at least three times more nerve wracking than than these days. But even still, there’s still sadly, I think there’s still a thing about a woman doing these things by herself.

Titanic Belfast and SS Nomadic Belfast with Jan Carson
Titanic Belfast and SS Nomadic

Maeve O’Lynn
I think there absolutely is. And it’s one of the things I’m Coronavirus has really brought to the surface is you know, it’s the difficulties of for people who are on their own. You know, they’ve been sort of in a way, they can feel very isolated and stigmatised by the kind of government policy that families have been able to make some people within a household compete together. And yet we have this whole nexus of single people and throughout our cities and our communities and sometimes their older people. Sometimes they are our creative people, and who are particularly finding the isolation and the loneliness at the moment really tough.

Jackie De Burca
Yeah, no, it is. It’s something I’ve, I’ve, I mean, as I said to before we actually started recording, you know, I suppose I feel I’m quite privileged because of the fact that I’m in a bit of a cocoon, and it suits me as a person, but I do have a partner and also ridiculous amount of animals with me. But I’m very aware, you know, I’m very aware of, of people both back home and in other places, for all sorts of range of reasons, as you said, yourself, Maeve , maybe that they’re older, or creative, or, you know, people can be off sea, by themselves for all sorts of reasons. And often by choice, you know, but now, it’s so different, obviously.

Maeve O’Lynn

Yes, and I was interested in reading the policies in other countries where people can, seems to be quite open somewhere like the Netherlands, where it’s perfectly fine to have somebody that you are meeting up with in terms of the need for companionship, and whether that’s a friendship or something more physical.

And yet, in our maybe slightly more puritanical society, that aspect of somebody’s existence is kind of ignored at the moment as part of the restrictions. And yeah, it just makes us so aware of how stigmatised people’s choices can be.

Jackie De Burca
Definitely, definitely. So, this is going back to your your day to day environment Maeve , which I imagine, if I, if in the future, when things are gone back to, you know, a something similar to what we were used to, but properties are quite changed. If I was to be in Belfast, I can imagine probably no better guy than yourself. If somebody I have been to Belfast for decades ago at this stage, but if somebody like myself was coming over, who really didn’t know the city, where would you recommend, first of all, so where to stay?

Maeve O’Lynn
Now this takes me back because my very first job out of university was working in the Belfast visitor and convention Bureau, as was called then, so a lot of time writing up coffee for tourist guides, and finding places for journalists to go when they come over. So it’s been a while, but I suppose visitors to Belfast tend to love the city centre and Cathedral quarter in particular, and rightly so it’s a very lively and kind of cultural part of the city.

But I would say, if somebody wants to come and really experience Belfast, then they’d probably be better off and one of the city’s little sort of urban villages which are dotted around the place. I’m quite biassed, in that I will be preparing under sunstone of course. But there’s also Bali hackamore, Dormer road Antrim road, and the various kind of lovely little eateries and cafes and cultural centres dotted around here on our lovely parks as well. So, so many places to discover with your, I suppose, just off the beaten path.

Jackie De Burca
Okay, and And what about, if somebody wasn’t able to stay in your own home? Where would you actually say to them, okay, this place is really nice for whatever reasons, where would you recommend? So, I

Maeve O’Lynn
mean, we spent our wedding night in the merchant Hotel in the city centre, which is an old bank building, and it’s just, I mean, you need a substantial budget to spend more than a night there. But let’s just imagine in this fantasy future, that we have a substantial budget to spend, and it would be hard to go past and somewhere like the merchant to go,

Travelodge Belfast exterior

Jackie De Burca
Okay, okay, I can I can understand that. And, and what about so we’re, we’re going to stay with the idea that we have a fairly large substantial budget to play with, where would we go for a lovely evening me lives.

Maeve O’Lynn
Oh, my goodness. So favourite treat restaurants. For me. I love food. I love coconut. I love eating about it. Eating a budget of cooking it. I love eating it. I love reading about it, daydreaming about it. I know some people have kind of limited patience for things like taste and menus and wine pairings but have to save up. For a treat. I love the wonderful restaurant called aucs, which is dine on Oxford Street and it’s right beside the login. And you can see the kind of sculpture which I can never remember the real name of I think it’s called No, it’s gone. Everybody in Belfast calls that nullah with the hula. So it is the kind of sculpture of a lady holding a big circle up and I’m sure it has a lovely name but it eludes me at the moment. And you can see that from the window and they did and was wonderful tasting menus at the weekend. And they put a lot of focus on sort of local food. And particularly the way they prepare vegetables is really amazing. It brings real flavour to the plate. And there’s another one called the mother’s club which is hidden away up warehously and Cathedral quarter and I didn’t know their place which is just absolutely lovely if you’ve got a great budget the player undress, okay. Okay,

Jackie De Burca
now let’s let’s talk about we’ll say it’s our last night made of a trip where we we had a lot of money to begin with. And we’ve actually, we’ve spent most of that. Where are we going for our like more casual meal then when we run a bit short of winning,

Maeve O’Lynn
so many, and especially at the moment, it’s so essential, I think, to support all our neighbourhood favourite places after the awful year that they’ve had. So locally, I would find it really hard to go past temple and under Sunstein for beautiful food that seems to suit everybody and really warm welcome. I always end up there for family occasions, quick bite for lunch, friends from work, Christmas dinner with the other moms from the school that my boys go to. I also love the bangle for gorgeous Indian food and the Cuban sandwich factory as well if you need something to eat on the go,

Jackie De Burca
Okay, fantastic. Okay, now, either before or after a meal or perhaps the meal is even taken out of the equation favourite bar.

Maeve O’Lynn
Well, favourite bar and it has been so long since any of us have been in a pub. I love Kelly fellers and it’s very old bar and the sunflower which is a brilliant place for live music and poetry readings and has a brilliant kind of woodfired pizza oven outside. And the green room in the black box, which is a great arts venue. And the green room does brilliant craft beer and they have great DJs on and it’s a really nice, mellow place to kind of hang out particularly after you’ve had a great dinner somewhere.

Jackie De Burca
Okay. Okay. Any Have you got any interesting stories about you know, any of those bars, you’ve mentioned stories of characters or the bars themselves?

Queens University Belfast Jan Carson author
Queens University Belfast

Maeve O’Lynn
Well, stories I have about Belfast bar shall remain forever unspoken. But I will say I’ve worked in a few of them. And I also met my husband in a Belfast bar. So they are a true institution of the city. And I raise my glass to them all. And I look forward to the time when they are reopened and we can go again. Oh, don’t

Jackie De Burca
we all don’t we all Maeve and I look forward to the time that not only yourself which, of course, I’ve had the pleasure to have the likes of you know, Molecule Darcy and john Carson, Henry McDonald’s. And Helen Sharkey, and Smith and Amatory have all been on as guests and not everybody based in Belfast. But of course, in the north of Ireland, I will definitely be looking forward to a day where I can do a little tour safely. Well, future urge converts,

Maeve O’Lynn
at the end of it. Yeah,

Jackie De Burca
that would be fantastic. Listen, do you have anything that you want to talk about in terms of any other projects that you’re going to be doing or you’re very much concentrating on the the ink of the page at

Maeve O’Lynn
the moment, the ink on the page would be my main focus at the moment. But we are hoping to bring the Zenfone project back again. So we were due to have a kind of solo show in the Galway Art Centre back last year, in the summer, but obviously that was right in the middle of the shutdown. So that hadn’t what we haven’t had the chance to bring that work together again. So that’s hopefully something that might be on the cards for later in 2021 or into 2022. So it’s a project that we’re revisiting again at the minute and Main sponcer are starting to expand new ideas and who knows what strange and new and mythical worlds might come as a result of that.

Jackie De Burca
Okay, fantastic. So now your website address we were going to have that in the information here, on the podcast website, and on the various channels that people can come listen to the podcast. So that’s the kind of thing may presumably update your website. Whenever you have good news about being able to do that, right?

Maeve O’Lynn
Yes, as soon as things start to reopen, and we start to have plans again, that is exactly where I will be posting it.

Jackie De Burca
Fantastic. And you’re a good woman to be on Twitter as well like myself, aren’t you?

Maeve O’Lynn
Yes, I sort of go in and off the old Twitter phrases as well. It can be quite good, but it can also suck in a lot of very depressing and anxiety related news. So I like to keep it to the kind of the videos of the cats most of the time.

Jackie De Burca
Okay, okay. So listen, it was an absolute pleasure to have you on and I very much look forward to broadcasting this and also meeting up in the future and say . Thank you so much.

Maeve O’Lynn
Thank you, Jackie. Bye bye.

Jackie De Burca
Thank you. Bye.

 

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Nicolas Raherinjatovo

Thinking of visiting Madagascar? Be sure to check out our articles by Nicolas. Born in Madagascar, Nicolas knows his homeland like the back of his hand. But not only that, he is a tourism graduate and expert. Nicolas it the Travel Inspires' Madagascar specialist! He is passionate about writing and travelling.

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      From Belfast to Donegal and around Ireland with author, Maeve O'Lynn

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