Carlow Creative Rising - Things are happening in Carlow
Carlow was the capital of Ireland once upon a time. You wouldn’t hear much about that nowadays. You’d be more likely to hear about the fact that Carlow had a thriving sugar factory but that too has passed. It’s a town of many features surrounded by rich agricultural land, glacial formations and yellow rapeseed fields. It’s the home of Teagasc, two significant colleges a state of the art gallery and theatre and an industrious entrepreneurial community with international players in the mix.
Four years ago, I moved back to Carlow from the city, all set with my reflexology, ready to inspire self-care and the pursuit of authenticity. But Carlow was not quite ready for all of that. In general the mood seemed low and spirits were not as elevated as they could have been. What has changed since then? I did my best to play my part of influencing positivity but it’s possible that I entered the scene when Carlow was on the rise from its ashes.
When I returned to Carlow, the Local Enterprise Office was also starting up. Through their efforts I availed of networking opportunities and learning supports for my business. I had my ear to the ground and I was starting to hear about creative initiatives that were springing up here and there. I dived right in and within a short space of time a portrait drawing of mine was being displayed on the outside of the Post Office building alongside the work of fellow artists. I started having art exhibitions and book launches in the county library and not only that I had RTE’s TV camera’s coming to see what I was up to, hence my feature on Nationwide in 2017.
I dived right in and within a short space of time a portrait drawing of mine was being displayed on the outside of the Post Office building alongside the work of fellow artists. I started having art exhibitions and book launches in the county library and not only that, RTE’s TV camera’s came to see what I was up to, hence my feature on Nationwide in 2017.
Carlow is rising. It’s becoming a bit of a curiosity. As you walk through the streets nowadays you are likely to hear the most unusual snippets of conversation and witty remarks between passersby. There is a bit of stir and a sense of things happening or about to happen any minute.
Things certainly happened when author Peter Murphy came to town in the winter of 2018. Peter was invited as part of a writer’s in residence programme, funded via Carlow County Council arts office and hosted by Carlow College. I went along on culture night to find out about Peter’s take on prose and contemplated doing something about that book in the closet which I had been boring everyone about.
As winter took its hold, I put myself to work at being a better writer with the help of this experienced creative author. Peter put me through my paces and I absorbed every bit of his critique with the view to handing in a better piece next time. Within, two months I was a different writer, still with a lot to learn but a good deal better than at the start of our writer classes.
Never did I expect to be on stage in the George Bernard Shaw Theatre reading a chapter of my work in front of a live audience. That was exciting. I was one of nine other writers who had taken part in Peter’s workshops. We were proud to be sharing the stage with our rebellious-spirited tutor as he performed his spoken word show to the title of Cursed Murphy and The Resistance.
The gang of us gathered in the back-stage dressing room of the theatre, full of nervous chatter. One by one we waited in the wings. We each had five minutes in the spotlight, reading a section of our work. We were proud of ourselves and proud of each other.
Another door had been opened. Along with getting to know Carlow’s visual artists and makers I had discovered another layer of creative’s all as madly passionate about writing as I am myself. Carlow is not only rising it’s starting to rock. I may have wanderlust in me with my attempts at being an Algarve woman and a Peruvian chica but I am glad to have discovered the beating heart of this home-town of mine that is Carlow.
Peter Murphy is set to return to Carlow for another exciting event, the launch of Dr. Derek Coyle’s book of poetry entitled Reading John Ashbery in Costa Coffee, Carlow. I highly recommend putting the date in your calendar (April 10th, 7.30pm in Carlow College).
© Caroline Cunningham
Author, Artist & Authentic Reflexology Specialist
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