Friday, 25 October 2013

Turner Prize. A 'piece' of art or a 'piss' of art!!

Is the Turner Prize taking the piss?’ This seems to be the burning question among many journalists this week with regard to the current Turner exhibition taking place at Ebrington, Derry, until early January 2014. And the ‘piss’ metaphor is being used as a result of the large nude male statue pissing into a bucket in Gallery One of the exhibition!
It’s certainly drawing a lot of attention and the said artist, David Shrigley is favourite to win the prestigious prize on December 2nd. Shrigley’s nude figure is coming under a lot of scrutiny at present and some even go so far as to call it pornographic. Well, one must go and judge for oneself. You even get the opportunity to draw your own perception of the figure. And some pictures on the wall of Gallery One are well worth a viewing!! As Shrigley says himself, “‘The drawings are part of the artwork. The idea is that people can take a bit of the artwork away. I hope they enjoy trying to figure out what it’s about.” I spoke to one little boy who was drawing the figure alongside his mother and he said “I’m imagining he’s a naked superhero!” How apt for a child to perceive such.
The other exhibit which is drawing much controversy is the ‘Blank Gallery’. Here artist Tino Sehgal has a plain white Gallery at Gallery 4 and he is engaging his audience in the art of conversation. Sehgal is offering £2 to people if they converse with him about the Marketing Economy. Many are earning their money and others move along.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye exhibits a selection of her work in Gallery 3 and it certainly draws you in. She is challenging the accepted norm of western figuration by depicting black subjects.
The final exhibitor in the Turner final 2013 is Laure Prouvost. Prouvost in her unique approach to filmmaking, often situated within atmospheric installations, is offering fragmented fictions and uses quick cuts, montage, sound and text to create surprising and unpredictable work. Her work can be viewed at Gallery 2.
Whether you’re an art fan or not, it’s certainly worth a visit whilst running at Ebrington. The Turner Prize, now in it’s 29th year has never before come outside of England, so on this historic occasion, it certainly is turning a few heads.
I had always planned to pay the exhibition a visit but when I was asked to do a ‘news feature’ on it for a London paper I had to quickly educate myself on modern art and the artists. I’ve learned a little but will never make an art critic!
But sure where else would you get to see, what someone said to me yesterday, “a dummy pissing in a bucket!” And then spend a few hours writing about it!!!
The Turner Prize 2013 winner will be announced live from Derry on December 2nd. The exhibition continues at Ebrington daily until 5th January 2014.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Donegal Atlas!

I was both delighted and honoured to be invited to the launch of ‘An Historical, Environmental and Cultural Atlas of Donegal’ last Saturday night at LYIT. This Atlas is edited by Jim McLaughlin and Sean Beattie, both natives of Co. Donegal. These two men clearly believed that their county was a forgotten, almost desolate part of Ireland. This production will wave all such thoughts and beliefs. It firmly puts Donegal on the Ireland and indeed the world map!
“Your beautiful county that is Donegal. This Atlas will showcase what’s best in the county: the scenery, beauty and most important it’s people” said Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at the launch on Saturday night. He added “it’s a real privilege to be here”. McGuinness spoke of his family, many of whom are from Donegal, “my mother is from the Illies, just outside Buncrana”. He is clearly impressed with this work and recommended that all households should have one!
This is an all inclusive book. Jim McLaughlin, a political geographer and Sean Beattie, an historian, have successfully compiled some 77 chapters, by a variety of authors (all experts in their own areas). One learns something new with the turn of every page. One looks forward to both the reading and illustrations with each new turn.
Being a Donegal girl I absolutely love this collection. Living in the county for most of my life it is easy to forget and ignore the beauty that surrounds me. In recent years, I’ve sacrificed annual foreign holidays to explore my native county, and discovered that it was no longer a sacrifice but an honour and a privilege to holiday at home.
Sean Beattie said at the launch, “The Atlas will safe keep our modern history”. Jim McLaughlin believes that every Donegal home should have “The Bible, The Book of Kells and the Donegal Atlas”! Perhaps in time they will!
The physical environment, social history, religion, philosophy, folk life is all covered throughout the book. Nothing is alien. Martin McGuinness aptly said that it is indeed ‘”A work of art and of scholarly achievement. A wonderful, marvellous book”.
It is a virtual encyclopaedia of Donegal!
An Historical, Environmental and Cultural Atlas of Donegal is available from all good bookshops nationwide and from priced at €59

Donegal poet Jenni Doherty wins Noelle Vial Tyrone Guthrie Poetry award!

Guildhall Press (Derry) author Jenni Doherty has been awarded the first Noelle Vial Tyrone Guthrie Poetry award.
Noelle Vial the much loved Killybegs poet, died ten years ago this year and her family are celebrating her memory with the creation of this special poetry bursary under her name.
The bursary, which is being offered in association with members of the poet’s family, will take the form of a week long stay at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Newbliss, County Monaghan and will be known as the Noelle Vial Tyrone Guthrie Centre Poetry Bursary.
The bursary is aimed at an emerging poet, writing in English or Irish or both, and at a particular point in the development of their writing careers. That is, their works will already have featured in a selection of established poetry publications, magazines, anthologies etc. and they will now be at the point of preparing a debut or a second collection for submission to prospective publishers, or indeed for actual publication.
Jenni, a native of Greencastle, now living in Derry published her first solo collection of poetry, ‘Rain Spill’ last year. Jenni creates the illusion of a water dance through the use of Rain, Ocean, Mist, Fog, Frost, Storm, Snow and Rainbow to capture the sense of her hometown and belonging, of experience and emotion, of life and lessons learnt.
Some pieces have evolved naturally while others have been created for the purpose of live performance or as topical commentary for broadcast or newspaper. Tender, light and humorous in places yet coarse, raw and unforgiving in others, this is a spill of thoughts, imaginations, fictions, ideas and realities gathered over four decades. Jenni is currently working on her second collection.
Jenni Doherty has made a huge contribution to literature and especially poetry over many years in both Derry and Donegal. She has travelled the world with her work. This award will only serve to further enhance her position as writer/poet/author and all round lover of the spoken/written word.
Rain Spill’ is available at all good book shops and at

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The Henry Girls play in Carndonagh at The Colgan Hall!

This coming Sunday night (20th Oct) The Henry Girls will be performing in the Colgan Hall, Carndonagh, Co.Donegal.  Funds from the concert will be going  towards the Colgan restoration fund. There will be lots of music, candles, and you can bring wine if you book a table...there's even room set aside for dancing! Tickets are priced at just  €10. So be sure to go along and it's an 8pm start.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Man Booker Prize 2013, Derry Panel!

The 2013 Man Booker Prize was held last night in London. To celebrate this years City of Culture and as part of NI Libraries Festival of Words, Derry's Central Library hosted it's own panel for last night's award!

The Derry panel consisted of Anita Robinson (Author and Broadcaster), Jenni Doherty (Poet and propietor of Little Acorns Bookstore, Derry), Brain McGilloway (Author and Head of English at St. Columbs College) and chaired by Liam Browne.

The panel discussed the 6 shortlisted books for the prize which included, 'The Luminaries' by Elanor Catton; 'We Need New Names' by Noviolet Bulawayo; 'Harvest' by Jim Crace; 'The Lowland' by Jhumpa Lahiri; 'A Tale for the Time Being' by Ruth Ozeki and 'The Testament of Mary' by Colm Tobin.

A large audience attended the event and participation from the members made the discussion most interesting. It made for a rather entertaining night with the different viewpoints of the panel members and then at times very similar points made in relation to each shortlisted work!

'The Luminaries' is a book of 800+ pages and was described by the Derry panel as an 'extraordinarily structural book' and yet its characters just didn't have 'a linear connection, but rather a cris cross connection and the story gathers slow momentum'. The final words on it were that it would be a 'desert island book as that's the only time you'd have time to read it'. Little did the Derry panel expect this work to win the prize when announced live from London just before 10pm!

If the Derry panel were to have the final vote 'Harvest' by Jim Crace would most certainly have won. They each highly recommended this work as a 'must for all to read'. Anita Robinson  went so far as to say it is 'the perfect book'. Jenni Doherty commented that it was 'possibly the best book I've ever read'. McGilloway described it as 'a beautiful book'.

The Derry audience were all talking afterwards how they are looking forward to buying and borrowing 'The Harvest' and reading. Unfortunately no one from Derry was going to be rushing out to purchase or borrow 'The Luminaries'!!

Correspondence Day!

Good afternoon all. Today I received an email from Germany telling me that today is indeed 'correspondence day'. So I'm a great believer in taking time out to say 'hello' to someone new or someone old. Just take time to correspond with someone. Should it be orally or in writing, just take a few moments today and do just that.

You might just make someones day!

So many people fall out so very easily nowadays and forget what's really important in life. Maybe on a day like today, it's the opportunity to just forget silly errors and just express a quick hello. It really can't do any harm and it just might do a lot of good.

So from Muff today, happy Correspondence Day!

Halloween Spooky Park!

On Thursday 31st October, the local play park in Muff will be transformed into a 'Halloween Spooky Park'. Be prepared and be ready. The village has seen nothing like it to date. Spooky Park is awaiting. More details will follow soon!

Monday, 14 October 2013

James (Jimmy) Rehill Memorial Evening!

James Rehill (Jimmy) was just 25 years old when he passed away from SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy). Although his life was unexpectedly cut short, Jimmy managed to fit so much into it. This included a very promising culinary career.
Jimmy started out in his culinary career under Brian McDermott, (now known as the ‘no salt chef’) training at the catering college in Killybegs and then moving to Scotland to work in 2 Michelin starred restaurant, Andrew Fairlie in Gleneagles for almost five years. He then returned to work in Ireland in the Michelin starred House Restaurant at the Cliffhouse Hotel. James Rehill was passionate about food and cooking and never failed to let it be known. His passion shone through in his work!
An evening of cooking demonstrations and stories celebrating the life and career of this much loved local chef will take place in the Redcastle Hotel on Thursday October 17th. Food lovers and cooking enthusiasts will learn tips and tricks from cooking demonstrations on the night by ‘The No Salt Chef’ Brian McDermott’.
It’s a very fitting tribute having Brian McDermott on the night as he was Jimmy’s first mentor whilst setting out on his culinary career. The evening will not only be a culinary masterpiece but it will most importantly remember the life and work of James (Jimmy) Rehill. Everyone who knew and loved him can make more memories in remembering the very loved young chef Jimmy!
Tickets for the event are on sale in Muff at Thomas McColgan Butchers, Lynch’s Butchers , Spar, Harkin’s and The Squealing Pig. In Carndonagh at Claire the Bakers. In Ballyliffin at Nancy’s Barn Coffee Shop and in Moville from the Brian McDermott Cookery School. You can find out more about the event on Facebook at James Rehill Memorial, on twitter @JamesRehillMemorial or email at
For more information on SUDEP go to

Carol Ann Duffy and John Sampson woo Derry!

Just over a week ago the city of Derry was awash with poetry and music. It really was a day/night with a difference. In the afternoon, children enjoyed the delightful Carol Ann Duffy and John Sampson at the Waterside theatre. Here they gave a special performance for the young folk and their parents. Laughter, the appreciation of the spoken word and accompanying music were the focus of the event! The kids were introduced to such characters as Mozart (who even made an appearance in person), Picasso, Elvis, Virginia Wolff and Shakespeare!
Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and musician/actor John Sampson were in Derry for two special performances during this year as City of Culture Literary Programme, in association with Guildhall Press (Derry), Yes! Publications & the Derry Writers’ Group. Carol Ann Duffy, CBE, FRSL is a Scottish poet and playwright. She is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester University, and was appointed Britain’s poet laureate in May 2009. John Sampson is an Edinburgh-based professional musician, composer and actor.
Saturday night saw the second event take place at St. Cecelia’s College in the Creggan, Derry. A full house awaited the performance from this dynamic duo. Introduced by local award winning poet Jenni Doherty the Derry audience were certainly in for a treat.
The amazing John Sampson provided musical interludes…an arsenal of exotic wind instruments, from the honk and squeak of the crumhorn, which looked like a small bent walking stick, to the smooth and melodious hilusi, a Chinese flute. On a number of occasions the words and music combined, pipe tunes weaving through densely alliterative verses, building a crescendo of word and sound then falling to silence. The effect was truly mesmerising. At one point Sampson played two recorders at the same time. Duffy read from a series of her collections and wowed the Derry audience. Carol Ann Duffy had people in laughter, tears, mesmerised and always wanting more. She read from the heart and touched many hearts on the night.
Duffy and Sampson certainly entertained the people of Derry and left them wanting more. Here’s hoping they will indeed get more in the future from this amazing duo!

Junior and Joe retire from the Post Van!

It certainly is the end of an era and the end of a long road for two local, well respected, very well liked, postmen. Junior McConnellogue and Joe Faulkner both retired this weekend from their combined 61 years in the Post Van! Junior has been working for 31 years, 27 full time and 4 part time with An Post, and his neighbour Joe has been delivering the local post for 30 years.
I’m sure there’s not a soul in the locality can say a bad word about these two devoted employees, except maybe that they continued to deliver bills to us all! On many occasions we all love to see the postman coming but on others, when we know the monthly bill is due, it’s the dreaded postman coming in the gate! So Junior and Joe, no more bills for you to deliver…phew.
Both men carried out their service with the utmost discretion and with first class quality. They delivered, they smiled, they joked, they always had time to say hello, so they are both going to be a very hard act to follow!! You young lads, be prepared. Your predecessors were good!!!!
It’s also worth noting that in his 30 years of service, Joe Faulkner never had a single ‘sick day’. That alone says everything about his dedication to the job. Junior, having had a few sick days to make good his health, was also a dedicated postie and friend to the community.
They are both going to be very missed in the green vans, but they have their whole lives ahead of them now to enjoy and live to the full. So guys, have a wee lie on on Monday morning! Go fishing one afternoon! Do a bit of gardening in your evenings. And a pint of guinness is always on draught at your locals. As someone once said of retirement, ‘Retire from work, but not from life’. Here’s to many new beginnings for you both.
And Junior, from one Arsenal fan to another, Up the Gunners!!

New blog from Muff village, Donegal

This is a new blog and will be posting the cultural craic and happenings from the North West of Ireland. I'll be focusing on Donegal and Derry areas. Taking in the penninsula of Inishowen and my local village of Muff. There'll be book, music and theatre reviews. There'll be food reviews. And who knows what else! I'll write about any travels I might undertake and lots more. So keep reading and enjoy! This blog is going to grow and grow, so please help me to help it along. I look forward to the experience, I hope you, my readers, do too.