Food For Thought in Doolin

The writers’ festival in Doolin not only whetted my appetite, but sated it too. Every workshop was shared with scones, Danish pastries, chocolate drop strawberries, cheese, exotic crackers, fresh fruit, shell fish, bagels, tiny savouries. There is no better inspiration than food for thought: thank you, cooks, at Doolin Hotel.

On the Friday morning, I didn’t know where I was when I woke up in Limerick after spending the evening with my son in an extremely nice wine bar. A very, very nice, ‘will we have another’? wine bar. So, rather poorly prepared, I set off for Doolin (leaving my poor son rolled in a hammock trying to avoid daylight). Rain swept Clare had not changed much since I was there twenty years ago when I was flooded out of my tent. Barren, and bleak wilderness swooped across the shoulders of boulders, muds of puddles and isolated signs of life that dot the landscape and there I was, bobbing alone in Doolin, in a sea of a writers, feeling a mere pebble among celebrated rocks.

However, my first workshop with John McKenna was excellent. He is a great performer who gave of himself with humour and gentility.

The reception later was hosted by two divine, cucumber cloaked salmon, curled in yin and yang connectivity. When I delved under the silver threaded skin, my fork yielded a beautiful cream of pink flesh, that the fish was definitely worth dying for. And there were crab claws, and clams, oysters.

The Saturday morning workshop on advanced fiction was lugubriously intense with Sean O’Reilly. He took us through the perils of narration and language, instructing us to delve deep into the borders of our character, and keep ironic distance. It was fascinating. You could hear a pin drop.

This was followed by three hours of blurring the lines with Rob Doyle. The workshop was great fun, with lots of exercises, chatter and ideas for different writing. We did auto portraits, wrote Wikipedia pages, and filled suggestion boxes – great writing tools.

From experimental writing to the Mad Hatters Tea Party which served prosecco, G&Ts in jars with cucumber and poetry (with a particularly beautiful performance by Raven). And so, it went on, as it does, with greetings and meetings, dancing and prancing, arguing and barking, blisses of kisses, exchange and arrange until after the Blessing on Sunday morning with Susan, June and bagels and bloody marys, I went home in a blaze of Burren and sun. Now, sadly, it’s time for the weighing scales.

Thank you, Donal, writers and performers for an absolutely fabulous (yes, Ab fab) week end.

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