Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Beara Writing Group Announces Summer Writing Competition

Entitled "Poets Meet Painters," this competition is open to adults and children and will be judged by Irish poet and art critic, Cherry Smyth.

To enter, just take the following steps:

1. Visit the Gallery and walk through the Sculpture Gardens, or take a virtual tour of the artwork online at and/or attend a warm-up session on Sunday 23rd May at Mill Cove Gallery.
2. Contact Jennifer Russell at E. to get an entry form.
3. Choose a painting or sculpture that inspires you from the selected list.
4. Write a poem, story, or piece of prose (up to 40 lines) related to your selected art work.
4. Submit your entry (unlimited number) and €4 entry fee per submission by post or in person at the Gallery on or before the 14th June 2010.
5. You are invited to attend the Gallery on Saturday 31st July 2010, 6-8 pm for the announcement of winners, launch of the publication of short-listed entries and to meet the artists.

Here are the guidelines for the competition:

1. Closing date for entry is 14th June 2010.
2. Completed entry forms must be returned to: Jennifer Russell, Cappacluherane, Ardgroom Outward, Beara, Co.Cork.
3. You may enter as many poems or short prose pieces as you wish.
4. Please use a separate entry form for each poem or short prose piece submitted.
5. Enclose €4 ($6) by check or money order made payable to Poets Meet Painters for each piece submitted. Do not send cash with your entry.
6. Entry forms may be down loaded from the web site but cannot be submitted on line.
7. Each poem or short prose piece must not exceed 40 lines.
8. DO NOT PUT YOUR NAME OR ANY OTHER IDENTIFYING INFORMATION ON YOUR WORK. Submit your poem or short prose piece in a second envelope with your entry form.
9. Please put the name of the work of art that inspired you on your poem or short prose piece.
10. All submissions must be typed.
11. All winning poems/short prose pieces will be published.
12. The Publication of winning poems/short prose pieces will be launched at Mill Cove Gallery on 31st July 2010.
13. All enquiries by email to:, or tel. +353(0)86 102 8931.

Anam Cara Alum Night at the London Premiere of JD Smith's Play

Sue Guiney, the creator of CurvingRoad, a novelist and poet, and an Anam Cara writer-in-residence has sent the following invitation:

"J.D. and I would like to invite to a special evening performance for Anam Cara alums and other writers of The Next Curve: 2 One Act Plays. JD’s play Dig is one of the two.

An incompetent killer. A belligerent victim. What happens when a gangland killing goes wrong? And which is more frightening - the gun, or the shovel?

"JD’s play will be seen along with another world premiere, No More, Salvator, written by the Scottish playwright, Michael Hart.

Mona Lisa spars with her nemesis, Renaissance painter Salvator Rosa, who’s giant landscapes hang beside her for centuries. Fact and fiction meet in this comedy about love, art and the power of celebrity.

"JD and his wife, Paula, will be coming to London for the event, and I know he’d love to have the audience filled with as many friendly faces as possible. The show is at The Old Red Lion Theatre, which is a 5 minute walk from the Angel tube stop in Islington. Tickets can be purchased either by calling the box office at 020 7837 7816 or on-line at

"We are well into rehearsals, and, I must say, we have a fantastic cast. I do believe it will be a great show. If you know of any other Anam Cara alums or writers who would like to come that night and then stay for a bit of a celebration with JD in the pub below, do feel free to pass this invitation on. I know there are more of us out there, but I don’t have everyone’s email addresses. And of course, even if you’re not free on the 23rd, I do hope you’ll come to one of the other performances. I’ll be there most nights so we can always toast JD in his absence.
It’s been a real thrill to be able to bring J.D.’s work to life. I hope you can come see it."

New Dates Set for Haiku and Meditation Workshop

Due to popular demand for an alternative, shortened format this year, the “Writing from Within” workshop 2010, led by Kim Richardson and Maeve O’Sullivan, will now run from Thursday, 22nd to Sunday 25th July 2010 as a "long weekend" workshop. While tuition in some of the forms related to haiku have, of necessity, been cut back from the weeklong version, along with a number of meditations, we are confident that the integrity and essential values of the week-long workshop will be held, as they were last July.

Combining the haiku work with meditation, breath, and light practices, the outstanding natural beauty of Ireland's Béara Peninsula and the peace and quiet of Anam Cara, our aim is to heighten our levels of awareness, finding a path to the "principle within," which is the true source of our inspiration.

The new workshop Fee is €450 ($400 if booked by 17 June with a 50% deposit), and it includes:

· Workshop tuition and meditation/exercise sessions
· Room and full board with your own room and en suite (either at Anam Cara or a nearby B&B; transport to and from B&Bs to Anam Cara provided if needed)
· Access to all the amenities at Anam Cara including the common working areas, the movie and music loft, the conservatory, the hot tub overlooking Coulagh Bay (bring your swimming costume), the sauna, and the five acres of garden and riverbank grove with 34 quiet nooks and crannies

For further information and bookings, e-mail Sue at Please note that "Writing from Within" is limited to a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 12 participants on a first-deposit-in basis.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Naomi Barlow Larson, 1923-2010, R.I.P.

"I have an idea that some [wo]men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid strangers in their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood or the populous streets in which they have played, remain but a place of passage. . . .Sometimes a woman hits upon a place to which she mysteriously feels that she belongs. Here is the home she sought, and she will settle amid scenes that she has never seen before, among men and women she has never known, as though they were familiar to her from her birth. Here at last she finds rest." W. Somerset Maugham
Moon and Sixpence

In the early spring of 1996, I began to make much-needed changes in my life and to fulfill a long-held dream. Now, fourteen years later, I am constantly grateful to be living that dream in the home that I found on Beara and to all those who through their moral, spiritual, and financial support helped make that possible.

My mother, Naomi Barlow Larson, has been my most valiant supporter. On Wednesday, 14 April, she successfully finished "winding up her own ball of yarn," and as we say in Eyeries, I am lonely after her. Not only did she have faith in me, she put her resources behind that faith. At a time when it was assumed by many that I would be returning to my childhood home, she encouraged and supported me to follow my heart, to find the home I sought.

Because her touches are everywhere, she is very much a part of the "dailiness" of life at Anam Cara. Her presence is probably most felt in the kitchen -- in the meals prepared from recipes remembered from my childhood and in the conversations around the table. (The photo is of pecan pies made from her recipe* as gifts for Anam Cara neighbours at Christmas time.)

I chose to name the retreat Anam Cara (Irish for soul friend) in the hope that it would house many, including myself, who would become such to themselves and each other and because my first anam cara, my mother, helped to make my dream a reality. For all she was and did, I will be eternally grateful.

*Pecan Pie from Naomi Barlow Larson
3 eggs
½ t. vanilla (Mom uses Mexican vanilla.)
2/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter, melted
1 cup dark corn syrup (or ¾ cup light corn syrup plus ¼ cup molasses)
1 cup pecan halves

Beat together with rotary beater, slightly. Pour into pastry-lined pie pan. Bake at 350˚ F. for 15 min. and then at 325˚ for 30 more min.

Never-fail Pie Crust Pastry from Lois Barlow Hill
2 ½ cups flour
1 cup shortening
1 egg, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and enough water to make ½ cup of liquid
1 teaspoon salt

Blend flour and shortening until it forms smallish crumbs. Add liquid and mix together to form pastry dough. Roll out on floured surface to make sheet to line pie pan.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fish Publishing Announces Second Place Winner

For her story "The Birthday Book," Eve Vamvas from Brighton, England, was recently named the Second Place winner in Fish Publishing prestigious Short Short Contest. She will claim her prize, a week at Anam Cara, following the launch of this year's Fish Short Story anthology, at which she will join the other winners in reading their stories. The launch is scheduled for Wednesday, 7 July in Bantry, Co. Cork and is the centrepiece of the annual West Cork Literary Festival. For the complete list of winners, see

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Belated Happy St. Brigid's Day!

Beannachtaí lá le Bríde dhuit!
[The blessings of St. Brigid to you!]

February 1st is St. Brigid's Day* in Ireland. As she is the patroness of cattle, dairy work, and ale, her day is also New Year's Day for Farmers and the first day of Spring or Imbolc, a pagan celebration associated with fertility and weather divination.

The word, Imbolc [the season of light] is Gaelic, the language of the Celts. There is a strong association between Imbolc and Brigid, a Celtic fertility goddess also associated with fire, healing, and holy wells. When the pagan holidays were transformed into Christian equivalents, February 1st became St. Brigid's Day in honor of the Irish saint (named after the Celtic goddess) who was a contemporary of Saint Patrick's.

Paula Meehan,** the fine Irish poet, just wrote to say that Brigid "is also the patron saint of poets and 1 February is known as The Poet's Spring. As Brigde, she was the pan-northern European triple goddess - protector of poets, healing and smithy work; wells etc. came under her protection as she was in charge of fertility of the land and of the people. There are similarities in folkloric practices amongst the Sami of the Arctic Circle and local Irish practices -- crosses and Biddy's and other made things."

Here are some of the ways to celebrate the first of February -- Her Day!

1. Look for weather signs -- a hedgehog is a good weather sign if he stays out of his burrow. [In the U.S., this day is celebrated as Groundhog Day on February 2nd.]
2. Do only essential work on the day and go to the local shrine to pray.
3. Take stock of the household supplies -- will it last till harvest?
4. Clean the house!
5. Make a special dish for dinner for St. Brigid's Eve, such as Boxty Cakes or Colcannon (see recipes below).
6. Make a large oat bread cake, a Strone Strohn, or Brigid's bread in the shape of a wheat sheaf or cross and invite the neighbours in (see recipe below).
7. Because St. Brigid traveled the countryside, blessing households, with her white red-eared cow, show her welcome by placing bread and fresh butter on the window sill outside; also put out a sheaf of corn for the cow, put out rushes for her to kneel on to bless the household, set the table in the kitchen on the eve.
8. Leave a silk ribbon out for St. Brigid to bless; it is used to cure illness.
9. Because Brigid is closely associated with the farm, ale, butter, and cows, be sure to serve a good hand-crafted ale in quantity and never, never, forget to bring a few stories of the saint to the table!
10. Make the cros Bride or bogha Bride (St. Brigid's Cross). Though a Christian symbol, St. Brigid's Cross possibly derives from the pagan sunwheel. It is usually made from rushes or, less often, straw. It comprises a woven square in the centre and four radials tied at the ends. Many rituals are associated with the making of the crosses. It is traditionally believed that a Brigid's Cross protects the house from fire and evil.


Boxty Cakes: Boxty cakes are special. They are rich! Do not make them too big. They do not keep well so make them right before you eat them. Put homemade butter on them when hot. Boxty cakes have special ties to women. marriage and fertility. They are even immortalized in music -- the tune, Boxty on the Griddle! This recipe celebrates the product of the farm -- the wonderful potato and, of course, butter as well.
Ingredients: 1/2 pound hot, cooked potatoes, 1/2 pound grated raw potatoes, 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, butter for frying, salt and pepper.
1. Drain, peel and mash the hot potatoes (keep them hot).
2. Stir in the raw potatoes, flour and baking soda (do not over mix).
3. Ad salt and pepper to taste.
4. Mix well with enough buttermilk to make a stiff batter.
5. Shape into 3 inch patties about 1/4 inch thick.
6. Fry on hot greased griddle until crispy and golden on both sides. Makes 12.

Colcannon (for 6):
This recipe is here because it celebrates butter. When you had trouble extracting butter or had none, you could always call Brigid, and she would help. You must use real butter! You could make butter at home -- take heavy whipping cream and beat it quickly till the butter separates then strain the butter from the buttermilk pressing out the milk and refrigerate. A little salt can be added to taste. This is wonderful for the amazement of kids. Have them taste the cream when it is whipped.
Ingredients: 1 1/4 lbs. Kale or green Cabbage, 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 1/4 pounds peeled and quartered potatoes, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 1 cup cleaned and chopped leeks white part only, 1 cup milk, pinch of ground mace, salt and ground pepper to taste, 1/2 cup melted butter (use real butter)
1. Simmer kale or cabbage in 2 cups water and oil for 10 minutes, drain, and chop fine.
2. Boil potatoes and water, simmer till tender.
3. Simmer the leeks in milk for ten minutes till tender.
4.drain and puree the potatoes.
5. Add leeks and their milk and cooked kale.
6. Mix, add mace, salt and pepper.
7. Mound on a plate and pour on the melted butter. Garnish with parsley.

St. Brigid's Oaten Bread:
You will feel the influence of the saint in this wonderful bread. Rich! Great with homemade butter as well. Make this loaf into a strohn or wheat sheaf. Form the dough into three equal balls and one ball about 1/3 the size of the others. Form each large ball into a rectangular strip -- do not over work. Place all three strips next to one another. Bend the tops and bottoms of the outer strips slightly outward. Using a knife make indentations vertically in each strip. Not too deep -- enough to convey the image of wheat. Take the remaining smaller ball and make a narrow strip which is as long as the middle of the sheaf. Place that horizontally across the center as the binding of the sheaf it should stick to the sheaf. You can wrap the ends slightly over the sides. Using a knife lightly cut a herringbone texture into the binding strip.
as in:
In this form, you can leave the bread out for the saint on the eve of February 1st.
Ingredients: 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 3/4 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt., 3 tablespoons butter in small pieces, 3/4 cup uncooked oatmeal flakes, 1 egg, 1/2 cup buttermilk
1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Grease baking sheet.
3. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in bowl and mix.
4. Add butter bits and cut in with knife until mixture is crumbly.
5. Add oats and toss to combine.
6. In other bowl, beat egg with buttermilk.
7. Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour in the egg mixture and mix with a fork until crumbs hold together. Make dough into ball and transfer to floured surface. Knead only till it holds together. . Add flour but only if too sticky to work I like to simply coat the loaf with flour so it does not stick to the hands.
8. Pat dough into 8-inch round and transfer to baking sheet.
9. Score a deep cross into the bread but do not cut it through 10.bake 15-20 minutes till brown. (this bread tends to be done when browning is light to medium brown)

*Most of this information has been taken from the following website where you will find much more about St. Brigid and her day:

**Paula and Juliet Clancy are leading "The Poem and the Dream Workshop" at Anam Cara from 19-26 June 2010.