Borris Festival of Writing and Ideas 2014 – Sunday Review – 15-06-14

Cathy Davey - Festival of Writing and Ideas

It was an early start to Sunday with Soundings’ Holy Trinity in the Chapel. This event was a collection of individuals telling stories under various topics and performing. Giles Duley, Lisa Dwan, John Butler took care of the stories and Jerry Fish, Lisa Hannigan and Cathy Davey were the musical side of the experience. The stories were on the broad topics of inspire, alarm and humour. John Butler told various stories about travelling in planes, including unintentionally breaking someone’s nose and also unintentionally drinking a friend’s breast milk. If you see him sitting next to you on a plane, I’d advise you to ask for another seat! Giles Duley told an amazing tale of his experience in a tattoo parlour.

The next event was hosted by Tom Morris and was a discussion with Pat McCabe, Paul Murray and Eimear McBride on the short stories collection Dubliners 100, which is a re-imagining of Dubliners by various modern writers. Joyce’s classic was published in 1914, and this new collection set about to take the original topics/ ideas and let a variety of modern writers recreate the original in a new setting or voice. After a short reading, they discussed their fears of working on hallowed ground, and how each of them first encountered the work of Joyce and what it meant to them.

Cathey Davey and Ruth Padel were an unusual pairing, but their shared love of the animal kingdom seemed a natural place to start. Cathy has worked with dog homes and more recently as a horse rescuer. Ruth Padel is the grand daughter of Charles Darwin, and talked about her famous relation, and also her experience in the natural domain of tigers. There was various musical interludes, as well as discussions on animals in poetry and song.

Roy Foster talked about his latest work, Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland 1890-1922 which will be published this Autumn. The work is an insight into the lives of those involved with the 1916 rising, discussing their middle class backgrounds and how they became revolutionaries. It is unusual to think of young men and women prepared to die for a cause, when they have all the advantages that society can offer, and the reasons behind this should make for a fascinating read.

The final event I attended was a discussion between Patrick McGrath and Pat McCabe on the nature of madness in their work, which was chaired by Peter Murphy. The discussion was on the similarities between McGrath’s Spider and McCabe’s Butcher Boy. McGrath talked of the film version of Spider and how Ralph Fiennes said he interested in the adaptation before any director was involved. David Cronenberg was the eventual director, and he changed the script substantially, which McGrath was happy with as it is the nature of film making. McCabe talked of his own collaboration with Neil Jordan, and how well they worked together. McCabe talked of the revolution in TV which is occurring at the moment, and said he feared for the future of the novel as future generations did not seem to be reading in the same way as previous ones.

Another fascinating few days in Borris, with some of the best writers, musicians and film makers talking in the beautiful confines of Borris House. We look forward to what they come up with next year.


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