Road Work

So I’ve been on the road a lot over the last couple of weeks. Children’s Book Festival kicked off for real with two days in Clare at the end of September, doing sessions in Ennis and Corofin, Ennistymon and Miltown Malbay. On the way back, I stopped at the Cliffs of Moher. I think I was there when I was a kid, but can’t remember.
With the new tourist facilities, it’s all very packaged, but you still get the spectacular views. And given the damage that crowds do in a place like that (it was crowded, even at the end of September), you can see the need. I liked the design of the place, the sweeping, curving lines and the way it’s built into the landscape. That said, the taps in the men’s toilets win the award for the Dumbest Taps Ever Created. With a wide, horizontal spout and a stupid ledge instead of a sink, they will without fail, spray your crotch with water. Lads, you know how that looks.
On the car stereo was an audio-book – Ken Bruen’s ‘Magdalen Martyrs’. One of Eoin Colfer’s favourite writers, Bruen is biting and blunt, but thoughtful – an excellent writer. But he relies on references to other writers way too often for my tastes, and there’s a lot of wallowing in the perils of alcoholism, using up space that could be used to show his self-destructive detective working the story more. It’s the first book of Bruen’s that I’ve checked out, and I’ll definitely dip in again, but I’d like to see (or hear) more his own words, and less of other people’s.
On the way back, I drove through the moon-like stone slopes of the Burren, sweeping down the tightly winding curves of Corkscrew Hill like a giddy kid (a giddy kid who drives very carefully, of course). Then it was onto the motorway back home. Bruen had finished up by then. Maybe it’s the banks along the sides of motorways, but I can never seem to get a decent radio reception on them. A pain in the neck, given how boring motorway driving can be.
On Thursday, the 29th of September, I was in Clonee, in Meath, for an event that’s becoming increasingly rare in Ireland – and was never a common occurrence to begin with: the opening of a school library. I had done a residency earlier this year in Colaiste Pobail Setanta, so it was a pleasure to come back for the official opening of their new library. The shelves were less than half full, and most of the stock had been donated by the students, but it will apparently be run by students, so filling the rest of those shelves should be an experience in itself. I wish them the best of luck with it.
On the Friday I was in Dromineer, in Tipperary, to do a couple of sessions with Transition Years, as part of the Dromineer Literary Festival. The sessions took place in the sailing club, with a fantastic view out onto Lough Derg (which I had to compete with for the students’ attention). I didn’t get to see any of the other events in the festival, but their other guests that week included Jennifer Johnston, Dermot Healy, Mary Arrigan and Vincent McDonnell. Sounded like an interesting mix, but I was keen to get home.
Downtime is at premium this month, and this was one of the few weekends I was going to have over the next while to spend with my kids. The next week was to be another busy one.