Though a little anxious (did I know enough to be able to teach them anything?) I attended the first class after taking every book on painting out of Macroom library and the village library. Research, research, research. What can I say? It’s the historian in me and I can’t escape it. Though I probably didn’t learn an awful lot from going through these books, the act gave me the feeling that I was creating some expertise. In the end I needn’t have worried. They were so friendly, so grateful for someone to just lean over their shoulder and give them a few words of advice or encouragement, it wasn’t long before I relaxed.
It was at the tea break (of course there’s one of those) that I realized that this experience would contain more than art. As I listened to these people talk and discuss various things about what was going on in Macroom I realized how much they knew of the history of the town, how much a part of the town they were, some from birth. Some of the laughed and reminisced about how much things had changed I realized the huge changes they had witnessed locally, changes that represented those Ireland had experienced. Macroom cloaks for example (18th c. origin) were worn up until the 1970s by some women, especially to mass. It was something you could wear to mass everyday and no one would be any the wiser if you had your old pinny on underneath. The choir I’m in wear replicas sometimes when performing.
I just itched to record all of this information, conscious that so much of this social history would be lost. While trying to beat down the compulsive historian in my head, the writer rose up and started musing on all the wonderful stories each reminiscence generated. You can never tell what will provoke a “novel” thought. A headline, a TV bit, an overheard exchange in a café. You never know. For my friend Frances Kay, her highly acclaimed novel, Micka, was inspired by her drama work with troubled youth in Newcastle. The novel’s power comes the voice of the two main characters, two ten-year old lads, whose awful family backgrounds contribute to the terrible choices they make.
See Frances Kay’s blog, www.FrancesKaywriter.wordpress.com. Her book, Micka, is available from Amazon.