By Peter McDermott
This is our third week asking people in our arts community what they’ve been turning to culture-wise in this time of sheltering in place, and we also wanted to know how their own work is progressing and how they are doing personally. Here are the latest contributions.
Elizabeth O’Reilly is a painter originally from West Cork and now a Brooklyn resident (for more about her work visit her website here).
“My lockdown idea was to re-read ‘Ulysses’ and simultaneously listen to it being read. I’ve had the boxed set of 22 CDs read by the Dublin actor Jim Norton for years and I’ve seen him on Broadway in many of Conor McPherson’s plays. He is lively and versatile, and I can visualize him as I read. I always assume it’s more difficult to read ‘Ulysses’ if one is not Irish or has not spent time in Dublin. I haven’t heard ‘galoot’ in quite some time, not to mention, ‘He died of a Tuesday.’ Since my last reading the trams are back in Dublin, though now they’re called the Luas. It’s good to be reminded of Joyce’s musical voice and the Dublin humor.
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“When the lockdown started a friend invited me to her place for a weekend, and then invited me to stay for the duration. It was a relief to have company, and we had fun together. Many friends had recommended ‘The Crown.’ Watching TV on my own feels depressing so I generally just don’t bother, but my friend was willing to re-watch. It was riveting both for the history and the relationships.
“I generally paint landscapes on-site in Brooklyn or elsewhere, but for the lockdown I played with totally abstract watercolors. It was fun and liberating. I would start with some kind of geometric oval or rectangular line, like the rim of a plate, and then spatter and fire shapes and colors inside the line. I looked at the patterns on the stones at Newgrange to fill out the forms. The work is not recognizable as mine, which I take to be a very healthy endeavor. Speaking of healthy endeavors, I wish I had a lock on my fridge for my mindless nibbling.”
New Yorker Terence Mulligan is the founding director of the Craic Festival.
“I’ve been watching ‘Queen of the South’ and ‘Vida,’ two great shows. ‘The Last Kingdom’ is my favorite show on Netflix. I think in my past life I was a Viking like Uhtred!”
Jim Hawkins is a seanchaí and retired schoolteacher. He was born in Astoria, N.Y., raised in Castletown Geoghegan, Co. Westmeath, from the age of 2 to 11, before returning to Astoria.
“We are coping well. Diane and I have different interests and things we do together. We have a lovely backyard, nearby parks and Jones
“Beach. National Storytelling Network is doing a virtual conference with tellers from all over the country and the world, including Ireland.
“Have watched and listened to theatrical productions on Public Television, the Irish Rep and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
“Have read Doris Kearns Godwin’s ‘Team of Rivals’ about Lincoln and his cabinet. Terrific! Reading short-story collections from various writers like Frank O’Connor. Reading plays I’ve always meant to read.
“Finishing research on part 3 of my project, ‘The Irish People in Story, Song, Poetry and Music.’”
To be continued…