Rinne Maeve seachtain ar Inis Oírr | Ealaíontóir Cónaithe
TRYING to explain to my Mam over the phone as to why I wasn’t glued to a desk writing on my artists residency was a job and a half. I sent her a photo of a seaweed bath that I was about to step into at Aran Seaweed Baths and Spa on Inis Oírr, her response was “Are you not supposed to be writing?!
My response, "Not all writing; ag caint, ag canadh, ag damhsa, watching Gaeltacht videos...... Tá sé fluich inniu."
It was fluich every day and that was grand. Landing by ferry from Rossaveal on the island of Inis Oírr with my fellow artist residency participants, Donal O’ Kelly and Hilary Bowen-Walsh, we knew that we had arrived somewhere special.
Met by Dara McGee, Artistic Director at Áras Éanna, first stop was Tigh Ned and then food at the Óstan Inis Oírr and then back to the house to get settled. Waking up at the beginning of the week on Inis Oírr, I placed no restrictions on myself. I was going to use the time to think, to imagine and I was going to do most of this outside. Dara gave us a tour of Áras Éanna, a beautiful theatre and studio space on the edge of the Atlantic. Wild, beautiful landscape around us and warm, inviting spaces indoors. I took off that day on my own to walk the island. As an artist the island of Inis Oírr provides inspiration and stimulates creativity. In the first few days, time was spent among the local community, ag caint as Gaeilge, drinking cups of tea, attending exhibitions, musing and moving scenarios around in my head.
As a carer and a Mam, the opportunity to take a week away to explore an idea that was brewing in my head was a blessing. When the pandemic shut everything down in 2020, I connected with the Belltable, Limerick to research a theatre show about the Gaeltacht college experience. Having spent time at Irish college as a teenager, I wanted to examine this Irish experience. I applied to the Arts Council Of Ireland for a Professional Artist Development Bursary to improve my Irish language skills as I did want this theatre piece to be as Gaeilge. The next year was spent in ranganna Gaeilge in éineacht le Gaelchultur with a residential Irish course to be taken later in the year.
By the middle of the week, I was able to put words down on paper, to build a structure for how I saw my theatre project developing. Young people play an important part in this dramaíocht and I imagine it would be wonderful to bring them to Áras Éanna to workshop and present a taispeántas of the work in progress. Later in the week, I decided to hire a bike and went out cycling along the coast line, a place lined with stone walls with a barren landscape.
So many highlights of the week but a standout experience for me was the opportunity to sit in on a sharing of work from theatre makers from France, Poland and Ireland that were sharing Áras Éanna with us. A raw, brave exploratory work on Antonin Artaud, exploring his journey to Ireland in 1937.
So, I am left, windswept, invigorated, inspired and ready to move forward with An Chéad Turas. I am indebted to the Irish Theatre Institute, Dara and Ciarán at Áras Éanna and the community on Inis Oírr for their support. Artist residencies support more than just the creation of work. A residency can remind an artist of their creativity, why they followed that route and can inspire them to continue on this path.
Night time on Ínis Oírr