Ann Henning Jocelyn –  “The Warm Flow of Inspiration”

 “The Warm Flow of Inspiration”

By Ann Henning Jocelyn

When in December 2017 I met up with Kazuo Ishiguro at the Nobel festivities in Stockholm, he needed no reminder that he had met me, his Swedish translator, thirty years ago in Connemara. Indeed, he remembered in detail his two visits to the Clifden Arts Festival in the 1980s: names of persons he’d met, even topics of conversation. And while this testifies to extraordinary powers of recollection, it may also be a measure of the quality of his experience of Connemara.

During my thirty-five years of living in the West of Ireland, I have seen a host of eminent writers pass before my eyes. Being too many to mention, I will limit myself to a few: Nobel Laureates Seamus Heaney and Kazuo Ishiguro; novelists such as Edna O’Brien and Colm Tobín; playwrights such as Brian Friel and Frank McGuinness; poets such as Richard Murphy and Gerard Dawe.

I have also enjoyed the writing of those who are no longer with us but still present in wonderful work connected with this part of the world: Yeats, also a Nobel Laureate; Synge, and Poet Laureate Ted Hughes.

Countless contemporary authors choose to either live here or pay regular visits to the area. When the Festival of Wild Atlantic Writing, held in Cashel, Connemara, in October 2017, with the theme of “past and present writing inspired by this western seaboard”, was being planned, we as organisers were really spoilt for choice. The final selection of talks, some of which can be read in The Galway Review 6 anthology which will be launched in the third week of April 2018, showed an amazing variety, ranging from the witty and light-hearted to the thought-provoking, profound. General for all was an exceptional originality – the kind of authenticity that only comes with a healthy freedom of thought.

When authors choose to spend longer or shorter spells in the West of Ireland, it may not necessarily be in order to hold a pen and keep scribbling. After all, much of an author’s life is spent absorbing impressions – ‘staring at the horizon’. There are plenty of horizons here on which to rest your eyes – and your tired spirit, as Yeats suggested to Synge.

When in December 2017 I met up with Kazuo Ishiguro at the Nobel festivities in Stockholm, he needed no reminder that he had met me, his Swedish translator, thirty years ago in Connemara. Indeed, he remembered in detail his two visits to the Clifden Arts Festival in the 1980s: names of persons he’d met, even topics of conversation. And while this testifies to extraordinary powers of recollection, it may also be a measure of the quality of his experience of Connemara.

Ted Hughes has written about the “warm flow of inspiration” that came to him whilst living at Doonreagan in Cashel: the kind of creative energy borne out of these wide open spaces and its endless skies; where you are left with no option but to fall back on your own resources, reach deep inside yourself until you find your own true voice. And, this, I believe, is what attracts so many writers to the West of Ireland.

 

Ann Henning Jocelyn

Guest Editor

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