Rachel Donohue is Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year

Sean Tanner won the First Fiction category and Una Mannion the prize for Emerging Poetry. His books include include a two-part biography of Robert Ballagh; Confessions of a Sewer Rat; and Intimacy with Strangers. He is director of NUI Galway’s BA with creative writing. Photograph: Cyril Byrne This year’s judges were Elizabeth Day, Mike McCormack and Ciaran Carty. This year’s inductee is celebrated poet Vona Groarke, who won the Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year award in 1993 and is now a member of Aosdána and teaches at the University of Manchester. Carty has edited Hennessy New Irish Writing since 1988. I wanted to capture the sense of shadows under a seemingly perfect life. Caravaggio’s painting The Taking Of Christ fed into this mood of a dark fate and along with it came the idea of betrayal.” Sean Tanner won the First Fiction category for his story, I Could Have Been a Dancer Tanner, from Cork, said of his winning story, I Could Have Been A Dancer: “With years of research behind me, hangovers seemed an obvious subject to write about. Day won the Betty Trask Award for her first novel, Scissors Paper Stone.Her fourth novel, The Party, is due out in July. The Hennessy Literary Awards is one of the longest running cultural sponsorships in Ireland and we are proud to welcome Rachel, Sean and Una into the Hennessy family of New Irish Writing.” The Taking of Mrs Kennedy, a short story by Rachel Donohue I Could Have Been a Dancer, by Sean Tanner Crouched Burial by Una Mannion Dubliner Donohue, who was shortlisted for the Hennessy First Fiction Award in 2013 and the Hennessy Emerging Fiction award in 2014, said: “This story really began as a ghost story. Vona Groarke: inducted into the Hennessy Literary Awards Hall of Fame. A Caravaggio painting, a hangover and the discovery of a child’s body buried 2,000 years ago in a Sligo field were the inspiration for this year’s winners of the 46th annual Hennessy Literary Awards. In 1993 New Irish Writing published his first fiction. “The summer I was 15, a child’s body was found in our field in Culleenamore, Co Sligo. Rachel Donohue won the overall Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year award at a ceremony in the Baroque Chapel at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Tuesday  night, as well as the Emerging Fiction prize, for …

Five Lamps Arts Festival marks 10th anniversary

Counter-culture iconography In recent years, the north inner city has become home to a range of studios and galleries, and tours of these are being run by Fire Station studios. There is also plenty of comedy, drama and workshops for children, and on Saturday, along the banks of the Royal Canal, there’ll be a Big Day Out with ferry rides and music at Charleville Mall. ADVERTISEMENT On Friday, the same venue plays host to Lisa Lambe, Fiachna Ó Braonáin and Martin Brunsden. Artists, musicians and community volunteers chatted and joked over coffee in Marino College of Further Education on North Strand, where the Five Lamps Arts Festival began 10 years ago. They were here at the invitation of artistic director Roisin Lonergan to talk about their contributions to this year’s festival, which kicks off on Thursday and runs until April 6th with 43 events across 15 venues. Named after the imposing Victorian structure standing at the junction of Amiens Street, North Strand, Seville Place and Portland Row in the heart of Dublin’s north inner city, this year’s festival comes at what could be seen as a pivotal moment for an area more often in the news for bad news than for good. “There’s always been amazing work going on in this area,” says musician Sean Millar, who works with the local community choir and who, as Doctor Millar, will be performing in the concert finale in the Liberty Hall Theatre. He points to two films by documentary-maker Sé Merry Doyle, depicting the inner city in 1982 and 1997, which are being screened, and which depict exactly the same sorts of problems still being discussed today. Locally-based artist Stephen Loughman has turned Marino College’s basement into an atmospherically trippy exploration of counter-culture iconography, while North Wall photographer Dylan Joyce’s exhibition at the Odeon cinema depicts young people from the docks. Scepticism Veteran community activist Mick Rafferty, who produces and acts during the festival in Under Pressure, a play about the impact of drug dealing on local families, expresses scepticism borne of 35 years’ experience. But, as Lonergan points out, this is also a place with a strong tradition of community, a rich cultural heritage and the most ethnically diverse population in the country – all of which will be celebrated over the next week. Aiming to “promote community development and social inclusion through the arts and to showcase the uniqueness of …

Michael Collins, midnight writer

“I feel sad for him but he’s honest about the male preening, women aggressively in the workplace, the economic joke of credit applications, private enterprise raping people, he recognises the endgame for society, he is a soothsayer, a marginalised figure, maddened. He has been accused of being a highbrow writer “slumming” it as a crime writer, another casual insult to a genre that often beats the literary genre at its own game. In terms of writing political novels about disenfranchised groups of people this is a kind of haunt for me.” ADVERTISEMENT The way Collins describes an upmarket apartment in the language not of an estate agent but an existentialist philosopher reminds me of Eoin McNamee, another author of big ideas and dark deeds. “It seemed the dismantling of America and the death of industrialisation was for each American a personal guilt trip and not an occasion for workers to band together in unions to try and preserve their jobs…” he muses on his website. I go for a run for 20 miles and this is when I really think. He lives in the greatest democracy in the world where you can say anything but no one wants to listen. ADVERTISEMENT A short career as a Microsoft engineer in Seattle followed his studies, before the success of his third novel, The Keepers of Truth, written longhand after hours at work “like a Neanderthal aboard a space ship”, secured him an American publisher and a couple of movie deals, encouraging him to pursue his true vocation, writing politically-motivated thrillers, sugaring his sociological philosophising with suspense, about the economically devastated rust belt of America, the workers and their families churned up and spat out by Reaganomics, the American dream turned sour. What most galls him is this sudden supposed ‘urgent need for women to reclaim their role as nurturer’ after being bullied into a rabid feminism that eschewed all things maternal. This article was first published in The Irish Post. “I think a novel has to have an underlying philosophical intent. Collins still runs. The standard by which popular fiction is judged falls on notions of ‘completeness’ and ‘satisfaction’, toward the comfort of the ‘known and easily understood’. First, a declaration of interest. When you live within your mind, when your mind is your office, that can become overbearing and lead to insanity.” Today he teaches at a community college in the …

Ex-U2 manager says fan clubs play an ‘unfair’ role in ticketing

Certainly, many ears would have pricked up when the conversation moved to the issue of ticket sales and touting, as McGuinness’ former charges U2 have seen sizeable quantities of tickets for their upcoming Joshua Tree tour end up on sites used by touts. After wading through the obfuscation from the live industry about how tickets get to the touts in the first place, hearing McGuiness pin the blame on certain fan clubs, promoters, managers and acts is refreshing. In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority has launched an inquiry into secondary ticketing, while the House of Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport Committee has been looking into ticket abuse, including digital ticket harvesting and reselling. “People go online to buy a ticket and think they have an equal chance of getting that ticket. Both McGuinness and Bicknell are astute, experienced players who operated for many years at the very top of the business. Will it then extend to Wimbledon and football matches? It’s time to find out.   There’s good scalping and bad scalping. ADVERTISEMENT “I know there’s a sense of unfairness in the air,” he told Bicknell. It might also explain where the touts and their bots are getting the tickets. Sometimes the answers you’re after come from the most unlikely sources. But getting an answer from U2 about this has proven difficult. Former U2 manager Paul McGuinness spoke with former Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell at the International Live Music Conference in London earlier this month. He said that certain promoters, managers and acts – the reference was not to U2 – are involved in touting. “I don’t really know what to do about it. Who is going to say to that college student, ‘You’re not entitled to sell that ticket and make a profit?’ “It’s very hard to address fairly. Are you going to clean up the whole of the ticket economy?” The inquiries include the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) here, which commenced an investigation earlier this year into “suspected breaches of competition law in relation to the provision of tickets and the operation of ticketing services for live events”. The question has always been exactly how these tickets end up there in the first place. The latter includes calls to criminalise the misuse of bots to bulk-buy tickets and forcing touting sites like Get Me In and Seatwave to identify ticket touts and differentiate those sellers …

Want public-service journalism? Get today’s ‘Daily Mail’

The 1950s called and asked for their headline back.#everydaysexism https://t.co/s1W1XfhrhN— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) March 27, 2017 pic.twitter.com/V3RpFSgfnO— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) March 27, 2017 Shame on the Daily Mail. This sexism must be consigned to history. It's 2017. Men at Mail create #legsit.Public outcry.Men change front page & blame Sarah Vine.Vine doesn't mention #Legsit https://t.co/k6GkgWcmsG pic.twitter.com/EUTHaawtO6— John Prescott (@johnprescott) March 28, 2017 Apparently, some mild interest in politicians' legs today; here are mine. They're a bit short. But with a lovely Aboyne vista here. #Legs-it pic.twitter.com/0a4c8XW6fj— Ruth Davidson (@RuthDavidsonMSP) March 28, 2017 If you see a Daily Mail tomorrow… #ripitup— Alastair Campbell (@campbellclaret) March 27, 2017 Consequently, both have been unsheathed,” Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine writes. She goes on: “Sturgeon’s shorter but undeniably more shapely shanks are altogether more flirty, tantalisingly crossed, with the dominant leg pointing towards her audience. “What stands out here are the legs – and the vast expanse on show. There is no doubt that both women consider their pins to be the finest weapon in their physical arsenal. The position of the camera at roughly knee height means that the two women’s legs take up two thirds of the photograph. Clearly, a late night was spent in the offices of the Daily Mail trying to find a way to stitch together the fact that Britain is teetering on the brink of one of the most unstable periods in its history, as May prepares to trigger Article 50 and Sturgeon is preparing for another referendum on Scottish independence, with the much more preoccupying sight of two pairs of female legs. The British newspaper, whose attempts to stay relevant in the digital age seem to chiefly involve elevating trolling to a branch of journalism, has once again succeeded in generating headlines about its headlines. Slow hand clap, Daily Mail. A weirdly fetishistic study is given over to the legs, and what their significance might be After much rubbing of greasy hands on meaty editorial thighs, some genius came up with the following dismal pun: “Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it!” On the inside pages, a detailed anthropological – no, let’s call it what it is – a weirdly fetishistic study is given over to the legs, and what their significance might be. Today’s offending front page features a photograph of two of Britain’s most prominent politicians – women who are currently making crucial decisions that will shape its future – …

Ex-U2 manager Paul McGuinness: fan clubs’ role in ticketing ‘unfair’

Here were two former high-profile managers chewing the fat over their years in the music business with choice anecdotes for everyone in the audience. After wading through the obfuscation from the live industry about how tickets get to the touts in the first place, hearing McGuiness pin the blame on certain fan clubs, promoters, managers and acts is refreshing. It might also explain where the touts and their bots are getting the tickets. It’s time to find out.   If two minutes later, they see the same tickets being scalped, it’s a miserable feeling. ADVERTISEMENT “I know there’s a sense of unfairness in the air,” he told Bicknell. There’s good scalping and bad scalping. It remains to be seen what happens next. The latter includes calls to criminalise the misuse of bots to bulk-buy tickets and forcing touting sites like Get Me In and Seatwave to identify ticket touts and differentiate those sellers from ordinary fans One thing that should also be examined is the effect of conflicts of interest on the market. But McGuinness had no such reticence and had lots to say about fan clubs and bots. It’s a market that defies regulation. In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority has launched an inquiry into secondary ticketing, while the House of Commons’ Culture, Media and Sport Committee has been looking into ticket abuse, including digital ticket harvesting and reselling. After all, if a huge number of tickets are allocated to the fan club (on top of tickets to sponsors and venue holds), this leaves less tickets on sale to the general public. Who is going to say to that college student, ‘You’re not entitled to sell that ticket and make a profit?’ “It’s very hard to address fairly. Sometimes the answers you’re after come from the most unlikely sources. One area of interest is the number of tickets allocated for a pre-release sale to the band’s fan club. I’ve asked their PR rep on three separate occasions since January about the number of tickets sold in the fan club presale process for their Croke Park show, and have yet to receive an answer. If you sell four tickets at face value to a college student at $100 each and when the gig takes place six months later the market value for that ticket is $300. “People go online to buy a ticket and think they have an equal …

Caravaggio: the heart of the story

“Two short story collections, one radio play and a debut novel into my own writing adventure and it feels to me that every time I embark on a story I am asking my narrator four questions. And how am I going to get it? The first two questions I feel pertain to ‘the stranger’ myth. It’s in my hard drive, alongside Sonnet 18, Dulce et Decorum est, and Not Waving but Drowning. It is a world apart, yet it still transfixes, we still connect. Despite PhDs still being written on the subject, explaining that part of the issue was relatively easy compared to the other part of her question, the one which reaches under the seam of it all: what is it about the work that makes it last? Who am I? ADVERTISEMENT But the chosen painting for the show is the less bloody but equally powerful Susanna and the Elders. The more you look, the more you see. What survives is the story. He didn’t want ordinary people to go into a church and revere his paintings, or to feel intimidated, to look up at those highly stylised archangels and feel they were in the wrong place, that it wasn’t “for the likes of them”. Transposed to today, his paintings would have taglines like “what Jesus does next is jaw dropping” and “what St Matthew looks like now is unbelievable”. Scorsese directed his iconic film 400 years after Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro – his famous light and shade – and his natural style of painting was the talk of Rome. He brought familiar Biblical scenes bang up to date, made them relatable, made the church relevant. In the picture, she paints herself as Judith, and the man she is decapitating – expertly, with vigour – is the man who raped her, Agostino Tassi. One woman’s mouth turned up at the edges, her cheek pressed to the audio guide like she was stifling tears; her face was saying “oh my God, it’s Caravaggio” in much the same way as the apostle in the picture is saying – Jesus Christ! In the early 1600s his paintings were often unveiled to thousands, who crowded to see Caravaggio’s work as much because they hated as loved him. O’Connor says it’s the things which make our hearts beat faster that reach out through time. I introduced her to the term meritocracy only to tell her there …

Ex U2 manager Paul McGuinness says touts making fan clubs unfair

You could say it’s unfair that members of the U2 fan club get a two-day jump on the rest of the public – knowing as they do that many members of u2.com are bot operators.” That McGuinness is publicly acknowledging the ease with which touts can run riot with fan club allocations is fascinating. After wading through the obfuscation from the live industry about how tickets get to the touts in the first place, hearing McGuiness pin the blame on certain fan clubs, promoters, managers and acts is refreshing. They also know that their comments will be circulated beyond the attendance of live music agents and promoters. Both McGuinness and Bicknell are astute, experienced players who operated for many years at the very top of the business. I’ve asked their PR rep on three separate occasions since January about the number of tickets sold in the fan club presale process for their Croke Park show, and have yet to receive an answer. In the case of U2, the same corporate entity Live Nation is promoting the tour, managing the band, flogging the tickets (via Ticketmaster) and operating two of the biggest secondary ticket markets (Seatwave and Get Me In). It’s time to find out.   These include the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) here, which commenced an investigation earlier this year into “suspected breaches of competition law in relation to the provision of tickets and the operation of ticketing services for live events”. Sometimes the answers you’re after come from the most unlikely sources. “People go online to buy a ticket and think they have an equal chance of getting that ticket. Here were two former high-profile managers chewing the fat over their years in the music business with choice anecdotes for everyone in the audience. Certainly, many ears would have pricked up when the conversation moved to the issue of ticket sales and touting, as McGuinness’ former charges U2 have seen sizeable quantities of tickets for their upcoming Joshua Tree tour end up on sites used by touts. Former U2 manager Paul McGuinness spoke with former Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell at the International Live Music Conference in London earlier this month. If two minutes later, they see the same tickets being scalped, it’s a miserable feeling. “I know there’s a sense of unfairness in the air,” he told Bicknell. Does all of this have an effect on the …

‘Fair City’ won’t bow to ‘Free the Carrigstown One’ petition

So that would be a “no”. Some might feel that the experience of being trapped in a featureless box with no chance of escape is not dissimilar to that of being a regular soapwatcher. We eventually found out in September she was being held captive by a masked man and then it was revealed to be the most obvious person called Ciaran… Big stories for Fair City are planned up to two years in advance, the spokesperson explained. “In less than a year since Katy’s kidnap we have seen the impact on her, the wider Carrigstown community and most of all on her family: her parents have split up; her father survived a suicide attempt; her brother has sunk into recklessness and despair. Digital pitchforks and virtual flaming torches are being brandished across social media, demanding the RTÉ “#freekatyobrien”. In recent weeks, a popular insurgency has sprung up among some fans of RTÉ’s soap against a storyline which they believe is over-stretched, undramatic and downright boring. To have hastened this story would not have done justice to the ramifications of such an act upon everyone it touches.” Meanwhile, operating on the sound principle that there’s no such thing as bad social-media buzz, the official Fair City Twitter account unveiled an intriguing new strategy at the weekend when it tweeted in the run-up to Sunday’s final of Dancing With the Stars that “We at #FairCity are voting for @AoibhinGarrihy on Sunday and want you to too! Such a moment appears to have arrived in a rather surprising fashion for Fair City, though probably not in quite the way the show’s makers would have hoped. “Last May a girl called Katy O’Brien went missing in a soap called Fair City in Ireland. We even promise to #freekaty if you do!” As it happens, Garrihy didn’t win, so Katy remains incarcerated. “They’re a bit of fun and it proves just how invested our viewers get in the show,” said a spokesperson for the show. You have been warned. His petition to release Katy has now been signed by more than 7,500 viewers. “Keep watching this space, and I think we can sustain it through few more twists,” says the spokesperson. But from time to time in every soap’s life, one particular story arc will grip the nation or touch on a collective nerve so that it escapes from the normal bubble of committed …

Damien Hirst painting of George Michael sells for more than €530,000

An image of the late George Michael by artist Damien Hirst has sold for just over €530,000 at a charity auction. The work on canvas went under the hammer in Dallas, Texas, at the MTV RE:DEFINE charity gala hosted by the Goss-Michael Foundation, which was founded by Michael and his former partner Kenny Goss. The painting, entitled Beautiful Beautiful George Michael Love Painting, was auctioned to help raise funds for HIV and Aids prevention and awareness. George Michael 1963-2016 Thank you Damien !! MTV RE:DEFINE 2017.” George Michael (53) was found dead at his home in Goring-on-Thames South Oxfordshire, England, on Christmas Day having suffered heart failure. The skull, which is covered by 8,601 flawless diamonds, was believed to have had a price tag of about €50 million. Hirst (51), known for his series of works in which he pickled animals including a shark and sheep, depicted the former Wham! star in household gloss in the colourful piece. His diamond-encrusted human skull titled For The Love Of God is among his most famous and recognisable works. He rose to prominence as part of the group of artists who collectively became known as the Young British Artists. Goss posted an image of the art on Instagram, writing: “Amazing result of $580,000 (around €533,000)) for this painting by superstar Damien Hirst. A life in pictures Thank you Damien !! MTV RE:DEFINE 2017 @damienhirst @whitecubeofficial @gagosiangallery @georgemofficial #whitecubegallery#gagosiangallery#georgemichael#damienhirst#gagosian A post shared by Kenny Goss (@kenny_goss) on Mar 27, 2017 at 10:18pm PDT The link is in the bio above that shows the actual auction of the work. Amazing result of $580000 for this painting by superstar Damien Hirst.

Adele says she may never tour again

“It’s changed my life. I understand why I do it.” Pop Corner boyband special with Zayn, Harry, Liam and, ahem, Ronan Keating Donal Dineen’s Sunken Treasure: The Watersons – Frost and Fire Grime for a change: how Stormzy is taking the music world by storm Sunday night’s show, the last of three sold-out performances at the open-air stadium, went ahead despite stormy conditions, with the star donning a pink rain poncho for several songs. – (Guardian Service) ADVERTISEMENT Michael Coppel, who promoted her tour of Australia and New Zealand, had told Australia’s News Corp media last week that she might not be back to the region. Then the future’s an open book.” Adele has been touring her Grammy-award winning album 25, including dates across Europe, North America, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. She will perform four sold-out shows – dubbed The Finale – at Wembley Stadium between June 28th and July 2nd, bringing an end to her 15-month world tour. Adele has said she may never tour again after completing a string of stadium shows in Australia and New Zealand. “Applause makes me feel a bit vulnerable. The British star told Auckland’s Mount Smart Stadium that she was not “good” at touring, according to the New Zealand Herald. “Adele’s been quoted as saying she won’t tour again, she’s doing this big tour as a recognition of her huge record sales and the enormous demand to see her live. I’m not sure if touring is my bag.” The singer (28) reportedly burst into tears as she called her latest, 15-month world tour the “greatest accomplishment in my career”. “Touring isn’t something I’m good at,” she told the 40,000-strong crowd. I don’t know if I will ever tour again. It’s impossible to tell what happens next. “I don’t know if I’ll tour again but I’m here now and it’s fucking beautiful and I love it,” she said mid-way through a cover of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love. The only reason I’ve toured is you. “We may never see her again,” Coppel said.

Eva International announces Matt Packer as new director

As curator of exhibitions and projects at the Lewis Glucksman Gallery, UCC from 2008 to 2013 he oversaw a large number of substantial international group shows. She is a graduate of the History of Art Department at Trinity and was exhibitions curator at Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane and project curator at the Irish Museum of Modern Art before moving abroad as curator-in-residence at the Mattress Factory Art Museum, Pittsburgh. He was also co-curator of the biennial Norwegian Lofoten Art Festival 2015 and will curate the 15th edition of Galway’s winter visual arts festival, Tulca, this year. Kernohan, who was director for five years, did an immense amount of work in relaunching and developing Eva International as a biennial, establishing many international connections and working with Eva curators Annie Fletcher, Bassam El Baroni, Koyo Kouoh and Inti Guerrero – the curator of next year’s Eva. In all these positions she has built a reputation for initiating and developing projects directly with artists and says that, when she takes up her new role in May, her priority will be that the Douglas Hyde will be “an artist-centred space.” ADVERTISEMENT Georgina Jackson has been director of exhibitions and programmes at Mercer Union, Toronto since 2013. In Dublin, meanwhile, the Douglas Hyde Gallery, Trinity College, has just appointed a successor to its former director, John Hutchinson, who retired after 25 years in the post. Although he is leaving Ireland, he says, he hopes in his new role to maintain and build on the Irish connections he established during his time in Limerick. He has extensive experience in the Irish art world and abroad. The curator and writer Matt Packer has been appointed as successor to Woodrow Kernohan as director of EVA International, Ireland’s biennial exhibition of contemporary art, which takes place in Limerick for three months every two years. Previously, Kernohan had worked as co-director of the Brighton Photo Fringe and the experimental exhibition space Permanent Gallery, and curator at the Regency Town House. The gallery has just relocated from the University of Southampton’s Highfield Campus to a new £28.5m arts complex, Studio 144, in the city centre as part of the development of a new cultural quarter. And he was part of the panel who selected Phyllida Barlow to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale this year. He has taken up a job as director of Southampton’s John Hansard Gallery. Packer, …

A vision of the future that’s a ‘Hunger Games’ in reverse

Futures, Series 3, Episode 1 Richard Forrest, Kevin Gaffney, Ann Maria Healy, Elaine Hoey, Ali Kirby, Jane Locke and Jane Rainey. A landscape of the mind. As you can imagine, strange dietary distortions result, as surpluses must be consumed. We get a sense of moving through multiple layers of representation, and in a sense we arrive in the fairly uncompromising setting of Norway: dense forestry, hard-won habitations, breathtaking mountainous landscapes. Utilising landscape sets in the background, she leapfrogs from the charming artifice of the theatre to the actual landscape, locating her geometric forms in abrasive environmental terrain. Until April 23rd, rhagallery.ie The Last Wilderness: Cecilia Danell Galway Arts Centre ***** There’s a magical, storybook quality to Cecilia Danell’s The Last Wilderness, which incorporates a series of paintings, photographs, laser-cut plywood, drawings burnt into plywood and a film shot in super eight. The documentary video speculates that they were “the ‘cure’ that the holy well provided”. It premiered at the Linenhall in Castlebar, Co Mayo, and featured in a survey show of his work at Millennium Court in Portadown. RHA Gallagher Gallery, Dublin **** Fifteen years on from the first Futures exhibition at the RHA, episode one of series 3 (there will be three annual episodes in the series) is on view. Conceived for The Lab as part of Dublin City Council’s 1916 commemoration programme, Tales from a Green Post Box explores the history of the Irish post box. Her starting point was the central role of the GPO in the Rising. Another is an exceptionally lovely Swedish provincial theatre, which is the main location for her film. The image at the heart of her piece is the holy well. It’s a fine, minimalist sculpture that is also a ghostly, Ozymandian trace of an earlier historical moment. Her well is a substantial construction of plumbing materials – domestic water tanks, copper pipes and running water. ADVERTISEMENT Quietly brilliant Ali Kirby responds to history as well, the history of the constructed environment. Her contribution to Futures, Landing, a site-specific installation, is quietly brilliant. There’s a continual, telling play on the line between realism and artifice in the paintings. One of the first acts of the Irish government was to cover the scarlet post boxes with emerald green paint. Habitual visitors to the RHA will remember that, prior to its significant revamp, Raymond McGrath’s original design featured a major ceremonial staircase that led …

Vona Groarke: `If you want to change things, stand for election. Poems aren’t part of that’

“What is the value of lyric poetry?” she asks. “Perhaps a new book will tell me.” Ciarán Carty is editor of New Irish Writing, which appears in The Irish Times on the last Saturday of each month She’s talking about divisive catch-cries like “We want our country back” and “America first” and whether with democracy under threat poetry has a responsibility to become political. All I do that is different is being a poet. Her work has appeared in Yale Review, the New Yorker, Kenyon Review, Boston Review and the Guardian. “It’s a way of saying the story of the poet is more interesting than the poetry, which is not the way I see it. Although I always loved English I don’t think I ever thought I would be a poet. So I think language was always there, an awareness of the potential of what words mean and how they are defined and interpreted.” Although born in a nursing home that was once the family home of the 19th-century writer Maria Edgeworth, she laughs off any literary link. Her six collections with the Gallery Press, culminating last autumn with Selected Poems, shimmer with haunting rhythms and formal brilliance. Her Selected Poems has a Martin Gale painting of a bird’s nest on the cover. “She had been very close to her grandmother and never stopped missing her. She took up teaching posts with her then husband Conor O’Callaghan at Villanova University – an experience that inspired An American Jay (Spindrift 2009) – and then Wake Forest University in North Carolina where their children Tommy and Eve went to school, deep in a conservative America where classmates were allowed carry semi-automatic guns. “I realised then I wasn’t very good at protests.” The value of words means everything to Groarke. “Everyone was chanting ‘Heigh ho, heigh ho, Donald Trump has got to go’. But don’t think writing a poem is part of that.” Since her breakthrough in New Irish Writing in 1993 when she won the Hennessy Poetry and Writer of the Year awards, Groarke has emerged as one of the most formidable poets of her generation. And have you had a look at Mike Pence recently? So why use language that you know is empty of meaning?” ADVERTISEMENT She laughs. The automatic full rhyme hurt my ears, and the sense of it offended me even more. I don’t think the story of …