Midsummer Festival

I was recently appointed Artist-in-Residence 2018-2019 at the Midsummer Festival – it’s my dream job. An important element of my artistic practice involves cross-disciplinary, collaborative projects, and the Midsummer Festival specialises in encouraging precisely these types of ambitious . A two-year role, my aim in 2018 was to cast a light on my current collaborative works. Speaking about my appointment, the Director of Cork Midsummer Festival, Lorraine Maye, said:

We were beyond thrilled when Doireann accepted our invitation to be the inaugural Artist-in-Residence for the Festival. Her work inspires and connects with such a broad spectrum of audiences and artists because she helps us to appreciate and understand the depths of emotion and complexity beneath our everyday experiences, behind our shared history and beliefs. We are proud to play a small part in supporting her practice and to enable audiences to experience new work and performances by Doireann and her collaborators as part of the 2018 Festival.

Here’s a little glimpse of the events I arranged for this year’s festival…

The first event was my collaboration with the amazing visual artist Alice Maher, in the crypt under St Luke’s Church. Alice’s new work ‘Vox Materia’ began with an old stone carving of a mermaid in Kilcooley Abbey, from which she has drawn a new body of work on mermaids, silence, and monstrousness. Our collaboration led to a sequence of 13 new poems, which is due for publication by Salvage Press in autumn. This event was chaired wonderfully by Patricia Coughlan, Professor Emerita, UCC.

Next up, I was thrilled to work with composer and musician Linda Buckley, for an event at St Peter’s in the city centre.

This event involved the arrangement of a performance of my poetry alongside a sonic landscape designed and performed by Linda Buckley, in which each movement would ignite a series of burnings. Each poem I’d written aimed to set the city on fire, with each fire burns in a different era, revealing a new layer to the development of the character of Cork and its people. We were delighted to be joined by artist Cassandra Eustace, who, in her live, impressionistic movements through charcoal, added a deeply visual element to our exploration of fire.

Finally, I was delighted with the opportunity to bring one of my favourite artists to Cork. Aideen Barry’s work always leaves me in awe, and it was such a thrill to meet in person at last! (Although I did try to put on a serious face in the photos below)

A huge crowd turned out for our event in the beautiful surrounds of the Glucksman Art Gallery. Fiona Kearney, Director of The Glucksman, directed us in a fascinating chat about our working lives, the daily joys and struggles of making art and literature in modern Ireland, as well as the work itself: our explorations of the lives of Irish women, artistic depiction of strangeness and the uncanny, manifestations of the Unheimlich, and the manifold repercussions of domesticity. What an afternoon!

A couple of days later, I joined the literary carnival which is Crosstown Drift, organised by superstars Eoghan O’Sullivan and Joe Kelly. By foot and by bus, and all the way to the Crawford Art Gallery, I read alongside a selection of exceptionally talented writers and musicians such as: Pat McCabe, Roger Doyle, Landless, Alan McMonagle, June Caldwell, Lisa McInerney, Thomas Morris, Nicole Flattery, Cormac Lally, Danny Denton, David Jackson, and Gerry Murphy. A great time was had by all.


Fair to say that I’m pretty tired now, but also thrilled at how well all of these events went. Roll on 2019!

My gratitude to Jedrzej Niezgoda for his wonderful photos, and to Cork Midsummer Festival and Cork City Council for jointly funding my role, and supporting my artistic development.