The reason that the Stonecoast MFA Program edged out another as I chose a graduate school is because students can apply to spend one residency in Ireland. I am so grateful that I was selected to attend my 3rd residency here in Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland. What an amazing experience.
This photo shows Dingle, a sweet little coastal town with nearly as many pubs as there are places to shop, including one inside a hardware store. I don’t normally drink Guinness, but I had the best Guinness I’ve ever tasted one night at Murphy’s Pub. Funny how some things just go together: Ireland and Guinness is classic.
There are two sweeping streets of stores and shops, Green and Main Streets, respectively, and I didn’t meet anyone in any of them that was anything less than welcoming and completely accommodating. You’re welcome to have what you want and stay as long as you like.
Here is my favorite pub – Dick Mack’s, where I tried a whiskey called Writer’s Tears. Dick Mack’s has a wonderful little snug, which is a sectioned-off room on the side of the bar just about big enough for three or four people – women, originally, who had to sit there rather than be in the larger room with the men. They could go to pub, but had to sit separately. Most pubs in town still have them.
Dick Mack’s had the one main barroom, and then three or more other rooms comprising the entire thing. My favorite room was the center room, which had four doors leading to other parts of the place. Rumor has it that women who’d lost their husbands to the pub would come running in the front, arms waving and voice screeching, while the man had time to get out the back without much trouble. In other words, they’d warn each other their missus were coming and away they’d run. I love those types of stories, true or not.
I should probably, just for the sake of balance and truth, also share that I worked a little this week. Just twelve hour days doing what we do at residency, which is…spending time in classes on the craft of writing, at flash seminars on Irish writers, at workshops of student work, and with guest lecturers. This year Angela Patten, Harry Clifton and Kevin Barry joined us. In the evenings, we attended readings and as the grand finale, each Stonecoast student did a reading of their own, which lasted eight minutes. Eight minutes of pure terror will scare the Guinness right out of you, I’ll tell you that. About which, more later.
My family is here now , I’m off to see some other parts of this beautiful country. First Killarney, then Ballybunion, then Doolin – so I’ll be going now, as the Irish say, and gettin’ on with it.