Four on Friday … Including Seamus Heaney, Lucy Caldwell and Nuala Ní Chonchúir

In the first instalment of a new (hopefully) weekly selection of (mostly) Irish writing-related reading from around the web: Seamus Heaney’s favourite places, Lucy Caldwell on double lives, Nuala Ni Chonchuir’s novel fear and some bookclub tips.

The seven wonders of Seamus Heaney’s world

Not being a steadfast reader of The Economist, I didn’t know much about Intelligent Life magazine before this piece appeared on my radar over the past couple of days. Intelligent Life comes from that stable every two months, promising to take an Economist-like view on non-economic matters.

Extra marks for guessing which of Seamus Heaney’s seven wonders – boxed off cleverly by journey, beach, hotel, city, building, view and work of art – is in Ireland.

Lucy Caldwell’s latest


The young Belfast writer’s third novel, All the Beggars Riding, is published by Faber, and it received a major shunt towards the bestsellers’ lists with the announcement that it is the Belfast choice for “One City One Book” in 2013.

Dublin memoirist, novelist and playwright Peter Sheridan is one of the influences – alongside architect Louis Kahn and author Blake Morrison – for All the Beggars Riding, a study of infidelity and secrecy over a couple of generations.

Read the Lucy Caldwell interview over at Faber’s The Thought Fox blog

Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s fear

It’s brave of any writer to give updates of works in progress, which is exactly what Nuala Ní Chonchúir did on her Women Rule Writer blog this week.

Describing a “serious novel-wobble” during the course of her current project, a historical novel set in the 19th century, she gave a glimpse of the novelist’s perennial state of mind by relaying a snippet of a recent conversation with her contemporary Claire Kilroy:

Me: “I’m at The Fear stage.”

Claire: “Is there any other stage in novel writing?”

There were 27 comments at the time of writing this, so the post clearly struck a chord with lots of readers and writers out there. At the very least, it will make most of those who read it keep an eye out for said Nuala Ní Chonchúir historical novel when it lands on bookshelves at some as yet unspecified date in the future.

Book-club tips

Though still in the process of sifting through the gold from the groan when it comes to bookish online resources, a few decent pieces have come my way on Book Riot over the past few weeks. This one – tips for running a successful book club – might not have been the most earth-shattering, but it goes in here to allow for another little pointer to the blog’s first ever book club gathering, which is dipping its toe in the unknown waters of online meet-ups this month.

If you’d still like to get involved in the first ever Irish Writing Blog book club virtual get-together – note to self: think of a snappier name – then get your hands on a copy of Mary Costello’s The China Factory, drop me a line at and clear a couple of hours for an online back-and-forth after 9pm (Irish time) on Monday, February 25th.


P.S. You can follow the blog via email or on Twitter – the links and buttons are on the right hand side of this page (or, if you’re reading on mobile, they should be available below this post).


4 thoughts on “Four on Friday … Including Seamus Heaney, Lucy Caldwell and Nuala Ní Chonchúir

  1. Thanks for the Heaney and Caldwell snippets – v interesting.

    Thanks also for the shout out, Shane. I don’t often share the personal stuff on my blog but it is always the type of post that draws the most comments. There are many, many lurkers in blogland and they only comment when the thing is 100% relevant to them. Which is kind of irritating because half the time blogging is like talking into a vacuum. Anyhoo, I was glad of the responses because it makes me feel less alone in this mad(dening) game of novel writing.

    1. The Heaney piece I was fascinated by. I love his lines about Bologna, and the feeling of cultural duty that can be overwhelming elsewhere. For what it’s worth I loved Florence and didn’t make it to Rome, but I had an unexpectedly miserable time in Pompeii a few years back. I had waited for years to get there but I was afflicted by stupid little human weaknesses. I tried to scold myself into enjoying it, but the heat was ferocious and the walk to the toilets immense and the shade non-existent, whatever bit there was taken up by stray dogs.

      I felt chastened by my failure to fulfil my cultural duty that day, so nice to hear Heaney express something along broadly similar (if a good deal less put-upon) lines.

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