The blog has been quiet for the last week or two, and not, I admit, for the first time. Sorry about that. Things have overtaken me slightly, primarily since I hooked up with the organising committee of the Swift Satire Festival in Trim, Co Meath.
The episode combines a number of things I’m fascinated with – literature, for an obvious one; my seriously underrated home county, for another; for a third, a certain keenness to hone a few digital marketing techniques – if knowledge is power, then knowledgeable action is omnipotent; and for a fourth, a growing and, I warrant, probably irreversible fascination with all things tourism, and its place within the gamut of what it’s likely to mean to be Irish for the foreseeable future as we try to lift ourselves out of the mire of fiscal fucked-up-ness in which we’ve recently found ourselves.
To pose for a moment an unabashed non-sequitur, my reading attention was diverted far away from these shores over the past few days by an idle moment in which I read the first paragraph of Bill Bryson’s travel book about Australia, Down Under. (I’m sure I’m not alone in the world in reading the opening lines of a Bryson book and being completely smitten until the last page is turned.) There is no arena better than books for time-travel, though, and I’ve found myself moving adroitly from 21st century Australia to an 18th century classic which will, next month, be read on the grounds of a 12th century castle in County Meath.
And when I say “read”, I mean collectively, in rapidfire fashion, in what I’m assured is the largest simultaneous reading ever to take place in Ireland.
Gulliver’s Travels is the book and Trim Castle is the setting for the Great Gulliver Gathering on Saturday, July 6th. You can reserve a page of Gulliver online and just show up on the day – the event kicks off sharpish at 1pm so if you’re interested you should arrive about noon to get comfortably to your place in proceedings – to take part in what promises to be one big and unforgettable get-together of vastly different and at the same time undoubtedly like-minded folk.
As if that isn’t enough, Saturday, July 6th also sees ten hours of comedy fun in the festival marquee, genealogy one-to-ones with the good folk from Eneclann who have been in the news in a big way with all those “Michelle Obama’s Irish heritage” headlines this week and, to cap off the day, Project Swift, an art installation of scenes from Swift’s life and works which deploys state-of-the-art projection techniques and will be lavished upon the walls of Trim Castle.
Starting it all off, though, will be the Gulliver Gathering when 302 of us will huddle up and read a page apiece of Gulliver’s Travels. I’ll be there. Will you join me?