Poet Annemarie Ní Churreáin: “Often writers have exceptionally clean homes. In fact, the tighter the deadline, the cleaner the house ‘


Donegal poet Annemarie Ní Churreáin is a recipient of the Arts Council of Ireland’s Next Generation Prize and a co-recipient of the Markievicz Prize.

What is your first memory?

As a toddler, I received a pram and a doll. I have a vivid memory of putting the doll aside and using the pram to carry the sod from the living room re-fire.

When and where were you happiest?

Growing up in the Donegal Gaeltacht. I was always delighted to be in the company of my grandmother, Mary Thaidhg. She was full of Irish folklore, superstitions, and stories about her years in New York City as a teenager. She had a delicious knack for swearing.

What keeps you from sleeping at night?

Oh dear. Where to start The climate crisis? Patriarchy? Capitalism? But the thing that interferes with my sleep the most is the endless to-do list in my head of deadlines related to creative projects.

What is your least attractive and most attractive trait?

Probably my least attractive trait is my tendency to be relentlessly obsessed with work. I hope my most attractive trait is my ability to show kindness and empathy towards others.

What trait do you deplore the most in others?

I get frustrated with people who have dogmatic attitudes. Life is neither black nor white, and we should be able to have at least two conflicting thoughts in our mind at the same time.

What’s the first thing you would do if you were Taoiseach?

I really am not cut out to be Taoiseach, but I do know that everyone deserves access to housing and access to the health or care services needed to live full, healthy lives. I am also concerned that, as a society, we carry many untreated traumas.

What is your greatest insecurity?

I am the oldest daughter of a large family who have taken in many children for both short and long periods. For better or for worse, I have a feeling that most things in life are temporary.

Who would you most like to go out for a pint with?

I’d love to go back in time for a good whim with socialist and writer Peadar O’Donnell.

What is your most precious possession?

I am sentimentally attached to a red wool pashmina my mother gave me.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Chanel n ° 5.

What’s the best advice we’ve ever given you?

As a teenager, I took my first writing workshop with the late Leland Bardwell during a summer school at The Poets’ House in Falcarragh. The advice she gave is still valid today. “The act of writing should always take you to a place you never expected to go. Also, never underestimate your reader.

When was the last time you cried and why?

At the recent opening of the Abbey Theater in Somewhere else, Michael Gallen’s new opera on the 1919 Soviet at Monaghan Asylum. As co-author of the libretto, I was just overwhelmed to see it staged for the first time. Great credit is due to director Tom Creed, who has woven his magic.

Who would you play as in a movie of your life?

Daniel Day-Lewis. I know it can be a challenge, but I believe in it!

Do you believe in a God?

I definitely have pagan tendencies resulting from a spiritual connection with the places. I believe our human energies are ultimately being called back into a greater meaning or source, if that makes sense.

What was your closest conflict with the law?

Fortunately, I have not been in trouble with the law, but I am often in jail. I am a panelist on the Writers in Prisons Scheme, which runs creative writing workshops in prisons. It’s a job that I really appreciate.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

As a student, I once left my email account open on a college computer and someone used it to send a very malicious email to around 8,000 college students and staff on the college campus. It was a hard lesson.

Tell us a secret …

Often times, writers have unusually clean homes. In fact, the tighter the deadline, the cleaner the house.

What song would you like to play at your funeral?

I have already made my request in writing. I would like the recording of Dónal Óg by Caitlín Maude for my shipment in a hand-woven Donegal willow basket.

Annemaire Ní Churreáin’s third book, The Poison Glen, published by The Gallery Press, is available on gallerypress.com for € 12.95 (paperback) and € 19.50 (paperback)


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