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Q & A on the Worms That Saved The World…

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Mutual Aid

A: For as long as anyone can remember there’s been a walk out along the headland to the Old Head of Kinsale lighthouse in Cork.  It’s actually a very well known walk and remarked upon in many tourist guides to the area – there’s fantastic scenery right along the entire route.  But in the late 90s some developers purchased the headland itself and announced plans to put a luxury golf course on the area that they owned.   They blocked off access to the walk and declared that a walking path and their plans for a golf links were not compatible. To be blunt about it, they wanted it all for themselves and their clients.

A: A campaign got underway to defend the public’s right of way and the public’s right to access.  It was called the Free The Old Head Of Kinsale Campaign.  It organised some large public trespass demonstrations.  These were tremendous and inspiring and I was on a number of them.  But the developers had the Gardaí [G: Guards] on their side.  And, as it turned out, the courts too.  For a while it seemed like we might be able to regain access to the walk but in the end a High Court ruling broke the resolve of the campaign and access was lost. For the present, anyway.

A: While this was going on I had two young daughters to mind.  I was aware that there were few enough children’s picture books around that were any bit different.  There are lots of good books that look at the natural world in a respectful and sympathetic way, but there is lots of material around too about kings and queens, and princes and princesses and all that stuff.  The big problem is the imbalance in books available to a parent or a reader.  A lot of material out there simply reinforces quite traditional values – there is no question about that.

A: I am not sure how exactly the idea of the worms story came to me.  But it could’ve been the fact that one of my daughters had a real grá [G: love] for making these elaborate homes for worms out in the garden.  She would gather lots of worms and put them in lunch boxes with earth and leaves and all sorts of things.  Probably rough enough for the worms but I did noticed that they never really hung around for long!  When she returned to check on them, the worms were always long gone.  I also read at one stage about the problems on some golf course with the chemicals they use to keep weeds down.  And then I had this picture in my mind too of seeing a water feature on a golf course in the States once – the water was a strange ultra blue colour!   Looked bizarre, to me.  All these things set me thinking.  So I got a rough idea for a story.  But that was all it was for a long time: this community of worms having to suddenly contend with a golf course and all that involves.

A: Although I knew Spark Deeley, it wasn’t until I saw her book, Into the Serpent’s Jaw, on sale at Solidarity Books in Cork that I thought to approach her about working on the idea.  Into the Serpent’s Jaws is a beautiful book with really engaging illustrations in it.  So Spark agreed to take a look and went off with the bones of the story.  When we met up again, she had these wonderful illustrations done.  They were really brilliant and I knew from that point on that this was going in the right track.  We began working on more illustrations and then on finalising the story line.

Connie arrives at worm school

A: That’s where we are at now.  Spark has completed about eight or so illustrations for the book.  They have transformed how the story looks and feels.  In the meantime I have worked on finalising the story line.  There’s a good bit to do still, but we have started to approach publishers with samples.  Truthfully, we need a sympathetic publisher because the ideas at the centre of this story are different and, you know in their own way. they are subversive too.

A: Publishing is unbelievably conservative  – what I’ve seen of it anyway.   Whereas this story is outside the box.  Why, you ask?  Well the story really is about solidarity and community – that’s a big part of it.  It’s also about why sometimes we have to stand up for ourselves, and why sometimes when we do, it is best if we do it collectively.   I think  the ideas in Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid have also managed to get to the story, which is wonderful.  Oops, now I’ve really give the game away!

Before the struggle - rivals

[Note:the above are photos of illustrations by Spark Deeley.]

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Written by Kevin Doyle

April 8, 2011 at 8:49 am

the hand of god …

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Latest story on my web site ties in with the horrendous details revealed by the recently published Ryan Report.  I wrote the story back in the late 90s after meeting a friend of mine from school.  We both ended up taking about our school days and about the fear we felt.  I would go further now …  one of the important things about the release of the Ryan Report is that it allows us all to be more honest about that period and what we were subjected to.  It is not an easy place to go back to – that has to be said.  But what I would say now is that it was not fear that I felt but rather terror – I was scared out of my wits so much of the time.  So the story comes from that.

But now since publication of the report I think of how lucky I was.  I was in secondary school when I suffered at the hands at the Christian Brothers but at least I could get away at the end of the school day.  At least.  I shudder now to think of those who encountered the Christian Brothers and the nuns and were at their mercy 24/7.

Today so many have marched in Dublin in solidarity with those who have suffered.  It is great to see.  Something at least.

To the story…

You Can’t Smoke A Shoe ….

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You Can't Smoke A Shoe In The LibraryDuring November and December I was involved in a great project linked in with Cork City Libraries and Labrinth Creative Health.  The project involved a number of creative art workshops with groups from a few city schools.  I connected in with a small number of these from the writing angle.  The process was a lot of fun for the kids involved, and for me too, and at the end a really cool book was produced using the art work and some of the text.  It was launched last Thursday at the Cork City Central Library and some copies are available there.  Anyway thanks to all the kids involved and hopefully we will get to work on something like this again soon …

Written by Kevin Doyle

December 23, 2008 at 10:47 am

Posted in Art, Cork, Creative Writing

Tagged with , , ,

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