Archive for February, 2011

GE11 Haiku Competition

There’s a general election 2011 haiku competition over at the Antiroom with a mystery prize for the winner! Inspired by the Upstart campaign which took submissions from creative types for GE11 antidote posters.




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Fry Model RailwayI didn’t hear the Joe Duffy programme dealing with the impending closure of the Fry Model Railway at Malahide Castle, but that’s what mums are for, isn’t it, keeping you in the media loop? So when mine told me about it off I went to investigate, and sure enough Fingal County Council – who own Malahide Castle – have given notice that it’s to close before the end of February. So that’s one of the half-term days, sorted, anyway: an emergency ceremonial visit to enjoy the layout and that marvellous recorded voiceover one more time.

Scraps of that voiceover drift back to me, as is the way with rote-learned poetry, the words of eighties pop songs and scraps of the liturgy that seep into a child’s consciousness and percolate at unexpected times. (Of course, just as happens with the words of John Gilpin and White Wedding and the Apostles’ Creed, it’ll turn out that my memory of the Fry Model Railway voiceover will turn out to be about 90 per cent false.)

It was a March Monday morning when the railway came to Malahide … that honeyed, apricot light that is particularly hers  … Where the last shall be first and the first shall be last / May the Lord in his mercy be kind to Belfast … what visitor to Cork … the long Glanmire tunnel … the railways … describing the patterns of our times …

Most of the models were handmade by railway engineer and draughtsman Cyril Fry at home in Churchtown, with every last rivet to scale, according to his daughter Patricia Dillon, whose mother handpainted the scenery of Ireland which sets the trains in context. Fry left it to the State, which must have seemed like a good idea at the time, and it’s made a brilliant exhibition at Malahide Castle, an attraction which drew 18,000 visitors between April and September last year. It’s dreadful to think we might lose it. What will happen to it now? It needs a new premises – about 3000 square feet to accommodate the layout, which does require maintenance and upgrades – you can’t just plug it in, sit back and watch the train show steaming around the miniature country.

John Hamill, Chairman of the Model Railway Society of Ireland, is currently Interim Convenor of the Friends of the Fry Model Railway, and if you’re interested in lending support, or can offer suggestions, money, or a 3000 square foot premises accessible to visitors, please contact him at jghamill55@gmail.com

Update 28th February:

The railway is now closed to the public. There was a ceremonial final run last week, and it was announced that morning that the railway would not open at the weekend, nor afterwards. I was also told by someone who worked there that there was a proposed redevelopment of the premises as a retail area.

Anyone interested in supporting the Friends should now email Friends.of.the.Fry.Model.Railway@gmail.com.


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Seapoint Literary Suppers

I loved hearing Yvonne Cassidy read from her book The Other Boy(and give us a preview of her new one to come out this summer) at Seapoint the other evening. The literary supper is a lovely idea – sit where you like, eating good food and chatting, and have your supper punctuated by readings. I went with a couple of friends but had a stranger (lovely, interesting, chatty) on one side – I’d thought the communal table aspect of it would have my teeth itching all night but actually it was great to have one’s attention – what? – turned forcibly would be putting it too strongly, but perhaps encouraged outward. Sometimes I forget how refreshing it can be to meet new people.

Coming up in March and April there will be suppers with Aifric Campbell, Alex Barclay and Joseph O’Connor (though I believe there’s a waiting list for that one, which has had to be rescheduled from this month), so if Monkstown is a reasonable distance from you, stick it in the diary. Your dinnertime chat doesn’t have to be terrifically literary and book-analysing, if that’s not your thing, but you do get the opportunity to chat to the writers, if that is your thing.

The food was great. A glass of wine is included in the e28 per head.

And if you’re lovely, interesting and chatty, come and sit beside me.

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Best of Beryl

The Booker Prize Foundation has just created a special prize for Beryl Bainbridge, known as “The Booker Bridesmaid” because she was shortlisted five times but never won. The public can vote for which one of the five shortlisted novels will win the Man Booker Best of Beryl prize.

What do you think? Cast your vote.

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Posted in The Anti-Room yesterday on the closure of Waterstones in Dublin – Dawson Street and Jervis Street branches to go.

Have recently posted over there on the repellent Tantrum concession in Hamley’s in Dundrum, and on improving breastfeeding rates in Ireland.

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