As part of Writing 3.0 Fingal's Annual Writers' Festival, I went along to Farmleigh last Friday to hear Mary Wilson host a selection of diaries read by their authors: Fergus Finlay, Olivia O'Leary and Joseph O'Connor.
Since the Guinness family built Farmleigh, it is ridiculously opulent. We were in a room so filled with neo-classical stuccowork that it felt like being inside an elaborate wedding cake. There was a free drinks reception in the lovely Victorian conservatory before we sat down to hear the diarists. On a side note, they do free tours of Farmleigh and it's very interesting.
Joe O'Connor started us off with a clever & funny piece about the like prevalence of saying like, like, in the middle of a sentence, or at the end, like, though the latter may just, like, be a Cork thing? Olivia O'Leary followed with a piece originally aired just after the release of the Murphy report, a stinging indictment of Cardinal Brady's actions. Fergus Finlay followed with the story of two separate visits to Holles St, one awful, one great, and ended with a nice comment that some things have improved in the health service. Each of the diarists read 3 pieces, and talked a little about each with Mary Wilson at the start. Fergus Finlay did do a little stump speech for why he'd like to live in a different fancy house in the Phoenix Park, but politics doesn't belong on this blog. That said, my favourite piece of the night was O'Leary's mock letter from Dick Roche to Brian Cowan, on the day when he culled junior ministers. If you can find it on RTÉ's maze of podcasts, it's a great laugh.
There were some organisational negatives. Tickets were allocated by lottery, so it was surprising that they didn't have enough seats for everyone. The beginning of the event was hampered by significant delays, which, to be fair, were partially caused by the crazy level of security and checking of names off a list twice. It's quite dark around Farmleigh and there were no signs directing you to the right part. That same security meant photos were not permitted. It's not ideal as a public venue for evening things. However, I really enjoyed the evening, even if I was the only person under 40 at it!