Editorial & Introduction
We wish to acknowledge the following for their support and faith in the Quarryman project from the outset:
Our sincere thanks go to Prof. Claire Connolly, Head of the School of English UCC, and John FitzGerald, Director of Information Services & University Librarian UCC, for the financial assistance from their departments.
We would also like to thank Dr. Eibhear Walshe, Director Creative Writing UCC, and Dr. Jools Gilson, Associate Director Creative Writing UCC, for their practical advice and ongoing support.
We thank Mary Morrissy, Leanne O’Sullivan and Alannah Hopkin of the School of English Creative Writing team who helped us in the course of preparing the manuscript.
Our sincere gratitude goes to Kevin Sprouls, renowned graphic artist, who gave of his time and talent to provide us with a cover illustration, and to our own Eoghan Walsh who did the cover design.
We would like to thank Thomas McCarthy for so generously writing the introduction to this anthology. Sincere thanks also go to those former Quarrymen and Quarrywomen, William Wall, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Eiléan Ní Chuileanáin, Gerry Murphy and Greg Delanty who allowed us to include their work.
We are very grateful to our publisher Máire Bradshaw and her staff at Bradshaw books, particularly Louise Gould and Maureen Considine and for all their advice and assistance.
Thanks also to Ann Luttrell of the Triskel Arts Centre and Liam Ronayne, Cork City Librarian for giving us a platform to launch Quarryman at The Cork World Book Fest.
Finally, we thank our families and friends who have supported us at every turn and continue to do so.
I am delighted to add my words of congratulations to the editors of this newly-revived journal and to celebrate the healthy, ever-vibrant world of creative writing in UCC. This new edition of Quarryman marks an exciting moment in the writing of fiction and of poetry in the School of English. Creative writing has always been an integral part of the working life of students and staff of the School of English here in UCC and there has always been a direct and productive link made between the wide range of creative and critical imaginations and the fascinating interplay between the two. The revival of Quarryman comes at a time when new undergraduate and post-graduate programmes are being developed in the writing of fiction, poetry, radio writing and memoir, amongst other genres and a successful master's programme in Creative Writing is now coming to the end of its first year. Much of the work in this edition of The Quarryman comes from this programme and reflects the lively and rewarding atmosphere generated in the workshops and classes. Those of us privileged to lead these courses recognise the wide diversity of talent and ingenuity on display in these pages. Here we can read a variety of creative voices articulating ideas and moments around death, unease, displaced lives, lost love, and drawing on a variety of settings, sometimes ironically and in other places with pathos and compassion, but always with a sense of commitment to find the best words, the right structures and the most engaged language in which to enlarge our sense of what it is to live and to observe and to be observed.
Director, Creative Writing, School of English
Quarryman – A New Generation Takes Control
Editing Quarryman, distributing Quarryman, selling advertising space in Quarryman; all were core validating activities for several generations of UCC literati. The physical ‘Quarry’ itself, from which many an undergraduate Neanderthal man emerged, covered in muck and blood, is now long gone. I can recall the supreme efforts of Arts students as they tried to overcome the rugby-honed ball skills of Eng students during those riots called soccer matches in that hole in the ground in the early 19"“70s. A fine and refined Library building now covers the blood and the memory of those years. But let’s move from muck to poetry: originally begun as the Q.C.C., the student magazine then became The Quarryman for a time, before the name was abandoned in favour of The Chronic of 1919/1920; but this was dropped yet again for The Locker in 1924. Then, it seems, due to the war, and a ‘deplorable laxness’, there was no magazine until March 1929 when the students of UCC revived the old Quarryman name. This new Quarryman, which continued well into the 1970s, is a gem among student publications. In my day, the editors, from Patrick Crotty to Greg Delanty were energetic, well motivated and extremely opinionated, all qualities highly desirable in leaders in any walk of life. Both editors, incidentally, were influential student-poets who went on to become Professors of Literature in Aberdeen and Vermont; and influential editors on a world scale: one thinks of Crotty’s monumental Penguin Book of Irish Poetry (2010) and Delanty’s superb Norton anthology The Word Exchange (2011). UCC has never failed to produce writers and editors of the first rank. As the thriving metropolis of Munster, ‘the undisputed Queen of the South’ as Michael MacLíammóir once described Cork, without irony, Cork and UCC should always be the first and final refuge for high level discourse and freedom of imagination in the South. It is the primary function of a University to act as a sanctuary, a safe haven for poets and dissident voices. A University campus should always be in a state of dialogue with its hinterland, like a great theatre company or a centre of broadcasting. It would be impossible to overstate how important freedom of expression and imagination must remain in a world of increasing religious fanaticism, standardised corporate responses and insatiable PR commentaries. A writer must be free to speak from the heart and Quarryman is one of the platforms from which a statement can be made. The most permanent statements find their form in literature; and such statements of freedom will be found in Quarryman as poetry and fiction. There, the work begins for the editors of today and of the future: in the cacophony of a wireless world how can distinct and dissident voices be protected and sustained? When print was propeller-driven the world was more easily controlled.
College magazines don’t occur in a vacuum; they breathe off the sense of creativity in the space around them. There were days in February and March of 1975 when things were really moving fast in terms of poetry at UCC. The narrow stairs of Brighton Villas, the English Department home, were snarled in a traffic jam of poets. In one office Professor Lucy was polishing the work that would be published as Unfinished Sequence, while in another the great Ulster poet John Montague was collating the lyrics that would become A Slow Dance. Twenty students attended our first student-led workshop. Five new poets read their poems and discussed the formal structures and the established tones, rather than any philosophy, behind the work. This is EXACTLY what a workshop should be. The poets John Montague and Gregory O’Donoghue attended our second workshop that year. I remember Montague saying that ‘something big’ could happen out of the work of our group. He talked to us about the original Queen’s University workshop that Heaney and others had attended in the Sixties. Montague felt then that the time was ripe for a new Munster movement in poetry. I recall him saying that we all needed to look at ourselves coldly and objectively because within our new workshop there was enough latent talent to form a whole new school of poetry. We already had a venue and platform on campus and in the Old Presbyterian Church in Prince’s Street. We planned to start a second magazine to add to Quarryman, and we now had a new University Theatre that would, we were convinced, link the poets of the city – Robert O’Donoghue, Anthony Blinco, Seán Ó Criadáin – with the poets of the college like Liam de Bhall and Theo Dorgan. And Gerry Fitzgibbon of the English Department began his encouraging poetry feature in the daily Examiner: eventually, he would publish many of the UCC poets of that era. Liam de Bhall (William Wall) also set up a creative partnership with the artist John McCarg, publishing UCC poets in his beautiful, elaborately designed First Issue. Most of my spare time – and time I couldn’t spare – was taken up in organising the Poetry Workshop. The principles we developed merely by practice were the same as the ones I found in operation at the professional Iowa Writing Programme 15 years later.
That semester in 1975, the publisher-poet Peter Fallon came to UCC for a reading with Sean Dunne, Gregory O’Donoghue and Theo Dorgan. I did the introductions for that reading and talked for hours about publishing with Fallon and Montague. Fallon spoke to us, I remember about the Gallery Press, its operation and its future. It was through him that we learned about Pearse Hutchinson and Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and their new magazine, Cyphers. ‘Keep in touch,’ Fallon said to us all as he departed (probably the nicest thing a publisher can say to a bunch of new poets).
Later that same year, it was 5 May, Robert Graves, an almost mythical poetic figure, gave a wonderful English Literature Society reading. Graves came to visit us from Majorca. I sat beside him and Mrs. Graves at the Oyster Tavern dinner. He said to me that Rupert Brooke was the nicest of the Georgian poets. He also said that ‘of that lot’ Winston Churchill was the only gentleman. He said that poetry is no longer being written in England but that he got ‘the sense of poetry’ when he came to Cork. At the reception he was besieged by people, of course, becoming very fatigued, but we got him away to the Oyster for dinner. At one point in the evening Graves turned to me and said ‘You know, Thomas, I have been to Heaven.’ I thought he had taken too much drink, until he showed me his box (silver with what looked like an emerald set into the lid), a little box of hallucinogenic mushrooms that had been a gift to him from Carlos Castenada. Graves’ wife slapped him on the wrist and said ‘You mustn’t ruin that young boy with your dirty mushrooms!’ He returned his magic mushrooms to his pocket very sheepishly. He was an old devil and a scoundrel (and grossly irresponsible, it must be said), but a master in the craft of poetry; and one of poetry’s greatest theorists in The White Goddess. Earlier in the day, at a seminar in the English Department, Graves was asked if he had any advice for budding poets. He answered, without hesitating:
‘ Poets! If you are budding come into bloom!’
That would be my advice also to the new generation of poets and fiction writers who will dominate College life and make a stir for literature in the cauldron of activity that is now the University campus. Be of great determination and hope; be of unbridled hope for your work. It is the most important thing in the world; it will become a lifelong mirror held up to the soul. Quarryman is an important part of the structure of the new wave of literary voices, voices we will hear more and more in the coming decade. The voices in the current issue, the pathos and anguish, the warmth and desolation, all speak of the permanence of the human situation. They speak of a personal being that is universal, in voices that are instantly recognisable in any cultural space occupied by the young.
I wonder about – and I marvel at – these new hipster poets and fiction writers. I love the attitude, the individual viewpoint, the integrity of the personal worlds described. I’ve just been reading about the most popular hipster baby names in Santa Monica, Austin, Texas, and Madison: names like August, Daisy, Dexter, Dixie and Flora, Hazel, Hugo, Ione, Kai, Luka, Millie, Poppy and Romy and then I realise that there’s been a localised hipster baby-naming going on in Cork, in Schull, Dingle, Kinsale, old Montenotte and Gardiner’s Hill/St. Luke’s and other places where the über-cool book-lovers congregate. We will have poets named Aoife, Oisín, Sorcha, Doireann, Darragh, Dearann. Naming such persons, our newborn, is the most powerful first use of language. It is the first familial act of poetry in our lives. The names remind us, also, that our personal lives are our best imaginative resources as we settle down to write a poem or a screenplay. A generation hence, in UCC, a Sorcha will be writing a poem for Dexter, a Romy will be writing love letters to her hipster kid, Darragh. The future unfolds before us and Quarryman will be the first witness document; containing, as it always has, the first fruits of new love and the first successes of a new editor’s reign.