A residency at Cill Rialaig

2021 crept in under grey skies and the pandemic had not gone away, in fact it had caught us all even more firmly in its grip. Any alternative focus that lifts the eyes and the mind is a worthy pursuit and so when the Kerry County Council Arts Office Newsletter arrived in my inbox the end of January, just for the pure undiluted distraction, I read everything in minuscule.

Cill Rialaig is an artist retreat centre located on a remote headland on the Iveragh Peninsula, in County Kerry. Founded by the inimitable Dr Noelle Campbell Sharp, it has been a haven for several decades now for those who need space to check-in on their own creativity. Her main aim has been to develop and maintain a space into which artists can retreat, from Ireland and abroad, where they can flourish, away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the world.

Professional artists, who are resident in Kerry, the on line newsletter informed its readers, are eligible to apply for a residency stay at Cill Rialaig, the application deadline, mid-February.

Meanwhile, I knew I had been falling back into the world where I shun risk. I had begun to drop myself into that place where suspense only happened on a Saturday night when I was watching Tommy Tierney, trying to figure out his guests on RTE TV. Life had become a quiet watering hole.

I was choosing to stick with all the devils I knew. Could I unhinge myself? I figure there was no harm in trying and so I put my application together. Just doing that much, I found myself already less conservative and already less calcified, as I played with the thought that perhaps I might be lucky enough to be awarded a residency. I refused to listen to the voices in my head that had the power to fill me with fear and dread. Instead the deepest part of myself spurred me on to believe that my own innate creativity, which everyone of us has an equal measure but perhaps don’t tap into it, wanted to hold tight, to survive, to revolt against inertia.

When a reply eventually came to my inbox, I was humbled and deeply pleased to be offered a three-week residency at Cill Rialaig. It begins mid-April and runs into May. I heart sings. I cannot measure the gratitude that I feel.

Cill Rialaig, I shall, very soon now, hold myself in among your remote cliff top spaces and await what inward journeys shall uncover themselves.

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