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Maeve Higgins: How Cork inspires my creativity

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4 min read

Maeve Higgins: How Cork inspires my creativity

4 min read

24/03/21

Maeve Higgins: How Cork inspires my creativity

Maeve Higgins, the best-selling author, celebrated writer and podcast host, is lending her acclaimed creative insights to facilitate a six-week non-fiction writing course from Cork County Arts, supported by the Creative Ireland Programme.

The six-week writing course which is open to Cork people who have moved abroad but still call Cork home or those who have moved to Ireland and are newfound Cork residents, will be a fantastic opportunity for people of all skills and ages to learn from such an incredible essayist and commentator as Maeve. With participants coming from diasporic communities, themes such as migration, home and belonging will be explored in a collaborative way. 

To launch the project, we asked Maeve to reveal the places throughout her own home city  which have inspired her creativity. 

“I’m a writer and I grew up in Cork, and I tend to think those two facts are related. During lockdown, I’ve been facilitating a creative non-fiction writing workshop online for other Corkonians. The twist? Many of the participants, myself included, now live abroad. Others have moved to Cork from abroad. It’s a workshop for the diaspora, rooted in Cork, and it’s reignited my curiosity about place and creativity. As a fun exercise, I’ve singled out some specific parts of the city and county that could awaken anybody’s creative spirit.” 

Above: The Shandon Bells and St. Anne's Church

The Shandon Bells

“It’s a rare privilege when a church opens their centuries old belfry to the public, but that’s just what St. Anne’s Church in Shandon has been doing since I was a child. Not only are you allowed to climb the 135 steps and examine the huge caged clock in the clock tower on your way up, you’re then allowed to ring the bells for the whole city to hear. The bells have inspired songs and poetry and the tower is one of the city’s enduring landmarks, a multi-sensory reminder of where we are.” 

Penneys on Patrick Street

“Fake lashes, spray tan and neon bodysuits; all of these are forms of self-expression and creativity. Nowhere is as affordable as Penneys when you want to try out new styles for yourself, or see how others are doing it. You don’t need to buy anything in support of fast fashion to enjoy walking through the aisles and seeing what’s in this season, be it intricate nail art or fringed suede leggings.” 

Above:

Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens 

“Watch children run between thickets of exotic trees or stand transfixed by tiny greet shoots in the working glass houses and it’s easy to forget the colonial history of great houses like this one. What’s important now is that they are free to the public and serve as great green expanses that help us to understand we too are part of nature. ‘The Secret Garden’ comes to mind when you find yourself in the beautifully atmospheric Victorian fernery. With Belvelly Castle visible just over the bridge in Cobh, it’s a wonderful place to plant in your mind and revisit whenever you need to escape reality and do some creating of your own.” 

The English Market

“The city’s marketplace also serves as a meeting place. This is important because where people come together, stories come together. No artist can live in a vacuum, and by sharing information and opinions, we can both contribute to and better understand the larger narratives that end up shaping our society. Listening to what people are talking about and how they are talking about it is a critical part of many writers’ practise. And if you get to do that over a slice of coffee cake perched on the balcony of The Farm Gate Cafe, much the better.” 

Above:

Cork County Council Libraries 

“There are 25 libraries in Cork city and county, all are free to join and all are accessible online too. Reading books and listening to audiobooks has been of immeasurable value to me as a writer, and whenever I’m faced with a creative block, I turn to some of my favourite writers and they keep me company until I’m ready to begin again.”

See more of the Creative Ireland-supported events and projects right across Cork County.  

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