Carousel Inspires

‘Alice On A High’ at Listowel

Alice On A High

So, we’re back. Not exhausted and ready to fall into bed for a week as we thought, but transformed and fulfilled and so ready to write our hearts out. Thank you Listowel Writers’ Week… especially Maria McGrath and Elizabeth Dunn for their invitation to take part as a workshop facilitator.

Arriving down here on the Friday to a ‘Listowel Welcome’ from our host Ann Maloney, we immediately thanked our lucky stars for Norella in the Writers’ Week Accommodation office. Total thumbs up. We’ve been spoiled.

Heading out on Friday evening to The Seanchaí Centre to the ‘Colourful Spirits’ Art Exhibition was a perfect beginning. The theme was Alice in Wonderland and we were enthralled with the diversity of takes on one of my favourite stories of all time. I fell in love with a piece called Alice On A High by David Morrison that ticked all the nutty Carolann Copland parts and I managed to convince my gorgeous husband Neil that an early 50th birthday pressie was the only way to go. It’s got butterflies and a floating Alice, castles on clouds and the sea bathed in orange light and all sorts of wonders that you’d never be tired looking at. It’ll take pride of place at Carousel Writers’ Centre in a couple of weeks.

A quick nip into John B’s and a hello to Billy Keane was followed by a sumptuous meal in The Horseshoe and we were done in…

Up at the crack of dawn the following day for one of my highlights. Patricia O’ Reilly had her work cut out for her, getting me to discipline my short story and not having it grow arms and legs and become a novel. She was so focussed and helpful and I thank her for giving me the push to try this most difficult art form again. Can’t wait to get stuck into the characters, location and plot that were born at Patricia’s course this weekend.

Then… the magic. The children. First I dropped my very own 12 year old author Aoife into her workshop with Claire Hennessy.

Aoife had a ball with her hero. Apparently, according to Aoife, Claire drew out much more than I could because she gave her the freedom to be honest and grown up. Thank you for that, Claire. I’m sending her to live with you.

Carousel Story Club meets Alice In Wonderland

Putting my head in the door to where Derek Mulveen and Róisín Meaney were laughing it up with the littlies at the Mad Hatter’s Party, gave me all the strength I needed to make a little bit of magic of my own with the now accomplished author, Aoife Copland, as my assistant. Carousel Story Club hit the young Kerry authors by storm. They were magnificent. No inhibitions and wild imaginations. Role Play, character profiles, poetry and illustrations… I have never felt so privileged to be a part of something as I did that afternoon. You can read some of their Brillianceness below…

Lewis Carroll’s Forgotten Characters…


Skipping through Wonderland, Alice met with a miniature cow called…


Jumping through Wonderland, Alice met with a spider with no legs called…


Leaping through Wonderland, Alice met with a Pegasus called…


Falling through Wonderland, Alice met with a flying, pig cyclops called…


Flying through Wonderland, Alice met with a furry, pink bear called…


Dancing through Wonderland, Alice met with a monkey who’d lost his swing called…


Blundering through Wonderland, Alice met with a spotty, pink, furry snake with whiskers and no eyes called…


Singing through Wonderland, Alice met with a crazy puppy who eats toys called…


Talking through Wonderland, Alice met with a penguin who does tricks in the water called…


Prancing through Wonderland, Alice met with a unicorn who was friends with princesses called…


Twirling through Wonderland, Alice met with a black, misunderstood rat called…


POETS: Carousel Children’s Story Club,

Listowel Writers’ Week

Curiouser and Curiouser

Curiouser and Curiouser

See more of what went on at the National Children’s Festival, Listowel here.

I popped into the bookshops of course. Wonderful to see Summer Triangle on the bookshelves in such exalted company and I made sure to tell them to make room for my second novel Scarred when it’s launched on the 16th of June.

'Summer Triangle'

‘Summer Triangle’

Scarred_Launch_Invite_ForCarolann (1)-page-001

Saturday evening was spent in the Writers’ Bar in The Listowel Arms, catching up with other authors followed by an Indian feast. As you do. Early night. Busy day tomorrow.

I was up with the dawn chorus again and down to part two of Patricia’s wonderful words of wisdom. Back to the Seanchaí for lunch and another catch up with friends while taking in the beautiful craft fair. (The purse was empty after the art exhibition but I could have bought up half the place.)

Neil and Aoife headed to Listowel Castle where they found out disgusting things. Did you know that people used to hang their clothes over the poo in what passed for the toilets so the ammonia could kill off all the lice? No me neither. Then they headed to the Mono Rail that used to travel to and fro between Listowel and Ballybunnion.  More trivia… Did you know that if they brought a cow to market they had to bring two calves as well to balance the load on each side. If they sold the cow then they could come home with a calf on each side for balance, or if they didn’t sell the cow, they would come home as they went. A very well balanced crowd around here.

Don't use the cloak room!

Don’t use the cloak room!

Mono Line balancing act

Well you’d have thought they were well balanced if you were not in John B’s for the afternoon as I was. ‘The Healing Session’ it’s called. There was no standing room. Actually there was no breathing room. But that didn’t stop us being hugely entertained by the Written Word in poem, prose and song. I was enthralled and yes, healed. Thank you Billy Keane for that.

I could have stayed on there, given half a chance, but Neil dragged me kicking and screaming to the cold but bracing, beautiful beaches of Ballybunnion where we walked any leftover cobwebs away.  A glut of seafood in The Marine Restaurant brought us out of the rain. On the way home we saw the most beautiful rainbow that seemed to begin in a field and not quite make it to the sky as Aoife sang the most breathtaking song by Christina Aguilera, I am Beautiful. And she was. And we were. And Listowel was. And you were. And I came back to my lovely lodgings and slept for ten hours straight, dreaming of Alice and butterflies and the written word that has come to mean the world to me.

We’re back in the Dublin Mountains now; looking forward to next Saturday’s workshop here, Writing For Wellbeing with Joan Brady. Because I seem to have amassed an awful lot of wellbeing over the last few days and well… I’d like to share it around.

Carousel View

Carousel View

Thank-you Listowel for all you have given. Please take me back again next year…


4 thoughts on “‘Alice On A High’ at Listowel

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