The 50th consecutive Scoil Gheimhridh Merriman (Merriman Winter School) will be held in Ennis the weekend of 26-28 January 2018. ‘Éigse Éireann go hAonteach’ is the theme; the organisers are Máire Ní Neachtain and Liam Ó Dochartaigh and the winter school is being run in partnership with the Ennis-based language initiative ‘An Clár as Gaeilge’.
The first Merriman winter school was held in Nenagh in January 1969, organised by Seán Ó and Eoghan Ó hAnluain. Among those who spoke at the school were Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Seán Ó Ríordáin and Máirtín Ó Direáin and the young poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill read her own composition for the assembled ‘scholars’.
Nuala will be a participant again in the 50th Scoil Gheimhridh (Saturday, 27 January). She will be in conversation with Professor Patricia Coughlan (UCC and a Limerick native). Among the topics anticipated will be her ‘céadsearc’, her ‘first love’, the great songs of the Munster poets, a selection of which will be sung on the night by Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh..
Other prominent writers of Irish who will feature are Máirín Nic Eoin agus Alan Titley; they will be interviewed by Cathal Póirtéir, teasing out their views on how creative writing and scholarship in Irish provide another view of – and from – Ireland (‘súil eile ar Éirinn’; ‘súil eile as Éirinn’).
Not all events will be retrospective. Siobhán Ní Ghadhra (director of Eo Telefís, producers of ‘Ros na Rún’), the performance poet, Séamus Barra Ó Súilleabháin, and author and publisher Darach Ó Scolaí (Leabhar Breac) will discuss contemporary writing in Irish, which is thriving. The concluding event will be the renowned poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa, a native of Ennis, reading from both her own work, and a selection of other favourites, interspersed with the best of traditional music from Clare.
A staple of Scoil Gheimhridh Merriman from the outset is book launchings. Books on Brian Merriman (a stage adaptation by Celia de Fréine), Antoine Raiftearaí (a new edition of songs and poems first published by Douglas Hyde), and studies on the literature of childhood and on the novel in Irish will be suitably sent on their way.
The principal location will be the Old Ground Hotel in Ennis (the School will transfer to the Rowan Tree Bar and Café for the Saturday afternoon). The Old Ground was also the main location for the very first Merriman Summer School in Ennis in September 1968. The customary good company is anticipated, along with lively conversation, music and song, and plenty of good humour to help disperse the gloom of winter.[Cumann Merriman is an entirely voluntary organisation which held 101schools to date: 49 Merriman Summer Schools, 49 Scoil Gheimhridh, and 3 international schools, two in Wales in the 1980s and one in Berlin in 2006.]
Contact: Liam Ó Dochartaigh, joint director, 087 798 8956 (who also attended the first Merriman Summer and Winter Schools)
Máire Ní Neachtain, joint director 086 273 2279