In May I will take up a month-long residential exchange at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, along with poet, Ross Donlon. This extraordinary opportunity is sponsored by Varuna – the Writer’s House, Australia’s only national writer’s centre.
The Tyrone Guthrie Centre is a residential workplace open to professional artists of all kinds. It is set in five hundred tranquil, beautiful acres amid the lakes and drumlins of County Monaghan. Irish hunters graze in the paddocks and badgers roam the woods. Everything is provided for the artists in residence, including apparently, delicious food.
Sir Tyrone Guthrie was an acclaimed English theatrical director who bequeathed his family home to the Irish State, with the proviso that it be used for the benefit of artists. It was an inspired decision that reshaped the cultural landscape of Ireland. There are obvious comparisons with Varuna, the large Katoomba home built by the Australian writer Eleanor Dark and her husband, Dr Eric Dark, in the late 1930s. Their son, Michael Dark, gave the house to the Eleanor Dark Foundation in 1989 so it could be used as a retreat for writers. Mick Dark and Sir Tyrone Guthrie have, through their vision and generosity, contributed enormously to the creation of a national literary identity in their respective countries.
I cannot wait to visit this enchanting place and make some real progress on my current novel Firewater, set on Queensland’s beautiful Darling Downs.