10 May 2012

Fictional Ulster: Expanding

For a new map, I am collecting the names of fictitious sites in Ulster, places invented by writers and artists over the years. I am using this pin board map (pictured below) to locate the names and to draw attention to my project. It is installed in the Seamus Heaney Centre, Belfast.

I am also interested in fictitious sites from plays and films but so far most I have found or being sent are from books. They include (placename followed by the author's name):
'Greywater', - Malachy Doyle
'Drumnay', - Patrick Kavanagh
'Ballygullion', - Lynn Doyle
'Carn', - Patrick McCabe
'Tyreelin', - Patrick McCabe
'Tumdrum', - Ian Samson
'Rathard', - Sam Hanna Bell
'Ballycarnamaghery', - JC Pedlow
'Aghnascreeby', - Mat Mulcaghy
'Crossmaheart', - Colin Bateman
'Ballybucklebo', - Patrick Taylor
'Kiltarragh', - Martin Waddell
'Ballyutogue', - Leon Uris
'Puckoon', - Spike Milligan
'Port na Rón', - Erin Hart
'Butlershill', - Shane McConnaughton
'Tailorstown', - Christina McKenna
Please get in touch if you know of any others.

3 May 2012

McCabe Country

I am making a map of Ulster's fictional sites, places invented by writers and artists down through the years. It will be called Fictional Ulster.

One writer who invents localities is Patrick McCabe. His novels are set in the south of Ireland but I am sure at least a few of his fictitious towns will go on the map as they will be in Monaghan or Cavan. Both these counties are in the Republic of Ireland but also among the nine counties of Ulster. They are counties that, accurately or not, McCabe's novels have become associated with. I have read that the town of Carn - setting of this 1989 novel of the same name - is based on Monaghan's Clones, McCabe's hometown. Tyreelin, the setting of Breakfast on Pluto (2001) is described as a border town so it may be reasonable to place it in Monaghan too, or in Cavan.

Where is Barntrosna? Where is Scotsfield?

Online can be found a Guardian interview with McCabe from 2003 where McCabe expresses annoyance that he had become associated with County Silgo.
Journalists always come over and end up writing all this stuff about Sligo and its relevance to my work. But Sligo has absolutely nothing to do with my work. There is no mention of the sea in my work, and very little of the terrain that you find out here. It just so happens that I've lived in Sligo for the past few years, but that's the extent of it.
This would be unsurprising to anyone who has read McCabe and also knows Ireland. His novels have the feel of the midlands, landlocked and boggy. They evoke a oppressive landscape of close horizons, none of his characters get the relief of resting their eyes on the far Atlantic. His characters often suffer personal limitations that seems reenforced by their closed geography, bitterness, small-mindedness.

Names of fictitious sites in McCabe's work include: Carn, Tyreelin, Cullymore, Scotsfield and Barntrosna. There could well be more. I will have to get reading McCabe's back list.