From the Sunday Miscellany collaboration with the Arts Council to mark its 70th anniversary, listen to Keeping The Faith by Marina Carr, above
When I think about the Arts Council, I think about it as the financial saviour of my youth. I'm talking about my early twenties when I was writing my first slew of plays and I’m talking about three people in particular I always associate with the Arts Council. Tom MacIntyre, Phelim Donlon and Lar Cassidy.
I didn’t know the Arts Council existed until Tom MacIntyre said to me one day, you should apply for a bursary from the Arts Council. I said, you mean, someone will give me money to write? He said, raise your sights a little. I was on the dole at the time, living in a bedsit in Rathmines and three days out of seven I was literally penniless. Tom, very much an outsider and a wild soul was generous to me in those days. Generous with his praise of a fledgling playwright, generous with his time. I was often invited to his dinner table, he once cooked me a rabbit, there was always lashings of red wine and mad talk and beautiful poetry recited and savoured along with the cheese and the wine. Tom taught me how to live as a writer, how to keep the faith in the word, you take care of your sentences and the world will take care of the rest.
Around that time I had the good fortune to meet Phelim Donlon who was head of Theatre at the Arts Council and through Phelim I met Lar Cassidy who was head of Literature. Both were kind men and both were interested in my writing and took me seriously when many didn’t, including myself. There is so much doubt in a young writer. The bar is high and you wonder if you have it, can you keep going, will you ever write anything worth reading. These two men seemed to think I had something worth investing in...
From Sunday Miscellany, 9.10am Sundays, RTÉ Radio 1