A scene from childhood, glimpsed as she was driven past Dublin’s tenements aged eight, inspired Maeve Edwards’s winning short story in this year’s ICA national creative writing competition.

All stories entered had to be about 1916 and they had to include the phrase ‘I was there’.

Maeve’s story, titled ‘A Terrible Beauty is Born’, is about two children who — on route to their grandmother with a jug of stew— witness Patrick Pearse reading the Proclamation on the steps of the GPO.

On the way, they see children who are better off than them (‘girls with pastel dresses and hair in ringlets’) and they think about children poorer than themselves, ‘who were barefoot all the way through the winter’.

Growing up in the 1950s in Dublin, Maeve saw barefoot children on the steps of tenement buildings in Summerhill, playing tag and swinging out of lamp posts.

“They just looked so different to us and we were by no means well off. They were like ragamuffins with unkempt hair. Their legs were all black with dirt — their feet must have been frozen.”

Maeve’s work has featured three times on RTÉ’s Sunday Miscellany, with one piece titled ‘I am a Skype Granny’. Her granddaughter, Sol, lives in Norway. She joined Delgany Guild in Wicklow in September 2015.

“I heard they were doing art classes and I wanted to do art. I was only in the door when I knew I couldn’t do it — the art was on the same evening that I go to choir.”

Hearing that the guild’s drama group was looking for members, specifically for a prompter for the play they were entering in the ICA one-act drama festival, Maeve put up her hand and got the job.

“I absolutely loved every minute of it. Watching the words come alive — going from page to stage — just touched something inside me,” said Maeve.

The Delgany ICA guild celebrated its 76th birthday in February. It is a large guild with 65 members. The members are big into craft, says president Josie Flynn.

“We have a craft afternoon every Thursday with a great mix of crafts. Older members pass on to younger people the older crafts and with YouTube the younger members can teach the older ones new crafts,” she said. n The guild warmly welcomes new members.


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