Friday, August 10, 2012

Terraced Lives

Every so often, in fact, very often, I browse through the photographs I've taken over the years, and the ones that I linger over the most are those of my beloved hometown of Ringsend, Dublin.

This particular image I took of my avenue shortly before I left in the summer of 1969. As I stared intently at the houses facing onto one another, side by side in a straight row, they looked like dancers waiting for their musical cue to move forward. I believe houses hold memories. I tried to imagine how many family situations made their way through the wallpapered walls of the neighbouring houses, our neighbours on both sides were placid to the extreme.

As I'm fascinated by rooftops I'm so happy to have captured the avenue back at a time when huge TV aerials were essential if you wanted to view television channels from across the water, namely, the BBC and UTV. We didn't have one so made do with Radio Telefis Eireann, great programmes they were too!  Below are my few words of tribute to a time gone by.

Terraced Lives

Like stone-faced dancers
The houses face each other.
Conjoined bricks and mortar hold within them secrets of the dwellers
And, through faded creamy rosebud paper, sounds from distant rooms.
Like grotesque mosquitoes hung in time
Steel grey aerials stand tall against the darkened skyline,
Their rooftop vantage serving the human need to look beyond its own wretched life
Onto an imagined brighter landscape.

© Ann Brien 2012

Above image: Cambridge Avenue, Ringsend, Dublin taken by me, May 1969.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Remembering Norma Jeane

I wasn't quite eleven years old when the body of Marilyn Monroe was found in the early hours of August 5th, 1962, in her Los Angeles home. Dead at the age of just thirty six. I vaguely remember the newspaper headlines and all the commotion at the time but what I vividly remember is seeing the many images of this truly beautiful blonde-haired woman whose eyes held you captive with their dreamy softness and that perfectly formed mouth.

Eleven years later those same photographs were to once again draw me like a magnet to Marilyn, not only because of her great beauty, but this time, sitting in my Dublin bed-sit, I'd just read about her tragic early life in The Sunday Times Magazine, 7th October, 1973. Some of her pain I could identify with.

During the early 1970s I was doing a bit of photographic modelling and sometimes during a shoot I'd pretend I was Marilyn, I felt inspired by her.  As I'd wanted to be an actress since I was twelve years old I promised myself that if I ever succeeded in fulfilling that dream, Marilyn would again be my inspiration.

Maybe the cause of her death will never be determined but I'd like to think it wasn't murder or suicide.

Famous Marilyn Monroe Quote: “I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.”  That told 'em!

Goodbye, Norma Jeane, you are in the hearts and minds of people today, you always will be. Rest In Peace.

Top image of Marilyn via
Centre image via The Sunday Times
Bottom image, my photoshoot 1971-1974


Friday, August 3, 2012

Maeve Binchy - Storyteller Extraordinaire

I was a late comer to the writings of Maeve Binchy.  In fact, it wasn't until the summer of 2006 that I read a whole bunch of her short stories during a long, hot, holiday in the South of France. Reading through each narrative I became increasingly aware of Maeve's great ability to touch the very soul of the reader with her heart-warming and sometimes, quite painful outcome of the characters you got to know so well, you were deeply affected by it. For me, that's the sign of a great storyteller.

Maeve was the author of sixteen novels, two of which were later made into TV films (The Lilac Bus and Echoes). Three others, Circle of Friends, Tara Road and How About You were made into feature films. She also wrote four collections of short stories, a play, Deeply Regretted By and the novella, Star Sullivan.

It was while working in the Irish Times London office during the early 1970s that she began writing fiction and where she would meet her husband, Gordon Snell. Her first novel, Light A Penny Candle, was published in 1982 and remained in the Top 10 charts for fifty three weeks.

My favourite Maeve Binchy quote in which she once said of her female characters "I don't have ugly ducklings turning into swans in my stories. I have ugly ducklings turning into confident ducks".  Wow!

On Monday evening, 30th July, Maeve Binchy aged 72, died peacefully in hospital after a short illness with her husband, Gordon and sister, Joan at her side. Her funeral service took place this morning in the Church of the Assumption, Dalkey attended by hundreds of mourners from near and far.  This was a lady so much loved, not only for her great gift of storytelling, but for the lovely person she was. She will be sadly missed.

Our Taoiseach, Enda Kenny in his tribute to Maeve on Tuesday said: "Today we have lost a national treasure...."  We're all with you on that one, Enda.  Rest In Peace, Maeve.

Above image of Maeve Binchy via
Church of the Assumption, Dalkey taken by me on 26th July 2012