Today I'm talking with Celine Mescall about her book, Graces and Blessings From Ireland, which by the way is being launched on Friday 21st in Langtons of Kilkenny by Suzanne Power. So, first off, congratulations Celine on a beautifully produced book, can you tell me how it all began - when did you decide to write Graces and Blessings, and why?
Thank you for those lovely comments Niamh. I can't remember exactly when I wrote the first blessing but I had been "thinking" them for a long time. As children we heard our parents thank God for most things in life and it was natural for me to follow suit. However I must have been in my twenties or thirties before I gave serious consideration to God and to Goodness and the miracle of Nature. Then I began to thank God and the Universe in earnest and writing my thanks was the next step.
When my friend Sheila gave me a gift of a notebook with a beautiful tapestry cover it was the perfect time to transfer my scribbles from scraps of paper and backs of envelopes on to pristine white sheets. I had over fifty written in the notebook before the idea for the book began to form in my mind.
What would you like people to get from the book?We are all so busy these days running around and trying to keep up with life, I would love us to take a few moments of stillness to appreciate life and give thanks for it. If I may give you a couple of examples; this morning when I opened the polytunnel I was struck by a green aroma! Difficult to describe but it was the smell of growth and new life emerging. I couldn't help but fill my lungs with it and give thanks for it and on Monday when I was held up in traffic I had time to look at the clouds in the sky. I can never remember the names of cloud formations but they were so lovely I thanked God for them.
The blessings pay a real tribute to the small but essential elements in life, you say in your introduction that saying grace doesn’t have to be formal or even serious, some of the blessings are gently humorous, one of my favourite is the one for Apples -
For me, plucking an apple from the tree and biting into its cool,
crisp freshness is a truly spiritual experience.
I understand where Eve was coming from.
Niamh, I do think the beauty and the grace is in the small stuff like biting into an apple or popping open a pea pod and if it brings a smile to your face the all the better. I" think" grace far more often than I say it aloud but I can, occasionally, be heard welcoming new shoots of flowers and vegetables first thing in the morning and blessing their arrival!
You have an eye for detail and your writing is beautiful, do you like poetry, do you write poetry?
I wrote my first poem just over a year ago and it came to me in a flash while I was walking in the woods, it was a magical experience and I couldn't wait to get home and write it down. I have always loved poetry and keep some favourites by my bed for dipping in and out of. There is a collection by the late Bonnie Quinn Cotter called "Woman with Altitude" which I love and I was recently given a gift of "ten poems to change your life" compiled by Roger Housden, Mary Oliver is in there along with Derek Walcott and Pablo Neruda.
I've just come to the end of a creative writing course with Suzanne Power and John McKenna. John introduced me to a number of poets and his own recent collection "Where sadness Begins" is filled with humanity and pain and nostalgia. My favourite one is "The Last Day of April" which rings bells for me.
So Celine, where can people buy Graces and Blessings?“Graces and Blessings from Ireland" is available in Bridie's shop, Johns Street, Kilkenny and also in the restaurant in Kilkenny Castle. I am researching other outlets at the moment but the book is available directly from email@example.com
And finally, what is next for you Celine in terms of writing?That is the big question Niamh, getting a book ready for publication takes time. Helena Duggan who illustrated and designed the book and myself had great fun on the project but now it’s time to start writing again. I would love to be inspired once again to write a poem and I will leave myself open for that. In the meantime there are some experiences from my life in Brazil which I want to commit to paper as well as the thirty or so more graces and blessings which haven't been included in this book.
I really hope you get your Brazil stories collected Celine, and thanks so much for coming over to answer questions on the eve of your first book launch, you may think up some blessings for writers on occasions like these next :)