I live in Ventry, West Kerry with my partner, Siobhán, she’s a spoken word artist, Siobhán de Paor, and my two kids, they’re four and two. At the moment I’m just really enjoying running some ideas that I have about the world through the different media that’s available.
The wind’s way
When I left hurling and I left the society that I was very well used to, I kinda just began to go the wind’s way and I allowed whatever came, to dictate the way I would go. I didn’t stand back like a good man should, maybe, and have a plan and ways to achieve the plan, a two year or three year or a five year or a ten year plan, in place.
I felt I had to allow nature to dictate to me a little bit more. I did that for a while until I met Siobhán and fell in love and we’d a child. All of a sudden when that child was born, a new bone grew somewhere in my body of providership and so going the wind’s way was no longer much of an option.
The challenge then, and now, is to apply the learnings of that time to the challenges of showing up in my relationship, of parenting, of business, of setting up a home and a retreat centre, within the confines and expanses of abundance in the context of ecological breakdown, in the context of materialism as a by-product of spirit.
My own mind >>Watch video>>
There have been a few challenging periods in my life, but they all stem from the one core challenge, which is myself – my own mind. Trying to maybe quieten it, maybe lessen its influence. I want to create a space large enough inside of myself for true inspiration, true creative genius to come through. The only place it ever really came to me was on the hurling field. That’s a creative pursuit certainly in its own right – sport being very different from the arts in some respects, but at the core there are a lot of similarities.
I try to quieten the voices that say that you’re not good enough or that you’re not really entitled to that or that you’re not coming from your core on that… all these little feedback loops that I would sometimes get caught in. Also, trying not to get too attached to them when they’re working well, when it’s all singing, when everything is in a little bit of harmony.
I would place a lot of value on the Buddhist philosophy of Right Intention. Where’s your intention? Sometimes I catch my intention just being a little bit self-involved – I’m trying to get something off the ground and I’m trying to do something and I want it to be this… you get into this “I cycle”.
Flow >>Watch video>>
During lockdown there was a bunch of artists here, a bunch of creatives, alternatives, whatever you want to call them. We met at the weekends outside and played music and I just observed in my own fear in some sense, people living on the creative edge, where moments flowed into each other. That’s what an artist is to me. They’re just on that edge and they’re making up words and making up lyrics and adding in tunes and bouncing it and raising it and bringing it down and I’m like, “What a skill!”.
In my fear, in my inability, I couldn’t be in the infolding moment. My unfolding moment is my fear whereas their unfolding moment is, “Ooh what can we do with that sound? What can we do with this? Can we bring the waterfall behind us in? Can we bring the crashing waves in? What does a concertina sound like amongst the rocks? If we put a light under that waterfall how’s that gonna look?” Pure creative exploration. I have such admiration for people who do that so effortlessly. That’s what artistic living is. I can feel that beginning to shift now which is great news from West Kerry, that it can transform.
Opening more doors
My best way of navigating the world for me, it seems, is to respond to invites. I know some people initiate well, but I’m what would be termed a “generator”. I bring energy to projects. When someone comes to me with an idea, I bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to it. I’ve realised that’s a strategy that works very well for me. As more things come in, I’ve just responded with the necessary enthusiasm and that seems to be opening more doors.
These things are coming very naturally and very nicely at the moment. I might get a retreat. I might get a project on television and another retreat and I’ve got two weeks in between… that’s very manageable because you don’t have to be stressed out, you’ve got your two weeks to plan.
An artistic project >>Watch video>>
My partner is a spoken word artist and the minute I heard her perform I thought, “Oh my god, who is this woman?” I’d never heard anything like her. About five years ago, at the same time when we started seeing each other, I was away in Italy falling more and more in love with her. I was in the back of the car going along the coast in Tuscany and I was writing away this poem. I don’t know where it was coming from. I performed it in a few places over three/four years. I’d go on retreats and perform it and I saw a little bit of a response. I went to a party up in Dublin with a few really solid, good friends of mine, five or six fellas. There were other people at the party too, but I could see in the men’s response – there was really something in there. An invite, a big invite. I said, “Right, maybe I have something there.”
I met Mark Logan from Collective and said, “Look it, I have this poem. I’m gonna send it to you. If you don’t like it, don’t do anything. If you do like it, that’s great, we’ll do something”. He loved it.
We went to the Hill of Allen. It’s north of Kildare. The Fianna would have trained there, Fionn MacCumhaill’s father would have owned it. This is a significant place. It’s not in good shape, but there’s a beautiful forest on the back of it.
One of the challenges to get into the Fianna was you had to get into the forest without breaking a twig. As it just happens this forest is still absolutely perfect to sprint through it at top speed. Now you’re in danger if you’re at top speed, you are in danger. It’s not flat and easy, there are thorns and rocks, there’s all kinds of things, but if you’re really plugged in you can hit good speeds bounding and moving around the forest.
I said to Mark, “Look it, I had this idea we could walk up the path and then go off into the forest, get out of the clothes and get into something a bit wilder.” I had 15 fellas sprinting through that forest and wrestling, fighting, and hurling, doing all kinds of things. Mark had gotten a new piece of kit. It was a drone and we were sprinting through the forest and that was coming up behind us. Then, there’s us at the fire, singing, chatting and just being very much ourselves, there was no performance, just open permission for Mark to film that.
It was really, really an immense experience, just to be at the fire with them and for that to be recorded. My main area of interest is, “What is real?”, and “Can we record that as art?” We combined the creative world and the more rewilding, ecological world.
As we do with the retreats, any time when we camp like that I really focus on getting good organic food, wild meat from somewhere. We had deer from Limerick for this. I really focused on physically nourishing the fellas. It was important that this wasn’t a messy drinking session, you might have a can or there might be a bottle of poitín, but we don’t feel depleted for our efforts. Then the following morning we do yoga and movement in the forest.
Effortless >>Watch video >>
When I work with teams and groups I come in with the thought of, “Here’s a thing. You could explore it a little bit more if you wanted”. Not to beat them over the head with it or judge about their lack of it, but just to consider, “Here’s a group of fellas who can camp, we can cook up a big dish, we can wrestle, we can do yoga, we can practice movement, and we can ask each other how we are and just listen to the answer.”
How fellas interact in that setting is part of the reason I bring teams there around the fire. There’s a cultural power in people gathered around the fire. There’s something very, very base and honest and strong. Being natural in that setting is very easy and effortless. They were free in it. I found a millimetre beneath the surface, there’s a lot of emotion waiting to come out.
We shot the video in the last few weeks and it’s been really, really nice. It’s nice to come out and feel like “OK, tá mo chuid sa déanta”. I can enjoy the internal fruits of that because there’s a satisfaction there.
I’m always listening, thinking, “How can I cultivate or facilitate a moment where there’s an opportunity for a greater realisation?” I don’t want to give that realisation, I don’t want to inspire that realisation, I just want to create conditions safe enough or edgy enough or dangerous enough that people have an opportunity to meet some part of themselves and then for a new realisation to come through. That’s the basis of all the work that I want to do.
Irish language >>Watch video>>
The Irish language is in a real resurgence. That’s coming in more and more and questions are constantly being asked like, what kind of artist would I be in my own native language? That’s a very exciting prospect.
The thing that excites me most at the moment in relation to the Irish language is that we are facing ourselves away from English and its effects on our brains. Power, ‘Victorian Sensibilities’, ideas of ownership have affected how our society is organised, “that’s mine”, “this is yours”. These structures are intertwined with the English language. With Irish, there is a chance, and maybe it’s only a chance, that we are freed from all that. A chance to step back from that world of power and its workings so that we can imagine a new way of being with nature and the world around us, through the medium of Irish – especially because Irish is a very nature-based language. Now, maybe you’ll never be a native speaker, I’ll never be a native speaker, but perhaps the seeds will be planted, with support from the language that is native to here, to imagine the new world that is coming into being.
It’s a great discovery to find out the language is not a language in school, that it’s actually a different way of seeing the world. What a discovery that was.
Divine dissatisfaction >>Watch video>>
I always try to put people onto John Moriarty at every available opportunity to be honest. There’s a beautiful piece on YouTube between John Moriarty and Tommy Tiernan. For anybody who hasn’t seen it, definitely have a look. Tommy’s on a walking tour of Ireland and he’s going to all these sages and wise people and mystics. The cameraman or whoever’s present with Tommy and John asks John, “Why do you think Tommy is doing it?”
John Moriarty kinda sits back because he doesn’t want to claim anything, he wants to give Tommy the respect. He says, “I don’t know. I don’t want to say, but by looking at him”, (you can see Tommy is kinda looking up very sheepishly like a child at this giant of a man) “I think that he has a bit of divine dissatisfaction in him and you have to deal with that”. I think that’s solid advice.
When you have that bit of divine dissatisfaction, you have to kinda create a space to deal with it in some way and not let it ever be a place that you land. Let it be a process on the way to wherever… artistic nirvana or whatever it is and whatever it looks like and smells like and tastes like to you. It’s your own journey but we’re in it together.
Learn more about Diarmuid’s work as a wild Irish retreater: https://www.wildirishretreat.ie/
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