‘It’s a good time to be back home in Cork’

Writer Michael Lovett is back in his native Cork with some exciting projects, including a new book and a play, due for launch in the coming weeks, writes COLETTE SHERIDAN
‘It’s a good time to be back home in Cork’

ECHO FEATURE Micheal Lovett

AFTER adventures in London and 15 years spent in Australia, writer Micheál Lovett is back in his native Kilworth with a teen fantasy-type book due out in April, and a play that will be broadcast on Bere Island Community Radio on March 28.

Micheál, who is also teaching English to foreign students, is married to an Australian artist and architect, Sarah Breen Lovett. The couple have a five-year-old daughter, Boudicca. They felt it was a good time to move to Ireland as their daughter is of an age where she won’t feel too uprooted.

Micheál was involved in the Everyman Theatre when he was writer-in-residence there about 20 years ago. He was hired by the venue’s then artistic director, Geoff Gould, who is directing Micheál’s radio play.

Geoff runs the Fit-Up theatre festivals whereby plays are brought to different venues around County Cork. Because of the pandemic, he has switched to presenting plays on radio and online.

Both Micheál and Geoff moved to London where they set up Blood in the Alley Productions. They produced a number of plays there and then “life took over. Geoff moved back to Ballydehob and I moved to Australia. It was love and adventure that took me to Australia. I had met Sarah in London. She’s from just outside Sydney.”

Initially, Micheál moved down under as a backpacker on a visitor’s visa. He then got a permanent visa because of his wife’s nationality. What he found most challenging about Australia was the heat.

“Your body truly only gets used to it after a year. It’s not so traumatic when the summer comes again. But the first time is tough, especially if you’re in the open air working, in 40 degrees. But you become very clever, attuned to the weather, looking for shade.”

Micheál worked for a charity initially before getting a job with City Of Sydney Council. Why the return to Cork?

“I had an opportunity to come back. I had a lot of things locked in before Covid came. But ultimately, it’s good timing to be back now because it’s important to be around family.”

The title of Micheál’s forthcoming book is The Realm Of The Hare, published by Dixi Books in London. It is part of a pilot project run by Cork County Library. Copies of the book will be distributed to schools and after reading it, there will be discussions between Micheál and the students.

“It’s a magic realist story about an English-born young girl that visits her grandparents who live in the Muckross Park area just outside Killarney. There, she accesses an alternative world where there’s a mighty battle to save nature. There are dark forces that wish to control nature and its powers. The girl is trying to find her mother who has gone missing. It is through her journey to find her mother that she gets pulled into a fantasy and magic world with talking animals and shape shifters.

“So there’s the realist world with her grandparents and the other world where there are incredibly big creatures with teeth like bunches of grapes and ape-like animals that work for a sinister character who’s connected to ancient characters from Irish folklore.”

The story is suitable “for mid-grade up to young adults. Given the likes of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, there’s an interest in these sort of stories.”

Micheál has a great interest in nature.

“I suppose there’s a desire to interpret what is happening climactically in terms of the environment. I’ve seen a lot of indigenous people taking better care of the land than others. And as such, maybe the land will reward them.”

The book uses a lot of “the architecture of the landscape of Cork and Kerry.”

Micheál is glad to be involved in an educational project.

“Education is one of the most important pursuits we can engage in, in terms of helping to raise a better generation than what existed before or to raise a more informed generation than before.”

Micheál’s new play, Crow’s Toes In Aspic, is a surreal comedy.

“It’s the story of a lady who has just been released from gaol after being sentenced for a very long time. She left Ireland way back, leaving her community where she had a radio show, regaling people with the local scandals without verifying the stories. She returns, having been incarcerated for thirty-five years. You’ll find out what the crime was in the middle of the play. It was fairly heinous.

“She understands that she has done the crime and done the time and is very open about a lot of things.”

It all sounds intriguing and Micheál is glad to be straddling both the analogue and digital worlds with his play. It will be broadcast on Bere Island Community Radio on March 28 at 8pm. It will also be available through an internet link: http://bit.ly/BICRlive.

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