New iPhone app puts "gentler" Ireland in your palm with stories by Eddie Stack

What's happening is the launch of an extraordinary new genre of multi-media literature, The West: a collection of short fiction by Eddie Stack which is now available as an iPhone app. It contains an ebook of seven short stories, 60 minutes of spoken word with music by Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill; the song Memories by Ron Kavana and several digital paintings by Phillip Morrison. This is excitingly new. The format collides music, literature and painting to an iPhone experience that brings you back to a different place. It's inspiring, and it is just the format to capture the spirit of collaborative art produced in a traditional pub like Ó Tuama kept in Penal Times or John B. Keane owned in Listowel, where music and spoken word are hand in hand.

Here is an excerpt from the IM-interview you can read in whole further below:

Brendan
Where are you from?


Eddie
Ennistymon

I grew up in a pub...was born over the bar.

Brendan
Like the family in Finnegans Wake. Did that have an effect on your writing? The pub life? The conversations?

Eddie
spent my summers in Lahinch with my grandmother who played fiddle + concertina

Yes. most of my first collection of stories had drink in them.

I used hear a lot of yarns as well

and see characters...it was an unusual pub...when I was little, the bar was in the back and the front of the shop sold religious goods

we had lots of ststues, prayer books, medals, rosary beads...

Brendan
Good business in that line. Are you a religious man?

Eddie
No...I lost my religion before my virginity

Brendan
Losing the one probably helped you lose the other.

Eddie
but I have a connection with the older faith the people had, it was pagan more than christian...

Brendan
That's interesting.

Eddie
and I keep up the old traditions of maybough and things like that

Brendan
How do you mean? What traditions for example?

Eddie
I'd say ennistymon is probably the only place where sprigs of leafy bough are displayed on doors on May Eve...a custom that pre dates christianity

Eddie
Bláth na Spéire, a story in The West revolves around May Eve and the traditions. We believed that night the natural and super natural worlds collided, like halloween

it's the other side of the year from Samhain...6 months apart

Eddie
we had other calendar customs too, like Garland Sunday, Feile Bride and of course Samhain, and lesser ones in between

The whole interview is down below.

I'm a New Yorker with a mother from Kerry and lots of respect for the traditional seasonal calendar, which is something I tried to describe from my own experience and research here. As an urban dweller, it keeps me grounded to respect the seasonal calendar of Ireland's traditions in New York, for lots of sound reasons.

Stack's stories from Clare unfold in your palm with images using Caribbean color and round world perspective. What's invoked comes via multi-media with vivid images from a gentler Ireland, while the narrator reads short stories about complex characters beyond normal imagining. The music was chosen by two high artists from the Irish music tradition--Hayes and Cahill--as the easiest proof you need this is good stuff. But listen to the stories and enjoy the experience of meeting these people from Clare, like John B Keane had people to tell you about from Kerry.

Each story resonates in the other story though they are not of the same people. The whole experience is round like the twilight on Clare long ago. The app is described in more detail here.

For this kind of thinking, he is a big hit in the States, and shunned to a degree by the literati in Ireland, who do not go for his kind of dialogue, and his way of conjuring characters.

As he said to me:
"well I don't know much about what's happening with the litterati crowd...my mates play music mostly, do a bit of spoken word and we're way outside the Pale. They don't really matter to us."

Stack makes characters with a tool box from a tradition the literati don't deign to tinker with. You can get a taste of the reality Eddie Stack opens up with his stories in the images by Phillip Morrison that accompany this extraordinary literary launch in iPhone multi-media. Morrison's is art you want to put on your wall and look at instead of the TV. All this eye candy and music comes at you from the iPhone app created especially with Stack seeking out Clare collaborators to help him as a seanachaí from Ennistymon be heard in the new age.

Eddie writes on his blog (find it here) "It happened like this: I decided to publish an edition of my book The West, which was out of print for several years. A new cover was in order so I contacted Phillip Morrison, an artist living and painting in North Clare. His scenes are from the home of the stories in the book and Blake’s Corner seemed an appropriate image for the cover. I sent the cover design to Alan Wherry, an old friend, for his feedback and somehow the idea of turning The West into an iPhone app formed in my head. Alan knew an Apple developer in Toronto and after a few emails across the Atlantic, we began working on it."

This is our IM-interview

Brendan
Hello Mr. Stack, how are things in Clare?

Eddie
Cold...snow on the Burren but we've the fire on.

Brendan
Where in Clare are you?

Eddie
Outside Ennistymon,

Brendan
What's the area called there?, I'm interested in dinnshenchas

Eddie
Castlequarter is the townland...know in Irish as Sruthaill, there's a little stream that flows through the area and that's where the name comes from.

It's good land and the Protestant minister built a Manse there in the 1780's and called the area castlequarter

I don't think there ever was a castle here...but the minister, Mr Kenny, an Ennisman who converted was a bit pretentious

[this is where we talked about growing up in Ennistymon and the seasonal calendar]

Brendan
Why are these seasonal customs important to you? Do you use much mythological metaphor in your writing? I'd like also to draw attention to your writings and recordings online.

Eddie
They're important to me because they resonate with me. Maybe with my spirit or soul...remind me of a gentler Ireland/ world maybe

Eddie
I don't think I use mythological metaphor in my writing...but others may see it differently

Brendan
Your stories are literature, they don't have a folk tale quality as much as they are deep character studies, but I don't mean to summarize your work, you tell me about your writing. Where can someone find them online?

Eddie
www.eddiestack.com has links for my books.

Eddie
I think my writing was influenced by the storytelling tradition of north clare and also by Dylan Thomas, who my dad read. DT was married to a woman from Ennistymon, Caitlin McNamara

Eddie
I spent years trying to get a short story 'right'...rewrote and rewrote and then something happened, like learning to ride a bike..and I was able to do it.

Eddie
I was first published in the UCG literary magazine, Criterion. Apart from that, I had no luck in getting anything else published in Ireland. Most of my work gets published in the US or elsewhere and maybe then in Ireland.

Brendan
I'm in a café in Brooklyn, without my headphones, so I can't listen to them again right now, but I did listen to the mp3 tracks you had provided as samples from your book The West, Stories from Ireland by Eddie Stack.

Eddie
cool out!!

Brendan
Such excellent therapy in those stories. And the music by Martin Hayes. Fascinating experience listening to them.

Eddie
really? Thanks Brendan!

But therapy?

Brendan
i ndáiríre
very seriously, I enjoyed your work

Eddie
I'm honoured.
blushing here by the fire
have you read Out of the Blue?
my 2nd collection?

Brendan
I just listened to the three on your site.
I look forward to reading more of your work.

Eddie
Out of the Blue is a bit different because it has stories set in the US and draws on the emigrent experiece

Out of the Blue is a bit different because it has stories set in the US and draws on the emigrent experiece

Eddie
When I get to SF, I'll send you a copy

Brendan
Thank you very much. You lived in San Francisco for a time?

Eddie
from '86 to 2000...now I'm over and back, but spend about 7 months of the year there
or in California somewhere

Brendan
Back track a minute, and tell me about the publishing culture in Ireland. What would be the issue with your work do you think?

Eddie
Curiously, the rights of The West recently reverted back to me and I spoke with somebody from Bloomsbury about it. He said the Irish 'litterati' didn't like my subject matter or the way I wrote dialogue. That's why I got no reviews here, though the NYT and most of the big US papers gave me very good reviews..as did the UK press.

Eddie
The West sold well in the UK, US and Australia, but only a few bookshops stocked it in ireland. Then when I brought out stories on cd it began to get airplay, but the book was out of print by then

Eddie
Somebody told me that the stories are now played on R na G!! (Raidió na Gaeltachta)
I better join ASCAP or IMRO and get my royalties

Brendan
Literati are boring creatures--to talk to, anyway. Irish writers are anxious to be thought of as Europeans it seems? Abandoning the local seems very un-European to me, but I'm only looking in on the thing. What's the story with the culturistas over there?

Eddie
well I don't know much about what's happening with the litterati crowd...my mates play music mostly, do a bit of spoken word and we're way outside the Pale. They don't really matter to us. And my stories have appeared in the Clare Champion + Crannóg Magazine

Brendan
It was a paltry spoken word scene in Dublin when I lived there. What's a spoken word event like in Clare? Where do they happen? How are they conducted?

Eddie
it breaks down into the storytelling which is mainly in homes and the poetry which is in cafes and the likes...that's more of a galway scene...there's a few great guys around like Marty Mulligan who does the spoken word stage at the Electric Picnic and Gerry Mulkerins who does Spirit of the Voice fest in Galway.

Brendan
And the incorporation of music? Martin Hayes is a participant in your work. Tell me about that. When he accepted the award from TG4, I think it was, he made the curious comment to Irish people, "the music is good" as though people wouldn't think so unless they were told to drop their prejudices.

Eddie
Martin and myself are good friends and we've done work together apart from the stories...I recorded the voice and was wondering what music to put 'behind' it...I was producing at the time and had a wide menu of people I was working with. Anyway, I met Martin one day and I had the tape in my pocket and asked him to have a listen to it and see what he thought. He took it on tour with him and Dennis and himself knew the stories by heart for a finish.

Eddie
I had some ideas for certain tunes but one story was flumoxing me — Revolution. Then I was in Seattle for something...in a hotel waiting for the elevator (lift) and who comes out of it but MH and as if he was expecting me to be there, he said 'I have the tune for Revolution. McAllistrom's March'

It was so perfect, so spot on...so Martin Hayes...he had really gotten into the stories like they were tunes.

Eddie
Then we went into a studio in SF and the music was put down, mostly in one take. It was astounding to see how himself and Dennis worked. I'd worked with lots of musicians and bands, but never experienced anything like this.

Eddie
(going to make tay...I'll b back in a minute)

Brendan
Good, I'll order a coffee.

Eddie
back

Brendan
Jane Kelton wishes you a safe journey. When are you coming out to California?

Eddie
I'm going to CA on monday next. I'm working on a book and will be doing that and trying to hype the iPhone app of The West. I'm doing a few readings in San Francisco.

Regards to Jane...great lady and dear friend

Brendan
You're not a luddite, despite the interest in a gentler Ireland as you put it. Tell us more about the iPhone application.
Where can it be got from?

Eddie
Well, to back up a bit...when I saw that recordings of the stories were getting through to people who might not take up a book, I was a bit intrigued. I converted some of my work for the Kindle last year and when it began to sell, I thought to look a bit deeper into alternative ways for people to experience/enjoy my stories. So I saw a trend with books going to the iPhone and wondered how to do it. I had the audio + the text...then one day I was with an artist friend (Phillip Morrison) arranging to get an image for a book cover and while looking at his work the penny dropped: combine visuals from the home of the stories with the text + audio. Then I remembered that Ron Kavana had a song inspired by one of the stories and I put that in too. So that's how it started out...then a programmer can on board and we did it together. It's with apple now...would you like to see a preview of it?

Brendan
I would indeed
...got it

Brendan
i clicked on it, hold on please

Brendan
I'm getting an iPhone. That's brilliant. Sheer brilliance. Morrison's illustrations! I love them. What genius flocks around your work. How did he produce them? Oils? How large are the originals? I'm going to go home now and get my ear phones so I can listen to your stories again. The whole iPhone package you've produced here with text, spoken word, music and illustrations is evolutionary.

Eddie
jesus...Brendan...are you serious?

Brendan
I am. I'm inspired.

You've done something major here.

Eddie
Well...I'm a bit taken aback

Brendan
When is it to be released?


Eddie
The West as an iPhone app is available now at this link.
Also, The West will be coming out as a book next month...the cover is by Morrison.

New edition of The West prob March 11th

Heads, a Novel set in fringes of Irish Sf goes up on Amazon's Kindle end of March.

Spirit of Doolin: book about the place and traditional arts, tradition bearers hopefully published for Clancy Week.

I'm finishing the Doolin book in SF...everything else is ready to roll

just waiting for cover for the novel, which my son Jamie is doing

Brendan
That's my afternoon plan now to go home and listen to the podcast, just great. Thanks very much for taking the time to talk with me, great chat across the Atlantic between Brooklyn and Clare. Enjoy the nice fire there and your cupán tae.

Eddie
Míle buíochas, enjoyed it...
beir búa!

Brendan
agus duitsa, slán!

Eddie
slán!

Photos of Eddie Stack by Kathleen Sullivan.

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