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Cork Profile

Conall Creedon - writer

Thursday, 2nd February, 2017 1:01am

Cork is a city and county of sport and song but it is also a city of literature. Growing up in Devonshire Street and still a resident there, writer Conal Creedon is Cork to the core.

In the 1980s, Conal opened a laundrette in his native Devonshire Street and jokes that it was perhaps the monotonous sound of the washing machines that led to him to writing.

“I grew up in a house of storytelling, so I suppose I’m a storyteller by nature.

“Back in the late ‘80s I opened a laundrette on Devonshire Street, and maybe it was the hypnotic humming sound of the washing machines, but somewhere along the line I felt the need to write and haven’t stopped since.

“I describe writing as more of an illness than an interest, it is an obsessive compulsive disorder that has been elevated to an art form.”

Creedon has won countless awards throughout his career with his play ‘The Cure’ winning at the New York Theatre Awards in 2013, yet he cites a cross-country running competition prize in primary school as one of his proudest moments.

“When I was in fourth class in the North Mon, Brother Dempsey decided to set up a cross-country running league. Each evening, 50 young lads would take off across the fields around new Mon field up on Fair Hill.

“I would not be described as the greyhound breed, so each evening, as the dusk came in, I would be the last to cross the finish line. When the league ended our team did not win - but I guess Brother Dempsey had a spare medal, so he gave it to me for being the best trier. I’m very proud of that.”

Many of Conal’s plays such as ‘After Luke’ and ‘When I was God’ are based in Cork, yet Conal explains that many of his works have been produced abroad and will continue to do so.

“When I Was God will be produced in New York in two months’ time by Michael Mellamphy. Although my work is Cork to the core, three of my plays have been produced in China since 2010 and I have been involved in five different projects in China over the past few years.

“I’ll return to China later this year as a guest of the Shanghai Writers’ Association.”

Conal has written for a range of genres, including radio documentaries, TV and previously had a column in ‘The Irish Times’ but admits writing a novel or a play in the comfort of his own Cork home is what he revels in the most.

“There’s nothing like being in a rehearsal room and witnessing actors, directors, designers, all coming together to add value to your work.

“And there’s nothing like being in a full-house theatre when an audience rises to their feet in standing ovation.

“And there’s nothing like walking into a bookshop and seeing your book on a shelf or, better still, walking along a train carriage and seeing someone reading your book.

“But for me, above all, there’s nothing like sitting here in my little room on Devonshire Street scribbling away with my little dog curled up at my feet, so it doesn’t really matter if it’s a play, a book or a script, as long as producers continue to produce my work, bookshops continue to stock my books, and readers continue to read my stories - that means I can continue to sit here on Devonshire Street scribbling.”

Conal is the current writer in residence at University College Cork and says that the role is as much a learning curve for him as it is for his students: “UCC puts very little demands on me - but I’m taking the opportunity to engage with university life full-on.

“My primary focus is with the School of English, but I’m reaching out to as many departments as possible – Folklore, History, Theatre and Drama, Digital Humanities, German and various societies and organisations.

“I see it as an incredible opportunity to engage with a whole a new world. I’m the one on the steep learning curve and I’m loving every minute of it. There’s nothing quite like being in a room full of enthusiastic students – it’s a bit like being given a glimpse into the future. Like, how cool is that?”

Speaking of his family and friends, it’s clear that Colm is very much rooted here and like most Corkonians, he has a deep love for the county: “I still live and trade on the same street where my grandfather first opened a shop. Most of my siblings still live in and around Cork.

“My parents are deceased for a number of decades now, but I do have a whole new crop of nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews coming on stream, and the future looks bright.

“I’ve lived abroad on a number of occasions and that gave me a great objective appreciation of Cork.

“A bit like Dorothy in ‘The Wizard of Oz’, Cork is home and there’s no place like it,” he says.

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