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A place where time stands still

Author Sandra Ireland 
Sandra Ireland is an author based in Carnoustie, Angus. Her debut novel Beneath the Skin will be published by Polygon in September. She is currently undertaking a year long residency at Barry Mill in Angus where she will work on her second novel, The Bone Harp, and deliver a series of community workshops. We found out more from Sandra:

Can you tell us a bit about your residency at Barry Mill?

I was delighted to receive funding from Creative Scotland to undertake this residency, which will primarily allow me the time to research and write my second novel The Bone Harp, which is set in an old Scottish watermill. I’m extremely grateful to the National Trust for Scotland for allowing me the ‘run of the mill’, as it were- this will be a thoroughly immersive experience for me which can only enhance my work. As part of the residency, I will be delivering a series of workshops based around the mill and its environs. I will also be undertaking some research into the ballads, poetry and folklore associated with mills and milling, as my novel has been inspired by a traditional border ballad. My Barry Mill Blog will reflect on my year at the Mill.

Weir-d Walk at Barry Mill

You’ve just held your first event, The Weir-d Walk, how did this go?

We had a great turn-out for the event. The aim of the exercise was to gather story-making inspiration as we strolled to the mill weir. I had a series of mill-related traditional stories to tell en route, and some quirky writing prompts. We had quite a large number of children present, who immediately raised the bar in terms of imaginative effort, and we grown-ups certainly learned a lot about fairies, pixies and giants from our young friends! 

Weir-d Walk event at Barry Mill 

Throughout your residency you’ll be holding other community events, what are these and how can people get involved?

This is not just a chance for me to immerse myself in mill life. It is an opportunity for the community, through these workshops, to explore its heritage through the medium of writing and storytelling. On June 19, I’ll be inviting folk to join me at Barry Mill for The Craic at Dawn. Sunrise is 4.21 am- the very best time of day to get creative! Come and paint, draw, write poetry, compose music! Later that same day (10.30-12.30) we’ll be having a nature poetry writing workshop. Other events will be listed on the NTS Barry Mill website or my author Facebook page

"There’s definitely a magical, serene quality about the landscape. It’s a place where time seems to stand still, and the hustle and bustle of the world stops at the gate."- Sandra Ireland

What makes Barry Mill such an inspirational place for a creative residency?

There’s been a mill on this site since 1539, and there’s definitely a magical, serene quality about the landscape. It’s a place where time seems to stand still, and the hustle and bustle of the world stops at the gate. Not only is this highly conducive to any kind of creative activity, but the stories and folklore associated with milling is fascinating and inspirational.

Barry Mill 

What are your hopes and ambitions for this residency?

My main drive is to complete my novel, but I hope I will leave something behind when I go. I’d like to think the local community will be enriched by this residency. I want to document the narratives that arise from this time, whether that be new responses in poetry and fiction, or old memories and tales that come to light during the course of my residency.

Sandra Ireland hosts The Craic at Dawn at 4:21am and later that same day the Midsummer Magic Writing Workshop at 10:30am at Barry Mill, find out more her Facebook page.

Sandra Ireland is supported through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund.

This article was published on 15 Jun 2016