An Expat Connects Creatively in Dalkey

Welcome to the new Dalkey Creates Blog for 2017. The festival itself is expanding in its creative offerings, so this year’s blog is dedicated to exploring creativity in the area. My name is Liza Holland, and I thought I would share with you my creative journey in Dalkey.

I arrived in Dalkey as an expat in August of 2016. I followed my husband’s work, and as such, was not eligible for employment without a good deal of hoops to jump through with the government, so I found myself with lots of free time in a whole new country. I had experienced this once before, in Belgium, where I met several expats, but never seemd to become a part of the local community. I determined to do better. Completely charmed by the beautiful seaside village of Dalkey, I began to think about how to meet people. As anyone who has moved to a new city, much less a new country knows, it takes effort on your part to integrate into a new community.

My first stop was Dalkey Creates. As my family explored the many fabulous restaurants in town, I spotted the Dalkey Creates brochure. I have been a freelance non-fiction writer for many years, and thought volunteering to help at this festival might be a great place to start. Volunteering versus attending, mind you, because my main purpose was to meet the locals planning and supporting the event. What a grand idea! With a deep breath and a heart full of optimisim, I emailed the organizer, which set off a great chain of events. You never know what one email will do.

Dalkey Creates organizer, Anna Fox, returned my email with a warm welcome. Yes, she would be delighted to have me volunteer. Perhaps we could meet for coffee to discuss? And so we did. We met at a local wine bar and art gallery, the Grapevine on Castle Street. We ended up talking for more than an hour. First Irish connection made!

She explained to me that Dalkey Creates is part-funded by the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council. The purpose of the festival began as a place to to nurture, create and celebrate new writing. Dalkey was a great place to host, as it has been home to internationally renowned writers for generations. The greats such as James Joyce, Hugh Lenoard, Samuel Beckett and Maeve Binchy have gained inspiration for their works in Dalkey. At the heart of the festival have been writers’ workshops. They run over 2 days covering a range of genres. They are designed to inspire, motivate and support writers through the writing process. As the festival grew, they began to host a number of events, all taking place in locations around Dalkey which will inspire writers and non-writers alike, adding a junior programme, an open mike at Finnegans and more. Sounded great to the writer in me!

As promised, the event was well attended and the sessions were extremely informative. It was great to see excellent and talented writers, publishers and more share their wisdom and insights with attendees. As I hoped, I met several others volunteering to support and execute the event. Lots of great advice was given about living in the area and new friendships were forged. I managed to sign up to volunteer for the Dalkey Book Festival and to be considered to volunteer at Dalkey Castle and Heritage Centre. Like many communities, there are key people who really get things done. I was so happy to meet some. It has set the course for my life for many months. Best of all, volunteers, attendees and speakers left very happy!

Having enjoyed the whole process so much, I volunteered to assist in the organization of the festival for 2017. This year, the festival expands even more to include creative storytelling in a variety of mediums –film, photography, music and more. We will once again reach out to involve local students. Be on the lookout for wheelbarrow gardens throughout the town. A storytelling bus experience, dance exhibitions and more will make the Dalkey Creates experience even more fun for locals and attendees alike. We hope you will mark your calendars now for the October 19-21, 2017.

Photos by John Fahy ( & Richard Johnston. Privacy Policy.

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