Ciaran Carson …

Ciaran Carson …


Ciaran Carson, born 1948, is an award-winning Irish poet and novelist. In 2009 he was featured in the Guardian’s Writers Rooms series. I have to say that I would feel very much at home in this room myself.


Ciaran Carson’s writing room. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe

This is the front room of my terrace house at Glandore Avenue in North Belfast, built in the 1890s. I suppose it would have been the “drawing room” then; now, I withdraw to it when some writing needs to be done.

There’s a big bay window to the right of the picture, overlooked by the lime trees in the avenue beyond. I took out the radiator to accommodate the bookcase by the left-hand wall, hence the electric heater at the side of the desk, though in winter a real fire is sometimes lit in the out-of-shot Victorian fireplace. There are more bookshelves in the alcoves at either side of it, filled with reference books – dictionaries, thesauruses, atlases and the like.

I picked the desk up at an auction a couple of years after we moved here in 1987. The Victorian chair came from my wife Deirdre’s family. It’s rather distressed, and I once experimented with a modern office swivel chair, but before long found myself reverting to the traditional seat. Besides, it’s more in keeping with the rest of the room.

On the left-hand side of the desk you can see the beige cover of one of the little Muji A6 notebooks I carry with me wherever I go, for writing down random thoughts or snippets of interesting talk – anything that might provide inspiration. I like them because the pages are sewn and they take fountain-pen ink. I began collecting vintage fountain pens some years ago, and part of my collection is housed in the mahogany box on top of the metal whatnot, as well as in smaller boxes in its drawers.

To the right of the computer keyboard you can see the red mouthpiece and brass tube of a tin whistle, which I sometimes doodle tunes on during lulls in the writing. Deirdre’s fiddle case is nestling against the wall by the door, and we sometimes play music together in this room, or entertain guests in it, so it’s not entirely a writing room. More of a parlour, really. It’s a nice room.


Guardian Writers Rooms

A Guardian article about Ciaran Carson


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