The Arts Interview: John Carew

John Rainsford


John Rainsford

Born near Lough Gur, my father had been a builder when he was young and was very good at block laying and plastering.

My mother was a great knitter and still knits to this day, with neighbours and friends wanting the warm socks that she knits for the winter. She, also, knits matinee coats for any new babies born in the area. My sister Alice is an artist and is studying for an art degree in Cork at the moment.

To be a writer you need to be a dreamer.

However, I have always been a dreamer but now I try to write down what I dream about. Writing poetry and short stories is a great way to express yourself and I like to use writing, as a form of humour, and social comment. I, also, like telling stories in the style of the old Seanchaí. It is important to listen to older people, and to write down their stories because if these stories are not recorded, they will be lost forever. It has long been my dream to become a full- time writer, and an even greater dream to be a full-time entertainer. My first collection of poems and short stories ‘Through The Mist Of Time’ has just been published by Revival Press. I had a very successful launch on 25 June in the Honey Fitz Theatre, Lough Gur. Copies of my book can now be purchased online, in O’Mahony’s book store in Limerick City, the Heritage Centre, Lough Gur, and Bruff Credit Union.

Personally, I do not think that there are any big disadvantages to living in the countryside.

Maybe the big disadvantage is that you need a car but the advantages out weigh this. Although, I like to paint and sculpt, I much prefer to write and entertain as a Seanchaí. Today, I would describe myself as a writer and Seanchaí using all my own material during the live shows. I am, also, a member of the Limerick Writers’ prose group, which meets on the second Friday of each month in the Limerick Writers Centre (LWC). Two week beforehand, we send each other a piece of our work for critical analysis. It is a great way to see and experience what other writers are doing, it, also, helps you to think outside of the box which is particularly helpful for me as a writer.

Jogging is great fun and I have twelve or thirteen marathons run at this stage, although I don’t run much now due to injury.

I still like cycling and walking, though, especially around the magical Lough Gur. I, also, like painting and stone sculpting but these are very time consuming, so they are very much on the backburner for now. Travel broadens the mind and I have been to America, and most parts of Europe, with Berlin being my favourite city. The rows of white wooden crosses in northern France had a big effect on me, inspiring me to write a poem called ‘The Poppy Fields Of France’. I would like to see the Great Wall of China, and of course, Australia one day, and to travel around Ireland. My favourite thing, though, is meeting and talking with people wherever they are.

My father was a big influence on me.

As children he gave us a sound work ethic, and was a great man for telling stories. Indeed, I regret not writing them down while he was alive, but somehow some of his sayings still come to me, today, when I am writing. My national school teacher, Michael Quinlan, was, also, a great influence on me. He was a great nature lover, especially the beauty of Lough Gur, which he passed on to his students. Even today, I find great inspiration in everyday things, such as nature, and it is very easy to be inspired by Lough Gur, with its wealth of fauna and flora.

I would encourage others to get involved in writing.

Most people, if they put their mind to it, can write, and everyone have a story to tell, sometimes the hardest part of writing is getting started. I, also, think that it is important for parents to encourage their children to write and to tell stories. One good method is for them to tell bedtime stories. I. also, like to entertain during culture nights in the Heritage Centre Lough Gur, for the Folklore Society of Ireland, at the Thomas Fitzgerald Centre, Bruff, and for senior citizens, at the Hospital Resources Centre. I perform for tourists at the Adare Manor Hotel, and have quite a number of gigs coming-up. I have been a guest poet at Reardon’s monthly poets’ meeting and at the White House Bar poetry night. In 2014, I produced and presented a radio show called ‘Between the Pages’, on Limerick City Community Radio, in which I interviewed local writers and artists.

Today, media outlets, like radio and newspapers, are a great source of inspiration.

I get a lot of my ideas for my poems, especially in terms of social commentary, from them. I, also, attend the On the Nail Literary Gatherings and the Rambling House in Lough Gur, which take place on the first Thursday of the every month. There is great inspiration to be had from other poets and story tellers there and it is a great way to try out your work and to hear what other poets are writing!

For more on John Carew please see YouTube: John’s book ‘Through The Mist Of Time’ can be purchased online at: can, also, contact Dominic Taylor, Community Literature Officer of The Limerick Writers’ Centre, at mobile: 087-2996409 and email:l