The Black Pudding Club Renaissance and The Touaghty Triangle
Article from Mayo Abbey Parish Magazine 1994
The Touaghty triangle is formed by linking the three roadways between the towns Castlebar, Ballinrobe and Claremorris. Carnacon and Ballyglass are at the centre of this triangle beside the beautiful Lough Carra, famous for early May-fly trout fishing.
Moorehall is the Home place of George Moore, the writer, Geroge Henry Moore, MP for Mayo, who fought for tenants rights and saved his people from starvation during the Famine and of course John Moore, 1st President of The Connacht Republic in 1798.
Muigheo na Sacsan (Mayo of the Saxons) - from which the County derives its name, lies alongside on the fertile plain of Mayo. Burriscara Abbey, Mayo Abbey, Ballintubber Abbey, Church Island, Annies, Castlecarra, Doon promontory Fort, Castlebourke and Frenchill are all monuments to a glorious past.
Touaghty, the home place of a servile tribe of Firbolg, is dropped completely from the map and replaced by the more upmarket townland of Towerhill.
The Touaghty Triangle, like its more famous counterpart the Bermuda Triangle, has the same effect on the unsuspecting navigator. A maze of road network systems make this district a nightmare for the visitor. Strangers journeying in the area, constantly find themselves back where they started out from.
This is not helped by the fact that quite a number of Ballyglasses exist in Mayo, and the area has fallen completely off the Tourist map. Many incidents have occurred where visitors have become hopelessly lost, but have stayed to enjoy the natural hospitality of the people.
Within the Touaghty Triangle, just off the plain of Mayo, is Blackpudding Country - the scene of a new cultural renaissance. Here in 1990 a group of people set up a body which has come to be known as the Blackpudding Club.
The purpose of the club was to perform and read prose and poetry in the local pubs. The tete-a-tete in the local pubs at the time was not earth shattering (it never is actually). As per normal the conversation concerned the weather, cattle prices, head age grants and bales. Even so, to intervene in this discourse was not considered a great idea and could, it was felt, be an invasion of privacy.
A great fear was expressed about the possible intrusion into people's chatter time. The main instigator of this cultural initiative was the late Brid Mellett.
She pursued this project relentlessly and set about forming a framework organisation to support it. Brid was also hooked on the idea of tasting food on such occasions.
About this time also Martin Jennings, Ballinrobe had come away with first prize for his black pudding in the Master Butchers Federation of Ireland Competition. Yet without as much as a whimper, he gave his support for this venture into the arts world.
You must bear in mind that this was a very generous offer of sponsorship considering not a single line of poetry was yet recited.
The prizewinning black pudding was secured, all that had to be done was to assemble the prizewinning performers.
The CATS drama group, the Carra Ladies Club and Ballyglass F.C. formed the nucleus from which the Blackpudding Club breathed new life. Many local people were secretly writing poetry, songs and plays. It would take some time to smoke out most of these artists to perform in public.
But first the rostrum. We all assembled on the first night in one of the local pubs, the black pudding sizzled and was passed around on homemade brown bread. The conoversation waned to a hushed silence for each poetry item or reading of prose.
Everybody was taken aback at the interest shown for each of the performances, varied though they were. The conversation and banter was simply delightful. Those who came to scorn had to admit it was a good idea. About every two to three weeks we took the Blackpudding Club to pubs all over Mayo and performed to packed houses on numerous occasions.
The experience at the other venues was the same - a remarkable interest in what performers had to relate. The new poets from within our midst put a freshness to our programme. The poems began to reflect the problems and issues of the day.
Songs, music and parodies began to appear on the menu. The acquisition of a legitimate storyteller, grabbed the imagination of the public. We have recently added a sketch or two to each nights programme which gives a dramatic effect to the evening.
The main benefit of the Blackpudding Club is that it provides a network in rural Mayo to link up with the towns in the region. It has shown what can be achieved when people support one another. The major achievement is that it has provided an opportunity for people to perform their own works before a cross section of the community in an ordinary environment.
One cannot but be impressed by the depth and range of talent that exists in this country. We meet new talent at each venue who perform to an appreciative audience.
A huge number of people are writing poetry for themselves, but are not yet ready to admit to this not alone to perform in public. A group such as the Blackpudding Club gives encouragement inits own quiet way to the writer who wants to test some work on the public. The interaction of creative people has a knock on effect and given creative support to ideas.
This year the Blackpudding Club took part in the Gay Byrne / Quinnsworth / Crazy Prices Community Talent Competition, which went out live from the Carra Lodge, Carnacon. We received many favourable comments and reviews after the show.
Taking part in competitions was not in our charter, but it has had some positive effects on our show. The experience of the Gay Byrne Show staff in auditioning countrywide matches our own travels countywide - complete amazement at the variety of talent available. This must surely be the most untapped natural resource this country possesses.
The Blackpudding Club hopes to continue to exploit this unbridled talent by developing its own rostrum.
Hope to see ye all soon in Malachy's!
By Kevin Coyne,Towerhill, Ballyglass