Night Lights

I’ve been running a kids’ advice clinic in The Studio this month. What’s that? A simple concept really – ask kids for their advice. I’ve been given all sorts of nuggets of wisdom. Five-year-old James gave me a handy farming tip: “when you’re bringing in the sheep, fall back and pretend to be a tree.” Maeve reminded me how to behave: “Don’t slam the door! Don’t slam your friend in the door!” Six-year-old Arianna’s advice was perhaps a little more poignant than she could have anticipated though, when she said:

“Be careful not to let the lights go out. When it gets dark you can’t see anymore and things can be scary without a night light.”

It’s been dark in Mid Ulster this week. As a community we have felt the loss of three young people through tragic circumstances in Cookstown. The roads have claimed more victims and a young mum will soon be buried in her wedding dress…it feels like the lights are out.

What has been heart warming amidst all of this is how in the aftermath of such tragedy, there are so many “night lights” within our community. So many individuals and organisations have come forward, offering services and support to our young people, their parents and anyone else who needs it. Albeit at this trying time there is little consolation for the families, nearest and dearest and friends of those who have gained their wings.

And so at a time when there are no words to fathom the hurt, nothing I can write to make it better, I am sending my heartfelt condolences to those who have lost the ones they love. My thoughts and prayers are with you. We are all with you.

It is dark and it is scary but we will try to be your night light.

With love, Ciara

Unexpected Kindness

Kind is the new cool! I’ve seen this little saying around recently, I’ve noticed people hash tagging it online or bloggers writing about it and I like it! Kindness is cool and this month I experienced that first-hand at The Studio. A simple letter in the post brightened up my day no end on a pretty chilly Wednesday afternoon.

I opened the door and there on the mat was this envelope…

While the contents of the envelope will remain private, it’s the sentiment I wanted to share with you. It struck me that the kindness of a stranger, someone who didn’t even know my name, had completely made my day, simply by taking the time to reach out.

So kind stranger, if by chance you are reading this, thank you.

Love, Ciara

In a world where you can be anything, be kind!


A magical moment!

It’s been almost six months since The Studio opened its doors in Maghera. In one way it feels like I have been hanging out here forever. Then sometimes I answer the phone and hear myself saying “I’m in The Studio” and still get that flutter of excitement I felt on opening day…I guess I’m still getting used to the place existing in real life, beyond my imagination where it lived for so long.

Already The Studio has taught me so much, like the cost of heating oil and how many loo rolls a place can get through in a week! Both valuable lessons of course, but the real education has come from the people who have walked through the door.

At Christmas I was privileged to host a party for South Derry Down’s Syndrome Group after a very successful term of drama at The Studio. The Studio was full of people, babies, children, parents, grandparents, families and friends. Standing there taking it all in was a real ‘pinch me’ moment. It was exactly as I had imagined, a space where people could come together to really celebrate creativity and diversity in our community. The thing that stood out most was the sound of laughter. It was everywhere, from baby giggles to a dad’s hearty chuckle and it was great!

In the middle of this wonderful chaos a mum approached me. This lady’s daughter had been part of the group throughout the term. With tears in her eyes she explained that this was the first party her daughter had attended in 18 years. Why? Today she had the confidence to show up because she felt like she belonged here.

What an honour, after years of searching, a literal lifetime, that young girl had found her place, right there in The Studio…and I couldn’t have been happier.

With love, Ciara

Once in while when everything is just right, there is a moment of magic. People can live on moments of magic.

Sarah Caldwell

The journey begins…

The dream of a dedicated arts space in Maghera is one I’ve had for a really long time but I first started thinking seriously about it in the last couple of years. As an arts facilitator working in the Mid Ulster area for over 10 years now I know first hand how difficult it can be to find a space that is just right.

With this in mind I went about trying to create what I felt I had been looking for, a space that was a blank canvas…and so here I am! I really hope that The Studio will have something for everyone. I’ve been overwhelmed by well wishes and by the number of local people, artists and service providers who have been in touch wanting to get involved in the journey or simply find a place (that isn’t the end of their own kitchen table!!) to create.

So if you are reading this thinking that you would like to know more, or you’re thinking about taking a leap into whatever it is that you do best, then please get in touch. I’d absolutely love to hear from you.

My dad gives great advice and he has often said to me “alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”…so I’m hoping now that I’ve done my little bit we can all get together and do so much more.

Thank you so much to everyone who has been in touch so far, for all your words of support and encouragement, it really means the world to me. To my amazing family and friends, thank you for everything so far…for listening, helping…and listening more, I know I’ve literally been talking about this for years! Apologies in advance because hopefully I’m only getting started!


All space is space in which to create. — Eric Maisel