The Creative Islanders is a blog series showcasing creative and social entrepreneurs and practitioners in Ireland who are stepping into their dreams, purpose and passions and choosing to do ‘business as unusual’ while being based in Ireland. The series aims to be a ‘behind the scenes’ look into their creative practices, process, motivations and mindsets, shining light of what makes people tick, and how, collectively Ireland is alive with creative possibility.
Next up in the series is Miceal Murray, a forager and cook who has recently founded ‘Taking A Leaf’, a new business running creative food events with a focus on wild and local foods. Inspired by the celtic cycles, Miceal has created a series of seasonal dining experiences and coupling them with music and art. With over 25 years in the cafe and restaurant business it was time for him to step onto his own path, combining his passion for sustainable enterprise with his love of nature and the wild. Miceal is also a Thrive School participant. And so with great pleasure I hand over to his lovely and kind self…
What keeps you in Ireland?
What keeps me in Ireland is the sense of home I get from here. It’s in my bones. Being from the country the connection is strongest felt from the landscape and the wild. And it is specifically the Irish landscape and whatever magic emanates from it. It seems to hold a mystery and a richness that I can’t find elsewhere. Obviously there is beauty all over the world but I find something else here; something hard to put into words. It is a distillation of many things, history, stories, art, music and memory. And of course my husband, family and friends.
What makes you tick? What motivates you?
A deep and heartfelt desire to live more in tune with the natural rhythms of nature and self, and to express these in a creative and meaningful way. It is also the desire to live in a way that is more connected to nature in an urban setting.
Why do you do what you do?
I think that part of me might shrivel up and die if I didn’t. It keeps me vital.
What do you do just for the love of it?
Discovering new things, be it music, food, books, magazines or places. Plus, jumping over a wall or crawling under a hedge to get to a new patch of land.
What does the creative process teach you?
Be open to change. I can visualise an idea or concept but to actualise it I must be open to change. Ideas can change or they can grow into something completely new, or they can be shelved and returned to at a more appropriate time.
What were some of the key moments along your own journey that helped you to get where you are today?
I learned so much from a wonderful lady called Judith Hoad. She is a teacher, healer and author and she introduced me to so many plants and explained their medicinal and edible properties. She inspired me to think differently.
Inspiration comes from all sorts of places. I recently watched a film called “Juliette of the Herbs” it stayed with me for days, as did “Embrace of the Serpent”. Although the content doesn’t directly inspire me the magic of the characters involved does. But you can’t beat a good walk to get you out and get the juices flowing.
How do you get through tough times? What sustains you?
It is pretty simple really: get outside and walk the dogs.
What key lessons have your learned about doing business or being a creative practitioner along the way?
It is strengthening to know that everything changes and nothing is constant. Whatever you are going through, whether good or bad, it will come to an end and change into something else.
Do you have a morning routine?
Ideally I like to do an early Astanga class. It really sets my day up and I am more determined to get on and get stuff done. I have an on/ off relationship with meditation but this too helps. But most of all walking the dogs first thing through the very wild Liffey Valley park gets me going.
What books have inspired you?
The Global Forest by Diana Beresford Kroger
What advice do you wish you had received as you were stepping onto your own creative path?
Make lists. And then make more lists.
Be kind to yourself if mistakes are made. I am learning all the time and am very new at this game so I have a long way to go and many mistakes to make.
And what advice would you give to your future self?
Work less, garden more.
What is coming up next for you?
On the 13th of August I am completing a cycle of dinners inspired by and connecting with the ancient celtic festivals. So this time it will be Lughnasa and the beginning of harvest. Simple local food with foraged elements. After that I will be collaborating with the composer Hilary Mullaney to create an immersive dining experience. Also a series of walks to get people out and introduce them to some plants.
All photos by Vivienne O’Brien.