The Curfew Tower is Many Things/32 Books 32 Counties

20841054_1655180877849306_4120856738095252059_nThe Curfew Tower is Many Things is a book. It was written by poets and writers in The Curfew Tower in Cushendall. Co. Antrim during 2014 (more details here). Over five days in June 2017, 32 copies of this book were left on the island of Ireland, one in each county, by Bill Drummond. The poet Stephen Sexton accompanied him and added a unique handwritten poem on two blank pages that were allotted to him in each of these 32 copies. Conor Garrett was also present and he produced a 30 minute radio programme to document their journey, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 13th August 2017 (listen here) and there is a version here with an extended introduction as well. This programme revealed some but not all of these locations (details below). You can read more about the background to the book here.

I was always a fan of The KLF/The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu and continue to enjoy what Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty do individually and together as artists today. In 2016 I even revisited an unfinished road movie of theirs for an art project of my own, Searching for The White Room. I was therefore very interested to listen to this radio show and wondered where the book in my home county of Sligo might be.

In the programme, when they get here they go to a train station and leave it in the lost and found. At this stage I wasn’t sure when this had all happened, if the book might still be there or would if it be possible for me just to walk in and claim it etc.  I wasn’t even sure if it was Sligo town station, just that they had been in the town earlier going by the programme. The next day after the broadcast was a Monday and I had something to do in town anyway so I went in to try and get the book as well. I did feel kind of hopeful about the outcome but wasn’t sure how to go about explaining the whole thing or how understanding the person in charge might be.

I parked my car and walked into the station, it was quiet. I couldn’t see a ticket window to ask at but to my right and around a corner I found that there was actually a whole room for lost property. It was note outside explaining to ring the bell for a staff member. I was about to do this when I walked closer and saw there was a man already behind the desk about my own age. So I went in, took a deep breath and just asked him if there was a book there by that name and explained that someone else would have left it there. I was trying to keep it simple.

Luckily he was very helpful and showed me where the lost books were on the shelf. I couldn’t see it in the small pile of about five or six books. I looked in the other shelves too but they were mostly filled with what looked to be bundled up coats and other clothes. I started to tell him the story of the book and that an artist called Bill Drummond and a poet had left a copy of this book in every county in the country a while ago. I still didn’t go into too much detail.

It was a bit depressing, I had hoped to find the book easily enough but it was not looking good. I had another look and even opened an Eason’s bag that had some novel inside. I was really about to go when I spied the edge of a small book on a top shelf on his side of the desk. I thought he had probably already checked it himself while we had both been searching and that it didn’t look big enough to be the book anyway. I expected it would be a notebook or something. I leaned over and pulled it down in some desperation. I couldn’t believe it when I saw and read the cover.  This was it, ‘The Curfew Tower is Many Things’, with a little drawing of the tower. I opened it at random and quickly found the handwritten poem by Stephen Sexton and explained to him that this was done in all the books and told him more about the project. He wanted me to take it but I still asked him what would happen to the book if I didn’t. He said that they are only supposed to keep things for two months and then they are thrown out. Later I  noticed from the date of the poem that the book had been there nearly two months already. I shook his hand and thanked him again and walked out with my prize. I then sat in my car and read it through.

20842066_1655180731182654_6240134389095420713_nI had already decided that I would donate the book, if I got it, to Sligo Library Services. I will ask my friend who works for them about this (this is now done but I’m told it will take time to register it on the system, I will add link once this happens). It will soon be possible to order and borrow the book from any library in the county.

As you can see from the list I made below, it will be pretty difficult to locate the rest of the books but on the off chance that you are reading this and have tracked one down or already have a copy, please write an account of how you located it and email a photo of the handwritten poem to me at rennicksstephen (@) eircom (dot) net . It would be great if you could somehow make it publicly available as well, if it is not already. I will share the details here. I’ve been using the hashtag #32curfewbooks Let’s work together and find these books!

Books are ever more important in the age of the internet, finding and reading these will be worth the effort.

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Toby Berryman, who is just 13 has been very diligent in searching for the books online and by phone from England. He made contact with the Tattoo Parlour in Co. Westmeath and they have posted him their copy. The two images below are the book as it looked in their premises and the poem/art which was inside.

book in tattoo parlour

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Toby also contacted Kerry Airport by phone and they are in the process of posting him their copy (since then they have decided to donate it to a local library). I may not be able to get a photo of the poem but once the book appears on the online ordering system I will add the link here. He even somehow tracked down by the guesthouse owner called Peter in Co. Louth who will be holding onto the book to show guests but will be sending him a picture of the poem. He also helped fill in a few more details for the list below.

Matt Gardner found the book in the Diamond Bar in Tullaghan, Co. Leitrim. I will include his own account here soon. The book remains in the bar to be requested by anyone who wishes to read it. The poem is below.

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The first book was left just after the journey began at the Community Development Office in Broughshane, Co. Antrim. I emailed them for a scan of the poem and they kindly obliged, see below.

book4

I will keep updating this page as new information comes in, let’s keep searching!

  1. Community Development Office, Broughshane, Co. Antrim (The staff here sent me a scan of the poem. The book remains there to be read). 

  2. Kurdish or more likely a Turkish Barber, Derry, Co. Derry (the staff member recipient was from Syria) Both of the town’s Turkish Barbers were contacted by Toby Berryman and neither have it. 

  3. Nail Bar, Omagh, Co. Tyrone

  4. With the driver of a yellow bus in Co. Fermanagh

  5. Co. Donegal (not revealed)

  6. Diamond Bar, Tullaghan, Co. Leitrim (ask for Concepta) (Found by Matt Gardner, image above. The book remains behind the bar for anyone to read.)

  7. Lost & Found, Train Station, Sligo town, Co. Sligo (Found, see above for details and image)

  8. B&B, Co. Mayo

  9. Co. Galway (not revealed)

  10. Co. Clare (not revealed)

  11. Polish Supermarket, Co. Tipperary

  12. Arrivals Lounge, Kerry Airport, Co. Kerry (Located by Toby Berryman, Kerry Airport have reportedly donated the book to a local library.)

  13. Job Centre, Co. Limerick (awaiting email response, if the right one)

  14. On the street, Co. Cork

  15. Hotel bookcase, Co. Waterford

  16. Co. Kilkenny (not revealed)

  17. Co. Wexford (not revealed)

  18. Primary School, Co. Offaly

  19. Strawberry Seller, Co. Carlow

  20. Charlie Flanagan Constituency Office, Co. Laois (awaiting email response)

  21. Co. Wicklow (not revealed)

  22. Dublin Airport Church, Co. Dublin (my email to Dublin Airport got forwarded to their Lost Property section, which replied, We have been through a check of our lost property and unfortunately your lost book “The Curfew Tower is Many Things” has not been handed into our office. Toby contacted Father Desmond and he said, “No book was left behind or handed in the Church back in June or any other time.”

  23. Co. Meath (not revealed)

  24. Weaving Workshop, Co. Kildare

  25. Angel Art, Tattoo Parlour, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath  (Found by Toby Berryman, image of poem above)

  26. A Boatman, Co. Roscommon

  27. Man on bicycle, Co. Longford

  28. 3 stonemasons in graveyard, Co. Cavan

  29. Owner of parrot, a Pub in Co. Monaghan

  30. Guesthouse owner called Peter, Co. Louth (Located by Toby Berryman, image of poem and location details to follow)

  31. Co. Armagh (not revealed)

  32. Thrown in a river, Co. Down

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2 Responses to The Curfew Tower is Many Things/32 Books 32 Counties

  1. lloyd says:

    Nice. Keeping it inscrutable as ever. Hi Conor

    Like

  2. Mat says:

    Awesome work Stephen. I have an inkling about Kildare.. Matt 😉

    Like

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