Travels with my daughter
The Oldie Magazine|December 2020
When pop star Florence Welch was asked to an Irish literary festival, she took her father Nick Welch along – and he loved it
Nick Welch

One day, my old friend Viv Guinness sent me an email. She wondered whether ‘the daughter’ Florence (aka Florence + the Machine) might like to feature at the Borris House Festival of Writing & Ideas in County Carlow, a couple of hours south-west of Dublin.

Flo was back on the phone within a day or so and absolutely on for it. The clincher was the presence of Jeffrey Eugenides, an author whom I had not read yet, but is adored by my children and their friends. Most delightfully, I am allowed to come, too.

County Carlow is rolling country, with some green mountains to the south, and Borris House is a wonderful, somewhat sombre confection, with an elegant but thoroughly lived-in interior.

It has been the home of the MacMurrough Kavanagh family for centuries. They are engagingly around and about during the festival.

Florence has a perfect room at the top of the house. I’m suddenly disappointed that I helpfully agreed to be downgraded to a local B&B. But then I am a gilded hanger-on, not even a real author – I suppose I could claim co-authorship of Florence’s being.

Within minutes of arriving, I am meeting some of many new best friends, including Barry the man on the door who keeps the riff-raff out of Borris House.

By now an experienced ligger, I know it’s always useful to get on good terms with security personnel. They know where things are and who does what.

A chatty fellow, Barry informs me he has been looking after HRH (Prince Charles) who was in Kilkenny a week before. Apparently, HRH had been very well received and enjoyed himself so thoroughly that he stayed rather longer than expected.

There is a green room in Borris House where the writer-talkers can hang out, and it is actually green – the walls an old, very muted shade of eau de nil, hung with family portraits – with a magnificent dining table around which they all sit.

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