b'James HarpurMonaco is a theatre of dreams and fantasies and nothing could be better for a writer. It is a unique place,grounded on medieval history but insistently modern, its tower blocks surging towards the sea like a stand-ing ovation. I had in fact visited the Principality before, way back in 1976, when I was Inter-railing aroundEurope with a school friend. Returning in 2010 was like walking into a dj vua sense of the familiarblending with the new. And this time I glimpsed what it was like to be an insiderthanks to the warmth,friendliness and sage advice of Judith and her back-up team of Graldine and Sle, a triumvirate ofguardian angels whose practical help and sense of fun made the month a constant delight.Writers, they say, need a room of their own, or a room with a view, and the view I had in the First Edi-tions Room was of the spines of more books I wanted to read than I could shake a stick at. The daily dan-ger was the lifting of the head from my own writing to think a thought and inadvertently spot the firstedition of Ulysses or some other bibliographic treasure: my writing would grind to a halt while I investigatedthe volume in question. The task Id set myself for the four precious weeks was to progress a long poeminspired by the Book of Kells. And of course the library contained that most valuable of tomesthe 1990facsimile of the book published by Faksimile-Verlag Luzern, a most extraordinary work that even repro-duces the holes in the original vellum. I felt like a medieval scribe, poring over Kells and scratching awayat my notepad. It was pure joy! It was a wonderful four weeks of serious endeavour and new friendships and Id like to thank the Ireland Fund of Monaco for their generosity in making it a month to remember, as well as Judith, in par-ticular, for all her support and good humour. I returned home to the grey October mists of West Cork butthe fierce sunlight, tanned faces, magical book spines and reflecting surfaces of Monaco turned, and stillturn, like a revolving door in my mind.connect 2012 | 99'