Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Cathach Launch

Nice event in Sligo yesterday to launch The Cathach. Always nice to have an excuse to go back and visit the town and county.

The name The Cathach derives from ‘The Battle of the Book’, the Battle of Cúl Dreimhne, which arose when Colmcille copied a manuscript book and the High King of Ireland decided against him with the words: "To every cow its calf and to every book its copy". In consequence, in 561 AD, the High King and Colmcille engaged in battle on the slopes of Benbulben which Colmcille won. Thousands of men were killed and as a penance, Colmcille is said to have left Ireland and went into self-imposed exile on Iona.

The Cathach is the oldest extant Irish illuminated manuscript, dated to c. AD 600 and is kept in the Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin. The surviving 58 folios contain Psalms 30:10 to 105:13 (Vulgate version).

The library in Sligo, a converted church, has a mural (above) by Sligo artist Bernard McDonagh of the battle of the book.

The launch was well attended and I met some old friends and some new including some contributors to Boyne Berries. I always fear meeting writers who have been rejected by Boyne Berries. Niall Williams, the editor of The Cathach and outgoing Sligo Writer in Residence spoke well to officially launch the publication. He used the metaphor (simile?) of a writer as he/she writes walking on a bridge towards the reader who may not be there. The next step of the bridge may not even be there. An editor he says is the person who supplies the rest of the bridge for the writer. A portrait of Niall hangs in the library. (right)

The Sligo County Librarian, Donal Tinney, spoke as well and mentioned the fact that in spite of "the present economic climate" Sligo has been able to advertise for a new Writer in Residence.

The online magazine looks very good, a nice mixture of of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, drama and a pictorial essay. I'm delighted to have my effort included among such names as Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Dermot Bolger, Joan McBreen, Dermot Healy etc.

Now to get ready for Boyne Berries launch on this Thursday evening and there's a computer course to prepare for as well and of course the Windows publication launch next week and that long poem I'm working on - need to keep it moving and that backlog of books to catch up on (bought another one in Sligo - ah well!)

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