Sunday, March 10, 2013

Siarscéal Festival - Saturday

A most enjoyable day at the Siarscéal Festival in Roscommon town on yesterday Saturday. A busy programmes which started at 10 in the morning.

The official opening was leisurely and relaxed with great speeches from Dinny McGinley, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. He wandered from his script to talk of heritage, poetry, rural Ireland, the Gathering, the Irish language in a friendly, inclusive way which was more a chat with friends than a speech.

He was followed by Loyola Hearn, the Canadian Ambassador to Ireland, who proved to be one of the stars of the event. Though a relatively recent appointment he showed a wide knowledge of and interest in Ireland and things Irish. He is from Newfoundland and so has a strong Irish background. He finished his talk by reading a poem he had written about Patrick Kavanagh. Impressive!

The Mayor of Roscommon had a difficult task following these two to officially launch the festival and he did a fine job wisely keeping to his script.

Pupils from the Abbey NS, Roscommon entertained the large attendance by reading their poems on the topic of the Gathering, playing music and dancing.

The adjudicators, Eleanor McGrath for the senior categories and Ann Joyce for the juniors, talked about the process of selecting the prizewinners from the many entries. The winners were announced and the judges commented on the winning prose and poetry. The trophies and certificates were presented and those of the winners who were present read their pieces.

I was a bit anxious about reading my poem. It was, as the rules required, on the general theme of the Gathering, homecoming, but is quite dark. The adjudicator said it was "a difficult poem" which she read and put aside a number of times before finally awarding it the prize. When I read it at the Boyne Writers meeting most thought I should have left out the word "vomit"!

Anyway I read it as best I could and the audience listened very attentively. I was delighted.

In the afternoon I attended the workshop and open mic event conducted by Ann Joyce with some input from Eleanor McGrath.

Poet Ann Joyce is a native of Mayo but lives in Sligo. Her poetry collection Watching for Signs was published by Dedalus Press 2005. Eleanor McGrath is a Canadian writer and film maker. Her book  A Story to be Told: The Irish Immigrant Experience in Canada was published by Liffey Press. She has made two films, Kanata: An Irish Story and Alive from the Divis Flats.

A very interesting couple of hours with a nice mixture of published poets and beginners. Some great advice from Eleanor, don't be shy about your work, don't start a reading by apologising, enter competitions, send out your work, work hard.

Ann gave us three words as a writing start.and afterwards we read our first drafts. The three small words took us on all kinds of different journeys to all kinds of different places. Those who began their reading by apologising were shouted down!

Like most of these festivals this was a most enjoyable event, friendly, well-organised and relaxed. I met some old friends and made some new

Top Picture: The dignatories and organisers. Bottom row left to right. Eleanor McGrath, Minister Dinny McGinley, the Mayor of Roscommon Cllr Tom Crosby, Canadian Ambassador Loyola Hearn and his wife Maureen.

Bottom Picture: Adjudicator Eleanor McGrath and myself with my precious trophy.


Connie Roberts said...

Nice trophy, Michael. A cash prize is nice, but you can't beat a trophy: it'll be there on the mantlepiece long after the moola is gone. Congrats. again.

Your poem sounds intriguing. Any chance we'll be able to read it somewhere one of these fine days?

Michael Farry said...

Yes indeed, a very nice trophy. Thanks Connie.