Friday, May 31, 2013

Bealtaine Poetry Reading

The Bealtaine reading by the members of the Bealtaine Writers Group in the Hugh Lane Gallery yesterday was a most enjoyable event in a splendid setting. The group members read their poems, responses to artworks in the gallery, especially concentrating on works by modern Irish artist Sean Scully.

The Gallery is featuring an exhibition of his works at the moment. These are generally large and abstract, based on simple geometric shapes and at first glance not easy subjects for poems. One painting from the Doric series above. But the group responded with great creativity and skill and the poems made you want to go back to the paintings and look again.

Tom Dredge, above, the only male reader on the day, is also a member of our Boyne Writers Group.

The group's poems on this topic were developed from a series of writing and editing workshops with the poet Macdara Woods in the Irish Writers Centre, supported by Dublin City Council Arts Office and Poetry Ireland.

Well done to all!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Poetry on Thursday

The long established Bealtaine Writers Group will visit The Hugh Lane Gallery, Parnell Square, Dublin and read poems they have written inspired by artworks in the gallery. This event is free and open to the public on Thursday 30 May at 1.15pm as part of the Bealtaine Festival.

A member of Boyne Writers Group, Tom Dredge, who is also a member of the Bealtaine group will be reading at the event.

Their poems have developed from a series of writing and editing workshops with the poet Macdara Woods in the Irish Writers Centre, supported by Dublin City Council Arts Office and Poetry Ireland.

And the first series in the Poetry Ireland Introductions Readings 2013 featuring Madeleine Barnes, Stephenie Conn, Brian Kirk and Annemarie Ní Churreáin takes place at the Irish Writers' Centre, Parnell Square on the same day, Thursday at 6.30pm, admission free.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A History of Coolaney in 15 Objects

The talk in Coolaney on Saturday evening went very well. I was delighted to see such a great crowd and to meet some old school friends. The renovated Centre looks very well. Congratulations to the committee and the people of Coolaney.

This is the list of the objects I used to frame the talk. Most were illustrations but some, 9-13, were actual objects which I had there on display.

1. Rathbarran food vessel and axe c. 1,500BC (National Museum)

2. Miniature portrait of Cormac O'Hara, Coolaney c.1590. (O'Hara Family, Annaghmore)

3. Map of Coolaney 1716. (O’Hara Papers, National Library)

4. Engraving of Meemlough Castle. (The Antiquities of Ireland, Francis Grose, London, 1791)

5. Ordnance Survey map of Coolaney village 1837

6. Drawing of Coolaney old bridge by Raymond Piper. (Hayward, This is Ireland, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, London, 1953)

7. Wanted Notices 1838-40. (National Archives, Dublin)

8. Relief Application Form, 28 April 1847 Kate P. Thompson, Knockadoo House. (National Archives, Dublin)

9. Envelope of letter from Coolaney about election, 1852. (O’Hara Papers, National Library)

10. National Schools Amalgamation Brochure 1972

11. Railway warning sign c.1895

12. A Coolaney brick c.1907 (Photo above)

13. Account book of Coleman’s Coolaney 1902-1924 (Photo in post below)

14. Census Form 1911 Charles Mackenzie, Coolaney court clerk

15. Cartoons of Peter Cawley, Coolaney politician (Roscommon Herald 1912, 1914)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Coolaney Community Centre

Coolaney is a small village on the southern slopes of the Ox Mountains in County Sligo. I was born in the the parish and wrote a short history of the parish and published it in 1985.

The population of the area increased enormously during the tiger years and the village regularly comes out on top in Sligo in the Tidy Towns competition.

The local committee have just finished a major renovation of the Community Centre in the village and it is being re-opened this Friday, 24 May. I was asked to do a talk on the history of the village on Saturday evening 25th. I was delighted and decided to call it A History of Coolaney in 15 Objects, reflecting a current trend in such things.

Most of the 15 objects are in museums or libraries but I will have six or seven actual objects with me on the evening including the one pictured above. More on the night. I'm looking forward to the event and hope I do the occasion justice.

The well-known Book of O'Hara which contains 37 bardic poems of the late sixteenth century was compiled in honour of Cormac O'Hara, head of the family who lived in Coolaney and died in 1612. Some of these poems were written by the poet, Tadhg Dall O'Higgins, born close by near Achonry.

And of course five of my poems about the area, including one called Coolaney, were published in an anthology, Imagination and Place: Cartography,  in Kansas, USA earlier this year.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Scripts, Ireland’s Playwriting Festival

Birr Theatre and Arts Centre presents Scripts, Ireland’s  Playwriting Festival, 8-14 September 2013.

Scripts, Ireland’s newest playwriting festival is dedicated to new Irish plays - the writing of them, the development and nurturing of them. Playwrights can submit original 10 to 15 Minute plays on the theme Home for selection.

Those selected will benefit from a professional development process where they will be mentored by professional playwright Eugene O' Brien in an exciting work shopping process. Closing date 1 July.

For 7 days in September the picturesque heritage town of Birr, Co. Offaly, a haven of Georgian elegance, will play host to an ensemble of playwrights, producers, actors and directors, all working towards one goal -  to produce 7 outstanding new Irish plays in 7 fun-filled days!

You can also register to be part of a “Pop Up” Play in a Day Challenge. Playwrights will have 24 hours to write the 5 minute plays which will be performed as Pop Up Plays in cafes in Birr throughout the festival and again at the "It's A Wrap" event on Sunday September 15th.

Visit the website for more info on this exciting new festival.

The Swift Festival in Trim had a five-minute play competition last year which was a great success. Not sure if something similar will take place this year.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Strong / Shine Poetry Award Shortlist

The shortlist has just been announced for the 2013 Strong / Shine Award for debut volumes of poetry, to be presented at the Poetry Now at Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival in September.

The four are: Eleanor Hooker's The Shadow Owner's Companion, Mary Noonan's The Fado House (both Dedalus), Rebecca O'Connor's We'll Sing Blackbird (Moth Editions) and Michelle O'Sullivan's The Blue End of Stars (Gallery Press).

The dlr Strong Award in partnership with Shine is presented annually to the author of the best first collection of poems published by an Irish poet in the previous year.Last year's winner was Sound Archive by Nerys Williams published by Seren.

Congratulations to the four authors and best of luck. Eleanor was another of the Poetry Ireland Introductions Class of 2011.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Get Digital - Converting Books to eBooks

Eoin Purcell, Commissioning Editor at  New Island Books, will be hosting a workshop on converting books into ebooks in the Irish Writers Centre on Saturday 8 June from 10am until 2pm.

This course is specifically tailored towards published writers who now own the rights to previously published material which they would like to make available as ebooks. 

Over the course of the morning ebooks will be examined with a section on how to create them, where to upload them, covers, pricing, marketing and a brief guide to rights.

*Please note this course is only open to published writers. To book please visit the Centre's website.

Eoin Purcell is the publisher of Irish Publishing News the source of news and information about Irish publishing and The Irish Story, a digital magazine and ebook publisher that focuses on Irish History. They published a review of my Sligo book recently.

Eoin writes occasional blog posts and columns on the Irish book trade for The Bookseller magazine and several other publications. He has kept a blogs on publishing and digital change since 2006.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Caterpillar Magazine for Children

Announcing The Caterpillar, a new arts and literature magazine for children, featuring stories, poems and artwork. ‘As far as I can tell,’ says its editor Rebecca O’Connor, ‘there is nothing else quite like this out there for children.’

It features:
Poems and stories for children aged 7–11.
Well known children’s writers.
Full colour original artwork throughout.
Interactive pages for children to encourage creativity.

The first issue, to be launched on 2 June 2013 at the Moth Studios, Cavan, will feature the likes of Michael Morpurgo, author of War Horse; Mark Lowery, shortlisted for a Roald Dahl Funny Prize this year; and Janet Wong, who has read her poems on the Oprah Winfrey Show and at The White House, as well as such well known Irish writers as Matthew Sweeney and Julie O’Callaghan.

There will be four issues a year – in March, June, September and December. Available online, at Easons and at select bookshops, price €4/£4.

A school or library annual subscription costs €40 (including postage) and can be purchased at or you can email or call 00 353 49 4362677 to set up payment.

Monday, May 13, 2013

New Poetry Collections

Another poet from the class of 2011, the Poetry Ireland Introductions of that year, is publishing a first collection.

Consent, the debut poetry collection by Kimberly Campanello, published by Connemara-based Doire Press, is being launched on Thursday 16 May at 7pm in the  Irish Writers’ Centre, Dublin.

Evelyn Conlon will do the honours on the night. Well done Kimberly!

More information here on Facebook.and here on Kimberly's website.

And it has also just been announced that another of the class of 2011, Donna Sandahl Sørensen, has just  signed a book deal and her debut poetry collection, Dream Country, will be published by New Island Books later this year.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Poetry Reading and Writing Workshop - National Library

As part of the Bealtaine Festival the National Library, Kildare Street, Dublin will host two Australian poets, Diane Fahey and Ali Cobby Eckermann for a poetry reading, 1.10pm - 2pm, followed by a  poetry writing workshop, 2.30pm  – 3.45pm, on next Wednesday, 15 May.

No need to book, just drop-in on the day.

Diane Fahey grew up in Melbourne and now lives in Clifton Springs  in south-eastern Victoria. She has written individual poetry collections on Greek myths, fairy tales, and insects. The poetry of place and nature writing, with a special emphasis on birds are abiding creative concerns.

Ali Cobby Eckermann, a celebrated poet and writer, lives in Koolunga, South Australia, where she has established an Aboriginal writer’s retreat. Ali has won several awards and has published poetry collections and verse novels. Her poetic memoir, Too Afraid To Cry, is being released in 2013.

These poets have been chosen for the Australian Poetry International Tour to Ireland in 2013, funded by the Literature Board of the Australia Council.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Themed Thursdays - Animals

I'm delighted to be taking part in the Seven Towers Thursday Themed Reading (6.30-8.00 pm every second Thursday 2013) in the Workman's Club, Wellington Quay, Dublin. on this Thursday

In these readings four writers/poets read on a specific theme for five to seven minutes each followed by a short open mic.

The temptation is to bend the rules and intepret "animals" very widely as one could. I've searched around, found enough poems on real or imaginary animals and am ready.

These are the other readers:

David Murphy is an award winning Science Fiction Writer. He is co-founder of Irish fiction magazine Albedo One, and has published two novels, Akron Chronicles and Longevity City and a collection of short stories Lost Notes.

Alma Brayden is a well-known Dublin poet and accomplished visual artist, a member of Dalkey Writers’ Workshop and has had poetry published in many anthologies and magazines.Her first collection Prism was published by Seven Towers in 2010

Seamus Cashman's poetry collections are Carnival (1987); Clowns & Acrobats (1997); and New & Selected Poems (Salmon, 2007). He has edited, with Bridie Quinn, The Wolfhound Book of Irish Poems for Young People, (Wolfhound Press, 1975) and Something Beginning with P (O’Brien Press, 2004) He established Wolfhound Press in 1974 and was its publisher for 27 years.

I'm delighted to be reading in such good and varied company. The Seven Towers events are always friendly and welcoming so I'm looking forward to the event.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Headspace: A New Magazine Promoting Positive Mental Health

HeadSpace is a writing and art magazine based around the theme of mental health which began with a group of young people who felt that a greater understanding of mental health in all its forms  is needed.

In particular, people who spent time in psychiatric wards found that there was a lack of reading material there, and felt they would have gained a sense of solidarity and support to read and see the work of writers and artists who understood their own experiences.

The name HeadSpace was motivated by the idea that in culture and society, we are not given the time or capacity to express, create and think as time is money, but all of us feel the need to buy some 'headspace' in order to maintain positive mental health.

HeadSpace features inspiring, deeply moving personal accounts involving dealing with depression. There are articles on how to make yourself more confident, the importance of mental health and how to cope when your mental health is not as strong as it sometimes is.

It also features a range of spectacular creative writing, with poems and short stories dealing with the panic, depression, and confusion that comes with mental health difficulties and diseases as well as stories of hope and recovery coming from unlikely places  Its pages are also packed full of evocative, thought-provoking art.

Issue One is to be launched on May 11 in  in the Twisted Pepper, Abbey St., Dublin at 6 pm (Coiniciding with Mental Helath awareness month) and will be distributed for free to a psychiatric ward and a school catering to pupils with mental health difficulties.

The magazine is entirely not-for-profit and was created by a group of volunteers. Costs have been met via crowdsourcing and fundraising events. Issue One is now available for advance orders online here for €5 including delivery. For more information please visit the facebook page.