Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year Poem

Rather than put up Tennyson's Ring Out Wild Bells again this New Year, you know the one that has:

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

I thought this from 1910 captures the spirit of the current times somewhat better.

Happy New Year

The Year
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That’s not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that’s the burden of the year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sligo: The Irish Revolution 1912-23, A Review

The Irish Story website has a detailed review of my history book by John Dorney. In general it's a positive review, calling the book "useful" and praising much of the material. He is somewhat dissatisfied with my analysis of the Civil War however mentioning the anti-Treaty majority in Sligo in the election of 1922. I think I have made clear my belief that this majority has more to do with the geographical spread of the candidates that pro- or anti-Treaty stances.

He also has a few other criticisms of the book but in a volume of 70,000 words on such a long and eventful period it's difficult to be comprehensive so I have no problem with that and certainly have no intention of making any comments on the review website.

What is interesting is that already in comments on the review a certain amount of heat has been generated especially about the Civil War.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Christmas Poem: Our First Christmas Tree

Our First Christmas Tree

The countryside his common
wealth, holly, ash plants
his to harvest as required,
kindling in spring
mushrooms in summer,
blackberries in autumn.

That winter we insisted,
so he took his saw
into starless dark
far beyond the stables,
guided by barbed wire,
returned with a trophy tree.

We crowned it with a silver-paper-covered
cardboard star, hung home-made ornaments
and tissue paper novelties,
pretended to be happier.

I bought one this Christmas
daylight, sized and packaged,
legal, lacking the challenge
of something on the margin,
the tang of trespass,
infant irritant
on the noisome
vain empire of excess.

Michael Farry 

Asking for Directions (Doghouse, 2012)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Zbigniew Herbert: Collected Poems 1956–1998

Zbigniew Herbert (1924–1998) was a Polish poet, dramatist, essayist. Influential, honoured and well regarded in the west, he is one who needs to be read. So I tackled the Collected, not a simple task as it's almost 600 pages long. I've covered about a third and am taking a break.

Interesting poetry, no punctuation but skilfully done so that is not a problem. His poetry is calm, personal and political, remarkably when you consider the events he lived through.

He is quoted as saying that as regards poetry "The word is a window onto reality". He has written a number of prose poem, a form I am not fond of but I think this one is delightful:

  The hen is the best example of what living constantly with humans leads to. She has completely lost the lightness and grace of a bird. Her tail sticks up over her protruding rump like a too large hat in bad taste. Her rare moments of ecstasy, when she stands on one leg and glues up her round eyes with filmy eyelids, are stunningly disgusting. And in addition, that parody of song, throat-slashed supplication over a thing unutterably comic: a round, white, maculated egg.
  The hen brings to mind certain poets.

(translated by Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Dale Scott)

The Collected Poems, 1956–1998 by Zbigniew Herbert, edited and translated from the Polish by Alissa Valles, with additional translations by Czeslaw Milosz and Peter Dale Scott and an introduction by Adam Zagajewski.

Review article by Charles Simic here. One by Craig Raine here. Herbert article at the Poetry Foundation here.

Picture: Statue of Zbigniew Herbert in Kielce, Poland.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The 2013 Prole Laureate Poetry

The 2013 Prole Laureate Poetry competition is now open. Entry by email is preferred and you pay by PayPal. Full details on website.Entry fees: £3.00 for a single entry, £2.50 for subsequent entries.

Winner - £130, publication in Prole issue 10 and on the website. Two runners up, each receiving £30 and possible publication on the website. Winners will be paid by PayPal - or by cheque if they have a bank account operating in GBP.   

Closing date for entries, February 14th 2013. Winner announced in issue 10 of Prole and on the website by April 19th 2013.

Judge:  D.A. Prince (right) is a poet and reviewer with a long-standing appreciation of the energy and individuality of 'small' magazines. She has two pamphlets with Pikestaff Press, and in 2008 HappenStance Press published her full-length collection, Nearly the Happy Hour. Publication of her second collection is due in 2014

I was lucky enough to get a prize in this last year. So older unknown Irish poets take courage and enter!!. And my third-prize winning poem, The Truth, is still on the competition page on the website, scroll down. I loved what the judge said about my poem. Great to be referred to by surname only!

Comments of judge, Andrew McMillan: A lesser poet would have taken pages, or maybe even a full collection, to say what Farry distils here into a beautifully simple poem. Ideas of genealogy, ageing and truth are handled with great care and given the space they need to breathe in the short, sparse lines. The ending is heartbreaking and well earned through a poem which builds itself on allusion, on half-told stories, on broken trusts; what sort of style could better imitate the life so many of us have known?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Penny Dreadful Literary Magazine

Another new Irish literary magazine, the Penny Dreadful, has just been released. Issue #1 entitled "Reinventing the Egg" can be ordered from the website and should be available in shops around now. The price is €4.99 plus postage and packaging and for that you get 80 pages of literary bliss!

Issue one features short fiction from, among others, Mercedes Helnwein and William Wall and poetry from such as Theo Dorgan, Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, Alan Titley, Will Schutt and many many more.

The Penny Dreadful Magazine is the perfect stocking filler this Christmas season. A launch is promised for Cork in January.

Editors are Marc O'Connell and John Keating and the magazine is also on Facebook.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Doire Press Fiction Chapbook Competition

Doire Press 2013 International Fiction Chapbook Competition.

Winners will each receive 75 copies of their own professionally edited and printed chapbook published by Doire Press. Chapbooks will be perfect-bound, contain up to 40 pages, feature colour front and back covers, as well as their own isbn and barcode. Ten shortlisted entries will be included in an anthology.

Entries: one short story (3,000 words max). Deadline: January 9th, 2013.

Judge: Celeste Augé is an Irish-Canadian writer who received her MA in Writing from NUIG. She won the 2011 Cúirt Festival of Literature New Writing Prize for Fiction and is a two-time winner of the Lonely Voice competition run by the Irish Writers’ Centre. She’s been shortlisted for a Hennessy Literary Award and was highly commended in the 2011 Seán ÓFaoláin Short Story Competition. Fireproof and other Stories was published by Doire Press in 2012. Visit her website at

Submission Guidelines:
€10 for first entry, €8 for each additional entry. Cheques or money orders to be made payable to Doire Press. Entry fees can also be paid via Paypal through the Doire Press website.

Email submissions will also be accepted with an additional €1 printing fee per entry. Send entries via postal mail to: Doire Press, Aille, Inverin, County Galway, Ireland. Entries must include cover page with full contact information and title of story. Entrant’s name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript.

To read the full list of contest guidelines, submit via email or to pay by Paypal, please visit the website at For any questions, email

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Lost Son - The Brian MacNeill RTE Programme

The programme on the killing of Brian MacNeill on Benbulben mountain in Sligo during the Civil War in 1922 was shown last evening on RTE 1. It is available online on the RTE Player at the moment It was produced and directed by Niamh Sammon for RTE.

The programme was well done and covered a lot of ground in less than an hour and showed clearly how it happened that one son died fighting the army and government in which his father and two brothers were serving. The family tragedy aspect was well covered contrasting with the unfolding of the important national events. The research, especially as regards the deaths themselves, seems to have been thorough and McDowell made a great presenter.

Good use was made of photographs, some newly discovered, but some of the film clips used are by now becoming overused. There is a Pathe newsreel piece about a meeting in Sligo on Easter Sunday 1922 which I saw recently used in a programme about the attack on the Four Courts in Dublin and was used again last night as if it showed Civil War events. The great clip of Sean MacEoin chopping a tree which was blocking a road also comes from the Sligo Easter Sunday film.

It's very interesting to be involved to any degree in the making of a TV programme. My involvement in this programme was small. I was not one of those consulted during the making of the programme, there are many who know a lot more than me about that particular incident.

I was interviewed to give some background on the general situation in Sligo during the War of Independence and Civil War. The interview took place in Rahelly House in north Sligo which was the anti-Treaty headquarters at the period and from where the IRA fled to Benbulben when the Free State troops attacked.

The director had this great idea of putting myself and Michael McDowell sitting in front of a screen commenting on photographs which were being shown on a screen. He was asking questions and I was answering. This was developing the story of the programme, McDowell coming to Sligo to find out what happened.

This was filmed from many angles, we spoke the same words over and over again. The scene in the programme lasted only a minute but was very effective. The still above shows us talking about Sligo IRA O/C Billy Pilkington.

I was delighted to be involved with the programme and especially glad that the programme turned out as well as it did. Nice also to have my new book mentioned on the caption. Well done to all involved.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Benbulben Civil War Deaths

On Monday evening, 10 December, at 9.35 RTE 1 will screen a documentary about the deaths of six anti-Treaty soldiers on Benbulben, County Sligo during the Civil War in 1922.

It will focus especially on Brian MacNeill, son of the Free State government minister Eoin MacNeill, who came to Sligo during the Truce, took the anti-Treaty side and was one of the Benbulben victims.

I was interviewed for this as a historian who has researched the period though I have no particular insight into the actual incident. I'm interested to see how they will cut and use what I did say.

To a large extent you are at the mercy of the editors whose priority may be to tell a good story rather than reflect all the nuances of a particular incident. I have been told by someone who is an expert on the incident that he has seen the programme and is very pleased with it.

From the RTE website:

One of the victims was Brian MacNeill. His nephew, former Minister for Justice Michael McDowell now wants to discover what happened on that day in September 1922. Did Brian and his comrades really die in an ambush, as the official version goes, or were they killed in cold blood? Why was Brian MacNeill, the son of a minister in the Free State government, fighting on the Republican side? What were the forces, events and ideologies that drove him and other Irish men to take up arms against their former comrades – and in Brian's case, members of his own family?

Filmed in Sligo and Dublin, the documentary will follow Michael's investigation. Piecing together accounts from the military archives, IRA papers, interviews with descendants, and family letters Michael will paint a compelling picture of a family divided and a country riven apart. At its core will be the story of Brian MacNeill, the brilliant young medical student whose death goes to the heart of one of Ireland's greatest historical traumas. 

Sligo Champion report of the making of the documentary.
A Herald piece on the documentary.

Picture above of Brian MacNeill (right) and Sligo IRA leader Frank O'Beirne from my Sligo: The Irish Revolution 1912-1923.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Moth - Winter Issue

The winter issue of The Moth features, among other things, interviews with DBC Pierre and Leontia Flynn.

Leontia is the judge of this year’s Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize, which has a whopping €5,000 plus two nights B&B and dinner for two at Ballymaloe House in Co. Cork as a first prize (with 2nd and 3rd prizes of €1,000 and €500) and closes on 31 December. Full details on the website here. 

Recent occurrences at The Moth include the launch of editor, Rebecca O'Connor's, new poetry collection We’ll Sing Blackbird, a Christmas exhibition of over 20 Moth Studio artists and the tour of Seamus O'Rourke's For Club and County around packed GAA clubs throughout Ireland.

Details of all competitions, publications, purchasing, subscriptions, submissions and forthcoming events on the magazine website.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tommy Murray - Young Writers Launch

The launch of Golden Rhymes, the anthology of poetry by the late Tommy Murray's Meath Young Writers Group took place this Thursday evening in Navan Library.

A most impressive event with readings from the anthology by the young writers. Their confidence and reading skills were striking as well as the directness and simplicity of the work. It was clear from the attendance and from comments by writers and parents that Tommy had make a great impression on all.

Tommy's Meath Writers Circle and others marked the occasion by reading some of Tommy's poems and poems which had some connection with Tommy. Tom French of Navan Library who organised the event read a recent poem of his, a tribute to Tommy (picture above).

I officially launched the publication, having been asked by Tommy a few weeks before his untimely death. This is what I said:

I met Tommy Murray in a street in Trim about six weeks ago. We stopped for a quick chat as we usually did. And as usual he was full of vitality and enthusiasm. He was delighted that this anthology was ready and asked me to launch it. I was delighted to be asked and agreed.

Since then things have changed. Tommy has left us but, though delayed, this launch goes on as he would have wanted.

Tommy Murray started this group in 1998. This is the fifth such collection. The previous anthologies were called: Gemstones; Building blocks; Rough Diamonds; Paper Trails; And this one is called: Golden Rhymes.

Tommy was anxious from the start that group members be published. He recognised the importance of publication, of others reading your work. Tommy enjoyed reading his poems to an audience, he enjoyed entering competitions, getting his work out there and he particularly enjoyed having his work published and winning prizes.

It may be that we write for ourselves first but it is important that others read and hear our work. Our work can speak to them, bring fresh thoughts and images to their minds, surprise them, make them smile, think and sometimes even cry. Look around this library. It is full of the ideas, the stories of others recorded for all times and available to us. Just as the work of you young writers is now recorded for all time in this anthology.

Tommy’s foreword to this anthology makes poignant reading especially when, after talking about his fifteen years of working with young writers he ends with: “Long may it continue”. In one way it won’t continue. Tommy is gone now. His work is finished.

But in another way it will continue and the work that Tommy has done will continue. His own poetry and local history publications will continue to be read and enjoyed. Indeed his work with this group and previous groups continues. He helped opened their eyes to the wonderful use of language. How we can paint pictures, pass on ideas, stimulate thoughts and dreams with words. Who knows what good Tommy’s work has done and will continue to do?

Some of his young may continue to write and some even become well-know for their writing but all will treat language differently, in speaking, in listening, in writing and in reading, because of  Tommy.

Tommy’s classes were never designed to be an XFactor for young writers or Ireland’s Next Top Poet. They were intended to help young writers achieve their own goals, develop in their own way. This is evident in this anthology which is a wonderful mixture of different voices with poems of all shapes and sizes, including haiku, (one about shopping) dealing with many topics,

the everyday: the walls of a house, the colour red, oil seed rape, relaxing in the afternoon; the unusual: a mystery creature, a strange man, a weird city, monsters under the bed; global concerns: the landscape, a just and free world, a tough life; and the great issues which have concerned poets at all times: death, loneliness and there is even a poem called Scribbles which is about writing itself.

Meabh finishes one of her poems in the collection with
“Pictures are great
But not as good as books”.

And from that I take it she means that words, well chosen and well arranged, as they are here and as they are in the poetry of Tommy Murray, allow the reader or listener create their own pictures in their own minds.

One of the wonderful things about having your work published is that when others read your work, it can speak to them in ways you never imagined.

A great example in this anthology is a poem by Sarah entitled I have gone. I don’t know what the original inspiration behind it was and in a sense that doesn’t matter. When I read it and when you read it in the anthology later it will speak to us of Tommy.

We will never forget Tommy, the mischief in his eyes, the enthusiasm in his voice, the enjoyment he got from reading his work and his energy and dedication in the service of writing. Part of that was his work with this group and this anthology is a fitting tribute to that work and to him. In a real sense Tommy is with us here. As Sarah says in her poem:

“I have gone from your world
But it doesn’t mean I am not here
I will always be close”

It gives me very great pleasure to officially launch Golden Rhymes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Golden Rhymes - Meath Junior Writers' Launch

What was meant to be a joyous occasion will have more than a touch of sadness. The last time I spoke to Tommy Murray he asked me to launch the anthology by the members of his Junior Writers Group. He had edited the anthology, Golden Rhymes, had the booklet printed and had fixed a date for the launch.

His sudden death meant the launch had to be postponed but it will now take place on Thursday evening, 6 December, at 7pm in Navan Library. The celebration of the talent and achievement of this group will be overshadowed by Tommy's absence and the knowledge that he will not be with us to celebrate.

As well as the launch the evening will be a celebration of the work of Tommy Murray and members of the Meath Writers Circle and others will be there to remember him and read some of his poetry.

At last night's Ledwidge Poetry Competition presentations Liam O'Meara paid a handsome tribute to Tommy Murray, mentioning his long association with that competition and with the magazine, Riposte. Frank Murphy, who had a poem highly commended, has more on the night on his blog.

The three prizewinners at last night's event: Marie Cadden from Galway, 3rd, Evan Costigan of Boyne Writers, 1st, and Denise Ryan from Dublin, 2nd. Well done to those and to the organisers. A full house, some great poetry and the usual friendly welcome.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Francis Ledwidge Poetry Awards and Christmas Cards

Tomorrow evening the presentation of the Francis Ledwidge Poetry Awards takes place in Donoghue's pub, Emmet Road, Inchicore at 8pm. Evan Costigan is this year's winner. His winning entry is called Boy at the Bus Stop. Second place went to Denise Ryan, Dublin, for her poem In Debt and third to Marie Cadden, Galway, for Up to Scratch.

Two LitLab members, Honor Duff and myself, and Frank Murphy of the Meath Writers Circle are among the commended. I hope to attend the presentation.

This year it is possible to send Christmas cards to family and friends with a Ledwidge theme. To promote the poet and raise funds for the upkeep of the Ledwidge Museum, in the poet's cottage in Slane, the committee have introduced Christmas cards.

The first card has a photo of the Hill of Slane in the snow with an extract from a letter that Francis  wrote to Katherine Tynan in June 1917 about his beloved Meath.

The second card displays the complete poem, House of Gold. Francis wrote this poem for Fr. Devas S.J. D.S.O. Battalion Chaplain WW1. The greeting inside both cards reads; “Wishing you peace and joy at Christmas and happiness through all the coming year”.

The cards are are €2.50 each or you can purchase a pack of five for €10. They can be purchased through the website, at the Francis Ledwidge Museum, the gift shop at Bru na Boinne and various outlets in Slane village. They can be posted out from the museum for a small additional charge.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Prize

An international poetry competition run by the Munster Literature Centre in Cork, Ireland, is currently open for submissions.

This is a prize for single poem, named in honour of a late Irish poet long associated with the Centre. The Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Prize has a first prize of 1,000 Euro and publication in Southword Literary Journal.

The MLC will subvent travel costs for the winner up to 600 Euro and provide hotel accommodation and meals for three days during the Cork Spring Literary Festival. The author who takes first prize will have the chance to read the winning poem at the Cork Spring Literary Festival in February 2013. There will be a second prize of 500 Euro, third prize of 250 Euro, and ten runners-up will each have their poems published in Southword and receive Southword’’s standard fee of 30 Euro.

The deadline is 15 December 2012 and this year's judge is poet Thomas McCarthy (above). More information, including submission guidelines, may be found here on the website  or via the Facebook group. Queries to

Friday, November 30, 2012

Teaching Creativity Course - Mater Dei

Teaching Creativity  is an innovative new course in which anyone interested in becoming a teacher of Creative Writing can acquire the fundamental skills and inspiration to do so.

The module will be taught by poet Dave Lordan on behalf of The Irish Centre for Poetry Studies at the Mater Dei Institute, and will cover the teaching of creative writing in primary, secondary, adult and community contexts, areas in which he has acquired an abundance of experience over the years.

As well as boosting the CVs of participants and enhancing their teaching abilities, it will also provide specific opportunities for particular groups of people:

Qualified teachers will discover new inspiration for the integration of creativity into the design and delivery of curriculum, as well as how to design a short course in creative writing, enabling a confident response to the increased  emphasis on creativity in the Junior Cert, for example.

Community educators and youth workers will be able to develop the potential for incorporating creativity into their work.

Writers, both aspiring and established, can develop the skills that will enable them to do creative teaching work that will complement their craft.

Participants will be asked to produce a short course and lesson plans. A certificate will be issued to all participants. The course can also be taken for credit as part of MDI’s Masters in Poetry Studies, as long as an expanded assessment piece is presented.

The module will be taught over four Saturdays at the Mater Dei Institute: January 19th, February 2nd, March 9th and April 13th. Sessions will run from 9.45a.m- 12.45p.m. The course fee is 200 euro.

The module co-ordinator, Michael Hinds, is happy to answer any enquiries:

Irish Times - The Truth in the News Headlines

From yesterday's, 29 November, Irish Times online 2.50pm.:

Headline of a report said: "Almost 25% of teens overweight"

First paragraphs of the report, by Genevieve Carbery, said:

"While more than a quarter of Irish 13-years-olds are overweight or obese, over three quarters of obese teens are exercising to lose weight, a new report has found."

"The results of the Growing Up in Ireland study released today also found that of the 8,500 children surveyed, 20 per cent were overweight and 6 per cent were obese."

A quarter is 25 per cent so which is it? The Irish Times report is a mess and suggests that nothing you read in the newspaper can be relied on. 

It is not clear from the Irish Times report if the 6 per cent found to be obese are included in the 20 per cent overweight. The sub-editor who wrote the headline either reckoned that 20 per cent is almost 25 per cent which is hardly true or added 20 and 6 percent and got "almost 25 per cent". Either way he made a mess of it. And of course the study investigated 13 year olds only so the mention of "teens" in the headline is untrue and misleading.

A quick glance at the actual report, a model of clear presentation in contrast to the Irish Times report, confirms that the 6 per cent is not included in the 20 per cent. So if you add the overweight and obese these add up to 26 per cent, over a quarter. But to express this as "more than a quarter of Irish 13-years-olds are overweight or obese" as the Times report does is misleading. In fact, it is clear that only 6 per cent are obese.

The real news appears to me to be: Almost three quarters of teens (13-year olds) are not overweight and Sixty per cent of the teenagers (13-year olds) interviewed exercised six or more days in the last 14 days. Both finding are surprisingly positive but headlines are never written like this. Emphasise the bad news!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Poetry Divas (plus one live male poet) hit Dundalk

Why was I anxious about the gig with the Divas in Dundalk IT? It went very well. A very welcoming host, Ferdia Mac Anna, a great theatre and a friendly audience made it a very enjoyable event.

The Divas were bright and glamorous, frills and boas. I was dark and serious, well not really. I was nominated to start so I did my Celtic Tiger Recession Blues which really put everyone in a good mood. Then the Divas took turns to deliver some sharp and witty individual pieces. 

The Dundalk Divas plus one. I'm on the left.

Me next to do my Final Father Poem, a satire on all the poems written by Irish poets about their fathers. Then the trio delivered their Godess Triad, very effective, more of this please Divas!

Another selection of individual poems including Barbara's Shackleton's Portable Homeland about whiskey in the Antarctic, Kate's great What to do with me Ashes and Triona's playful Mr Creosote's Christmas.

I did two more poems, one with a Christmas theme. Then the Divas finished with Barbara's boobs poem, Pair Bond (dedicated to Dolly Parton). They used visual aids this time in the style of Bob Dylan's famous subterranean Homesick Blues from Don't Look Back. Great!

The audience had got lollipops earlier and Kate encouraged the audience to blow bubbles during her ashes poem.

And that was it! I was delighted to be involved and really enjoyed the reading. Thanks to the Divas.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Poetry Divas in Dundalk plus a Special Guest!

How did I get involved in this?

The Poetry Divas, well known for their performances at readings and festivals around the country, are performing in Dundalk IT on Wednesday, 28 November from 6.30-8.15pm. But this time the Poetry Divas are including a Divo!!!

The Poetry Divas have performed at many festivals this year including the Festival of the Fires, Liss Ard and the Electric Picnic festivals. The Divas on this occasion are Triona Walsh, Kate Dempsey, Barbara Smith and Michael Farry.

Oh dear! It actually seemed like a very good idea at the time, a bit of fun. Now it seems just terrifying. What to wear? OMG!

Writer in Residence Ferdia Mac Anna is hosting the event at the Mac Anna Theatre which will be followed by  a question and answer session. For more information contact Ferdia at

More here (with pictures - spot the odd one out!).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sligo Launch - More Photographs

 Thanks to all those who took photos on Friday evening. I've put some on my Facebook page and here are three more.

A clever one by Paddy, with a glimpse of my head inside. Liber Bookshop had a nice display of the book and launch information in the window.

Larry Mullin of Sligo Field Club launching the book.

It's great to actually see your book on display and for sale (and selling!).

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sligo 1912-1923 has been launched!

Yipee! The history book has been launched. Last evening in Sligo a large crowd gathered in the wonderful Liber Bookshop in O'Connell St., Sligo to officially launch the first volume in Four Courts Press Irish Revolution 1912-1923 series.

And a wonderful crowd it was. Lots of relations there. Paddy Smith used the term "a philharmonic of Farrys", (which of course includes in-laws) at the poetry book launch earlier in the year and it was appropriate again last night.

And lots of friends, members of Boyne Writers Group, ex-ICT Advisor colleagues, people who had helped in many ways in the writing of the books, fellow-historians and others interested in the history of Sligo. Thanks to all who attended, who drove long distances, who helped make the event a sucess.

Larry Mullin of Sligo Field Club introduced the book stressing the many changes which happened during the years covered by the history and praised the extent of the research and the even-handed way the material was handled. He praised the publishers on such a fine production and expressed his delight that Sligo was the first volume in the series.

I thanked Larry for his kind words and praised the work of the Sligo Field Club in developing an interest in the archaeology and history of county Sligo. I thanked all those who had helped me in so many ways over the last 35 years in researching the history of County Sligo for this period. I paid tribute to the publishers, the map maker and the others who were involved in creating the volume. I paid special tribute to the two editors, Mary Ann Lyons and Daithí Ó Corráin who had the confidence that I could write the book and who guided me expertly through the process.

I tried to give some idea of how enjoyable it was to do the book, the reading of local newspapers and the secret British archives and encountering the various fascinating characters who bring the book alive. I also tried to give some idea of the hard work involved, the difficulty with fitting it into 70,000 words, the checking of details, the careful footnotes, the relating of Sligo to the national picture.
Many books were sold, I signed quite a few anyway! And I even signed some copies of my poetry book. Thanks again to all who attended and to all who organised the event. special thanks to Brian and the staff of Liber Bookshop, a great example of an independent bookshop doing well. They deserve our support!!

Pictures: Top, two of the grandchildren to whom the book is dedicated find it's actually a good read!
Middle: Me, talking with enthusiasm.
Bottom: Me, posing with the book.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sligo, The Irish Revolution 1912-1923 Launch

The launch will take place in Liber Bookshop, O'Connell St., Sligo this Friday evening, 23 November at 6.30 pm. Larry Mullin of Sligo Field club will do the honours. Thanks to Larry and the bookshop for their co-operation.

What to say at the launch?
So many people to thank of course for so much help and encouragement over what really was thirty years of work;
delight at the publication which looks so well, some comments on the process of writing it, the editing, the cutting, the shaping;
an idea of the enjoyment of dealing with primary materials, reading the newspapers of the times, reading the police reports marked secret and finding the account written by an officer in the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment of their activities in Sligo and surrounding counties; and finding the photographs he or another army member took. (Including the one above)

See, it's written itself!

If you are in or near Sligo town on Friday evening do come along!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Francis Ledwidge Poetry Awards Results

The results of the Francis Ledwidge Poetry Awards have just been announced. Congratulations to Liam O'Meara and his gang at the Inchicore Ledwidge Society for organising this competition so efficiently year after year. It attracts a large number of entries and a win here is a great achievement.

Congratulations to this year's winner, Evan Costigan, a member of Boyne Writers Group. His winning entry is called Boy at the Bus Stop. Second place went to Denise Ryan, Dublin, for her poem In Debt and third to Marie Cadden, Galway, for Up to Scratch.

I was delighted to get highly commended for a poem called Perth Weather about the inability of a west of Ireland weather expert to read Western Australian weather and about growing old and being retired.

Another LitLab member, Honor Duff, is commended as is Frank Murphy of the Meath Writers Circle. We are in good company. Among the commended and highly commended are Michael Massey, Catherine Anne Cullen, Noel King and Eamonn Lynskey .

The presentation of awards will take place in Donoghue's pub, Emmet Road, Inchicore on Tuesday 4 December at 8pm. This is always a most enjoyable event.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Ropes Literary Journal, Galway

ROPES is a literary journal published every year by the students of the MA in Literature and Publishing in NUI Galway. It is now open for submissions on the theme, 'Coming of Age'.

All proceeds from the journal go to the youth mental health charity JIGSAW.  This is a great opportunity for writers to be published and it is in aid of a good cause!

Deadline Monday 14 January 2013. To submit, go here. Queries to

Link to the poster. They are on Facebook here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Trim Drama Group - Dine With Laughter

Trim Drama Group’s autumn production will be held in Knightsbrook Hotel and Golf Club on Friday 16th and Saturday 17th November 2012. Following their spring 2011 dinner theatre production – four short comedy plays interspersed throughout a four course meal – they have decided to repeat the format. 

These are the four plays:

The Dating Game by VB Leghorn, directed by Elaine McLoughlin.
Three bachelors, one hostess, one announcer and a female looking for a date. What happens when not everybody sticks to the format?

Misconception by Sean Henderson, directed by Sean Henderson.
Niall Fagan and Ann O’Sullivan play an everyday normal married couple. However, on returning home from work, we see a desperate woman trying to cope with a pregnancy test and its result. But is all as it seems?

The Clive Way by John P Dowgin, directed by Sinead Sturdy.
A group of rehabilitated anger-management patients strive to pass their final test and get their ‘Anger-Buster’ certificate with some unexpected consequences.

Talk to Joey by Paddy Smith, directed by Willie O’Brien.
This effort, written by Boyne Writers Group and LitLab member, Paddy, seems to be based on (a rip off of  - a blatant copy of) an obscure popular afternoon radio show which involves members of the public airing their pet hates on the air at the license-payers expense.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

MSc in Creative Writing in Edinburgh

Recently I received some information about a new part-time online MSc in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh. The University website gives detailed information on how the programme works.

Though this is a part-time programme, it offers quite a full online experience, with a mixture of live sessions and study in the student's own time.

The programme enables you to focus in depth on your own creative practice at a pace which allows for work and family commitments.

I probably won't go back to college at this stage but I couldn't resist taking a peek at the course details. Interesting. Here for instance are the texts studied for the first year in the Literary Studies in Poetry section of the course.

This course focuses on a range of poets who established their reputations in the latter half of the twentieth century. The emphasis is on stylistic, structural, linguistic and cultural diversity - on how each writer has developed an individual ‘voice’ and constructed an individual poetic world without losing sight of cultural roots or abandoning inherited literary traditions.

Primary texts:

Elizabeth Bishop: Poems: The Centenary Edition
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground
Edwin Morgan, New Selected Poems
Ted Hughes: Collected Poems
Zbigniew Herbert, The Collected Poems 1956-1998
Janet Frame: Storms Will Tell
Adrienne Rich, Midnight Salvage: Poems 1995-1998
Tomas Tranströmer, The Half-Finished Heaven
Derek Walcott, Omeros
Pablo Neruda, The Essential Neruda

That's an interesting selection. Almost tempted!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Poet’s Parlour, Sligo

The Poet’s Parlour: Monthly Poetry Readings with Open Mic sessions at Yeats Memorial Building  Sligo

Thursday 15th November @ 8.00pm. Open mic poetry readings. Admission  €2

All you Poetry People … Please note!

All you who like poetry, love poetry, write read or dislike poetry, will be most welcome to attend. It is hoped to have guest poets, local poets and all of you who wish to share your own poetry or that of your favourite poet with us. A convivial atmosphere with candlelight, firelight and refreshments will be provided.

For further information or any queries you may have, kindly contact Ian or Eilo at The Yeats Building, Sligo, phone 071 9142693 or email:   

Friday, November 9, 2012

November On The Nail Limerick

Photographs from last week's On The Nail reading in Limerick can be seen here. It was the usual enjoyable event with three featured readers, Greagóir Ó Dúill, James Harpur and myself. Gregóir read in Irish and English and included his wonderful A Ford Anglia dumped on a High Bog Road from his latest Doghouse collection Outward and Return.

James read from his fifth poetry collection Angels and Harvesters. Among those he read was The Leper's Squint about the feature in St Mary's Cathedral, Limerick, which allowed lepers get communion without being part of the congregation.

I was nominated to go first and chose poems from my book which I hadn't read in Limerick. I started with a history poem, one on the Public Records Office UK at Kew. I also read two more recent poems both connected with Limerick, one called Limerick Cafe and the other Lough Gur Stone Circle which was included in the Stony Thursday Book.

The Open Mic was great, with a great variety of themes and styles. We had an extract from a novel, some short fiction and even a poem consisting of limericks for the day that was in it - the US election. Retired American high school teacher, John Pinschmidt, left noone in any doubt where his absentee vote went. He must have been very happy the following morning.

We also had two Limerick writers reading pieces which we published in the most recent Boyne Berries. Caroline Graham read her flash fiction End of the Storm and Sheila Fitzpatrick O'Donnell her poem Summer of '75.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

World War 1 Remembrance Navan Library

World War 1 Remembrance tomorrow morning in Navan Library at 10.30am. Wreath laying, prayers, and Reveille, then readings from the War from 11 on. All welcome.

Some Ledwidge, Yeats, Thomas Hardy, Edward Thomas no doubt. There are so many poems which deal with the first world war that it is difficult to choose.

Some WW1 poetry here and lots here.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Windows 20 Launch in Longford

The Longford launch of the windows 20 anthology will take place on Thursday, 8 November in the Backstage Theatre, Longford town at 8pm.

Editors Heather Brett and Noel Monahan will be there to read and to introduce many of the contributors to the anthology.

Admission free, Refreshments served and all welcome.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

On The Nail November: James Harpur, Michael Farry, Gregóir Ó Dúill

Back to Limerick again! I'm one of the three featured readers tonight, Tuesday's On The Nail reading.

The Limerick Writers' Centre Presents The November 'On The Nail' Literary Gathering on Tuesday next 6 November 2012 at The Loft Venue at The Locke Bar, Georges Quay, Limerick at 8.00pm.

Gréagóir Ó Dúill is a fellow Doghouse author. His collection New Room Windows (Doghouse, Tralee) was published in 2008 and this year saw the publication of Outward and Return. Dublin-born, he is much published in Irish with nine collections, he was awarded first prize for a new collection in the 2010 Oireachtas, and Comhar issued his new selected verse, Annála in 2011.

James Harpur has had five poetry collections published by Anvil Press. His latest book, Angels and Harvesters (2012), was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation; The Dark Age (2007) won the Michael Hartnett Award; Oracle Bones (2001) was a Tablet Book of the Year; and The Monk’s Dream (1996) includes the sonnet sequence that won the British National Poetry Competition.

Everyone is invited to take part in the open-mic after the main event, poets, storytellers, musicians and writers . Even if you don't write you are welcome to bring something along to read. The night begins at 8.00pm and admission is free. So join us on the night and make this event something special.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tommy Murray R.I.P.

Very sad news here in Trim with the announcement of the sudden death of poet and author, a good friend of Boyne Writers, Tommy Murray.

Tommy was well known, not only in Meath but all over the country, was widely published and had won many awards. He had just announced on his blog that Skylight poets are including one of his poems in their new magazine which will be launched in Galway in January. He read in Navan Library on the recent All Ireland Poetry Day (picture above).

He was the leader of Meath Writers Circle and a tutor in Navan Library of creative writing classes. His classes of younger writers have published many volumes of their poetry and prose. Indeed the launch of the latest Meath Juniors Writers Anthology, the fifth, was fixed for Thursday 15 November and recently Tommy asked me to speak at the launch.

Tommy contributed a foreword to the first issue of Boyne Berries and his poetry was included in many issues. His leadership of his Meath Writers Circle team at the annual Battle of the Books made that event a most enjoyable and keenly looked-forward to event. His own contributions were always a highlight of the contests.

He published his first poetry collection Something Beginning with Spring in 1989 with an introduction by John B. Keane. Recently two of his books of poetry have been published by Lapwing, Counting Stained Glass Windows in 2009 and Swimming with Dolphins earlier this year. He also published a large number of books of local history. He was also a frequent and sometimes controversial contributor to Focus, Trim's local news magazine.

He will be sorely missed in Trim and beyond.

We offer our condolences to his wife, Josephine, his family and wide circle of friends.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Poets Open Mic at Fingal Festival

Writing 3.0: Fingal’s Annual Writers’ Festival takes place from 2nd to10th November 2012.

Writing 3.0 initially evolved from the well established ‘Finscéal: A Writer’s Trail of Fingal’ an initiative for writers and readers throughout Fingal since 2005. The shift to Writing 3.0 in 2010 conceptualised the writing process in the twenty-first century; how it evolves from the blank page across a range of technologies associated with creativity that potentially reaches vast audiences.

Writing 3.0 2012 continues its focus on the writing process today, with Fingal Libraries Department and Fingal Arts Office collaborating once again to extend the emphasis on writing towards performance and uplifting experiences. This year there are programmed workshops and performances on rap, coding for computer games and animation, improvisation, songwriting, screenwriting, and performance poetry, as well as the traditional focus on writing and reading poetry and fiction.

As part of the Festival there will be an Open Mic for Poets on Saturday 3 November at 7.30pm in Swords Castle, Swords. you must register at the venue between 7 and 7.30pm if you wish to read at this event.

This event will be facilitated by Dave Lordan with special guest Colm Keegan. More details here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Café Writers Open Poetry Competition

Café Writers is a Norwich based grass-roots writers’ network supporting and showcasing work by established writers in all genres.  It also encourages and  champions new work by emerging writers. It is run entirely by  volunteers that are passionate about encouraging wider participation and excellence in literature.
Their Open Poetry Competition funds their programme.

Café Writers Open Poetry Competition 2012.
Closing date 30 November 2012.

Prizes: 1st  £1000. 2nd £300. 3rd £150. Six Commended Prizes of £50.
Funniest Poem not winning  £100.
Norfolk Prize  £100 awarded to the best poem from a permanent Norfolk resident not winning another prize
Entry Fee: £4 per poem; or £10 for 3 poems and £2.00 per poem thereafter
Line limit is 40 lines and you can pay and enter online on the website.

Sole Judge is Ian Duhig. This means, I understand, that he will read all entries.

Ian Duhig (pictured) has won the National Poetry Competition twice, and also the Forward Prize for Best Poem; his collection, The Lammas Hireling (Picador) was the Poetry Book Society's Choice for Summer 2003, and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and Forward Prize for Best Collection. His latest collection Pandorama (Picador) is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

I like his quote: "I do mock literature and take it seriously at the same time, but anyone who is passionately attached to a football team will have similar mixed feelings" from an interview here.

Full details on the Café Writers website.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

James Lawless Novel Launch Today

The launch of James Lawless' latest novel, Finding Penelope, published by Indigo Dreams Publishing, takes place in Hodges Figgis, Dawson Street, Dublin today, Tuesday, 30 Oct. at 6.30 pm. All welcome.

Dublin-born, Kildare-resident, James Lawless is a fellow Doghouse author, having had his first poetry collection Rus in Urbe published earlier this year. He has published three previous novels and a study of modern poetry.

This novel, set amid the expat drug culture on the Spanish Costas, deals with a woman’s growth in self-realisation.

James' first novel, Peeling Oranges (2007), is a paternal quest set in the Liberties of Dublin and Franco’s Spain. His other novels are For Love of Anna (2009) and The Avenue (2010), and he has also published an acclaimed study of modern poetry Clearing The Tangled Wood.

Unfortunately I won't be able to attend today's launch. Best of luck James!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Caroline in Roadside Fiction

Congratulations to Boyne Writers member, Caroline Carey Finn, whose story,  Ghost Estates can do this to a Guy is published in the first issue of  Roadside Fiction, a new online fiction magazine.

This is a topical piece concerning the ‘ghost estates’ which represent the emptiness and disorganisation remaining after the collapse of the construction-dominated boom in Ireland. The story was the basis for her satire piece for this year's Battle of the Books in Trim which we sadly lost to Meath Writers Circle.

This issue also features stories by Paddy Toye, Linda Fisher, John P Brady, Troy Blackford, M.V. Montgomery, Shane Vaughan and Garreth Keating. There are photos by PF Duda, John P Brady and Paddy Toye.

The magazine welcomes submissions of realist fiction and photographs. They say they are especially interested in the wild, rude, amusing, outrageous yet realistic story.

Well done Caroline!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sligo Rovers are the Champions

From the Irish Times website 10.15 this morning.

OK we knew this for the last two weeks but last night they finished the campaign and were presented with the trophy after their match against Shams in the Showgrounds. Rovers were beaten 2-0 by the Dublin side but the result made no difference to the league table or the celebrations.

The Irish Times can't make up its mind though. The headline says the party wasn't spoiled though the first sentence of the article says it was. I was there. It wasn't.

Amazing how the same cliche was rolled out by the writer and the sub-editor who wrote the headline. Did he/she actually read the article?

The print edition of the Irish Times I've seen has no mention of the match or the winning of the League by Sligo Rovers at all on the front page of the sports section. Typical!!

On the other hand there is a very well informed, detailed article on the Irish Independent website, and presumably in today's newspaper, on the significance of the league title for Sligo.

But the Irish Examiner rolls out the same cliche as the Irish Times and shows the same decisiveness. Their headline is "Nothing Can Stop Sligo's Party" but the first line of the article says "Shamrock Rovers spoiled the party for Ian Baracloughs Airtricity League-winning side with a well merited win at the Showgrounds last night." Oh dear! (Apostrophe omitted in original!)

I'm reminded of a Bob Dylan line from Brownsville Girl "If there’s an original thought out there, I could use it right now".

Thursday, October 25, 2012


A staged celebration of poetry will be held in Drogheda on Thursday 1 November to mark the 600 th Anniversary of the unification in 1412 of the twin towns of Tredagh and Drogheda on opposite sides of the River Boyne to form the Drogheda we know today. 

It starts with Amergin, bard and poet of the mythical Milesians, the first known poet on Irish soil, reputed to be buried under Millmount mound in the southern half of Drogheda. Other bards performing their words to music are modern bard S.J.McArdle, with his lyrics that have all the perception of poems, and an example the wit of satirical balladeer John Shiel from the eighteenth century, again from the south side.

Other names of note from the past are Fenian rebel John Boyle O’Reilly from Dowth, deportee to Australia, escapee to America and influential editor and journalist;  Francis Ledwige, farm boy, poet, road worker and soldier, who wrote football reports for the Drogheda Independent and was killed in the First World War; and Angela Greene, housewife and poet, who died of cancer in 1997.

Living poets will include established figures John F. Deane, Anne Le Marquand Hartigan and Susan Connolly as well as well-known and upcoming local poets Leo de Freyne, Terry McHugh, Marie MacSweeney, John ‘Dixie’ Nugent, John O’Rourke, Leeanne Quinn, Barbara Smith, and Tomas De Faoite. Appearing in Drogheda-based performance poetry groups Word Jungle and Hudson ‘n Fitch will be Nuala Leonard, Brian Quinn, Roger Hudson and the magical sounds of ambiencellist Claire Fitch.

The evening’s performance will be introduced by the Mayor and archaeologist Geraldine Stout, who will fill in the historical background, and presented by Alison Comyn.  The programme has been conceived and assembled by Roger Hudson and Michael Holohan as part of the town’s 600 celebrations. Staging is by Brian Quinn with technical assistance by Penny Smith.

Venue: Droichead Arts Centre Theatre, Stockwell Street, Drogheda.
Time: Thursday at 8.00pm. Admission: Free, booking advisable.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sligo: The Irish Revolution, 1912–23 by Michael Farry

And finally here it is. After three years of research, writing, rewriting, editing, photograph searching and choosing I have got an advance copy of the Sligo history book. It looks good, a nice size, good striking cover and Four Courts Press have done a great job of the production.

I am scared to read it in case I find typos. And statements and opinions which I might argue with! I'm delighted that Sligo is the first in this series of county histories on the Irish Revolution 1912-1923 edited by Mary Ann Lyons and Daithí Ó Corráin,

Professor David Fitzpatrick describes it well in his generous foreword : Michael Farry, already the leading historian of revolutionary Sligo, contributes a succinct yet detailed narrative of the county's political evolution between 1912 and 1923.

That succinct and detailed was the most difficult part. Only 70,000 words, including footnotes to cover twelve momentous years. The difficulty was making it short and at the same time keeping some of the glorious details, the interesting stories and the local colour. I hope I have done this well.

It comprises 115 pages of text, 28 pages of endnotes and eight pages of a select bibliography. It also has 16 pages of photographs, some being published for the first time.

It should be generally available in a week or so and a launch or launches will be held later. The paperback edition is priced at 17.50 euro, web price 15.75 euro.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dublin Symposium on Jonathan Swift

The eleventh Dublin Symposium on Jonathan Swift is on tomorrow Saturday, 20 October 2012 in The Deanery of St Patrick's Cathedral, Upper Kevin Street, Dublin 8.

Speaking on "International Currents on Swift Studies" are:
Ashley Marshall - University of Nevada, Reno
Brian Connery - Oakland University, Michigan
Dieter Fuchs - Technical University of Koszalin, Poland
Te-hsing Shan - Academia Sinica, Taiwan
Valerie Rumbold - University of Birmingham.
Chair: Robert Mahony, Jonathan Swift Foundation.

For further details on how to register: Email:

And the annual Service in Commemoration of Jonathan Swift will be held in Saint Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin on the following day, Sunday 21 Oct 2012 from 3:15pm to 4.15pm.

This service is at Evensong at which the address will be given by H.E. Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland. The service will be sung by the Cathedral Choir (Boys' & Men's voices).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

James Lawless Novel Launch

The launch of James Lawless' latest novel, Finding Penelope, published by Indigo Dreams Publishing, takes place in Hodges Figgis, Dawson Street, Dublin on Tuesday, 30 Oct. at 6.30 pm. All welcome.

Dublin-born, Kildare-resident, James Lawless is a fellow Doghouse author, having had his first poetry collection Rus in Urbe published earlier this year. He has published three previous novels and a study of modern poetry.

His first novel, Peeling Oranges (2007), is a paternal quest set in the Liberties of Dublin and Franco’s Spain. His other novels are For Love of Anna (2009) and The Avenue (2010), and an acclaimed study of modern poetry Clearing The Tangled Wood.

His latest novel concerns 33 year old romance novelist Penelope Eames who moves to Spain to avoid her oppressive father and drug-addicted brother, Dermot. When she meets Ramón, a young Spanish school teacher, she is immediately attracted to him.

However, she receives a distress call from Dermot saying he is at the mercy of Charlie Eliot, a pimp and drug dealer on the Costa. Penelope must decide: is she prepared to compromise herself with Charlie Eliot and jeopardise her chance of happiness with Ramón for the sake of her drug addicted brother?

More on the publishers website.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sligo Rovers are Champions

After thirty five years! And what a see-saw game with all the thrills you don't really want in such an important fixture. Two up at half time, it seemed all over. But Pats came out and scored two quick goals to silence the Showgrounds. Gradually Rovers came back into it and deserved to win even if the penalty award was "dubious", "harsh" and/or "controversial".

A great occasion. Over five thousand supporters in the Showgrounds, you had to be there an hour before kick-off to ensure a seat in the main stand; lots of colour, live coverage by RTE and the correct result in the end. And two goals by a local, Cretaro from Tubbercurry.

I got a text from someone who caught a glimpse on me on TV, sombre in the stand after the final whistle - "You won! Why so glum!" Not glum but a mixture of disbelief and relief after thirty five years of following results and waiting.

I was there in 1977 - a lifetime ago it seems. Some footage from that game on YouTube.

Sligo Rovers website here.

Jessica's report here on

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival

A long and enjoyable Thursday in Limerick attending the various Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival events. And International it certainly was!

John Pinschmidt, a retired American High School teacher, now living with his Irish-born wife in county Limerick read at 1pm in the Hunt Museum. He took us on a journey from the USA, to Berlin before the wall came down, to rural Limerick.

At 7pm The Stony Thursday Book was launched by editor Jo Slade and Limerick Arts Officer, Sheila Deegan. Three members of our LitLab group are included in the anthology, Honor Duff, Pat Devaney and myself. Honor and I read our poems to a large, appreciative audience.

The sixty nine page book is a beautiful production and the poems are wonderfully varied in themes and styles.

At 8pm we had readings by Slovenian poet, Radharani Pernarcic, who read in Slovenian and English; by English poet Lorna Thorpe, who read from her Sweet Torture of Breathing which deals with her close brush with death following a cardiac arrest; and by widely-published Irish poet Máire Áine Nic Gearailt.

These readings were following by films. The first was a series of readings by Latin American poets marking the publication of Hallucinated Horse: New Latin American Poets. This was introduced and translations read by Tom Slingsby of Pighog Press.

And finally we had a short film, Room, scripted by Limerick poet Mark Whelan.

A busy day indeed. And the festival continues until Saturday night. More details on the website, on the Facebook page and some photographs here on Flickr.

Picture above is of Honor Duff reading at the launch with Stony Thursday editor Jo Slade. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Stony Thursday Book Launch

This evening sees the launch of the Stony Thursday Book, the annual poetry collection published in Limerick.

The editor this year is Jo Slade and the launch takes place tonight at 7pm in the Belltable Arts Centre, Limerick.

I'm delighted to be included in what is usually a very fine production.

The launch event is part of the Cuisle International Poetry Festival.
More information on Facebook here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


The 17th annual Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival will take place from Wednesday 10 October to Saturday 13 October.

Events include evening performances at the Belltable, readings over lunch at the Hunt Museum, screenings of poetry films each night, book launches, a varied programme for schools, the annual Poetry Slam Competition, and the Young Poet of the Year Award.

There are also open mic sessions, music, and socializing, all in the warm tradition of Cuisle.
Full programme on the website here. I'll be down for the launch of the Stony Thursday Book on the Thursday, it includes a poem of mine with a Limerick setting. I'll probably also attend the reading that evening.

Some of the highlights:

7pm: Official Opening
7:30pm: Launch of "Where Sadness Begins" by John McKenna
8:15pm: Readings by Fred Johnston, Anja Golob, Jeremy Page


1pm: Reading by John Pinschmidt
7pm: Launch of "The Stony Thursday Book" with editor Jo Slade
8pm: Readings by Lorna Thorpe, Máire Áine Nic Gearailt, Radharani Pernarcic.

1pm: Reading by Jo Slade
8pm: Readings by John F. Deane, Moya Cannon, Peter Sirr

11am: Young Poet of the Year Award
8pm: Readings by Medbh Mc Guckian, Terry McDonagh
9:30pm: Poetry Slam Competition

More details on the Festival Facebook page.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Merriman Short Story Competition

The Merriman Short Story Competition is dedicated to the memory of the late Maeve Binchy, who was a life-long supporter of Cumann Merriman and a regular visitor to the Merriman Summer School in Co. Clare.

In 2005 Maeve wrote a special short story for the Brian Merriman bicentenary celebrations. The story, entitled ‘A Week in Summer’, was read by the author at that year’s Summer School in Lisdoonvarna and was recorded live. A limited edition of the story was subsequently published in CD and booklet form. Maeve generously donated the royalties from the US edition to Cumann Merriman, and she agreed that her donation be used to award a short story prize.

A prize of €1000 will be awarded to the winning short story, which must be original, unpublished and unbroadcast. Entries should be not more than 2,500 words in length and set in Ireland. Stories may be written in Irish or English. The competition is confined to writers born or living on the island of Ireland. The closing date for entries is October 31st 2012. Entry fee is €10.

The Merriman Short Story Competition is being run in association with Cumann Merriman, the Ennis Book Club Festival, Clare County Library and the Irish Times. The winning story will be read at the 2013 Ennis Book Club Festival and will be published in the Irish Times.Entries may be submitted by email or in hard copy.

Hard copies, accompanied by cheque or postal order made out to Cumann Merriman Teoranta should be addressed to Merriman Short Story Competition, Clare County Library, Mill Rd., Ennis, Co. Clare.

Email copies in pdf format should be sent to  Accompanying entry fees must be posted to the address above.  Entries for which fees have not been received will not be considered.

Only one story per entrant will be accepted. The entrants’ names should not be written on the manuscripts but should be written on a separate sheet, along with the title of the story and full contact details (address, telephone numbers, email address). Writers’ names will not be revealed to the judging panel.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Under Thirty : Peer-Reviewed Fiction

Under Thirty is a non-profit project that showcases young Irish fiction at home and abroad. Through a bi-annual journal, they intend to publish high quality peer-reviewed short fiction.

In this way, they will provide aspiring writers access to an audience of experienced writers, academics, publishers, (including me), who work entirely voluntarily to help them to develop their skills, and nurture them on their formative first steps into the literary world.

The most promising submissions are published in the journal, available as an e-book, and as a printed book – an award is given to one outstanding new writer in the form of a scholarship or writing retreat.

The current focus is on young writers who are resident in Ireland, and Irish writers abroad. In 2013 it is intended to expand the project to the UK and USA, and include writers of younger children’s literature of any age.

The journal is currently inviting submissions for the first issue of the journal as follows: short fiction (1,500 to 2,500 words); flash fiction (up to 500 words); longer fiction pieces in episodic form (e.g. 5,000 words over two issues).

Each submission fulfilling the entry guidelines is reviewed independently and anonymously by two members of the review panel, and finally by the editor prior to inclusion in the journal. Anonymous feedback is provided to the writer regardless of inclusion in the journal, and later resubmissions are welcome.

For full details visit the website.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Meath - All Ireland Poetry Day

The poetry reading at the Library, Navan last evening was a most entertaining event. A fantastic selection of favourite poems from all ages and of all styles. W. B. Yeats to Thomas Grey, Gary Snyder to Jenny Joseph.

One of Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales was recited by heart by a lady who had learned it in school! I often read Matilda (who told lies and was burned to death) by Belloc at the readings in Knightsbridge Nursing Home and it goes down well. Full of wonderful rhymes and the whole over the top mock didactic style is great.

Poet and librarian Tom French (right) oversaw the event and Meath Writers Circle was well represented. James Linnane (below) and myself kept the Boyne Writers Group flag flying. I read the last two parts of Under Ben Bulben - Irish poets learn your trade and Under Bare Benbulben's head. I also read Father and Son by F. R. Higgins for its Trim connection but also because it a great father-son poem.

There were readings by some members of Tommy Murray's Meath Junior Writers writers who are launching an anthology soon.

Peggy Murphy also read. She is launching a DVD of her poetry collection (Dunshaughlin My Home Town) in Fergie's of Kilmessan on Friday the 12 October at 7.30 PM.

Anyway it all went very well and we made sure Poetry Day was well marked in Navan.    Below: Tommy Murray.