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.