Thursday, September 29, 2011

Boyne Berries Launched in Trim

Poet and publisher, Peter Fallon, launched Boyne Berries 10 in Trim tonight, Thursday 29 September. Available for purchase in Antonia's bookshop, Trim and Spar, Trim. Galway launch Friday 30 September, 6.00pm Charlie Byrne's bookshop. also can be purchased online here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Boyne Berries Launch

All set for the launch tomorrow evening in Trim. just a few little things to finalise.
That's great. Well done. You seem better organised than usual.
No, not better than usual, as good as usual!
Oh dear, as bad as that.
Peter Fallon is launching the magazine, I sent him a proof copy. He did a marvellous job the last time.
Oh so you don't actually have the magazine yet?
And we're having almost twenty contributors in Trim on the night to read their contributions. Probably our biggest launch yet.
Are there enough chairs in the room?
And a Canadian poet, Carolyne Van Der Meer, who is a contributor is arriving from Montreal tomorrow morning to read in Trim and at the Galway launch. An international event!
So what does this wonderful special 10th issue of Boyne Berries actually look like?
The proofs looked great.
But the finished, printed article?
I'll tell you tomorrow.
You haven't actually got the magazine yet and the launch is only a day away!
No panic! All is well! The Castle Arch Hotel, Trim, 8pm, tomorrow Thursday 29 September 2011. And Charlie Byrne's Bookshop, Galway, the following evening 6pm.
Have you checked that they corrected that comma on page 34?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New Poetry Collections

A new series of miniature poetry books called the moth editions is being launched next month.

The moth editions are small (at a mere 10cm high and 32 pages long) but perfectly formed. The aim of the series is to present new work by up-and-coming writers and selected work by already established writers ‒ from Ireland and abroad.

The first four titles in the series are Some Poems by Dermot Healy, Ciarán O’Rourke, Kate Dempsey and Ted McCarthy.

The series is edited by the editor of The Moth magazine, Rebecca O’Connor, whose collection Poems was published by the Wordsworth Trust, where she was a writer-in-residence in 2005. Her poems have appeared in The Guardian, The Spectator, The Stinging Fly, Poetry Ireland Review and Poetry Review.

The books cost just €4 each, and will be available at select outlets and to order online at the website (postage is free).

Launch: Friday 7 October, 2011, from 7.30 p.m at The Moth office in the Second Floor Studios in the former bishop’s palace just outside Cavan Town (the first turn on the right after the Radisson Hotel) ‒ with readings by Dermot Healy, Ted McCarthy, Kate Dempsey and Ciarán O’Rourke. All very welcome.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Bord Gáis Energy Book Shop of the Year

Bord Gáis Energy has launched a competition to find Ireland’s top bookshop.

The competition, The Bord Gáis Energy Book Shop of the Year, offers readers and members of The Bord Gais Energy Book Club the opportunity to vote for their favourite store.

The competition asks those voting to ask themselves:

Does the book shop provide a wide range of books for you to choose from?
Are the staff in the shop approachable, helpful and knowledgeable?
Is it easy to find the book you are looking for?
Do you trust that you will enjoy the books recommended by the shop?
What is your overall impression of the shop?

Ten stores, (two from each of five regions; Leinster, Munster, Ulster, Connacht and Greater Dublin) will be shortlisted for the award. The winner will be announced on 17 November 2011 at a Gala Dinner to celebrate the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards in the Convention Centre, Dublin.

The winning store will receive an honorary award as well as €5000 worth of gas and electricity from Bord Gáis Energy.

On recent visits to Sligo I noticed that Keohane's Bookshop has closed. The Book Nest bookshop in the town centre also closed some time ago.

In Trim we are lucky to have Antonia's bookshop. And of course on Friday this week we go to Charlie Byrne's bookshop in Galway for our Galway Boyne Berries launch.

Votes can be cast here.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Busy, Busy

In Sligo all day on Thursday (or was it Wednesday? No, Wednesday I was in Knightsbridge Retirement Home reading poetry) on a final (or nearly final) search for photographs for The Book. I got some wonderful ones, thanks to Sligo Library and some new and newly found relations. Photographs aren't easy to come by for Sligo 1912-1923 and many have been printed many times already. We prefer images not published before.

Trying to write The Conclusion, 2,000 words or so to sum up the period, as if that was possible. A rough draft done and sometimes as with poetry on second look the rough draft seems much better than you first thought. The target? All finished in two weeks. Finished is an uncertain term, there will be revision, rewriting etc afterwards of course.

And Boyne Berries? Presently the calm in the centre of the storm. It's with the printers who never failed us before. The venue is booked, the launcher, Peter Fallon, is primed and we have a rough idea of which contributors will attend. Galway launch is new territory for us but it's in the capable hands of Kevin Higgins so no worries there.

Hunky Dorys Park, Drogheda last night to see Sligo Rovers continue their push for the title. Today fundraising for Hope foundation's work in Kolkata (Calcutta) in Dunderry, Co. Meath.
And did I hear something about minding a grandchild on Monday?

It's great to be retired and have nothing to do!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Writers Groups - The Rules

One of the writers groups I'm a member of, LitLab, had a workshop with writer Patrick Chapman earlier this year. He conducted the workshop with the rules used in a workshop he's a member of. We decided to adopt these rules when we came back after summer so we start this week.

The rules include:
All pieces to be presented for criticism must be circulated beforehand.
Each member must print out each piece and make notes, criticisms, suggestions on it.
This will be used at the meeting and then given to the author.
Criticism must be positive as well as negative and not personal.
At the meeting the author reads his/her piece.
Each member in turn offers thoughts on the piece without interruptions.
The author responds at the end.

So I've been printing out the pieces from the other members, reading them and making notes on them. This is a different experience to hearing them read once and immediately responding. I've no idea how it will go at the meeting. I imagine the 'no interrupting' rule might be the most difficult to enforce!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Margaret Brock (1920-2011) RIP

Margaret Brock (1920-2011) RIP. The last of the aunts and uncles who emigrated to the UK, USA and Australia.

Last year myself and her son, who was visiting from Australia, climbed Knocknashee on her instructions. Knocknashee is the hill which overlooks her and my native parish in Sligo and features in the image at the head of this blog. This poem came as a result of that climb.

Climbing Knocknashee
(For Margaret and Bridget)

We picked the perfect weather.
No sun-tanned tourist jaunt,
but wind-swept, rain-scoured,

mission for memory, pilgrimage
proving our resolve, our ancestry
and gifting us something else -

the feel of wet earth underfoot,
the mark of real clay on hands,
cheeks burning with achievement.

We picked the perfect date -
All Souls. Their misty shapes
crisscrossed the dim patchwork,

moved between landmarks,
their birth and resting places -
cottages, schools, spring wells –

as they made their silent ways
to dances, doctors, chapels,
left by cemetery or railway station.

We picked the perfect place,
Knocknashee’s proud stump
demands attention, stranded

like an upturned ark, pointing
to something better somewhere
else. Crowned with cairns

and the worn-down wreckage
of unknown ages, a becalmed
benediction on life’s complexities.

We stood silent on the summit
wished you were there beside us.

You were there beside us.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Boyne Berries 10

At last! The final proof read, last comma in place! The special Boyne Berries to mark our tenth issue is with the printers. It's a much different production to the black and white, spare magazine we usually produce. This is a larger format, has colour throughout, and has a number of colour images, some full page, included.

The usual mix of prose and poetry (and drama!) though with contributions from Trim, Meath, rest of Ireland, UK, North America and other parts.

Peter Fallon, poet and publisher, contributed a poem which is perfect for the magazine and has been given pride of place at the front. He is also performing the Trim launch which takes place on Thursday 29 September in the Castle Arch Hotel, Trim at 8.00pm All welcome!!

Kevin Higgins, who will perform the Galway launch in Charlie Byrne's bookshop on 30 September at 6pm, has a poem included as well. Others included are James Lawless, Susan Connolly, Niamh Boyce, Alan McMonagle, Deirdre McClay etc etc.

We are looking forward to the two launches. The only problem might be what do we do for Boyne Berries 11. Will we be able to return to our quiet little magazine after the gloss and colour of issue 10? We'll see!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Poetry and Paintings

This seems like a great idea by the Irish Writers' Centre, Dublin.

"In celebration of Frank X. Buckley and his extensive collection of art, which is on permanent display in the Irish Writers' Centre, we are inviting all writers of both poetry and fiction to write poems and flash fiction based on pieces from the Frank X. Buckley Collection.

The collection includes an exciting array of well-known Irish art including the likes of Felim Egan, Michael Mulcahy, Graham Knuttel and Thomas Ryan. The entire collection was donated by Frank X. Buckley. His desire was to make the Irish Writers' Centre a more pleasant place to work in and create. Art is another creative outlet not far removed from creative writing where crucially a scene or a moment is imaginatively conceived.

On November 24th we will be hosting a night celebrating Frank X. Buckley and his collection along with an abundance of exclusive guests from artistic and literary circles. The authors of our three favourite pieces will be invited along to read on the night. We have a selection of the paintings on our website and will be adding more in the next week. You are also welcome to come in and look at them in the Centre if you would like to write about a piece that is not on our website.

Submission Guidelines -

Up the three poems of maximum 40 lines or up to three flash fiction entries of maximum 500 words. Please send all entries to and put either 'Poetry Submission' or 'Flash Fiction Submission' in the subject line. All submissions should be attached as Word documents.

A selection of paintings from the collection are here."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Dromineer Literary Festival 2011

I'm going to miss the Dromineer Festival this year. The Poetry Divas and C.S. Lewis! It clashes with our Boyne Berries launches in Trim on Thursday 29 September and Galway Friday 30 September. I didn't enter their poetry competition either, no time!

Another memo to post history book self - enter Dromineer 2012 and go to the weekend.

"The eighth annual Dromineer Literary Festival will take place from Thursday September 29 to Sunday October 2 at Lough Derg Yacht Club in Dromineer village.

At 8pm, Thursday night September 29, Dermot Healy, Kerry Hardie and Catherine Phil McCarthy will give a poetry reading, Lough Derg Yacht Club, and on Saturday night, October 1, The Poetry Divas will perform at The Whiskey Still pub in the village.

The Meet the Authors event attracts huge audiences each year, and we are delighted that Jennifer Johnston and John MacKenna will be reading and in discussion on Saturday night, October 1, at 8pm at Lough Derg Yacht Club. We encourage our audience to read these authors to increase their enjoyment of the event.

A performance presented by the renowned Nenagh Players to close the weekend is of CS Lewis' A Grief Observed. This one man show, adapted and performed by Ronan Dodd, will take place from 8pm, Sunday night, October 2. A Grief Observed was written by Lewis after the death of his wife, Joy Gresham, from cancer in 1960.

The Sunday afternoon event afloat aboard the passenger vessel The Spirit of Killaloe, is entitled The Living Lake. Scientists Rick Boelens and Dan Minchin will give a talk on the hidden depths of Lough Derg; its biodiversity and environmental heritage. Places are strictly limited, to ensure a place, please contact Eleanor at emhooker@

This year, for the first time, the festival will feature film. A Short Movie written and directed by George Hooker, and produced by Sorcha MacKenna, students at DIT, will be premiered at 3pm on Saturday afternoon October 1 at Lough Derg Yacht Club. Filmed on location in Dromineer in June 2010, the short movie stars Nenagh Players actors, the late Stephen Toohey (with the kind blessings of his family), Niamh Hogan and Olly Griffin. All welcome. Admission is free.

Also on Saturday October 1, David Shaw-Smith will give a talk on his landmark documentary series ‘Hands’ Boatbuilder with Shannon-one-Design Boatbuilder Jimmy Furey attending as our special guest. Other films in the Hands series will be screened at Neddy’s Cottage in the village, throughout the weekend.

We look forward to welcoming you to Dromineer at the end of September. For full details visit the website"

Friday, September 2, 2011

The First Time

I've cracked the trip to Dublin to the National Library for a research day. Drive to Heuston Station and park there, only 7 euro for the day, Luas to Abbey St and walk from there. Cheapest, quick, includes exercise.

The Luas from Heuston at 9 in the morning is usually packed so it's standing for the short ride to Abbey St. On Tuesday a little later than 9 it wasn't packed but all the seats were occupied so I stood. Just in front of me a youth turned round, looked at me, got up and offered me the seat. Shock! What to do? I just sat down.

Ah well, old age has some compensations.