Brilliant Readers in Strabane


Brilliant Readers in Strabane!

I had a wonderful visit to Strabane in Northern Ireland, where I got to meet lots of brilliant readers from a number of local schools at St Catherine’s P.S in the town and afterwards at St Mary’s P.S in Cloughcor.

Special thanks are due to Bridget Wilders the principal of St Catherine’s School and to all the other teachers who arranged this very special Multi -School visit.

I just couldn’t resist these three figures from the special Under the Hawthorn Tree display in St Catherine’s .



Listowel Writer’s Festival

I am just back from a trip to Kerry to the famous Listowel Writer’s Festival. It is one of Ireland’s most popular arts festivals and it is held in the home town of the renowned writer, playwright and raconteur John B Keane, with the Keane Family still involved.


Deh8GnkWsAABDBHThe sun was shining and The Listowel Arm’s Hotel was packed to the gills for the busy opening night celebrations and awards ceremony with writer Edna O’Brien receiving a life time achievement award for her work, and Paul Lynch winning the Kerry Group Fiction book of the year award for his novel ‘Grace’.

This year’s Children’s Programme had a sea theme inspired by the art work of Steve McCarthy, and Listowel Park and Community Centre were transformed by the work of local artists groups. DehA3zCXcAABQpm

I talked  to a big group of local schools and  later that day took part in  a very interesting  ‘Bold Girls’ event  chatting with authors Sarah Webb and Sheena Wilkinson about the women and girls in history and books and all around us that inspire and encourage us to be bold , brave and strong…


‘Coming Home – Art and the Great Hunger’ Exhibition at Dublin Castle

It was great to be invited to lead a very special tour of ‘Coming Home – Art and The Great Hunger Exhibition at Dublin Castle, as this very special art collection has such a connection with my own writing and books. I love art and sculpture so it was exciting and something very different for me to be given the opportunity to select my favourite pieces which relate to ‘Under the Hawthorn Tree’ and ‘Wildflower Girl’. A wonderful group joined me for this very special art tour.

Later I talked to a larger group about ‘The World of ‘Under the Hawthorn Tree’ using some of the wonderful images from this exhibition, which is part of the Art collection from Quinnipiac University’s Great Hunger Museum in America which is on display here until the end of June, before moving to the Uillinn West Cork Art’s Centre in Skibbereen.

I also got along to help to launch ‘The Hunger Times- A short children’s film about the Great Irish Famine which was commissioned by Quinnipiac’s Great Hunger Museum.   It was great to meet the cast and crew and director. The first viewers of this time travel Famine adventure were kids from Marlborough Central School.

It was such a busy few days as I was part of a panel for a brilliant ‘Bold Girls –Brave and Bold’ event about inspirational women who changed history with Anna Carey, Siobhan Parkinson and Dr  Norah Patten  held at Smock Alley Theatre.

The  International Literature Festival Dublin certainly had a huge varied and interesting programme for all ages and it was an absolute pleasure as a writer to be involved.