Irish Film and Filmmakers get 14 Oscar Nominations

Catherine Clinch in An Cailin Ciuin

What a brilliant time for Irish filmmakers, actors and writers to see their work recognised with 14 Nominations for this year’s Oscars. 

Martin McDonagh’s powerful and moving ‘Banshees of Inisherin’ which was filmed on Achill Island leads the pack with 9 nominations.  McDonagh is up for Best Director, Best Original Screen Play, and Best Film.   All four actors are nominated with Colin Farrell up for Best Actor for his stunning performance alongside Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan and Kerry Condon nominated for Best Supporting Actors, with the film also up for Best Original Score and Film Editing.

Paul Mescal is nominated for Best Actor for ‘Aftersun

‘An Cailin Ciuin’ directed by Colm Bairead is nominated for the Best International Film by the Academy … A first for an Irish language film.  The film is based on the book ‘Foster’ by Claire Keegan, one of my favourite writers.

Richard Baneham is up for visual effects for Avatar the Way of Water. Jonathan Redmond has been nominated alongside Matt Villa for Best Editing for their work on Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. Tom Berkeley and Ross White’s ‘An Irish Goodbye ‘is nominated for Best Live Action Short.  The success of Irish film is an incredible achievement and we will all be watching with baited breath and pride on Oscar night on March 12th.

Oscar Nominated Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson

New Year and a New Book

Happy New Year to All My Readers!

Here’s hoping that 2023 will be a better year for the World and the Planet and that Peace, Justice, Care and Kindness will prevail across the Earth.

It is an exciting time for me as my new children’s book Fairy Hill  is due to be published at the end of February 2023.

The story has been in my head and heart for the longest time and it was a joy to write about Anna who comes to stay with her Dad in Ireland. Upset at first Anna gradually comes to know and love the old house and the fields and lake, beach and woods. There are new friends and she learns to surf and to ride but Anna senses that she is being watched. As she begins to uncover the mysteries of Fairy Hill and its secrets Daniel, the mysterious boy she meets down by the lake, warns her that her little half- brother Jack may be in danger.  Soon Anna is caught up in a desperate fight to find her brother and save him from a powerful and magical foe. 

The story is inspired by one of my favourite poems The Stolen Child by W.B Yeats which I first read when I was about eleven or twelve and has stayed with me ever since.

        Fun at Fighting Words

Fighting Words, Dublin with all the Young Writers

I had lots of fun at Fighting Words meeting a group of brilliant young authors who gave up their Saturday morning to come and talk about ideas, writing and creating stories.

It was all arranged by the amazing Louise Melinn and Mark Davidson and the team of volunteers in Fighting Words in their bright and welcoming head -quarters in Dublin’s Russell Street. Writer Catherine Prasifka author of ‘None of this is Serious’ was there to help moderate what was a lively session.   We all had such fun with the young writers getting out pen and paper to write a new story.

Fighting Words is a creative writing organisation which was the brain child of Writer Roddy Doyle and Sean Love. It was set up in 2009 to encourage children to write and create stories of their own.  They hold workshops for both primary and secondary school students and summer camps which they run with the help of volunteers.

The Creative Ireland Programme has partnered with Fighting Words to help it expand and they now have 12 branches in towns and cities across Ireland.  Volunteers play a huge part in its operation and there are over 400 wonderful volunteers and mentors helping young writers to harness their imagination and develop their creative writing skills.

Thanks to everyone and remember to keep writing!  

A Memorial to Michael O’Brien at the Dublin Book Festival

Michael O’Brien President Michael D.Higgins

It was a great honour to be asked to take part in the memorial tribute for my friend and publisher Michael O’Brien in Dublin Castle as part of The Dublin Book Festival. Friends and family and colleagues from the book world gathered in the Print Works to remember this extraordinary man who had done so much to grow and develop Irish publishing over the years. He was involved in setting up so many organizations that would encourage reading, writing and publishing.

O’Brien Press growing from the small beginnings of just two people working there to becoming one of Ireland’s foremost award winning publishers. Michael had huge energy and drive and a vision for Irish publishing that he lived to see fulfilled. His achievements in terms of publishing were enormous as found gaps in the Irish book market and set about filling them as well as regularly attending the huge book fairs and selling translation rights to so many books by Irish authors.

His son Ivan O’Brien and Editor Ide O’Laoghaire and designer Emma Byrne all shared their memories as a montage of  photographs of Michael’s rich life was shown on screen.

I told of my first meeting Michael in O’Brien Press in Rathgar in 1989, when he gave me the good news that he was going to publish my book ‘Under the Hawthorn Tree.’ This was the start of a long friendship which stretched over many years, with O’Brien due to publish my new children’s book Fairy Hill in spring 2023.

Playwright and author Frank McGuinness was a long -time friend of Michael’s but unfortunately at the last minute was unable to attend but Ivan read out his words about the high regard he had for Michael O’Brien.

President Michael D Higgins also spoke of their enduring friendship over many years and how he looked forward to meeting Michael and the lively discussions that ensued. Michael was always an innovator, full of ideas ready to try new things.

Michael O’Brien was huge figure in Irish publishing and will be missed by all of us who had the good fortune to know him. However he has left an abiding legacy and O’Brien Press continues to thrive under the good care of his sons Ivan and Eoin O’Brien and all the publishing team there.

Dublin Castle with Ivan O’Brien and the wonderful Alice Leahy

A Night of Book Launches

On a balmy November’s evening in Dublin it was great to be able to get along to two busy book launches after such a long time of having no launches.

 Ally Bunbury’s fun Christmas read ‘All Wrapped Up’ was launched in The Little Museum by Anne Doyle and then down the road to Hodges and Figgis Bookshop for the launch of my friend P.J. Lynch’s beautiful  new picture book ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ which is based on the famous Robert Frost poem. Eoin Colfer did the honours and it was great to meet up with so many friends.   Both are perfect Christmas books 

One more book I should mention is by talented  young Ukrainian writer Yeva Skalietska  whose wonderful book  ‘You Don’t Know What War Is’ has also only been published.

Twelve year old Yeva recounts what happened when Russian forces began to bomb her home town of Kharkiv, at first they shelter but as things worsen she and her grandmother Irina have to flee, moving to another part of Ukraine. Yeva keeps a diary recording what is happening all around her and her fears and hopes. She and her grandmother make the long journey to Hungary where a journalist sees her writing it and helps them until they eventually come to Ireland. There are maps of her hometown and of the long journey she and her grandmother made   I met Yeva months ago with Irina and she is already trying to make the best of things, settling into her new school and life here.