St Brigid’s Day and Herstory!

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St Brigid’s Day on 1st February has always been a special day as here in Ireland we celebrate the first day of spring and new life and fertility and creativity.   I usually try to follow tradition and get my hands on some rushes or reeds to make a simple St Brigid’s cross, our national emblem. However St Brigid’s Day and the coming days will have special focus with the launch of HERSTORY, as all across Ireland from Dublin to Derry, Wexford to Kerry as buildings and monuments will be illuminated over the weekend with portraits of inspirational Irish women, who have left their mark in history, along with a wide variety of events all across the country.

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Marita  with Caroilin Callery

Attending the launch of HERSTORY in Dublin’s Epic Museum it did my heart good to hear about this fantastic new creative project founded by Melanie Lynch of HERSTORY and RTE, Dublin’s Epic Museum and Underground Films, all of them coming together to finally bring recognition of brave intelligent women from all strands of life, science, art, dance, aviation, medicine who have made an invaluable but often over looked contribution to the world.

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Melanie Lynch, Jessica Traynor,  Dee Forde and Dr Norah Patten  

This is all part of an exciting new project  which is spearheaded with the launch of RTE Television’s  HERSTORY , a six part documentary about incredible Irish women , many who have been forgotten which starts on Monday 3d February. RTE Junior will also show six animated films for younger viewers about inspiring Irish women. ‘Blazing a Trail’ an exhibition about many of these amazing heroines is running at Epic.

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‘The Hungry Road’ Book Launch

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Pat Donlon, Marita and Fiona Murphy of Transworld Ireland

Exciting times with the launch of my new book The Hungry Road at Eason’s book shop in Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre in Dublin on Thursday.  It was great to see so many friends and family brave the elements to come along to celebrate with me on this very special night.    My agent, Caroline Sheldon came all the way from London to cheer me on.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my wonderful publisher Fiona Murphy of Transworld Ireland who encouraged me every step of the way with this epic novel about The Great Hunger. My friend Pat Donlon, former director of The National Library of Ireland kindly agreed to launch ‘The Hungry Road’ for me.  I felt it was serendipity as she has played such a big part in my writing career and was the one who launched my first book ‘Under the Hawthorn Tree’.

Thank you to Eason’s who looked after the large crowd really well. They have always been so kind and so supportive to me over all my years of writing and publishing.

The launch party continued as the merry crew made our way to Davy Byrne’s to mark the occasion of the publication of The Hungry Road.  A heartfelt thanks to everyone for helping to make it such a memorable  book launch.

Caroline Sheldon, Pat Donlon, Marita and Fiona Murphy.      P.L. Lynch and Marita

Blazing a Trail…Irish Women Who Changed the World

IMG_3928What an amazing launch in Dun Laoghaire’s Lexicon Library for Sarah Webb’s wonderful new book Blazing a Trail…Irish Women Who Changed The World.

Sarah and talented Illustrator Lauren O’Neill have shone a light on 28 amazing intelligent, hardworking, pioneering Irish women who have influenced people both at home here in Ireland and across the world.

In terms of design, Blazing a Trail is visually stunning and an exhibition of Lauren’s illustrations from the book is currently on display at the Lexicon.

Sarah has done a huge job in compiling, researching and finding out more about these incredible women some of whom I’m ashamed to admit I was not even aware of.

From Maureen O’Hara, Sybill Connolly, Eileen Grey, Nellie Cashman, Aleen Cust, the list I promise is truly varied and this is a book that deserves to be read by girls of all ages.

Ossian Smyth Cathaoirleach of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and Librarian Marian Keyes helped to launch the book alongside O’Brien Press Editor Aoife Walsh.  There was a great surprise when a few members of Sarah’s talented young writers group, complete with wigs and costume, entertained us with dramatized scenes from the lives of three of these remarkable women.   What a brilliant night and what a brilliant book!

Brilliant Readers in Strabane

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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 .

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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…