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 .
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.
The 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.
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…
What a perfect day to launch Bold Girls as across the world we celebrate International Women’s Day and the Centenary of Women’s Suffrage here in Ireland !
‘Bold Girls’ is the innovative new project by Children’s Books Ireland to celebrate and the representation of girls and women in children’s books, that have strong, intelligent female characters that appeal to all ages. The aim is to break down barriers and put girls front and centre
A ‘Bold Girls’ Reading Guide is part of the initiative and it includes a broad reading guide from picture books to teenage novels and also includes a focus on twenty Irish female authors and illustrators of children’s books. It was great to take part in a special ‘Bold Girls ‘school event in Eason’s with authors and illustrators Sarah Crossan, Niamh Sharkey and Yasmeen Ismail and the brilliant kids from St Mary’s School in Dorset Street with lots of stories and doodling and face painting going on.
Later all the Bold Girls gathered in the amazing Long Room in the Old Library in Trinity College (The inspiration for the Hogwarts Library in the Harry Potter films) for the official launch of Bold Girls.
There is also a small selection of children’s books by Irish female author’s part of the ‘Story Spinners display in the library which marks women’s role in writing and illustrating children’s literature over the century. The books are part of Trinity’s wonderful Pollard Children’s Literature Collection of over 10,000.00 books.
Dr Norah Patten, faculty member of the International Space University officially launched ‘Bold Girls
With so many female writers and children’s book lovers gathered together it was always going to be a fun night with lots of stories!!
Well done to Jenny Murray and all the team in CBI for organising it all and putting the Reading Guide and the Bold Girls initiative together.
What a fitting place to launch former Dun Laoghaire Writer- in Residence Sarah Webb and illustrator Steve McCarthy’s fabulous new collection of rhymes but in The Lexicon Library overlooking the sea and Dun Laoghaire’s harbour and boats.
Designer Emma Byrne, artist Steve and Sarah discussed the genesis of this beautifully produced book with Elaina Ryan of Children’s Books Ireland. The art work is stunning and there are lots and new rhymes for everyone to enjoy. Definitely this is a book to treasure!
It was lovely to revisit Strokestown Park House to participate in their two day Irish Women in Literature Symposium which was opened by Councillor Orla Leden, Cathaoirleach of Roscommon and had a special focus on the forgotten women of Irish Literature
Professor Christine Kinealy of Quinnipac University gave us a fascinating account of the life of Fanny Parnell and her writing and immense contribution to Irish Nationalism.
Professor Luke Gibbons of Maynooth University, provided an absorbing insight into the world of Irish Women Writers some who hailed from Roscommon. He talked about the huge success enjoyed by the work of Charlotte O Connor Eccles, , Grace Little Rhys, and the prolific Bitha May Croker who wrote 50 novels and had ‘The Road to Mandalay’ filmed. Much of their work is unfortunately now out of print but certainly these women deserve to be remembered for their contribution to Irish literature.
Nuala O’Connor talked about her work and read from ‘Miss Emily’ and a wonderful short story that has just been published in her new collection ‘Joyride to Jupiter ‘.
On Friday Dr Margaret Corporaal, Assoc Professor of Radboud University, Holland gave us an in depth talk about the life and work of Mary Anne Sadlier , who emigrated to Canada in 1844 and with her writing came to represent the voice of the Irish Catholic Diaspora.
Strokestown Poetry presented a talented group of Roscommon Poets Reading from their work with Jessamine O’Connor finishing up a wonderful few days by reading from The Hermit Collective.
Jason King, Mary Butler, Nuala O’Connor, Orla Leden, Caroilin Callery, Christine Kinealy & Marita Conlon-McKenna