World Book Day…Keep Reading!

World Book Day is one of my favourite days of the year as it is the one day that celebrates all the things I love, books, reading and writers…. There are events being held all over the county and in schools everywhere with book quizzes, fancy dress and lots of fun. Bookshops all around Ireland are taking part and there are special World Book Day Euro 1.50 tokens being issued for every child to put towards buying a book or to exchange for one of the selection special of World Book Day books.   World Book day was founded in 1995 and started in Ireland and the UK in 1997 and has continued to grow and expand over the 25 years.

On World Book Day this year it’s very exciting as my new book Fairy Hill will be launched on 2nd March and I will be taking part in massive schools zoom with writers Sarah Webb and Judi Curtin in the morning with also a number of events in schools and bookshops over the coming weeks meeting lots of young readers and classes. 

First off this week I met the girls from Loreto on the Green Junior School in Dubray Bookshop on Grafton Street to talk about books and writing and the next day a class from D7 Educate Together School in Dubray Book shop on Henry Street.   I love meeting readers of all ages and encouraging everyone to just Keep Reading!    

It’s official! ‘Under the Hawthorn Tree’ was the most borrowed Irish book in Irish Libraries in 2022

Under the Hawthorn Tree Covers

Finding out that Under the Hawthorn Tree’ was the most borrowed Irish book in Irish libraries for 2022 is the best news ever. The list covers both adults and children’s books so it is a really big deal.  I am at number 4, the highest book by an Irish writer, just behind Harry Potter, the Mister Men and Little and Diary of a Wimpy Kid…I am so proud of all my readers who have gone to the library and borrowed my book. Thanks to all my lovely readers

Nineteen of the twenty most borrowed  books on the list are children’s titles which shows that children are reading and are going to the library. It is great to see so many young readers using those all important library tickets .

I love libraries and getting my first library tickets for Greystones Library was a momentous game changing moment for me as a kid as I didn’t grow up in a bookish house. Once I got those magic tickets in my hand I was up and down to the library borrowing books cycling on my bike with my back carrier bag full of books to read and imagine that I was in the story. 

Without those library tickets and those books I’m not sure I would ever have become a writer!  I dreamed of writing books and someday seeing one of my books on a library shelf. So dreams do come true….. I love big libraries like the National Library, Boston Public Library, Trinity College Library and all the lovely local libraries I visit and use, school libraries, classroom libraries and best of all, the very special small shelf in a child’s bedroom which holds their very favourite books. 

It is wonderful to see that libraries play such an important part in our lives and reading choices. 

 Top 10 Most Borrowed Books 2022 (Previous year in brackets)

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling (10)

2. Little Miss: My Complete Collection Box Set by Roger Hargreaves (4)

3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Getaway by Jeff Kinney (-)

4. Under the Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon-McKenna (1)

5. Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties by DAV Pilkey (-)

6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down by Jeff Kinney (-)

7. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney (-)

8. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney (-)

9. Thomas and Friends: My First Story Time Set (11)

10. Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild by DAV Pilkey (-)

Greystones Library

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

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

Be Inspired Book Launch 

Dun Laoghaire’s Lexicon Library was a hive of activity for the launch of

Sarah Webb’s wonderful new book ‘ Be Inspired.’

The book is a celebration of 28 talented and bright Irish young people who are changing the world. Many have already made their mark on life.

Sarah wrote and researched the book over the Covid lockdown and it is illustrated by Graham Corcoran.

Ivan O’Brien from publishers O’Brien Press launched the book and many of the O’ Brien team were there. This very special launch was tinged with a little sadness as Michael O’Brien and Sarah’s wonderful Mum Melissa had both passed away recently.

Young bee-keeper Rian Somers told me about the 60,000 bees in his hives and kindly gave me a little pot of his honey. Talented young journalist Zainab Boladale talked of her journey to becoming a TV journalist and RTE Presenter and talented singer songwriter Michael Moloney blew everyone with one of his own songs.  

To add to all the excitement we discovered that Sarah Webb has just been shortlisted for The An Post Book Awards Author of the Year Award.  

Congrats Sarah!