World Book Day 2022

Today all over the world we are celebrating World Book Day so pick up a book and get reading!

It also marks 25 years since the start of World Book Day.

As a mad reader and total book worm it is great to celebrate all the wonderful books that have filled my heart and mind and life since I was a kid and all the great new ones too!

It doesn’t matter if you are 9 months, 9 years or 99 years old, there is always time for finding a good book and opening that first page and beginning a new adventure in reading.

In schools, bookshops and libraries all kinds of brilliant events are happening over the coming days so whether you are dressing up as your favourite book character, designing a new book jacket, acing it in a big book quiz , testing out mad scientists experiments, or taking part in a sponsored read, enjoy World Book Day!

There are lots of special euro 1.50 book tokens which you can use in your bookshop to buy one of the great special World Book Day books!

I am involved doing lots of lovely events , talking to schools in Sligo and Newry and  a fun filled online event on the day itself with Sarah Webb, Judi Curtin, Gerry Daly and John Farrelly organised by the Halfway up the Stairs bookshop in Greystones and O’Brien Press. 

Shirley Hughes – Writer and Illustrator

Shirley Hughes

Like everyone involved in the children’s book world I am very sad to hear about the death of much loved author and illustrator Shirley Hughes who somehow captured all the joys and ups and downs of childhood so perfectly in her wonderful children’s books.

She has always held a very special place in our family as my four children and now my grandchildren are introduced to her books from the stories of the wonderful Alfie who manages to close the front door locking his mum and little sister Annie Rose out of their house, to the missing much loved and nearly threadbare toy Dogger. In every book Shirley Hughes somehow captured all the special moments of childhood with her tell- tale art work.

From the wordless Up and Up where  a little girl eats a magical egg and suddenly learns to fly ,taking to the sky and flying  up and up over her house and school as neighbours and family and friends  try to get her back down to earth. And Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without reading our well -worn copy of ‘Lucy and Tom’s Christmas’

I had the good fortune to meet Shirley Hughes when our daughter Mandy won a competition to design a book- mark for Waterstones Bookshops when she was young.  Tim Waterstone was due to give her the award in Dublin, when suddenly it was all changed and Shirley Hughes, who had helped to judge the competition came to Dublin instead.  Everyone was over the moon to have the author of Alfie with us.  I remember that Shirley Hughes was kind and generous to us all and never stopped smiling and laughing for she was an author who clearly loved her work and meeting children and young readers. 

She lived a long happy life of 94 years, and twice won the Kate Greenway medal for Illustration and was awarded both a British O.B.E and C.B.E for her Services to Children’s Literature.

‘GiftABook’ 

Christmas is coming and hopefully there will be lots of lovely books wrapped up under the Christmas tree in my house, just waiting to be read.

However there are some children, who may never get such a gift, never actually own a book all of their own. Children who don’t have access to books at home and schools with empty book shelves

Children’s Books Ireland champions every child’s right to experience the joy of reading, regardless of their circumstances. Donate €12 today to a child who needs it and help bring the joy of reading into more young lives.

C.B.I’s ‘GiftABook’ appeal’ will ensure that a child somewhere in Ireland will get that very special gift of a book of their own to hold look at and read.

Everyone deserves the magic of a good book this Christmas!  

Donate to: childrensbooksireland.ie #GiftABook  

Jack B Yeats ‘Painting and Memory’ Exhibition

Donnelly’s Hollow. J.B. Yeats

The Jack B Yeats ‘Painting and Memory’ Exhibition, in the National Gallery of Ireland is a must see exhibition for everyone with any interest in Yeats and his work.

This is a unique chance to see 85 of his paintings many on loan from private collections and overseas galleries and museums, and follow his development and change as an artist. It is hard to believe that he created some of his finest and most innovative work, 594 paintings between the age of seventy and eighty years of age.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of his birth and Donal Maguire and Brendan Rooney have curated an outstanding testament to his creativity and genius, love of life and painting.

As I wondered around this world class exhibition I felt that I got an extraordinary sense of the man and the joy he got from his work as an artist.I found it very moving and can’t wait to visit the exhibition again.  

The Exhibition runs until 6th February 2022 but all visits must be pre-booked.  Children under 18 years of age go free.  Do not miss this chance to see such a memorable collection of work by Ireland’s finest artist.

Staircase in the National Gallery of Ireland

Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum has closed in U.S

Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum

It is desperately sad and disappointing to hear of the closure of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum in Quinnipiac in the U.S , which houses the world’s greatest collection of Great Irish Famine related art and artefacts and sculptures reflecting on the greatest tragedy in Ireland’s history.

Only three years ago that ‘Coming Home’- Art and the Great Hunger’ a part of this important collection, on loan from the Great Hunger Museum and Quinnipiac University, was exhibited in Ireland.

From March 2018-to March 2019, the ‘Coming Home’ exhibition visited Dublin Castle, Skibbereen and Derry. It attracted huge crowds who crowds flocked to see this amazing collection, moved by the memorable and inspirational works interpreting our history

I was involved in a few events as part of the exhibition and was often asked why this collection was in America and why we in Ireland did not have our own Great Irish Famine collection!

Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum’s valuable collection was first created by the vision and generosity of Murray Lender and his brother Marvin and Quinnipiac’s former University President, the innovative John Lahey.  As the collection has grown and been added to over the years, Irelands’ Great Hunger Museum was opened to house and display it. However now with changes in the University’s management unfortunately The Great Hunger Museum‘s doors have finally been shut.

Robert Ballagh

The danger is that this collection will be broken up and sold, dispersed and scattered between other universities, galleries, museums and private collectors both in the U.S and across the world. A campaign to save Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum and the collection is under way.

My hope is that The Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage and Tourism and the Irish Government   will have the good sense and offer a permanent home to Ireland’s Great Hunger Collection here in Ireland.  This historic collection could if necessary be rotated and shared between the US and Ireland.

 If not it is high time Ireland and her people began to gather a lasting Great Irish Famine collection of our own for all ages to visit.