International Literature Festival Dublin

21st International Literature Festival Dublin, Ireland

The famous arch on Dublin’s iconic Halfpenny Bridge was bedecked with books to celebrate the launch of this year’s International Literature Festival Dublin. It was breezy on the bridge but new writer Melatu Uche Okorie and I enjoyed the view. Melatu, who was in direct provision, has just published her first book- which I am dying to read. Later that night, it was great to be back in one of my favourite haunts, for the official  launch for the International Literature Festival Dublin which was held upstairs in the lovely new Bewleys.  My good friend Sarah Webb has organised all the brilliant Family and Children’s events.

The Festival runs from 19th to 27th May 2018 with a huge programme of events with both Irish and International writers at a number of venues across the city.

I am doing three events at the festival – Bold Girls- A big panel discussing the women who influenced and inspired us which is on Thursday 24th May in Smock Alley.IMG_1795.JPG

On Sunday 27th May I am very excited as I will be leading a very special tour of Coming Home- the Great Hunger Art Exhibition which is on in The Coach House in Dublin Castle at  Places are limited and will book out very quickly.

Then at,on Sunday 27th May  I am in the Gothic Room of Dublin Castle showing some of my favourite images from the art in the Great Hunger Exhibition and talking about how they relate to ‘Under the Hawthorn Tree’  and help us to understand and  tell the story of the Great Irish Famine . I am hoping that lots of readers will come along for these very special events.




Coming Home: Art & The Great Hunger at Dublin Castle

Coming Home:-Art and the Great Hunger, is a poignant and striking exhibition of historical and contemporary art and sculpture relating to the Great Irish Famine which has just opened in Dublin Castle.

The works on show are part of the acclaimed art collection from the Great Hunger Museum in Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut which has generously agreed to give Irish people an over the coming months an opportunity to see work from this unique collection.

“Cottage: Achill Island”The exhibition is well worth a visit to see how some of Ireland’s foremost artists and sculptors reflected on Ireland before, during and after the Great Irish Famine. From the landscapes of Jack B Yeats, Alexander Williams and William Crozier, to the illustrations of James Mahoney, the  thought provoking  paintings of Michael Farrell and Lillian Lucy Davidson, and the haunting sculptures of Rowan Gillespie, John Coll,  John Behan and Margaret Lyster Chamberlain.

“The Leave-Taking”President Michael D Higgins opened the exhibition which was curated by Prof Niamh O’Sullivan.

This is a must see exhibition for anyone with an interest in art or history. I found myself both moved and provoked by the artist’s interpretation of the effect of Ireland’s Great Famine on our people. It is highly recommended for students, and older children. I will certainly return  to see it.

Coming Home: Art & The Great Hunger is on at:

The Coach House in Dublin Castle until 30th June 2018.

The Uililinn- West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen on 20 July – 13th October 2018

The Glassworks in Derry 18th January -16th March 2019.


Bold Girls

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.

boldgirlsLater 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.IMG_1642.JPG