Launch of ‘Heroes of Ireland’s Great Hunger’

Kindred Spirits by Alex Pentek. Middleton Co.Cork

It was a great privilege to take part only a few days ago in the virtual launch of ‘Heroes of Ireland’s Great Hunger’ by the Irish consulate in New York on 2nd September.

Launched by Vice Consul Sean O’Aodha, there were 19 of us contributors to the book speaking from all over the world.

With so many also attending the launch it truly was global occasion.

This ground breaking volume edited by Professor Christine Kinealy, Jason King and Gerard Moran examines the role of the many heroes from all walks of life, the men and women who helped and assisted the starving and sick during the long years of the Great Hunger often risking their own health and life to alleviate the suffering of strangers.

‘Heroes of Ireland’s Great Hunger’ features heroes, from Ireland, Australia, Canada, England and America whose contribution and work helping others have been forgotten or overlooked but are now getting the recognition they so deserve. I was very honoured to be asked to contribute a chapter on Doctor Daniel Donovan, the’ Famine Doctor’ from Skibbereen whose incredible story and Diary of a DispensaryDoctor’ made me sit down and write my Famine novel ‘The Hungry Road’.

I happened to be down in Cork for the launch and only earlier that day visited Middleton to see Kindred Spirits, artist Alex Pentek’s striking steel sculpture of nine giant feathers reaching to the sky.

This sculpture acknowledges our thanks to the Choctaw Nation for their kindness to our ancestors in 1847 during the Great Famine. Despite being  dispossessed of their own sacred  lands and sent  on an enforced march ‘ The Trail of Tears’ , to Oklahoma on which many died,  the Choctaw Nation sent $170.00 to help the starving  victims of famine in Ireland .

Le Anne Howe and Padraig Kirwan write of this generosity of spirit in the book. 

‘Heroes’ is published by Quinnipiac University Press and Cork University Press.

Borris Festival of Writing and Ideas 2021

Excitement is growing at the prospect of taking part in a real Festival, an actual live event this weekend in the beautiful setting of Borris House, in the village of Borris in County Carlow.

I will be talking history and how it informs and shapes us in the Roundhouse Marquee on Saturday 21st August at I.45 pm with fellow history lover and writer Turtle Bunbury.

There is a fantastic line up events over the three days of the weekend Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd August, with President Michael  D Higgins, Marian Keyes, Professor Luke O’Neill, film director Jim Sheridan, Sebastian, Barry, Liz Nugent  and so many others taking part.

There will be live music, tasty food, great conversation and plenty of debate, all the things we have missed over the past year and half. Well done to Vivienne Guinness and Hugo Jellet and their team for putting together such a brilliant programme…exactly what we all need!   

Cruinniu na nOg 2021

Shane Hegarty and Marita

It was great to be back in the Lexicon Library in Dun Laoghaire to take part in this year’s Cruinniu na nOg.

It was brilliant to get the chance to talk to one of my favourite writers Shane Hegarty all about books and writing and stories. For us to actually be together in person filming carefully in the studio in the Lexicon and not just on Zoom was great fun! 

Cruinniu na nOg is a national day of free creativity for young people in Ireland. We are the only country to hold such a day. There are all kinds of events being held all over Ireland on 12th June to celebrate Cruinniu na nOg from Leprechaun Hunts to  Nenagh Kid’s Film Festival, Drumming to Crafts, Dance and Knitting so get creative and check them out.

Thanks to the film crew and the wonderful Sarah Webb and Librarian Marian Keyes for setting it all up. 

Happy summer reading to everyone!