St Patrick’s Day Festival 2022

Writers Shane Hegarty, Marita and Sarah Webb.

The sun shone, the daffodils bloomed and the crowds came out to celebrate this year’s very special ‘St Patrick’s Day Festival’. This was a four day celebration as an extra government holiday day was added to say an official ‘Thank You’ and to acknowledge the Trojan work of all Medical and Health Care staff during the past two years of the Covid outbreak.

To add to the festivities The National Museum in Collins Barracks in Dublin hosted a brilliant few days of fun, with music, bands, dancers street performances, food trucks and events for all ages to enjoy. I was happy to come along to the ‘Story Yurt’ and talk a little bit about my writing and books with the author of the wonderful ‘Boot’ books Shane Hegarty. It was so good to get back to meeting and talking to kids of all ages about stories and book ideas.  

                         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