Thursday 10 November 2022

Festivals and Events | SiarScéal Festival 2022 | Book Launch

 The Word According to Crow by Sinead McClure

– to be launched at SiarScéal Festival 2022 –

Front cover of The Word According to Crow by Sinead McClure
The Word According to Crow
by Sinead McClure

SiarScéal Festival 2022 is going ahead this Saturday, 12 November as planned with just one addition. The launch of the book, The Word According to Crow by Sinead McClure will be included in the festival proceedings, full details of which are posted online to the festival's website.

Sinead is a writer, radio producer and illustrator. In June 2022, she won the Roscommon Chapbook Bursary for this collection, copies of which will be on sale on the day and the author may even be persuaded to sign a few! Further information about this book and Sinead's other work may be found on her website.

Elsewhere, the winners of the Hanna Greally Literary Awards for 2022 will be announced on the day of the festival, with prizes presented and winners invited to recite their work.

As in previous years, the festival will conclude with an ever popular, open-mike session, when authors of all genres and experience are invited to perform their work.

Proceedings get under way at 10am and will run until 5pm with a break for lunch. The venue for the festival Roscommon County Library HQ in Roscommon Town.

Monday 31 October 2022

New Books and Titles | Drowned-Out Voices by GhostÉire | Second in the GhostÉire Investigates series

Drowned-Out Voices by GhostÉire

– Tales from Haunted Ireland this Halloween –

Front cover of Drowned-Out Voices by GhostÉire
Drowned-Out Voices by GhostÉire
Available to buy online

Drowned-Out Voices by Anthony Kerrigan, Sinead Houlihan and Jenifer Kerrigan is the latest instalment in the GhostÉire Investigates series and continues where the previously published, The Rising of Haunted Ireland from 2016, leaves off.

Collectively, the authors form the paranormal study group, GhostÉire, who together seek spiritual and scientific explanations for the paranormal, the supernatural and similarly unexplained phenomena. Their investigations of possible hauntings take them to many locations, the length and breadth of Ireland.

This volume contains written and audio-visual accounts of just such investigations, conducted at locations that include the castles at Athlone, Blarney and Clonony; a bridewell gaol in Tarbert, Co. Kerry; the Old Fever Market Hospital in Gort, Co. Galway; the former Leamy School in Limerick (which counts the writer, Frank McCourt among its alumni); the Old Cork Waterworks overlooking the River Lee; Blennerville Windmill in Tralee, Co. Kerry; Loop Head Lighthouse in Co. Clare; a Longford visitor centre that commemorates the 1798 Battle of Ballinamuck; Cork's Civic Trust House and Applerock Studios, situated in the heart of Dublin’s infamous 'Monto' district, while investigations of a subterranean nature are recorded at the ancient Rathcroghan/Oweynagat cave complex in Co. Roscommon.

The Story of Sarah Reynolds concerns a sad and somewhat distressing case of a young servant woman who died in 1862 and whose remains lie buried at Killegy Cemetery near Muckross House in Killarney, Co. Kerry. It is based on a paranormal investigation that the group conducted at the grave site in 2012.

Elsewhere, a short story entitled Ouija Believe It? is obviously meant to be taken lightly, concluding as it does with an unexpected but amusing twist.

In their bid to see beyond the veil and to delve into the minds of the Spirits whom they reach out to, they employ a range of techniques, which include midnight séances, Ouija boards, channelling and mediumship, all vividly described in eerie, exciting and absorbing detail.

Drowned-Out Voices by GhostÉire is published under the imprint of The Manuscript Publisher and available to buy online, in print (both paperback and hardback) and e-book editions, fully illustrated and accompanied by 98 minutes of video footage (DVD and online video formats).

The book comes with a parental advisory that it is suitable for 16-year-olds and older, as it contains strong language and possibly disturbing themes.

Over the years, GhostÉire is a paranormal research team have travelled to various parts of Ireland to investigate plausible hauntings, giving personal insight into the investigations that they have conducted, offering rational thinking towards any strange phenomena that has been observed. Further information about their work is available from their website.

Thursday 13 October 2022

New Books and Titles | The Dawning of the Day by Liam Nevin

The Dawning of the Day by Liam Nevin

– sweeping-epic family drama set against background of a turbulent decade in Irish history –

Front cover of The Dawning of the Day by Liam Nevin featuring a scene from Dublin's O'Connell Street in the immediate aftermath of the Easter Rising of 1912

As Ireland's Decade of Centenaries draws to a close, a recently published historical novel by Liam Nevin recounts that turbulent period in a sweeping epic of interweaving tales concerning three families, their trials and tribulations, their lives and loves.

The Brennans are a working-class family from Dublin's inner city. In 1915, John Brennan enlists in the British Army, where he experiences the horrors of war first hand.

In nearby rural County Kildare (but almost a world away) are the Byrnes, a family of farm labourers who work for Major O'Kelly, a wealthy landowner of Irish Ascendancy descent.

Events that are about to unfold will change everything – forever and for all concerned.

The genesis of this book, Liam Nevin recalls, lies in a story that his mother used to relate to him as a young boy, of a soldier being fatally wounded in a field that they would pass on their Sunday walks. The incident occurred during Ireland's civil war (1922-23) and, it stoked an interest in him that he would often return to.

I never remembered being taught much about that time when I was at school in the sixties. It was probably too painful or too embarrassing for those who lived through it. Most history books went only as far as the Anglo-Irish War, when Ireland had 'won her freedom'. I remember the enmity that existed between neighbours when I was growing up in the fifties and sixties. I struggled to understand why some families were for and others against the Treaty of 1921. My research would lead me to the answer.

The 1913 Lockout, the Great War, the Easter Rising of 1916, the Irish War of Independence and subsequent civil war all come within the scope of this narrative. Faithful attention to historical detail adds to its allure. However, it is the impact of these events on the human level (the individual and interpersonal tales) that offer up a rich seam of storytelling.

A native of County Kildare, Liam Nevin lives in Shepperton, England with his wife Marlene, where he is now retired, having worked for forty-one years at Heathrow Airport. He writes on Irish and local history, in both fictional and non-fictional styles.

The Dawning of the Day by Liam Nevin is published by The Manuscript Publisher and available to buy online, in print and e-book editions. Previously published works by Liam Nevin include The Tobacco Fields of Meath (2010) and Brightening Over Dillon's (2016), which are also available to buy online.

Hear Liam Nevin speak to Theresa Quinn of Liffey Sound FM about his books and writing activities

Wednesday 5 October 2022

Festivals and Events | SiarScéal Festival 2022 | Hanna Greally Literary Awards

SiarScéal Festival 2022: Dates for Your Diary

– including the Hanna Greally Literary Awards –

Logo of SiarScéal

SiarScéal Festival 2022 takes place on Saturday, 12 November at Roscommon County Library HQ. Proceedings get underway at 10am and a full programme of events is available from the festival website.

The closing date for the Hanna Greally Literary Awards, which takes place annually, in conjunction with the festival, is Friday, 14 October. There is every enticement to get you entries in. A total prize fund of €600 will be dispensed, including prizes of €200 each for overall winners in the poetry and prose categories plus, €100 each for highly commended entries and a €100 prize for overall winner in a separate Student category.

Entry is free but limited to one per person and may consist of poetry or prose/short story writing styles but should be on the theme of this year's competition, which is Sunlit Mornings, Ebbing Tides. Full details, including terms and conditions and how to enter are available from the SiarScéal website – see Competitions page.

Results will be announced and, prizes presented at the festival in November. Music, recitals, readings from the winning entries, an open-mike session will also feature on the day.

For further information about SiarScéal Festival and the Hanna Greally Literary Awards may be found on the SiarScéal website.

Dates for Your Diary

Hanna Greally Literary Awards

  • Closing date for entries is Friday, 14 October 2022 with results to be announced at ...

SiarScéal Festival 2022

  • Date: Saturday, 12 November 2022
  • Time: starts 10pm
  • Venue: Roscommon County Library HQ, Abbey Street, Roscommon (see Google Maps for directions)

Saturday 1 October 2022

New Books and Titles | The Joys of a Second Rattle at Life by William Tiernan | Book Launch

 The Joys of a Second Rattle at Life by William Tiernan

– Book Launch: Saturday, 8 October at Fr. Flanagan Community Centre, Ballymoe, Co. Galway –

The Joys of a Second Rattle at Life by William Tiernan is the author's third collection of poetry and, arguably, his most ambitious date. Whether addressing himself to issues such as pandemics or the war in Ukraine, to more universal themes of redemption and re-birth, battles of the body and the bullying of the mind, Tiernan's observations go straight to the human heart, breaking down the distance of what is right from what is wrong, conveying it all in his unique and inimitable lyrical style.

Front cover of The Joys of a Second Rattle at Life by William Tiernan (with artwork by Anne Rigney)

From the Pen of William Tiernan

Mine is a hard hammering against the wall of flame.
The demon we must come to terms with and tame.
A new day brings a new, raw hunger and thirst.
I must give the world my poem and my word.
Without having to fall on my sword.
The heart can be touched by crying
But, the soul knows not of dying.
It's smiles we give and tears we fall.
We belong to the universal call.
I'm sick and tired of war and dying.
Sick and tired of hunger and homelessness crying.
I'm into me and I'm the whole world's lover
And, I know there are many mysterious things to discover.
The road less travelled is the road best left behind
And, the better one, perhaps, is the one we've yet to find.
Existence is forever so short
But, life at times, too long.
Old fashioned, I might be but, most of the poetry nowadays doesn't turn me on. I like the stuff to rhyme, while this thing of survival gets on my bloody nerves.

William Tiernan is a poet and author who resides in rural Galway, close to the Roscommon border. His writings reflect his personal experiences and convictions as well as strong ties to the community in which he lives, his identification with the place where he grew up. These impressions are particularly reflected in the first two volumes of his poetry: Greetings from Guilka, Ballymoe (2016) and Bluesy Ballymoe (2018). In 2014, he was National Winner in the poetry category at the Hanna Greally International Literary Awards, organised as part of the annual SiarScéal Festival in Co. Roscommon.

The Joys of a Second Rattle at Life by William Tiernan is published under the imprint of The Manuscript Publisher and available to buy online, along with other books by William Tiernan.

Copies will also be on sale at the official launch of the book, to take place on Saturday, 8 October at the Fr Flanagan Community Centre in Ballymoe, Co. Galway, starting at 8pm. The author will be on hand to sign copies.

Friday 8 July 2022

Milestones and Anniversaries | Percy Bysshe Shelley | 200th Anniversary of His Death

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
– English poet of the Romantic era who died 200 years ago today –

"Shelley, the writer of some infidel poetry, has been drowned; now he knows whether there is God or no!"

Steel engraving of Percy Bysshe Shelley by William Finden, 1833
W. Finden (1787-1852),
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

How one English conservative newspaper reacted to news of the death of Percy Bysshe Shelley, English poet of the Romantic era who, in many ways, personified the spirit of the it. Percy Bysshe Shelley left this world 200 years ago today.

If his lyrical mastery were not enough to make his work instantly memorable and recognisable, there are also the circumstances of his lives, his loves, his travels, his circles of friends, his tragic and untimely death to add to the mystique that surrounds one who often resembles the prototype rock star. For these and other reasons, Shelley has a valid claim to being among, not just the greatest but also the most enduring of the Romantic poets.

The life and works of Percy Bysshe Shelley exemplify English Romanticism in both its extremes of joyous ecstasy and brooding despair. Romanticism's major themes – restlessness and brooding, rebellion against authority, interchange with nature, the power of the visionary imagination and of poetry, the pursuit of ideal love, and the untamed spirit ever in search of freedom – all of these Shelley exemplified in the way he lived his life and live on in the substantial body of work that he left the world after his legendary death by drowning at age 29.Poetry Foundation

Unlike some of those among his friends and contemporaries, Shelley did not 'wake up one day to find himself famous'. Rather, his reputation and stature has grown largely posthumously. It is not that Shelley's poetry and other works failed to attract attention during his lifetime. Rather, it was attention of the wrong sort. From an early age, he courted controversy and ran the gauntlet of official censorship, government surveillance in addition to the unwanted attention of his creditors, for a time. If pamphlets and tracts with titles along the lines of The Necessity for Atheism (written in 1811 in collaboration with T.J. Hogg) were not enough to cause consternation, then the content of such work would have induced an affect on anyone in positions of authority who cared or dared to read them.

Shelley was capable of evoking great passion, as in poems like The Mask of Anarchy (1819), declaiming against the arbitrary use of power and in vindication of political and civil rights. Then there is the quiet, intellectual subtlety of poems such as Ozymandias (1818), contemplating the fate of man and of human endeavour generally, when considered from the vantage point of the ravages of time.

Posthumous portrait of Shelley Writing Prometheus Unbound by Joseph Severn (1845)
Joseph Severn, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It was on this day (8 July) in 1822 that Shelley, accompanied by two others, set out on a journey by boat from Livorno for Lerici. They were caught in a storm and did not return alive. However, Shelley's badly decomposed remains washed up on shore ten days later. His body was identified by a volume of poetry by John Keats that he was carrying in his coat pocket. In accordance with Italian quarantine law of the time, his remains were cremated on a beach near Viareggio and the ashes were buried in the Protestant Cemetery of Rome.

Percy Bysshe Shelley was born in England on 4 August 1792 and died in Italy on 8 July 1822, having reached the age of just 29. In that short period, he produced a immense body of work that includes poetry, plays, fiction, essays, among the best known of which (in addition to those already mentioned) would include Ode to the West Wind (1819), To a Skylark (1820), The Cenci (1819), Prometheus Unbound (1820), A Defence of Poetry (1821), Hellas (1822) and his final, unfinished work, The Triumph of Life (1822).

Photograph of Percy Bysshe Shelley's grave at the Protestant Cemetery in Rome
Jimmy Renzi, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday 28 May 2022

New Books and Titles | Bádh B'fhéidir le Seán Ó Muireagáin

Bádh B'fhéidir
– cnuasach nua gearrscéalta le Seán Ó Muireagáin –

Front cover of Bádh B'fhéidir by Seán Ó Muireagáin

Tá leabhar úr amuigh ag Seán Ó Muireagáin, Bádh B'fhéidir. Is cnuasach gearrscéalta ficsean eolaíochta é. Tá sé ar fáil sna siopaí anois agus ón suíomh

Sa bhailiúchán úr seo de scéalta samhlaíocha ficsean eolaíochta, cuireann Ó Muireagáin saolta osréalacha os ár gcomhair, saolta diostóipeacha agus barbartha, saolta a mbíonn an fhírinne á ceistiú iontu agus a mbíonn rian maith den fhíorshaol le sonrú iontu i gcónaí. Ábhar maith léitheoireachta don léitheoir fásta agus don fhoghlaimeoir.

Léigh tuilleadh faoin leabhar anseo.

Bhuaigh an scéal An Chóir Chodlata Duais an Mhaolánaigh i gcomórtas liteartha an Oireachtais 2018.

Tuesday 22 February 2022

New Books and Titles | Neon Hearts and the Angry Mob by Wayne Power | Book Launch

Neon Hearts and the Angry Mob by Wayne Power
– poetry at its unfiltered best with an unrivalled comedic edge –

Front cover of Neon Hearts and the Angry Mob by Wayne Power
Neon Hearts and the Angry Mob
by Wayne Power

Love in a time of lockdowns could be one way of describing the soon to be published Neon Hearts and the Angry Mob by Wayne Power, a worthy follow-up to his debut collection, Everyone's a Star after Midnight, published in 2020

Moreover, these poems go to the very essence of love, seeing it in terms of matters that concern both the heart and the mind. It is a love that is rooted in the communities to which we belong: those that we are born into and those that we seek out, often in search of refuge.

Written in the author's inimitable, racy style – reflecting the spoken-word, performance art that is his craft – these stories offer snapshots of the light and shade of city life, recollections of lost nights, love, mental health, also addressing social and political themes.

This is poetry at its unfiltered best, at times gritty but delivered with an unrivalled comedic edge, nourished by a sentiment steeped in fondness for where he is from, where he has been and where he hopes to go in life. We cannot have the good without the bad, so take time to enjoy all that the world has to offer, see both sides, enjoy the things that existence reveals or has yet to tell us about ourselves and the human condition.

Front cover of Everyone's a Star after Midnight by Wayne Power
Everyone's a Star after Midnight
by Wayne Power

Neon Hearts and the Angry Mob by Wayne Power is published by The Manuscript Publisher and available to pre-order online, where his debut collection, Everyone’s a Star after Midnight is also on sale.

The book will be formally launched on Friday, 4 March at 7pm in St Patrick's Gateway Centre in Waterford by local and nationally known playwright, Jim Nolan. Music, entertainment and refreshment will be provided on the night, along with performances by the author of some of his poems, who will also be on hand to sign copies.

Thursday 6 January 2022

New Books and Titles | The Stolen Years by Debbie Paget

The Stolen Years by Debbie Paget
– a wisdom born of suffering and a boundless faith in miracles –

Front cover of The Stolen Years by Debbie Paget
The Stolen Years by Debbie Paget
with Foreword by Mary McAleese

Three years following the death of her daughter, Tina, in 1999 at the tender age of just eight, Debbie Paget began writing about her experiences, as much to aid the grieving process as anything else. What emerges from that undertaking is a fascinating and heartfelt story.

Debbie was born into a family of fifteen in Dublin, in the 1960s. She talks about her earliest memories: from a very difficult childhood in the family home, amusing tales concerning neighbours and friends, her days in homeless hostels, school days, family tragedies, abuse, neglect, love and marriage, the birth of her children.

Death, life and love are intertwined in this unique story. It is the particularly sad and untimely death of her darling daughter and first baby girl, Tina that forms the focus. Tina’s short life was one of remarkable courage, strength and laughter in the face of tragedy. Mary McAleese, who got to know Tina well during her first term as President of Ireland (Uachtarán na hÉireann), recalls of those encounters that:

She had a wisdom born of suffering and a boundless faith in miracles. Her mother's book is one of those miracles.

Today, Debbie finds great comfort and solace in the spiritual world, where she keeps regular contact with Tina. Her story reveals a fighting spirit and a keen understanding of life in the face of adversity. Debbie is a survivor and her story will amaze, stun, sadden and inspire all who read it.

Although Debbie often had to endure the absence of love at crucial times in her life, she is such a loving person and she understands that love is at the core of life itself. Even through death and sadness, love conquers all.

The Stolen Years by Debbie Paget is published by The Manuscript Publisher and available to buy online, in print and e-book editions.

Listen to a podcast of Debbie talking to Johnny Holmes of Near FM about her life and the book that her experiences has produced.

Tuesday 4 January 2022

Language and Linguistics | UNESCO International Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032)

2022–2032: A Decade of Indigenous Languages

The New Year has also ushered in an International Decade of Indigenous Languages, which will take us all the way up to 2032, when who knows what kind of world we will be living in.

Sponsored by the United Nations and arising out of the strategic recommendations of the Los Pinos Declaration (2020), the emphasis will be on:

... indigenous peoples' rights to freedom of expression, to an education in their mother tongue and to participation in public life using their languages as prerequisites for the survival of indigenous languages, many of which are currently on the verge of extinction.
With regard to participation in public life, the Declaration highlights the importance of enabling the use of indigenous languages in justice systems, the media, labour and health programmes. It also points to the potential of digital technologies in supporting the use and preservation of those languages.
Building on the lessons learnt during the International Year of Indigenous Languages (2019), the Declaration recognises the importance of indigenous languages to social cohesion and inclusion, cultural rights, health and justice and highlights their relevance to sustainable development and the preservation of biodiversity as they maintain ancient and traditional knowledge that binds humanity with nature.
Current data indicates that at least 40% of the 7,000 languages used worldwide are at some level of endangerment. While reliable figures are hard to come by, experts agree that indigenous languages are particularly vulnerable because many of them are not taught at school or used in the public sphere.

Source: UNESCO

Sunday 2 January 2022

Days of Observation | National Science Fiction Day 2022

Following the Science Fiction

Dr. Isaac Asimov by Phillip Leonian
from New York World-Telegram & Sun
(Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Today (2 January) is celebrated as National Science Fiction Day in the USA and, quite possibly, many other countries too although it is not officially recognised as a holiday in any country, territory or jurisdiction that we are aware of.

The day does coincide, however and allegedly, with the birth of the famed, 20th century science-fiction writer, Isaac Asimov but even this is difficult to pin down, as the precise date of Asimov's birth is unascertained except that he "was born was born in Petrovichi, Russian SFSR on an unknown date between October 4, 1919 and January 2, 1920 inclusive" and even for this much information, we are relying upon Wikipedia! Nevertheless, it does seem to be established that Asimov chose the date of 2 January to celebrate his birthday. Strange but not entirely inappropriate perhaps, that a day that is linked to 'science' is, nevertheless, shrouded in speculation, a lack of precision, a dearth of evidence and questionable sources!

The War of the Worlds by Henrique Alvim Corrêa, original graphic 15
An alien invastion featured in
H.G. Wells' novel, The War of the Worlds
as illustrated by Henrique Alvim Corrêa
(Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Asimov's family emigrated to the United States when he was just three years old. He would go on to have a career as professor of biochemistry at Boston University but also as a prolific writer of both fiction and non-fiction. He is probably most widely known for the Three Laws of Robotics that he devised and, which most people will be familiar with from the 2004 motion picture, I Robot. As promulgated in his 1942 short story Runaround, the three rules are generally summarised along the lines of:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Frontispiece to Frankenstein 1831
Illustration for 1831 edition of
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
by Theodore Von Holst (1810-1844)
(Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

What actually defines science fiction as a literary genre is a matter of some debate, as is the task of tracing the origins of it, which some would date back to ancient mythology. It could be considered that science fiction (together with related genres of fantasy, horror, superhero fiction) represents a kind of modern mythology, dealing with futuristic concepts and trajectories, to the point of being more concerned with the ultimate fate of human civilisation rather than its origins. Advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel universes, and extra-terrestrial life are among the themes that commonly feature.

Imagination 195808
Greenleaf Publishing / Malcolm Smith
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Mythology and the oral tradition aside, a literary timeline of science fiction, the authors and their works considered to fit the genre would surely include Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels), Mary Shelley (Frankenstein and The Last Man), works of Edgar Allan Poe and Jules Verne, H.G. Wells (The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Island of Doctor Moreau). In the 20th century meanwhile, science fiction writers of note would include (in addition to Isaac Asimov, already mentioned) the likes of Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut.

Those interested in the genre of science fiction might find that Days of the Year calendar has some interesting suggestions as to how to go about marking the occasion that is National Science Fiction Day.

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