Day 2 in Bantry, the West Cork Literary Festival

We had to check out and check in again due to a long and uninteresting story which I can tell you about, if you really want to hear! We took a walk along the marina, I wanted to reach the Hollywood-style sign that spelt out BANTRY on the hill across from our hotel, the Maritime. We reached it in record time of about two minutes and it started to rain. So, back to the car and up,up,up to Bantry House. We could/should have walked it but I didn’t want to wreck my hair.
Bantry House is gorgeous, apparently it is one of the Top Twenty Houses to visit in the World or Europe. We stood and posed for couple photos and got some nice shots of the gardens. We were getting hungry so attempted to head into the Tea Rooms, which looked rather nice as they overlooked the view of Bantry and the marina. The lady on the desk told us we normally would have to pay €5 to get into the gardens and you couldn’t visit the TeaRooms without seeing the gardens…hmmm. What she said before was quite pointless as then she told us we didn’t have to pay as the rain would mean we couldn’t get a proper look at the Gardens.
So, we went to the TeaRooms free of charge except I don’t think anyone would have cared if we had paid to see the Gardens or not.
We grabbed a quick bowl of soup and I felt all virtuous as previous lunches had involved too much food. When we were finished, we took off into the town again to have a little stroll around the shops and streets. At precisely, 2:53, Simon informed me that we needed to check in to our bedroom. Great.
It was great! In our room, (it’s my birthday on Monday) Simon had organized a big, fat chocolate cake with my name iced all it, a bottle of something bubbly and cold in a bucket of ice…these products were situated in the top of the Maritime Hotel, in one of the Penthouse Suites! Wowee, we had a stunning view of the bay and the Hollywood sign. Life is good!
I didn’t want to leave the room but a very nice and well mannered and tuned out author, Jamie O Connell was reading from his book in MA Murphy’s. Plus, the flyer promised prosecco so the choice was clear! As well, as Jamie reading, there were two other poets. All three are published with Bradshaw publishing. There was a great atmosphere and Jamie read one of his very comic short stories ” On eating grass”. It was hilarious and we all laughed along to the perfectly captured voice of a child who has a crazy life. You can read this very story here on the Lonely voice blog
I got to chat to Jamie after, a very nice, pleasant and unassuming guy. He currently working on his first novel but I hope he intersperses that with some more short stories!
I had to get back to the suite, the view from the balcony was calling me. Nah, let’s be honest, it was the iced bottle of something calling me! Derek joined us for a special “Julie’s fish and chips” takeout. Nice. We talked about dreams of living in Bantry for 6 months,then London and then New York for the remainder, one day, we said. In the meantime, we’ll enjoyed what we have!
I had gained enough nerves to read at the Open Mike and with a freshly cooked short story about a horrible man and my well-read Kitty stories, I made my way to the Open Mike. Michael Parkinson had just been interviewed, all the tickets had sold out but we didn’t really mind.
I read 2 of my Kitty stories and my new one about a principal. A sweaty principal who hates his job and life and doesn’t stop to think he should really let it go. No one booed me or walked out so I was happy! Simon and Derek got up to read twice and local comedian, Martin got up to read about his struggles dealing with a paranormal universe. It must be difficult, alright.
I left the lads with music and general song singing, I was tired and happy. I had read at Bantry.
Tomorrow, Kevin Barry is reading and I hope to meet with him to ask him a few questions. Tune in!


Day one of my first time at the West Cork Literary Festival, beautiful Bantry

Bantry-my first day of the festival

I’ve heard so much about Bantry and the West Cork Literary Festival that is held there every year. Our good friend, Derek from our writing group is always telling us to go, this is his fourth year in attendance. But, it is only my first so I was over the top excited when we hit the beautifully “everything an Irish town should look like” Bantry.

The first thing that caught my eye was the Hollywood-esque white letter signs spelling out BANTRY 2012. Placed on the hill above the marina and directly across from where we were staying, in the Maritime Hotel. Lovely idea. Most of the workshops and talks are held in the Maritime Hotel so the backdrop of the marina and the white sign make for ultimate photo opportunities! And, I used this prop well, taking hundreds of photos at different angles!

A stroll around the town of Bantry and a bit of letter writing

The weather was stunning when we arrived, we walked about, taking in the vibe-outdoor cafes with homemade ice cream, seafood eateries and old school pubs. We randomly came across a cute Coffee Shop called Organico, plenty of space and nice food. We got a spelt scone and strong coffee and sat and read. Bliss. As part of the festival, Organico are encouraging people to write letters. So, I received a complimentary writing pad, nice pen and wrote a letter to my family in Canada, something I’d been meaning to do for ages. The Coffee shop had left a letter box for any post, saying they would post it for me too! What a nice idea! It felt strange to write, my handwriting is appalling as I am so used to typing but I think my family will be happy to receive it!

Dr Diarmuid Ni Mhuirithe and his research on the death of Anglo Irish language

We decided we would go to one of the afternoon talks, Dr. Diarmuid Ni Mhuirithe was giving a lecture on Hiberno English or Anglo Irish, depending which side of the fence you are on! I did my Irish and English degree in U.C.D and Diarmuid had been the lead lecturer in the field of Hiberno English, he was one of the guys I really enjoyed attending and learning about the history of how we speak English and why. The talk was good, with lots of funny examples of phrases that we use and what they mean in standard English! There was a question and answer at the end and Simon asked him about where the word “craic” came from. Simon seemed to have hit Diarmuid’s raw nerve. Diarmuid spat out the answer( in a nice way) he told us that craic, in fact is a Scottish word and it simply means “good chat”. He seemed annoyed that this word has been changed into an Irish way of getting drunk. Diarmuid ended his talk by saying that Hiberno English would be dead very soon, adding that he didn’t really know how to save it. Simon and I debated this very subject later on, coming to the conclusion that language only stays alive if it is needed and is in flux all the time. Still makes me sad though as I hope that Hiberno English is not replaced by some other random culture or sayings.

Fish Anthology 2012 launch

Fish were launching their 2012 anthology of stories and poems. Fish is an Irish publishing company that runs( among other services) an annual competition. Prizes are pretty nice, but the biggest one has to be reading at the Bantry Festival and being published in their anthology. The evening was really enjoyable, I loved the mix of genres and voices, we heard poetry, flash fiction, memoirs and short stories. We never heard more than a page, which is perfect for my attention span! I bought the anthology for €10, an excellent price for the amount of excellent and diverse reading you will get. Go pick up a copy on the fish website and even better, enter the competition next year! They offer a critiquing service, for a fee, which might be a good idea to start off with.

Seafood eating and a drink with a Welsh man

After this event, we headed off for a bite to eat. We ended up in a place called “The Fish Kitchen”, which was divine! Service was warm and chilled out, while we waited for our table, the owner sent us across the road to the pub, Ma Murphy’s. This pub is the real deal, reminding me of my own local, childhood pub, Dinny’s Ferry Bar and shop in Rossport, Mayo. We had a quick drink in Ma Murphy’s, chatting to the lovely Welsh man who owns the place. When our table was ready, the owner from “Fish Kitchen” nipped over to us, telling us to come along! The food was excellent. I went for haddock and chips, Derek went for monkfish and Simon went for trio of fish. We finished off with proper home-made desserts, me a chocolate mousse, Derek a baked lemon cheese cake and Simon an Eton mess. I’d recommend this place.

A shy Rozzie just didn’t get to read at the Open Mike!

Then it was back to the hotel for the Open Mike session, which is held every night as part of the festival. Most of the Fish anthology winners took up the audience and all wanted to read, which is fair enough but us newbies were dying to have a go too so we waited! Derek read some of his poems and did very well, Simon even got the courage up to read some of his Jewish poems and he did extremely well.

Simon reads his stuff!

He read like a pro, giving some little details to add to the understanding. I know I am biased but he has some interesting things to say about religion and the effect it can have on people’s lives, sometimes negatively. It was nearly 2 in the morning and I hadn’t plucked up the courage to read. I am going to try again tonight! Wish me luck!


Event: Launch of “Some sort of Beauty” by Jamie O’ Connell

So, I was heading into my favourite, Irish bookshop “Hodges and Figges” last week and saw a sign outside. It told me sternly to head upstairs at 6:30 for a glass of two of wine. It also told me that Jamie O’ Connell would be reading from his first short story collection “Some sort of beauty.” Who was I to argue?

A quick text to my friend, Marion and I had forced her to come along too. There was a good crowd of all sorts of humans. James Ryan who lectures in Creative Writing in U.C.D. introduced Jamie. James said millions of lovely things and Jamie listened, looking slightly embarrassed. This was a good start for me. I hate over confidence.

James Rya, U.C.D introduces Jamie O Connell

“Some sort of beauty” is Jamie’s first short story collection and the title is inspired by Lady Gaga. Scratch that. The title is inspired by a writer called Rilke. He said that (amongst many other cool quotes about writing, life and reading) that we should…

“Find out the reason that commands you to write…Describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty”


Jamie read the story of the title of the book “Some kind of beauty” and did a rather good job of putting on a Liverpudlian accent. The story he read speaks of his own background, Jamie was raised a Jehovah Witness and the story “Some Kind of Beauty” talks about a Jehovah Witness man who chooses his religion over his daughter. It starts off slowly but the ending demonstrates how little the main character has moved, a sort of epiphany for us more so than him.

I purchased the book, of course and finished the first 5 stories in one setting. Themes of internet, sexuality and religion make this collection extremely modern and thought provoking. The first 3 stories “Without Art” “Silencio” and “Demain” got me interested. I wondered where the blur between the voice of the author and the narrator started/finished but realised that was the intention of the book, to begin with.

Clever intertwining of the book’s title and the background to the author/narrator(who knows?) achieved the function that I am sure Rilke wanted. Urging others to look to yourself and your own ordinary life for the beauty and creativity that will surely be there.

The book’s cover makes you think…

That’s good fiction.

I was glad when the stories changed voice totally as my world is utterly removed from the student life of the first few stories. Although it sounded like fun!

I was impressed with the way O’ Connell was able to gently switch from a gay man’s voice to a little girl to a ranting woman quite easily. It’s great to see young authors, with great dress sense and hair, writing daring stuff like this.

You can read about Jamie at his blog or follow him on twitter @jamieconnell.

(Some Sort of Beauty is available to purchase, It is also available in Irish bookstores.)

It’s a coming! West Cork Literary Festival 2012

The West Cork Literary Festival kicks off next week! Im a complete West Cork newbie so am overly excited, re-reading Kevin Barry obsessively and have even bought a new wardrobe!( couldn’t find any Kevin Barry t-shirts…)
The Frank O Connor short story prize will be announced during the festival and Beer Trip to Llandudno( Kevin Barry’s short story that won the Times short story prize) has been short listed along with 5 others. Here’s a brilliant post that remains quite attracted to a certain writer that lives in a diehard Garda station in Sligo-pay attention at the back)


Irish short stories writers

New things to read!
I asked the nice book lady in Hodges Figgis bookshop where I might find the Irish Short Story section. I shouldn’t have as I became overwhelmed by all the books I can buy! I narrowed it down to 2. Eilis ni Dhuibhne’s “The shelter of neighbours” and Mary Costello “The China Factory”
I had consumed Kevin Barry’s 2 short story collections and needed some new Irish fiction to keep me going.
“the shelter of neighbours” is Eilis Ni Dhuibhne’s 6th short story collection, I am a complete-ish newbie to all of this. Having finished an English and classics degree in UCD and having typical student priorities, I know I have missed out on some brilliant stuff so…I’m taking my time now!
Eilis’ first story is called “The man who has no story” the title being a reference to an old Irish folk tale of a man who…didn’t have a story! Anyway, this short story is about a teacher, Finn of creative writing who doesn’t have a a story, doesn’t have a marriage, happy life but deserves it. Well, I think he does. He wants to write but can’t. His life is a blur of dreams, a narky wife with a back problem, an adult son who sleeps all day and…rats invade his house. The ending is crafted well, Finn drives by a sign on the road and it just leaves us with a bit of hope…

My buddy, the poet!

My buddy is a real poet!
It had to happen.
I’m an obsessive member of the Carlow Writers Co-operative group and the leading member is a guy called Derek Coyle. Derek has been writing, reading and generally studying the poetic craft for years and years now. Last Tuesday, he was selected by Poetry Ireland to read a selection of his poetry in the Irish Writers’ Centre in Dublin.
He did brilliantly, keeping the crowd entertained with background information and amusing observations…and he read a couple of his poems. I think he is completely unique and I think his writing is very important. We are proud of Derek!
Keep an eye out for Mr Coyle!

Kevin Barry-nothing to do with Irish history!

There are little kingdoms-Kevin Barry

I has never heard of Kevin Barry until a guy on twitter mentioned his name. I asked him who he was and he said he was very jealous that I hadn’t heard of him. Obviously, this sparked my curiosity off!
Kevin Barry is a young, Irish writer. He mostly writes short stories and plays but has finished his first novel, City of Bohane.
It’s always the way, when someone or something is brought to your attention, they are everywhere. And now I can’t escape from him.
He won first prize for his short story “Beer trip to Llandudno” in the Sunday Times short story competition, you may have seen it in the Sunday Times mag last week. So, my lovely husband presented me with copy of his “kingdoms” short stories and I read through it obsessively.
First story “Atlantic City” drew me into a world of sad, little people trying to live some kind of life in a randomly, awful Irish town. It hurts to read this and the other stories as Barry is too bloody observant for his own good. But, brilliant for the reader.
Other stories that remain in my thoughts are the To the hills, Wintersong, Animal needs and See the tree;how big it grows .
I felt embarrassed and entertained by these stories. These stories are not going to make you feel glowy inside. The way the Irish landscape is described will make you smile and feel proud sometimes. But, if you want to wonder about the excesses of Ireland and what we may be growing into, read any one of these stories. He is utterly easy to read and as easy to enjoy as a short story with no need for any other meaning but enjoyment.
My only gripe:stop using the word “forlorn”

Arboretum and comfy seats

Me in the new look arboretum… Its called rachel’s cafe now with Tim desserts, sandwichea, funky colored sofas and interesting male urinals… The women have interesting sinks! Come check them out.. Plus the walk around their sensory gardens or a browse in their book shop is perfect Sunday pleasure…