We are all excited about the Junefest, the community based festival here in Newbridge which has taken place for the last few years at the beginning of June. This year it will run from 2nd- 19th June- with loads of events from history to astrology to music and art and theatre. There’s Luka Bloom in the Riverbank on Bloomsday, Donal Lunny and many more.
Carmel Walshe and I are organising the Junefest Literary Miscellany event which will take place in the library in Newbridge on the 3rd June. It was a great success last year with a packed space (Come early to be sure of a seat!) This year promises to be a great one as well- we have music from the wonderful classical guitarist Conor Mahony- always a treat – and a total contrast from the droll singer songwriter Paul Mc Cormac, who will entertain us with his lively ballads. We have Mae Leonard, writer and poet of Sunday Miscellany fame who will read one of her entertaining pieces. Mae has also judged our literary competition- the shortlist is out and the winners will be announced on the night and will have the opportunity to read their winning entries. There are six other featured readers who will read short extracts from their work- we look forward to hearing Naas writers Kevin Conroy, (MD of Oral B laboratories in Newbridge for 15 years and also teacher engineer, artist, prizewinning poet) and Maria Murphy whose bestselling novel ‘For The Love of Martha’ was published in April. From Johnstownbridge we have poet Evan Costigan, whom I met first at a writers weekend in Longford back a few years ago and then after that in Listowel and Dublin as you do when you go to writing festivals and enjoy the craic as well. And I was delighted when he was shortlisted for a Hennessy award with me in 2014. From Newbridge we have three contrasting voices, young poet Laura Caffrey who has a masters in creative writing from Galway and who wowed us last year with her thoughtful lyrical poems; Joe Connolly, a well know stalwart of Newbridge musical society through the years. Joe has just written a book on the history of the musical societies: ‘Musical Theatre from Behind the Spotlight,’ a follow on from his earlier book ‘Pure Drama from Behind the Spotlight’in 2010; and of course the wonderful Orla Mc Alinden who was nominated for a Pushcart prize this year and was the winner of the Eludia award in 2014 for her collection ‘The Accidental Wife and Other Stories’ which will be published by Hidden River press as part of her prize.
So definitely an evening not to be missed.
As a lover of all things literary and with a lot of friends in literary circles, I attend a lot of book launches and literary events. They are always joyful occasions. If mine ever gets published there will be cartwheels and champagne you can be sure….though I hope it happens before the arthritis sets in! Two stood out for me recently. One was the launch in Newbridge Silverware of Des Egan’s collection ‘Epic’. Des is a wonderful poet who taught in Newbridge College and he is the driving force behind the Hopkins festival which takes place in Newbridge College in July. This book was his 24th published book of poetry.There was no expense spared at the launch with delicious canapés and wines and yummy trays of cakes and little bouchées as the French might say- Newbridge Silverware really does it in style. There was an imposing top table with a host of very important people like Des himself and the British ambassador Dominick Chilcott and a lecturer friend from Maynooth and the chairman of the Hopkins society and another foreign ambassador, and one or two others but the names escape me. And of course William Doyle and others from Newbridge silverware. My cousin Paul Keane was there- he is on the board and is also the Honorary Ambassador of Sweden so I was in very posh company. The same Paul who squared up to a bull in a field along the Suck valley way in Roscommon while me and my sister ran for our lives. And somehow Paul escaped too… A great night and I can tell you that the British ambassador read some of Des poems and he read them better than most poets and readers I have ever heard- a wonderfully affecting and beautiful reading that had us all spellbound.
A very different kind of launch was held by my friend Debbie Thomas, from Clane writers. Her fourth children’s book ‘Class Act’ was launched in Weston airport on 9th May. Debbie has always had very imaginative launches. For ‘Jungle Tangle’ set in the Amazon jungle the launch was in the Botanical gardens with a treasure hunt around the gardens for all the children and parents who turned up and readings with wigs and shrunken heads. As I drove through Celbridge on Saturday morning on May 9th and out towards Weston airport I was very sceptical that many other people would take the trouble to get out there but I needn’t have worried. The restaurant was abuzz with children and adults and bees (in a protective glass case mind you, swarming up and down around a hive section and very carefully minded by their owner.) There was face painting and clay modelling and muffins and scones and of course the eagerly awaited treasure hunt. Debbie’s books are humorous and highly imaginative and she had a wonderful way of reading to children and us adults too. Another packed and hugely successful launch and all proceeds from Debbie’s launch were donated to Nepal leprosy trust. Well done Debbie, Mercier press and Barker and Jones bookshop from Naas. And yes I do get some work done in between launches and readings and so on…and I’m waiting to hear if my novel if going to be published …close but not quite there yet..my fingers and toes and other bits have been crossed since January even when my elbow was in a sling …they may be melded that way if word doesn’t come soon…but who knows what else is waiting out there. Onward and upwards!