Listowel Writers' Week Fringe

Blogging Listowel's Literary Scene

Two poems written while Anthony Cronin read

June 29, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010, poet, poetry, poets

I sat watching Anthony Cronin & wrote …

Ancient voice
returned to encapsulate,
speak for past and future,
take over the moment
with his contraption for walking
into delicate places.
I see a black jacket, almost velvet,
four buttons on the cuff,
a sag that hangs down from the mouth,
leaving a little chin,
a Miltonic head shape,
huge elephantine ear,
born to hear,
flat against the skull.

Anthony Cronin rests a right elbow,
a forearm, a bottom,
the whole of his weight -
so that his brown shoes
catch a shine between wheels.

God never listens to what you say
God is a woman.
The more he reads,
the more the age drops from his eyes
set under brows
that could be clipped
by a woman given to improving
the appearance of her man.

As Anthony Cronin read…

Christopher Reid listens,
no breath stirs,
no blink disturbs
even his heart respects Anthony Cronin
so much it slows the blood
to a whisper

The hiccup strangles itself before conception,
the saliva stays moist enough
to need no refreshment.
The hands hang like a limp unwound pendulum,
Christopher Reid wraps Anthony Cronin
in attention he learned at the bedside.

Oh, Wow. He blinked…

Photographs of 2010 Festival

June 08, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010

There are 74 snaps by Paul O’Mahony – a set he’s posted on Flickr – you can find a link on the blogroll too.

Only two photos have been edited – and none cropped. Paul’s a real amateur eh?

On being locked out of Arms Hotel last night…

June 05, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010, Accommodation

It wouldn’t have happened in 2009. A group of people who were looking for music, storytelling & song were turned away from the inn at 1.15am. The Listowel Arms Hotel was having none of us.

There was no room for non-residents to sit in the front room of the hotel. They were not entitled to entry. Maybe non-residents should have known they had no business looking to extent their evening.

I was one of them.
I thought of climbing up the ivy and tapping on an upstairs bedroom window. I resisted the battering-ram temptation. And it would have been irresponsible to have started a fire evacuation. We could hardly believe our misfortune.

In 2009…
there was one session in the hotel that went on until well after 4am. John Sheehan played, and there were superb singers.

Audrey Dunphy

Audrey Dunphy was there too in 2009.

In 2010…
When we were turned away, I thought first the management style and priorities had changed.

This morning, I think the hotel might have been full to overflow. There may have been a session in full flight, simply no room to fit in late-comers. I may have missed the session of the Festival.

Can anyone enlighten us?

Guest Post by “A View From Kerry”

June 03, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010

Sentimentality doesn’t win at Listowel

This being an unusually hot day I sit in the shade of the Half-Way bar, half-way(ish) between Listowel and Tralee. This being Listowel Writers’ Week I sit a few kilometres from the festival where the winner of the Irish Fiction Award will be announced. I’ve been dreading this moment. Not ‘Let the Great World Spin’ (LTGWS) please, although I note that the prize is not called the ‘Best Irish Fiction’.

First of all, I must state that I own a signed (by the author, not by me) first edition of the book, and that no-one will borrow it – or any of my books come to that. So at least I show one of my failings.

The entire LTGWS is shot through with sentimental writing – a pair of Irish brothers whose father leaves the family home at an early stage, the poor mother dying of cancer, the girl with a concience, the prositutes with a heart of gold, the jewish judge and his wife who mourns her son lost to war and on and on and on. There is also the unnamed tightrope walker tip-toeing between the great World Trade Towers back in the 1970′s.

Enough already, as Colum would write.

It is always a bit pernickity to find fault in a book because of historical details, but if the author wishes to establish some credibility then surely a bit of accuracy is called for. Within the first few pages of the book we are informed that the boys grew up in Sandymount on Dublin Bay in the mid-1950′s. On weekend mornings the brothers walked with their mother on the beach where “Two enormous red and white power station chimneys broke the horizon to the east” (p12). I am a child of fifties Dublin and I thought those chimneys were not built until the early 1970′s. I checked, I’m right. If I’m wrong tell me, I’ll delete the post.

But that does not damn a book.

Every so often Colum (should I now start writing Mr. McCann?) can’t resist relieving himself of some witticism; a “hospital that looked like it need a hospital“, “Miro, Miro on the wall“. At other times Mr. McCann employs sledgehammer, if not a pneumatic drill, to ram home some point he wishes to make. Just one example of this is where he takes three-quarters of a page to descibe death by many means – death by this, death by that. Or, as he himself sums up the list ” A stupid, endless menu of death“. Quite. I was reminded (unfavourably) of Martin Amis and his page of ‘fuck’ in ‘Success’ (1978).

Ulitimately I found the book to be full of sentimentality, and Irish sentimentality at that. The device of the tight-rope walker and the Twin Towers is very flimsy. There is the air of a movie script about the whole thing.

Enough already.


Great thanks to @KerryView for this blogpost, first published here.

Patricia O’Reilly gets ready for Listowel

June 01, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010

Patricia O’Reilly is going to launch her new novel “A Type of Beauty, the story of Kathleen Newton (1854-1882)”.

It’s published by Cape Press.

Here’s what I found on Wikipedia about Kathleen Newton.

Do you know Patricia O’Reilly? Here’s her home page. You can follow her on Twitter @capepress – but she’s brand new to Twitter and may still be finding her feet there.

Don’t miss her valuable blogpost with sound advice to writers who hope to land a publishing contract.

Patricia’s entry on Irish Writers On-Line says…

Patricia O’Reilly’s novels are

  • Once Upon a Summer (Dublin, The Wolfhound Press, 2000)
  • Felicity’s Wedding (London, Oldcastle Books, 2001)
  • Time and Destiny (London, Hodder & Stoughton, 2003).

Her non-fiction publications are

  • Dying with Love (Dublin, Veritas 1992)
  • Writing for the Market (Cork, Mercier 1994)
  • Earning Your Living from Home (Dublin, Marino 1996)
  • Working Mothers (The Wolfhound Press 1997)
  • Writing for Success (Dublin, New Island Books, 2006).

She lives in Dublin.”

It would be great if Patricia O’Reilly dropped in here and wrote us a special piece – just to celebrate.

Mary Morrissy coming to Listowel 2010

May 24, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010

I’m looking to see if Mary Morrissy has a Twitter account. I’d like to contact her…

This is the first link I found via Google: it’s an interview from 2007. I guess she keeps a low profile?

Mary is running a workshop called “Creative Writing” at Listowel Writers’ Week 2010. I’d love to contact Mary before the workshop or even contact someone who’s going to be at it.

Joseph O’Connor gets ready for Listowel 2010

May 24, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010

An article in yesterday’s Sunday Independent newspaper tells the story of Joseph O’Connor’s connections with Listowel Writers’ Week.

“… Joseph O’Connor‘s new novel ‘Ghost Light’ goes on sale next weekend. He will be signing copies at Eason’s, O’Connell Street, Dublin 1, at 12.30pm on Saturday, May 29. He will also give a reading at Listowel Writers’ Week on June 4.”

Is Joseph on Twitter? I must check…

I find his website or blog but, oh dear, that’s a different Joseph O’Connor – an NLP guy. Must have a more careful look…
This is what Google gives me first for Joseph O’Connor – but it’s not up to date…
This is what Wikipedia offers – but it’s not up to date either
This is what RTE offers – bang up to date podcast.

I don’t think Joseph O’Connor is on Twitter – so I can’t contact him and ask him if he’d be generous enough to write a few words for this blog… Pity. But I’ll not miss him in Listowel.

People who are helping to blog LWW 2010

May 22, 2010 By: Patrick Stack Category: 2010

Here is a list of additional people who have expressed their willingness to write, take photos & help in some way to blog for Listowel Writers’ Week Fringe in 2010:

Pauline Fayne (poet)

Deirdre Stack-Marques (writer)


@queenofpots : Susan Cloonan

Julianne Mooney (as of Friday 28 May 2010)

There are others too, I don’t want to put them on the list until I’m sure they’re up for it.

We need photographs of Listowel 2010

May 22, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010

Yes, we need some up-to-date images of Listowel before the Festival. We’ll open up a Gallery for photos…

There are loads of photos from Listowel 2007 & 2009 already on the blogroll. We could also do with a few from 2008 eh?

Google Alert finds Listowel Writers’ Week today

May 22, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010

Bookpaths – bringing together literature & place seem to be quoting from a blurb when it says

“Since it’s inception in 1970, Listowel Writers’ Week has been recognised as the primary event in Ireland’s literary calendar.”

Surely that’s a bit OTT?

How mad is it to have the Dublin Writers’ Festival on at the same time as Listowel? That claims to be “Ireland’s premier literary event”. These sort of claims do no one a service I think. What do you think of that sort of advertising claim?

Just discovered that Dublin Writers’ Festival has a blog too. I left a comradely comment there. Why don’t you do the same- so that together the festivals support each other – spreading the news about how good Ireland is as a place for Festivals.

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