Listowel Writers' Week Fringe

Blogging Listowel's Literary Scene

Publicity for LWW2010 Competitions

January 27, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010, competition, connections

Good to see the word getting out on the internet.

Here’s Arts Grant Finder “blog” spreading Listowel’s writing competitions on 26 January.

Seems to be a useful place to look for stories about the arts round the world. I even spotted a feature on El Bulli closing for 2012 & 2013. Perhaps El Bulli will close up and never be again, and I won’t ever get there…

Google Alert for Listowel Writers’ Week

October 27, 2009 By: ana Category: blogs, connections, journalism

Magic. It’s magic the way Google Alert brings stuff to your attention.

Whenever anyone, anywhere, publishes anything about Listowel Writers’ Week, I get it within hours. I don’t have to go looking for it. I can relax in the confidence that if Listowel is out there being talked about or written about, I’ll be in the loop.

This is how I came to discover a your Irish student journalist.

Robert Babington from Tralee: his blog is “The Write Stuff” - so he knows his Wolfe.

All he did was mention the woman who questioned Seamus Heaney @ LWW08. But Google Alert introduced us and I left his a comment on the blog.

I feel I’ve discovered a talent who could go far, who will go a long way. He’s even on Twitter.

Enda Kenny Opened Exhibit at the Lartigue Museum

June 11, 2009 By: Laura Category: painters & paintings, photographs

Enda Kenny opens exhibition, “The Orbit of Salt Water” oil paintings by Michael Flaherty at the Lartigue Museum.

"Enda Kenny in Listowel"

Enda Kenny at The Lartigue

- on Thursday 28 May 2009 @ 1200

Jack Deacy’s Photograph: short story by Mary Lavery Carrig

June 03, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: connections, historical, participants, photographs, short story


I had entirely forgotten about the photograph.

Though in my defence, it had been all of ten years since the stranger had brought his soft blue eye to the camera lens. He had captured me forever on that early summer morning as I’d strolled into Listowel’s Square.

You have such an open face!’ he’d declared. ‘ May I take your photograph please?’ His voice was softly American.

He seemed oblivious to my sons, the youngest of whom watched from his pram and to which his older brothers were firmly attached. They peered from behind the pram handles, their mouths smeared in ice cream.

I’d come into our local market town, full of a private anticipation, to savour a little of the Writers’ Week atmosphere, to tuck it up and carefully carry it’s pleasures home with me again.

Thank you so much!’ he’d said and that moment froze in time.

What charm had I displayed? What ever had he seen in my expression?

Despite the shuffling of feet and the dizzy movements of the crowded Square, I watched closely as the American gentleman dissolved away towards the southwest corner of the Square. His white cotton jacket gleamed under the midday sun and I lost my stranger by the entrance to the Arms Hotel.

My attention must have switched then to the group of serious and bearded men who were huddled in the intensity of their talk by the bank’s railing. I’d moved closer to eavesdrop. Three tall laughing women, all in mini skirts, broke into the gathering and the banter and good natured party moved on slowly up the street.

My boys had finished their ice cream cones.

A decade passes and deepens the jagged edged crows feet that hover around my eyes.

I’m searching for a friend and am en route to the smoker’s enclave at the rear of the hotel. It overlooks the rushing river Feale and is a hub for many riveting chat up lines and some excess during yet another year of a Listowel Writers’ Week festival.

Passing through an annex room in order to reach the smoker’s deck, I am moving swiftly. A man looks up from his meal. We exchange a cursory glance.

Some moments later, he is standing by my side and the Feale is busy crooning in the background.

You’re the one!’ he whispers. ‘You’re the one I photographed!

As it does, memory finally comes in torrents. The emotional content spills back.
Gently and gradually, Jack Deacy, (that is Deacy with a ‘c’) guided the process of recollecting.

Yes he has put together a collection of faces photographed on his camera.

As one does at Writers Week, we indulge in one another’s company, in one another’s aspirations.

Stories are traded, backgrounds are filled in and e-mails are exchanged.

Jack plans to travel to Ireland once again for Writers Week. So, what of the recession? There is no credit crunch so heavy as to stop him in his tracks.

He is in the mood for celebration. He is in the mood for forging friendships and sure isn’t that the stuff of festivals anyway?

As for me, my children are bigger now and no longer hold the handles of a pram.

It is time here in North Kerry to watch each drama as it unfolds, to listen to inflections once again..…. to hear a catchy monologue, a rhyme or fresh philosophy…….. to observe ideas merge and become a promise.

I look forward to the layers of conversations where I will finally be released once more into a dappled, sweet apple world, wrapping myself in the revelry of words.


[hyperlinks added by Paul O'Mahony]

A John Sheahan poem

May 30, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: poem, poet, poetry


Cowering under threat
Of leather;
Braced for palm-blistering sting,
Backbiting lash.

Hair-raising swish
Through the frightened air
Diminishing terrified targets.
Unholy aim -
Imprimatur of leather on flesh.

Tear-filled vision
Distorting education;
Blurred lines on blank page
Pleading for inspiration.

Learning through fear;
Remembering little, but pain;
Unrelenting leather
Force-feeding bewildered brain.



Dishing the dirt on a Listowel Workshop (chapter 2)

May 13, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: historical, participants, poem, poems, poet, starting up

At least I was in a seat at the Workshop. (You can read the story so far here.)

No time for wondering whether I was in the right place. The first thing I noticed was that there were only five blokes. I always clock the gender ratio.

There were many postcards on the rectangular table.

People were picking them up, looking closey, discarding and selecting. Someone (probably Nuala NiDhomhnaill : listen to her read here) told me I was meant to pick three, and write a poem based on them.

I remember liking the poem I wrote, but I can’t find it.

Somewhere in this office in Glanmire is hiding my notebook. It doesn’t want to be rehandled. It’s been quietly minding its own business through four housemoves. But I vow to expose it to fresh air soon.

We got on with composing...

I was distracted by questions:

  • what the hell’s going on?
  • what are the rules?
  • who are these people?
  • when’s time for tea?

I’m a writer. I was doing what I do. I’m used to writing without thinking, and letting whatever comes up flow out. It was good to be doing that, rather than sitting talking in a group while I was so distracted by being late for the start.

We read. Everyone read out their piece.

There was one woman who read out a poem in Irish. Couldn’t understand a word. Or couldn’t trust my understanding. (I’d only studied Irish for about 13 years at school.) She was beautiful. A musician with the sound of syllables. I was thrilled to listen. And then she went and buggered off. Never came back for day two. She expected there would be others writing in Irish, I think. I really missed her.

And, if she’s reading this, I’d like to say thank you for that poem – whatever it meant.

It was a bit tough sitting there listening to about 15 strangers reading their poem.

At least half of them were very good, I thought. Two or three were fairly awesome, I thought. One of them had won the single poem prize. I was sat between two women whose work I did nothing but admire.

What about the men?

Yes. There was a man from the Burren, a man from the desert in New Mexico, USA, and a man who wrote concrete poems (I think that’s the technical term for a poem that has shape on the page represented by an image made from letters.)…

I’m writing from memory.

No notes. I better warn you that anything based on my memory is suspect. The only thing I trust is my notebook.

I’ll have more to say about the men, and the women, after tea… We did eventually take a break.

(to be continued)

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