Listowel Writers' Week Fringe

Blogging Listowel's Literary Scene

Quantitative Comparison of Listowel Writers’ Week & West Cork Literary Festival programmes

June 13, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: competition, connections, events, Reflections

After the flurry of challenging comments, comparing Listowel Writers’ Week with West Cork Literary Festival (WCLF), isn’t it time for some measuring?

I’ve gone through both programmes and offer this quantitive comparison – for what it’s worth. I suspect it’s meaning is extremely limited: I haven’t yet found a way to measure atmosphere except by total immersion.

(Numbers in brackets relate to WCLF)

Length of Festival: 4 days & about 2 hours (6 days)

No. of readings: 20 (28)

Seminars/Talks: 0 (10)

Public interviews: 2 (4)

Number of Workshops: 15 (14 [3 for children])

Children’s Programme of Events: 11 (6)

Open Mic poetry, music & song: 4 (5)

Open Mic song only : 1 (0)

Art Exhibitions: 7 (1)

Films: 5 (0)

Lunchtime theatre: 3 (o)

Evening theatre: 4 (0)

Book launches: 5 (1)

Writing Competitions: 11+ (3)

Storytelling competition: 1 (0)

Youth Poetry Slam: 1 (0)

Photographic exhibition: 1 (0)

Radio broadcasts: 1 (o)

Tours: 3 (2)

Prose: 60% (58%)

Poetry: 40% (42%)

Twitter on Listowel Writers’ Week

June 07, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: blogs, connections

Or should it be Listowel Writers’ Week on Twitter?

Jeremy Gould set this up…

There are many applications around Twitter that would blow your mind…

There is more to Twitter than the fast circulation of questions coming up on Leaving Cert English exam questions.

Watch out Listowel Writers’ Week – here comes West Cork Literary Festival

June 05, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: competition, connections, creative writing, events, localinfo, organisers

Coming up on the inside lane, is a cheeky Literary Festival…

Why do I call it “cheeky”?

According to Ruth Flanagan, Cork County Librarian:

“The West Cork Literary Festival can now, with some justification, be regarded as Munster’s premier literary festival.”

Does she not know Kerry is in Munster?

Does she speak with the arrogant justification of a West Corkonian?

Does she only say this because she works for Cork County Library Service?

Or might she have a pint?

We’ll return to this issue in due course.

I just want to flag it up, so that you can take a look at what they are offering & compare it with Listowel Writers’ Week.

I’d like to publicly invite Ruth Flanigan [who’s responsible for publishing my first short story, “The Ring” in Bealtaine Short Story Competition 2006] to come on here and support her contention.

It would be wonderful to welcome her on here, wouldn’t it?

If anyone knows Ruth Flanigan, please let her know of the invitation.

It would be a fine opportunity for her to market West Cork Literary Festival 2009.

It runs in Bantry, from Sunday 5 July – Saturday 11 July, so it is a ‘full’ week.

Finding Eoin Purcell’s blog post

June 01, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: blogs, connections, participants

Life in Listowel was so frenetic I missed this until now…

You can see why I post the whole of it:

Eoin Purcell writes…

Links & Whatnot
About two years ago I had a wonderful strategy session with a group of arts professionals. It was led by the engaging and intelligent Paul O’Mahony who is from the O’Mahony bookselling clan. I recall that day because Paul was forceful in saying that “survival is not guaranteed” for a publisher like Mercier, a thought that had been floating in my mind but had not taken the form of a concrete reality.

Anyway. The point in telling you this is that Paul has been engaged this week in an exciting blogging project: The Listowel Writer’s Week Fringe. I love the idea of a fringe blog for Listowel Writers Week Festival which I think is a fantastic festival but one I think prone to circles and groups (I don’t think it is alone in this. Given the nature of Irish society, most festivals here go that way), the kind that can damage a festival.

Paul and his collaborators are blogging and updating on the week’s events. You should go read some of their thoughts!


Of course, it’s blatant self publicity of me to post it here…

Thank you very much Eoin. Your blog is a very important & rich contribution to the Irish blogosphere, without doubt.

Google Alert: “Listowel” & “Writers’ Week”

May 24, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: blogs

Very little being published on the internet about Listowel Writers’ Week.

25 May: Mary’s blog

Gabriel Byrne’s blogpost.

Here’s a blogpost about the literary competitions.

I cut grass, therefore I think

May 21, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: blogs, journalism, organisers, starting up

And when I think, all sorts of ideas well up.

Concrete and clay. Abstract and frivolous. Phantasmagorical and critical.

I guess it’s the nature of the beast, grass cutting.

Believe me, I had a lucky escape today.

I almost compromised the integrity of this blog. Almost removed our claim to objectivity, detatchment and wonder. I almost made us a paid servant of Writers’ Week…

In a moment of weakness and muddled thinking, I sent an email to Writers’ Week asking if we could have free tickets for the events.

Perhaps it was jealousy?

Maybe it was that I suspected that The Irish Times correspondent & Irish Examiner reporter would be getting in for nothing? Or even had a bout of feeling sorry for our economic plight?

Now, if we were restaurant critics, would we ask for a free meal? Do writers about flashy hotels get freebies? I don’t know.

Thankfully, the marketing manager, Maura Logue, stopped me from making the mistake of crossing the line . If I had free tickets, could I comment without fear or favour about how the festival is being run? Could I bite the hand that’s fed me?

Of course not. I have my principles.

“Times are tough. We can’t be giving tickets away for nothing. You’ll have to pay your way. After all we are a good cause.”

That’s not what she said. That’s my paraphrase. That’s the meaning I took.

That’s what kept me on the straight and narrow.

What do you think?

What’s it like in Listowel? 8.5 days to go…

May 19, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: blogs, journalism, organisers, preparations, Street drama, tutors

Yesterday I drove over from Glanmire.

Out the Mallow road, turned left around the sugar factory onto the R576 through Kanturk, Newmarket, Rockchapel, Kilkinlea and Abbeyfeale. By the R555 with rain all the way into Listowel.

I found parking in the square, 1 euro per hour (bring coins), and scampered for the warmth of the Listowel Arms Hotel.

In terms of Writers’ Week, it would be hard to exaggerate the significance of this hotel. It’s the nerve centre. Yesterday, there were people in the bar at 1130. I had Americano & scone with butter & jam. Kerry prices.

Wrote a few words in my Moleskine notebook:

Two women sit on the long seat. Five women and two men sit in a circle. One woman sits alone, her back to the corner. A couple of men sit at their own table. The carpet is brown. Fruit scone comes with Dawn butter from Kerry Foods, Industrial Estate, Tallagh. Robertson’s Strawberry jam in a plastic pack. The walls are chattering, sound re-bounding.”

Jeremy Gould and his son Thomas arrived for our first meeting.

I was excited and a bit nervous, hoping I wouldn’t put him off chucking in his skills to this project.

Together we ‘rappored’. Thomas played on dad’s Iphone. Jeremy may have emigrated to Listowel recently but he has years of visiting behind him and his wife’s people are Kerry.

We went visiting the festival office.

Moire Logue and Eilish joined us for lunch. We got on great.

Out into the rain with us next. We did the main streets, photographing venues,

Venues for Writers Week

Venues for Writers' Week

and even saw Billy Keane doing an interviewwalk with a man holding an RTE mic.

Billy Keane RTE interviewwalking

Billy Keane RTE interviewwalking

Monday is 1/2 day in Listowel. Brenda Woulfe wasn’t in when we called to the bookshop.

Festival Venue

Festival Venue

Left a message to say we’d called.

Saw a big crowd of schoolboys being escorted to John B Keane’s pub by their teacher.

Into the pub with your teacher

Into the pub with your teacher

Imagine that! No teacher ever took me to a pub.

Networking tools were discussed…

Lots of discussion about how to use all the social networking tools to best effect on this blog. I’m no technophile, but not a technophobe either. The thing I took away was the idea of putting a hashtag [#listww09] into Twitter tweets and Facebook updates. Maybe I should put them into blogposts too?

I remember how the sun shone in 2007, those glorious days at Writers’ Week. If yesterday is anything to go by, bring your wellies & brollies…

It was the search for broadband that made me nervious.

I have visions of writing stuff that gets lost because of systemfail. So I interviewed the receptionist in the hotel.

She showed me the only public place from which I could connect. When I went testing, my system crashed and I lost my post which I hadn’t saved. That’ll learn me. The walls of the ballroom are 4 feet thick, so no wireless signal there. We’ll need a ‘dongle’.

There are two internet cafes in town.

Community I.T. Access, 58 Church Street is open 9-5, Mon-Fri only: 3 euro per hour and he’d be prepared to negotiate a special daily rate. Lovely & warm, clean & tidy, more like an office than a cafe.

I have a photo of the other place which I’ll give details of later.

Internet cafe terms

Internet cafe terms

The thrill of the day was getting Mary Kenny’s piece and putting it up from Listowel…

It came by email. She kept her promise. It’s a lovely piece of writing. Hopefully we’ll have many more pieces from workshop leaders.

I’ll put photos up later.

A Rece in Listowel tomorrow

May 17, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: organisers, preparations, starting up

I’m driving over to Listowel on Monday.

The main reason is to meet up with a collaborator. But there are lots of other reasons to make the journey from Cork…

  • I’d like to check out the broadband coverage in Listowel
  • Sit in the bar of the Listowel Arms hotel
  • Visit Woulfe’s bookshop
  • Photograph all the Writers’ Week festival venues
  • Record a video interview and post it on the blog
  • Meet some of the organisers of the festival

If there’s anything you’d like me to do, let me know via a comment. I hope to pick it up when I land.

Workshops: Storytelling with Pat Speight

May 15, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: participants, storytelling, tutors, workshop

What an opportunity… three days with Pat Speight on Storytelling…

The inspired storyteller Pat Speight is running a workshop on Storytelling.

As the 3rd in our series covering each of the workshops, we look at


  • provide a space for those of you booked on the workshop to say what you hope to get from it.

Anyone have a Pat Speight story you can share?

The blurb for the workshop sounds excellent. Promises it will

introduce story telling to beginners, and improve the skills of existing storytellers… cultivates awareness of the interaction of the storyteller with an audience..”

Pat Speight’s been featured at many festivals, including:

USA National Storytelling Festival
Jonesborough Tennessee
Manchester Irish Festival
The North West International Festival
Cape Clear Festival
The Ulster Folk and Transport Festival
Scealta Shamhna in Dublin
The Irish Centre London
Seacat Storytelling Festival
Newcastle Irish Festival
Irish Festival Chicago, USA
Courtmacsherry Storytelling Carnival

If we’re really fortunate, Pat will accept an invitation to write a piece for us before the workshop

Oh Joseph O’Connor, you are brilliant…

May 13, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: connections, organisers, poem

Joseph, Joseph O’Connor

I’ve just heard your poetic ad for Listowel Writers’ Week on RTE radio, after Ryan Tubridy‘s show.

Love it. Want it. Must get it. Must put a podcast of it up on this blog.

Congratulations to whoever decided to commission you to write it.

I hope it goes up on Writers’ Week website.

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