Listowel Writers' Week Fringe

Blogging Listowel's Literary Scene
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Sitting here in Arms Hotel on Friday

June 04, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010

Surrounded by Pauline Fayne (author of “I’m Fine Really”), Patrick Stack (author or “Iconoclast”), Deirdre Stack (author of “To Kill”)… and a cold Americano

This is like the calm before the form, the late morning after the late night in John B Keane’s pub…

I got to bet after one. I needed that breakfast of three short sausages, two broad rashers and scrambled egg.

I wonder how the Workshop People are doing… especially Matthew Sweeney whom I saluted on the way past in the night… @queenofpots is workshopping to… I’m killing time while the photos from yesterday upload to Flickr. I have one photo I’m excited about because of the beauty of the object and the subject.

It’s coming up to midday… I have misplaced my ticket, the season ticket. I’ve put it somewhere for safe keeping – but at my age that’s dangerous….

Video footage from Listowel Writers’ Week 2009

March 06, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: participants, poem, poems, poet, poetry, Song

Gabriel Byrne & taxi driver

George Rowley sings

Pauline Fayne reads “Carol

John McCarthy reads

Two doves mating

Pauline Frayne’s poem on J B Keane

July 22, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: creative writing, historical, participants, poem, poet, poetry

Pauline sent this poem in a comment to a piece by Mattie Lennon. So that it get the audience it deserves, I’m posting it in a page of its own.

A Farewell for John B Keane

It is four ten a.m.
on the morning after your funeral
and a litany of birds
broadcast a requiem of grace notes
over the mourning town
as I try to negotiate
a straight line
between the Square and Charles Street.

Finally finding the right angle to the corner
I meet your pensive gaze
from a photograph in Landys’ window
and understand
why you once barred me
for not drinking,
while Mary,who held the keys
said softly
‘Don’t worry , you’ll be alright tomorrow’

Pauline Fayne .
(from ‘I’m Fine Really
Stonebridge Publications 2005

Thursday’s “Open Mic” session with MC George Rowley

June 11, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: events, participants, photographs, poets

Thanks to Pauline Fayne who kindly sent me on a photograph she took at the “Open Mic” session in the New Kingdom Bar on the Thursday night (May 29th 2009). In the picture are Patrick Stack on the left and John MacNamee on the right in pensive mood as we concentrate on a poem being recited or a song being sung (I don’t remember which).

Left to right: Patrick Stack and John MacNamee

Left to right: Patrick Stack and John MacNamee

Poem composed & performed in J B Keane’s pub

June 08, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: creative writing, poem

For once I have the chosen seat,
the stool beside the bar.
I see the wake, the bodhrán drum,
the Sacred Heart, the flame on fire.
In John B Keane’s I trawl the room
for writers on the prowl.
I see them with their lips aloud,
and close both eyes, to hear
a symphony of singing voice,
a choir of accents down from hills.
They thrill the light in Listowel night,
evangelise the whole.
Another Guinness for my thirst,
another witness be not cursed.

The first time I went into J B Keane’s pub in Listowel in 2009

June 06, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: connections, localinfo, novels, participants, preparations, storytelling

I wasn’t looking for drink, I was looking for company.

The woman from the Vodafone shop was sorting out a dongle for me. I had to wait, pass the time somewhere, and J B’s is only across the road.

This was mid afternoon on Wednesday 27 May.

Alone I went in, wondering what would be going on. From previous experience, I suspected there would be something up. I might even interrupt Billy Keane in song or story.

Pushing open the door, I looked round the pub, hardly anyone there. First thought was where to put myself so that I could watch & overhear conversations?

The man in the corner caught my eye. He wouldn’t let go of it. Insisted I sit down with his friends, Sean Devine & Paula Tormey. I know their names because I took out my book, said I’d outsourced my memory to it, and took notes.

[I did this all through Writers' Week.]

Bert Griffin pointed me to his friend Tony Guerin, who wasn’t in the pub. On the wall was a poster advertising a play written by him. He said Tony’s novel, Tomorrow is a lovely day, would be launched on Saturday @1300.

You’ll not meet a more engaging man this week…” (Bert’s words on Tony, I scribbled).

I can’t remember what I drank, so I guess it wasn’t a pint of Guinness.

They were good to me, those three. I found out the J B Keane anniversary mass was @ 1030 on Saturday. I thought of going to pay my respects, and because I’m a bit of an anthropologist.

For the first time, I met Mary Keane, John B’s widow, from Castleisland, came to Listowel 54 years ago, 1955. Took this photograph of Mary & Bert.

dsc02903

I met a couple who’d driven from Greystones, near Dublin, to be at a performance of Sive, and said it was worth every mile.

I found out Brendan Kennelly and Matt Munroe had both been London bus conductors, like me.

And then Bert invited me to his house for steak…

Amazing, astonishing, bloodyfantastic, hypermarvellous, superphenomenal, eh.

I had a short vigorous time with them in Bert’s house. I left Grace’s [my 3.9 year old treasure] car seat there when I drove them all back into Listowel in time for the opening ceremony. Grace’s seat is still there.

If there’s anyone driving from Listowel to Cork soon, please contact me, so I can ask you a small favour…

That’s meant to be a flavour of the life to be had in Listowel during Writers’ Week.

Songwriting @ Listowel: message from Freddie White

May 25, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: participants, songwriting

Thanks for doing this (the blog).

Noticed that you left out the ‘flying by the seat of the pants’ bit in the blurb – !

Last year was my first foray into workshopping, and, after a shaky start, it worked out pretty good – thanks in large part to participants who were really up for it, and produced some very good work.

Inevitably we spilled over into some great sessions in a couple of the locals and inspired by that, this year we’re adding a planned performance of the songs on Friday night.

Nothing like a deadline to light a fire under your bum and anyway a song isn’t complete until it’s played to a live audience. The last morning we’ll revisit and see what worked and what didn’t.

Listowel is a great event and I’m proud and delighted to be part of it. See you all there!

Accommodation in Listowel (3)

May 23, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: Accommodation, localinfo, organisers, participants, photographs, poetry, poets

I’m sorted. Got a phone call this morning from Listowel to say I can stay with the couple who put me up in 2007.

I must have done something right. The universe is looking after me, eh.

This is so much better than staying with someone new, and staying out in Abbeyfeale.

I’ll be able to drink freely, and toddle home late at night after those sessions with George Rowley

George Rowley when he was younger

George Rowley when he was younger

in the New Kingdom Bar.

If you still haven’t sorted out your B&B in Listowel, don’t worry: the universe will look after you – pick up the phone to Norella Moriarty now.

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.


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