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Tag: The National Children’s Literary Festival 2015

A Few Final Odds and Ends from the children’s events at Writers’ Week 2015 and The Athea Mural

Remembering a Great Few Days

This is British children’s author, Andrew Cope at the entrance to Listowel Town Park during The National Children’s Literary Festival at Writers’ Week 2015.

U.S. children’s author, Emily Raabe, with Maria McGrath, children’s programme administrator, Irish author, Sarah Webb and committee member, Mairead Costelloe.

Local Xistance Youth volunteers painted faces all day long.

Philip Ardagh in full flight.

Kerry GAA star, James O’Donoghue posed for a photo with some young admirers.

Here I am with Will Collins, his wife, Karen and son, Luke and his parents, Willy and Peggy Collins, my good friends from Kanturk.

Still face painting.

Best selling author of the Darkmouth series, Shane Hegarty signing copies of his book.

Happy days for Cora: face painted, Scellig chocolate lolly in hand and the show about to begin!

Taking a rest after a whistle stop tour of the town

Sarah Webb signing her book for a young fan.

Still face painting…. these young face painting artists were tireless.


How to Behave at The Palace

Should you get an invitation to the queen’s garden party, The Telegraph has a handy guide to a few essential table manners;

If you are seated to the right of the queen, you are the guest of honour and will be spoken to during the first course.

If you are to her left you are of less importance and can expect to be spoken to during the second course.  Whether you are left or right, you never speak first. You speak only when spoken to.

Never touch the queen or any item of her placesetting or cutlery.

Replace your teacup on its saucer after every sip.

Hold your wine glass by the stem.

You may drink wine even if the queen declines. She usually drinks mineral water.

So now you know.


Meanwhile in Athea

I went to Athea on Saturday, June 27 to check in on progress on the forge mural. A little bird (named Jim Dunn) had told me that there were some new figures added recently.

This was the scene, high vis jackets and hard hats everywhere, cherrypickers at every pole and it looked like every ESB worker in Limerick had descended on the village for the day. I had struck town on the day of the big switch on of the new lights.


This is how the mural looks from across the road. The lovely peaceful olde worlde forge scene is now  behind a kind of modern maypole of wires and shiny silver aluminum. Shame!

I ignored the pole and inspected the additions to the work of art. It’s going to be a masterpiece! Even an ugly ESB pole fails to detract from the charming scene from a more slow moving era.

A sleepy yet vigilant dog is now lounging at the feet of the horseman.

The original horse man has been joined by another gentle country man, this time dressed up for a visit to town with collar and tie and good sports coat. He is standing like a man at ease with the world admiring the work of the farrier. This little tableau is just perfect.

Now we discover that our first man is killing two birds with one stone. He is on his way to or from the creamery with his two small churns in the body of his cart.

Meanwhile in the forge the farrier is shoeing the draught horse while the owner is reassuring his animal that it will be over soon. I love the attention to detail  in this horse’s tackling. Look at the winkers, the collar, the hames and belly band…all perfect.

My father died when I was seven and many of my memories of him are with working horses like this.

This man has brought a machine for repair. It looks like a seed drill to me but it could be an implement we called a scuffler.

One of these days I’ll hit Athea when Jim is actually working on this.


Great News for Family Researchers

“It is all good news to-day on the Church records.  Next Wednesday afternoon 8thJuly, the Catholic Church Parish records will be released on their website  by the National Library.”

This good news comes in a blogpost from Kay Caball of  Find My Kerry Ancestors

Click on the link to hear how compiling your family tree has just got a whole lot easier.

  • I’m Late, I’m Late,

    Small Changes at McKenna’s Corner


    Alice in Wonderland Centenary

    This year 2015  marks 100 years since the publication of Alice in Wonderland and to mark the anniversary , The National Children’s Festival at Writers’ Week adopted an Alice theme at its festival this year.

    Buí Bolg Mad Hatter’s Tea Party installation in the Town Park
    Flamingos by Xistance

    David Rawle and Will Collins at the tea party

    Many of the local shopkeepers came on board with the theme and Listowel’s windows featured a March Hare and Mad Hatter theme for a few weeks.


    Listowel Australian wedding in Spain

    (photo; Facebook)

    Dad and daughter, Paddy and Máire Guiney, formerly of Listowel. Máire now lives in Australia. She was married recently in Spain.


    Always Remember

    The first to apologize is the bravest.

    The first to forgive is the strongest.

    The first to forget is the happiest.

    Writers’ Week 2015 again and an extraordinary lady

    Above is Liz Dunn in her Alice in Wonderland costume for The National Children’s Literary Festival at Writers’ Week 2015.

    I have reached the conclusion that retired English people, some of them with no Irish blood in them, are the salt of the earth in many Irish rural communities. I encounter English people and hear English accents in every organization I join. Some are here because they have fallen in love with an Irish emigrant but many, like Liz, have fallen in love with Ireland and the way we live here. Many have become “more Irish than the Irish themselves.”

    Liz Dunn of Athea is the human dynamo behind The National Children’s Literary Festival at Writers’ Week. I have seen her work throughout the year as she led a committee of volunteers to the great festival that was the children’s programme at this year’s Writers’ Week. She, literally and metaphorically, rolled up her sleeves and got to work. She always went the extra mile. I could exhaust every cliché for hard work and I would not have got to the essence of Liz.

    She, with the help of a committee and children’s co ordinator, Maria McGrath, put together the programme for the festival. Then Liz got to work selling it. She drove around the countryside distributing brochures, she visited schools, made countless phone calls and she networked like billy-o. All of this before the festival began. It was then she came into her own in earnest.

    Liz chats to committee member Antony Garvey and WW chairman Seán Lyons.

    Liz lit up Listowel Community Centre with her cheerful good spirits, her bustling motherly presence and her unfailing courtesy and patience when these qualities were wearing thin in others. Liz’s childlike enthusiasm for every single event and her relentless positivity were infectious.

    Will we ever forget her “festival wardrobe”? Liz was the Queen of Hearts or The Snow Queen as the occasion demanded. As soon as she donned her costume (designed and made by herself) she entered into the role and carried it off with energy and credibility.

    with Xistance volunteers

    Liz was usually the first in the Community Centre in the morning and one of the last to leave in the evening. She carried us all along on a wave of her unflagging energy and enthusiasm.

    Whether she was meeting and welcoming authors or getting down on the floor with the children, Liz was the the soul of charm and affability.

    Liz reading to a group of students on the historical walking tour of Listowel.

    When Liz left her native England to settle in Athea, Limerick and Listowel Writers’ Week gained a treasure.

    If I sound like I am in awe of this lady, it is because I am.


    Photos from some of the children’s workshops



    Creativity with Derek Mulveen

    Story writing and illustration with Sheena Dempsey and Bruno

    Siobhán with the hat she made in the hat making workshop

    This is only a small taste of what went on in Listowel Community Centre during The National Children’s Literary Festival 2015.

    The National Children’s Literary Festival at Listowel Writers’ Week 2015

    Above is part of the audience in The Community Centre for one of the children’s events. The programme consisted of children’s authors reading their work, craft and hat making workshops, a treasure hunt, cookarama, a historical guided walk through Listowel, Baby Boogie, A Mad Hatters Tea Party, writing workshops, a croquet demonstration and much more. The programme ended on Sunday with a mammoth Frozen sing along.

    The National Children’s Literary Festival at Listowel Writers Week gave all the young people who were there a few days to remember.

    Here in photographs is a small taste of things;

    When is a visit to the doctors’ the highlight of your day? When it’s the CBI book doctors at Writers’ Week.

    My granddaughter visited this “Doctor”. She told her her reading symptoms, i.e. her favorite authors and what she had read. The doctor wrote her a prescription for books she would like based on the profile of her reading so far. Exit one happy ‘patient”.

    The same grandchild and her sister were booked in for Sunday’s craft workshop.

    Róisín thought she had gone to heaven when she spotted the table set with old annuals. Her absolutely all time favourite reading material is graphic comic books.

    BUT this was not a reading event. The old annuals were for cutting and pasting and making into stars. You may as well have asked Róisín to cut up the family bible. She chose a comic she liked and had not read and sat down to read it.

    All around her children were happily making a star. Róisín was reading.

     When her sister suggested that she would help her to make her star, Róisín moved out of her way and left her at it.

    Star made and handed to her and Róisín is still reading.

    She was happy enough to pose for the final picture with “her’ star . Under her arm is tucked the annual which she has now been given as a present. Róisín’s verdict on the craft workshop? Brilliant!

     This event, along with all the workshops was sponsored by Easons. Here a few of the participants swap goodies.

    Aisling with her star.


    Alice in Wonderland

    This year to mark the 100th anniversary of that classic of English literature, Alice in Wonderland, there was an Alice theme running through the children’s events.

     Xistance Youth Events made the flamingos. They also made giant cards, playing card bunting and other Alice themed stuff to decorate the park. They were also on hand to help with all of the children’s programme.

    Liz Dunne with Xistance members in costume.

    This installation by Buí Bolg proved very popular.

    Liz Dunn, chairperson The National Children’s Literary Festival, Maria Mc Grath, co ordinator of the children’s events, Andy and Louis Cope and yours truly.

    Author Sheena Dempsey with young people who attended her workshop.

    Elaine Kinsella, of Radio Kerry, David Rawle of Moonboy fame and Will Collins, scriptwriter, Song of the Sea, posed on the chair on their way from their Operation Education gig.

    Author, Judi Curtin took a turn on the chair.

    Boys from Scoil Realt na Maidine with Shane Hegarty , author of Darkmouth.

     Shane also posed with the girls from Presentation Primary School.

    Fungi, Liam Healy and progress at the Plaza

    That dolphin again!  photo Fungie Forever


    Listowel Writers’ Week opens on May 27 2015

    Olive Stack’s image provides  the lovely cover for their year’s programme.


    Kitesurfing in Ballybunion Last Week

    Photo:Ballybunion Prints


    Liam Healy Reminisces

    Liam and his daughter, Cathy

    After school, Liam went to work for Duggans, cutting turf. He
    earned 15 shillings a week delivering milk for Jim Walshe. He worked from 6a.m.
    to 6p.m. and he was only 15 years old.

    One day on his way home from the bog he
    met Eddie Lawlor who asked him if he would like a “proper job”. His father
    consented to him going to work for Eddie Lawlor. Liam spent eight happy years delivering
    minerals around North Kerry.

    But the grass is always greener on the far side of
    the hill. Liam saw men his age returning from England where they were working.
    They had fancy clothes and fast cars and he thought that he would like a piece
    of that action. He took the boat, only to discover that the fancy clothes were
    bought on the never never and the cars were rented. In fact his life at home
    was much better than most of the emigrants (AND there was a sweetheart in the
    picture by now). Liam only stayed in England for 18 months and this is the only
    time he has ever lived away from his beloved Listowel. He returned to Eddie
    Lawlor and a new job as a salesman.

    His late wife Joan is the love of Liam’s life. They knew each other all their
    lives and Joan carried a torch for the young Liam for a while before he first
    asked her to dance in Walshe’s
    ballroom. Liam had another little job there. He used to work in the cloakroom.
    There was an area behind the dance floor, behind the crowd of onlookers and
    close to the cloakroom and there Liam and Joan put on a display of jiving. Liam
    walked her home that night and they fell in love. They had a sort of long
    distance relationship for a while because Liam emigrated for a time and Joan
    emigrated for a spell as well but they kept the spark alive and eventually
    married and had 4 children.

    An early photo of Listowel Racecourse

    By now Liam was interested in photography and he had never got
    that early love of photographs of racehorses out of his system. He had a
    half day from work on a Thursday and he spent every Thursday and Sunday
    photographing horses at Race meetings & Point to Points. Liam returned home
    every night, even if the race meeting was as far away as Dundalk. All this
    travelling and working full time as well was taking its toll on Liam. He asked Joan
    if she would mind if he took up the photography full time. He remembers Joan’s answer,“The first day the children are hungry I’ll tell you.” Joan joined Liam in the
    business. Liam took the photos and Joan ran the office. Pat, his eldest son was
    displaying a good eye for a good shot and Liam Jnr was also taking an interest
    in photography.

    Liam and his friend, Pat Walshe, reading my book shortly after its launch.

    Everywhere he goes, Liam makes friends. He is very grateful to
    one of these friends, Max Fleming from Tramore. He had the power to allow Liam
    on to the race track to take his pictures. That was the beginning of the
    business that today is Healy Racing.

    In a horrible instance of history repeating itself, Liam lost his
    beloved Joan and was left with 4 youngsters to rear. She had breast cancer for
    3 years but it was a clot that killed her in the end, on November 27th.
    1987, three days after her birthday
    which she spent at home with Liam and her family. Liam still misses her but he
    takes consolation in his family of whom he is so proud. He now has 6 grandchildren Kevin, Siún, Jack, Ruth,
    Adam and Sean who also show great interest and love for what Healy Racing does.

    Liam’s two sons were keenly interested in the racing photography
    and came into the business with their dad. He sent the two girls to college and
    they both did well and got good jobs. Such is their love and admiration for
    their dad and their pleasure to be in his company that they have all chosen to
    work for Healy Racing.

    In Liam’s words, Pat is the face of the business, Liam is the engine, Cathy is the voice and
    Lisa the mother figure in the background keeping the show on the road. There
    is now a third generation of Healys with
    an interest in photography coming along.

    It was my great pleasure to talk to Liam and to hear his memories. I am very grateful to his
    lovely daughter, Cathy for arranging it all and for supplying some photos. He
    is a man I greatly admire, one of Listowel’s underrated great men.

    I searched around for one word to describe Liam. I toyed with
    honest, upright, kind, humble, talented, entertaining, generous etc. etc. I
    finally chose loyal as the word to best describe him.

    Liam is loyal to his roots.

    He is fiercely loyal to his family who plainly adore him.

    He is loyal to his hometown, Listowel.

    He is loyal to his friends.

    But above all Liam is loyal to himself and true to the values he
    learned in his childhood home. He has passed these same values of generosity,
    kindness and neighbourliness, hard work and humility on to his children who
    have all done him proud.

    Liam Healy is living proof of a fact I have always maintained
    that there are qualities which will take you far in life which are a more
    valuable asset than anything that can be measured in Leaving Cert. points.


    Progress at The Plaza

    The site is cleared and building is due to commence at the back of The Plaza


    Pastoral Scene

    Cattle in a field outside Killarney last week


    Thinking Ahead

    What have you planned for the young ones for the June Weekend?

    Bring them into town on Saturday May 30th at 12.30. Have them dressed as any character they like. The  Elsa costume will be getting an outing on Sunday for the Frozen singalong but it will be fine for this one too. Princesses, pirates, vampires etc.etc. all welcome. Prizes galore.

    Make This year’s Childrens Festival at Writers’ Week the best ever.

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