Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Ireland's Own Anthology Launch

IRELAND’S OWN: Anthology Launch 10th October 2010

Ireland’s Own is one of Ireland’s favourite magazines and this year, to launch their first anthology, they organised an event in the Talbot Hotel in Carlow, about 150 miles south of Dublin. The magazine has been in existence since 1902 and is still as popular today in Ireland as it was then.

As I was one of the contributors we decided it was a good excuse for a break in a country we know well!

The launch was on a Sunday but we stayed for the weekend in a very comfortable small hotel -the Red Setter -where the staff were friendly but not intrusive. We were pleased we had chosen this one as it’s right in the heart of Carlow and very handy for shops, pubs and restaurants.
Apart from that there are the remains of the 13th Century castle, decimated not by fighting but because in the nineteenth century a local worthy had the idea of dynamiting it to clear the way for the building of a lunatic asylum. Unfortunately the walls proved resistant to his plan and remain to this day.

Carlow is the main market town in County Carlow but has only about twenty two thousand inhabitants and the centre is compact, making it easy to walk around. Sad to say the ‘credit crunch’ was very evident and even allowing for it being out of season, this delightful little town was very quiet.

Carlow itself has a long history but little evidence remains. Its most famous claim is as the place where the ‘Croppy Boys’ were executed following the failure of the Irish rebellion of 1798 and the Liberty Tree at the Potato market in the centre of the town marks that event.

Around 130 people -writers, friends and families -attended the launch on the Sunday. An accident on the NAAS road delayed some of those attending but there was no shortage of chat to make the time go quickly, helped by a glass of Guinness or two.

The launch was performed by writer Colm Keane (latest book ‘The Distant Shore’) and his wife Oonagh King, an RTE announcer. The atmosphere was relaxed and fun and I was so glad I had decided to go along.

It was good to meet writers from a different country and to have the opportunity to meet Phil Murphy and Sean Nolan, who were every bit as charming as their e-mail correspondence suggests.

The Ireland’s Own anthology has a range of contributors from the three sections of the competition - Irish Memories, Short Stories by new writers and General Short Stories. There were only two of us who were not Irish, so we were given a great welcome because we had ‘come so far.’

The seal of approval to the anthology was the foreword by Maeve Binchey who is as popular in the rest of the world as she is in Ireland.

I didn’t enter this year’s competition but they are hoping it will be an annual event. It’s well worth entering because if you are included in the anthology, it gives you a great excuse for a trip!

Myra Duffy

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