‘Storymap.ie brings Dublin absolutely alive… a brilliant idea’ – Tom Dunne, Newstalk FM
I am delighted to have my short story, The Secret Librarian, on Storymap amongst such varied and wonderful Irish writers, poets and historians as: Paula Meehan, Eileen Casey, Roddy Doyle, Colm Keegan, Stephen James Smith, Shane MacThomáis and Paul Howard (aka Ross O’Carroll-Kelly), to name but a few.
What better way to pass your journey than by experiencing the charm of Dublin city. Storymap hosts a living world to spark your imagination – a world of stories, filmed where they happened, ranging from funny to literary; historic to places of interest and everything in-between!
You can watch The Secret Librarian here and don’t forget to check out a few of my favourites on Storymap, listed below, to give you a real flavour of Dublin.
If you like them, don’t keep them to yourself, share them!
|Paula Meehan||The Lost Children|
|Eileen Casey||The Black Ballgown|
|Roddy Doyle||The Spire|
|Colm Keegan||Ode to the Coalman|
|Stephen James Smith||On Raglan Road|
|Shane MacThomáis||Strange bedfellows|
(aka Ross O’Carroll-Kelly)
|I’m afraid this is my stop|
A little about Storymap:
Storymap is the brainchild of two Dublin filmmakers, Andy Flaherty and Tom Rowley. Just back from working abroad, unemployed and in between film projects, the lads became annoyed with all the negative press the city was receiving. The bleak tales of recession, the gloomy accounts of unemployment and the notion that Ireland’s best and brightest had emigrated was completely at odds with what the lads were experiencing being back in their hometown.
“We wanted to do something to get people as excited about the city as we were. While loads of great people have left the country, you only have to walk into any gallery, gig or any of the fantastic spoken word or comedy nights to see that Dublin is a ridiculously fun and vibrant city with wonderful characters and a flourishing art scene. We wanted to bring the charm and character that had been pushed aside by the Celtic Tiger and bring it centre stage” – Andy
The lads came up with Storymap, a web based multimedia project that revives Ireland’s age-old tradition of storytelling and tries to capture the personality of Dublin city through its stories and storytellers. These stories are filmed being told where they happened and integrated into a live map to create a charming and layered collective vision of Dublin city made by the people of the city.
“Walking around the city – everyone has their own stories that they remember on certain streets, stories that flavour their personal experience of the city, that they tell on to friends. We thought it’d be exciting to pool those stories in one place, like one big pub where everyone shares their stories, creating a sense of what the city means to Dubliners. It’s a simple idea, but with complex possibilities, and we’re only just at the beginning of it.” – Tom
Up until now, most of my posts have been writing related in some shape or form – but today in Ireland, as most of us try to abstain, it was hard to resist the call to listen to a fabulous new single called Guilty.
I had recently heard murmurings that my first cousin, second cousin and cousin-in-law were working hard on a project, so I was delighted when they contacted me to share the final product.
I couldn’t wait to click on that button and take a listen.
So I did.
And honestly, bias apart, it’s absolutely brilliant!
You can listen to it here and if you like it check out the details below to download it.
They would be delighted if you could spread the word and do please post a comment.
Just remember, when they’re as big as Bono and the lads, that you heard them here first.
And they are:
Guilty by: Sorcha K
Featuring: Niall K and Brian Mc
For Apple people on iPhone/iPods/iPads it’s on iTunes at:
If you’re on Android it’s on Google Play at:
It’s on the Amazon shop as well:
or if those aren’t your thing then you can buy it on BandCamp at:
There’s plenty of events to keep all avid readers and aspiring writers busy and plenty more to come.
I thought you’d be interested in these two for starters!
Louise Phillips is the bestselling author of Red Ribbons and 2013 winner of Crime Novel of the Year for The Doll’s House.
This free workshop will cover all aspects of crime writing including: plot, character, tension, effective dialogue and so much more.
Click the poster for more information, including registration details.
Date: Thursday, 13 March 2014
Time: 7.00pm – 8.30pm
Venue: Manor Books, 3 Church Road, Malahide
Admission: Free event but registration essential.
A celebration to launch The Wolf in Winter
with music from John Kearney & Lucy Farrell
Smock Alley are delighted to announce another event in their ongoing series of author talks with neighbours, the Gutter Bookshop.
Join them to celebrate the launch of the twelfth Charlie Parker thriller, The Wolf in Winter. John Connolly will be joined by musicians Jonny Kearney and Lucy Farrell in what promises to be a unique and thrilling evening. There will be a book signing after the event in The Gutter Bookshop.
Date: Thursday, 20 March 2014
Venue: Smock Alley Theatre
Admission: Free ticketed event (€1 admin fee for on-line tickets)
A dark story about crime and punishment
My eyes shoot open and I sit upright in my bunk. The first thing I feel is the fear, as it bubbles up inside me, leaving acid burning at the back of my throat.
I look around the green walls of my room. A soothing colour, they say. Whoever, they are, they know nothing!
Today is Friday, 1 March.
I run cold water into the stainless steel sink and set up my utensils. Just like old times! I even manage a fleeting smile before rinsing my shaving brush in the water and shaking out the residue. I rub it round and round the creamy, white soap, three times clock-wise, then three times anti-clockwise before I paint my face. Bending closer, I can barely make out the brown eyes peering back. I inhale the heady, fresh scent and my mind flutters backwards in time.
With a huge effort I stop myself. Snatching up the worn, brown plastic comb I pull it savagely through my thin grey hair. I tug hard, bringing tears to my eyes, trying to flatten the hair over the bald patch which has emerged in recent years. I massage a dollop of Brylcream through my fingers and press down hard, sculpting the strands into place.
I miss the feel of my stainless steel razor the close shave. After rinsing away the suds with ice-cold water I rub dry. I run my battery razor up and down my face, hoping to stem the grey stubble. I crane forward again and like what I see, not as clean-shaven as with my razor, but needs must.
When the warden turns the keys in the grey, metal door and pushes it open, I am sitting, waiting patiently.
“It’s time Warren, are you ready?”
I nod my head, staring at my shiny shoes.
The other warden, the young one with the smirk, grabs me by the arm and pushes me ahead. My heart flutters. I take a deep breath; in through my mouth as I count to four, holding it deep inside me, for the count of seven, then I exhale slowly, for the count of eight. I repeat three times as we walk along the corridor to that room.
I wonder who will be there this time. Will it be the same as before or . . .
I’m shoved through the door. My breath becomes shallow. My heart quickens. My mouth is dry and I have trouble swallowing, I feel as if a golf ball is lodged at the back of my throat, cutting off my air supply.
“Sit down Warren,” says a female voice.
I look up to see a slight woman, bird-like in her features, with a halo of grey hair and blue darting eyes. I remember her. I’ve seen her face in my dreams often enough.
“You know we only want to talk to you.” She waves her arm to the right and introduces Mr Spence and Mr Shaw on the other side. “We’ve met many times Warren, I’m Ms Jackson,” she forces a smile which never reaches her beady, blue eyes.
I nod indifferently, knowing that every word I say will make a difference. My words, my tone, my actions – everything will be watched and analysed and debated. My head is pounding. I want to put my hands over my ears and bury my head between my legs and rock until it all stops. But I can’t do that! I take a deep breath; in through my mouth as I count to four, holding it deep inside me, for the count of seven, then I exhale slowly, for the count of eight. I’m about to repeat it for the second time, but I sense the six eyes across the table waiting expectantly for my answer – but I haven’t heard the question!
I cough into my hand then sit up straight, push my back into the chair and look them in the eyes.
“Sorry, just a little cough I’ve picked up,” I say clearly. “Would you mind repeating the question?”
The tension leaves the air.
“I just asked if you needed a glass of water before we begin?” said Ms Jackson.
“Very kind of you,” I say, as I take the half-filled plastic cup from across the table, ensuring that it looks accidental as my fingers brush her hand, like a moth to the flame.
Mr Spence clears his throat, pulling at his shirt collar where an expensive tie encases his scrawny neck. “Warren Davis, we are gathered here today to see if the time you have been incarcerated here at the Tennessee Department of Correction has helped you to see the error of your ways. We wish to see if you can be released into the population to benefit society. This is your chance to prove to us that you are no longer a threat . . .”
I tune out; I’ve already heard this speech so many times before. In my mind, I replace it with my speech. I’ve practiced it so many times in my cell, pacing up and down, making sure I am pitch perfect – as if my life depends on it. It does. I stifle a laugh. Do they honestly think I’m going to say or do anything to keep me here any longer? I can feel my lips moving and clamp them shut. I’ve learned my lesson on that one. I tune back in to the droning voice, looking Mr Spence directly in the eyes while he talks. He’s one of those guys that just loves the sound of his own voice.
At last, my time comes to speak.
Taking a deep breath, I sit up straight and begin.
“I have most certainly learned my lesson.” I pause, looking at the ground, conciliatory. “I was a young man, when I made my mistakes, not mature enough to realise the impact it would have on those around me. I was suffering,” again I pause, this time making eye contact with Ms Jackson, “suffering more than anyone could know. As you are aware, I was born in this prison and spent my first six months here with my mother – until she was stabbed by another prisoner and died days later. With no family, so-to-speak, a litany of foster homes followed – where love was withheld from me, I never learned how to behave in society. But I have learned. I have found God and he has saved me! Then, I thought I could take whatever I wanted, pluck it – like Adam taking the apple. I know now that is wrong.” I allow my eyes to rest on each of them. “But God has forgiven me and I have forgiven me! That was twenty-eight years ago. I am no longer that Warren.”
The silence in the room is palpable. My best speech yet! I feel like punching the air with my fist but I do not. I sit upright and stare straight ahead.
Ms Jackson nods her head to the warden at the door and I brace myself, holding my breath.
She walks into the room, her head held high. So like her sister. I can see a tremor in her neck, the vein bulging, pulsing beneath the collar of her thin, white blouse. Her black suit jacket and trousers sit well on her thin frame. Her black high heeled shoes are as shiny and well-cared for as mine. If only she let her blonde hair grow a little longer, so that it could drape her shoulders. My mind swirls backwards and I can smell green apples as my fingers caress the silken tresses.
“Ms Dean, we know how hard this is for you, please take a seat and read your statement,” says Mr Shaw.
Beth Dean nods and sits down in the empty chair across the room. Exactly as I remember her every day of the trial. She takes a folded page from her large, leather hand-bag. She cannot prevent the slight tremor of her hand as she bends her head and begins to read:
“Warren Davis is a cold-blooded killer who should never be allowed to leave the Tennessee Department of Correction. The rape, torture and death of my twin sister Rachel changed the lives of everyone who loved her. The grief and stress ended our parents’ lives and because of you,” she pauses, looking up, straight into my eyes, with such hatred, that I feel I’ve met a kindred spirit.
The voices in my head get louder. I clench my fists; hold them by my side, scraping the knuckles of my right hand against the hard plastic chair.
I can feel myself rocking back and forth. Stop, I scream inside, just hold it together for a few more minutes. So close. I bite the inside of my cheek, tasting blood.
“Rachel,” I moan.
I close my eyes.
I know it’s over.
Check out the latest short story and poetry competition listings below, no excuses – get writing!
National Flash-Fiction 100 Word Flash Competition
Deadline: 9 March 2014
Written Word: Flash Fiction up to 100 words
Entry: £1.50 per story
The Molly Keane Creative Writing Award
Deadline: 14 March 2014
Written Word: Short stories up to 2,000 words
The CWA Margery Allingham Short Story Competition
Deadline: 16 March 2014
Written Word: Short stories up to 3,500 words
Entry: £10.00 per story
The Fish Poetry Prize
Deadline: 31 March 2014
Written Word: Poem restricted to 300 words
Entry: €14 for 1st entry, €8 for subsequent entries
the Bridport Prize
Deadline: 31 May 2014
Written Word: Short stories up to 5,000 words
Entry: £9.00 per story
the Moth International Short Story Prize 2014
Deadline: 30 June 2014
Written Word: Short stories up to 6,000 words
Entry: €9.00 per story
Deadline: Last day of each month
Written Word: Short stories up to 3,000 words on any subject or theme
Entry: 1 story €4. 2 stories €7. 3 stories €8
What better way to get your writing year off to a great start than by joining one of the highly recommended writing classes about to start in Dublin. Find a selection below to whet your appetite:
Lecturer: Valerie Sirr, is a Hennessy New Irish Writer award winner with a B.A. Hons Psychology, M.Phil Creative Writing. This workshop is for those who want to discover and develop their creative writing skills by exploring the imagination, overcoming fear, developing a writing habit and finding a voice. Trigger exercises and writing games will be used and assignments will be set. Constructive feedback will be given to those who bring work.
There will be two terms of ten weeks each and participants can sign up to both or to either the first or second part.
Date: Wednesday, 15 January 2014
Venue: The Peoples College, 31 Parnell Square
Time: 6.15pm – 7.45pm
Valerie Sirr, Hennessy New Irish Writer award winner, began writing after graduating with her Diploma in Advanced Computer Programming at Trinity College, Dublin. She then graduated from University College, Dublin with a B.A. hons. Psychology degree, going on to study at London’s Institute of Psychiatry. She later returned to Trinity College, graduating with an M. Phil. in Creative Writing and also received a University College Dublin School of Film scholarship to study for her Certificate in Screenwriting.
This workshop is for those who want to discover and develop their creative writing skills. If you’re a beginner or if you’ve already done some writing, you’re welcome to come along.
Date: Monday, 20 January 2014
Venue: Crumlin College of Further Education
Time: 6.45pm – 8.15pm
Louise Phillips is bestselling crime author of the psychological crime thriller, Red Ribbons, shortlisted for Best Irish Crime Novel of the Year 2012. Her work has been published as part of many anthologies, including County Lines from New Island, and various literary journals. In 2009, she won the Jonathan Swift Award for her short story Last Kiss, and in 2011 she was a winner in the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice platform. In 2012, she was awarded an Arts Bursary for Literature from South Dublin County Council. Her second novel, The Doll’s House, another psychological crime thriller was published August 2013.
There are many elements to successful crime writing – tension, pace, memorable characters, effective dialogue, a plot with twists and turns, and an uttering gripping story. Over the course of eight weeks you will examine these elements, along with looking at the area of research, rhythm and shape within the narrative, and through weekly critique, develop your voice as a crime writer.
Date: Wednesday, 5 February 2014
Venue: The Irish Writers’ Centre
Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
Johnny looked out the window and whooped. It was snowing!
He dug under the stairs and pulled out an old pair of wellies, shoved his feet inside, zipped up his jacket and grabbed a pair of gloves.
‘I’m just going out, Mum,’ he called, the front door already open.
‘Wait! Stir before you go,’ she called.
‘It’s now or never, Johnny-boy,’ she laughed, standing in the doorway.
He looked out at the driveway. No footsteps yet in the perfect blanket of snow. But not for long. He could see friends trundling up the road, firing snowballs.
He closed the door and followed her into the aromatic kitchen.
‘Quick Mum, where’s the spoon?’
‘Gloves off first,’ she said, as she pointed to the bowl.
He pushed the spoon into the dark mixture of currants, cherries, brown sugar and Christmas spices.
‘It has to be clock-wise, Johnny,’ smiled his mum. She had flour on her right cheek and her blue eyes were shining. ‘Three times, then make your wish.’
Johnny nodded, his face solemn, as he performed the yearly Christmas pudding ritual.
‘Okay. Done,’ he said. ‘Did you make a wish?’
‘Of course, you don’t think wishes are just for kids, do you? Now go, enjoy the snow,’ she shook the wooden spoon at him, her eyes brimming with unshed tears, ‘but make sure you’re back in time for dinner.’
Shoving a handful of cherries into his mouth, he hugged her tight, ‘Dad always loved this part of Christmas.’
‘He did,’ she ruffled his hair, ‘so go, have fun. Make him proud.’ She turned back to the bowl.
Johnny licked his sticky fingers before pulling his gloves on and heading outside.
Thirty minutes later, the snow had turned into a blizzard. His hands were freezing, his ears were ringing and he was cold.
A tall man dressed in black, a striped scarf covering half his face, walked slowly towards him. He cradled a brown box in his arms.
A flurry of snowballs pelted him, causing him to lose his balance. His eyes held a look of panic as he struggled to hold onto the box. Instinctively, Johnny knew that the contents were important. He rushed forward.
‘I’ve got it!’ he shouted. The man released his grip as he slipped to the ground.
‘Thanks, son,’ he muttered, as his scarf fell down to show a pale face scrunched in pain.
The box was light, but when something moved inside, Johnny nearly dropped it with fright. He noticed small air holes at the top. ‘It’s not a snake, is it?’ he whispered.
The man shook his head.
‘Johnny, didn’t you hear me call?’
Johnny turned to see his mum standing at the gate.
The man stood.
‘He’s a good lad. Just came to my aid.’ He took the box and opened it, gently lifting out a tiny black kitten with four white socks. ‘At the animal shelter, they named her Lucky,’ he smiled, holding her towards Johnny’s outstretched arms. ‘I guess she is.’
At this time of year, why not promote your writing – poem, short story or drama – on the theme of “Home” by submitting it to the literary journal Ropes 2014 while at the same time helping a worthy cause.
I was delighted to receive an email from my (second!) cousin, Niamh Callaghan, who is involved with Ropes 2014, published by the students of the MA in Literature and Publishing at NUIG and now in its 22nd year. She has asked me to help promote it and I would be obliged if you could help me to do the same.
Each year ROPES donates all of its proceeds to a worthy charity. This year they have teamed up with COPE Galway; a charity in Galway that tries to help people with issues such as homelessness and domestic abuse.
So, if you happen to have a piece looking for a home or an idea floating around your head, maybe Ropes 2014 is just the place to submit!
For more information check out Ropes 2014 on Twitter and Facebook for loads of updates and special announcements!
Deadline: 1 January 2014 – upload to Ropes 2014 here.
Written Word: Poetry, Prose or Drama on the theme “Home” up to 2,000 words
Imagine my surprise to be contacted by a member of the Tallaght Community Council to tell me that I am one of the shortlisted nominees, under Arts & Culture, for this year’s Tallaght Person of the Year!
I even received a certificate in the post – just to be sure I hadn’t imagined it all . . .
The 30th annual Tallaght Person of the Year awards takes place tonight, Friday, 29 November at the Maldron Hotel, Tallaght and among the list of nominees are non-other than Louise Phillips who, just days ago, won the The Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards for Crime Fiction Book of the Year with The Doll’s House.
There are eight categories and I was delighted to find, under the Business category, Noel Gavin, InTallaght Magazine and Emu Ink.
It promises to be an enjoyable and eventful night which I am looking forward to immensely.
I’ll keep you posted!
There’s plenty of events to keep all avid readers and aspiring writers busy over the next few weeks and plenty more to come. Check out a selection below.
Hope to see you there!
Trinity College Dublin and Glucksman Ireland House, New York University are holding a festival devoted to Irish crime fiction, featuring more than a dozen of the most exciting Irish crime novelists. This will be a memorable weekend, devoted to a key genre of contemporary Irish writing, so please make plans to join us.
Among the confirmed participants are Conor Brady, Declan Burke, Jane Casey, Paul Charles, Michael Connelly, John Connolly, Conor Fitzgerald, Alan Glynn, Declan Hughes, Arlene Hunt, Gene Kerrigan, Kevin McCarthy, Brian McGilloway, Eoin McNamee, Stuart Neville, Niamh O’Connor, Louise Phillips, and Michael Russell.
We’re particularly pleased to announce that our weekend will conclude with a major event: for the Irish launch of his newest novel, The Gods of Guilt (Orion Books, November 2013), Michael Connelly will be interviewed by John Connolly. After the interview, and questions from the audience, Michael will be signing books, which will be for sale on the evening. Tickets are required for this final event, and they are €6 (inc. fees) from eventbrite.com.
Date: Friday, 22 – Saturday, 23 November 2013
Venue: Trinity College Dublin
Admission: Free events (€6 for Closing Event)
From the time she was born, Emma Byrne was different from other children. Shy and reclusive, her world revolved around animals, so much so that by the time she was 15, Emma was a much sought after horse trainer.
So who would try to harm this gifted young woman? Who was shooting in Crilly Woods on that fateful August day?
Emma’s twin brother, Anthony, is determined to get to the bottom of what happened to his sister, and in the course of his investigations makes a terrible mistake, one that will change all their lives forever.
The Outsider: sometimes those who love us most hardly know us at all.
Date: Thursday, 7 November 2013
Venue: The Gutter Bookshop
Crime Pays: Writing Crime Fiction
presented by WritersWebTV
“A forensic examination of the essential elements of writing crime,” is what Vanessa O’Loughlin promises to deliver to crime fiction fans of everything from psychological thrillers to detective fiction.
But whatever your genre, the key secrets, tips and techniques unveiled by a panel of writers at the top of their game - Ken Bruen, Declan Hughes, Jane Casey and Niamh O’Connor - will furnish you with the tools to pace your plot and keep your reader hooked.
Questions will be answered:
- Should you plot and plan in detail, and know the ending before you start, or can you write crime organically?
- How many characters should there be and how do you reveal backstory without losing the forward movement of the plot?
- What is foreshadowing and why does it play such a vital part in this genre?
- Research is crucial, but how much should you include in your story?
And best of all, you can watch it live for FREE, from anywhere in the world – but only on Wednesday, 30 October, from 10.00am – 4.00pm.
All you need to do is enrol now on www.writerswebtv.com or, if you want to download the workshop and watch it later, you have the option to pay to keep the course.
Wherever you are, and whatever your lifestyle, you’ll be able to tune in and out throughout the day:
10:00 – 11.30 Ken Bruen
11.30 – 11.45 Break/Online Audience – a chance for viewers to interact via Twitter @WritersWebTV
11.45 – 01:00 Jane Casey
01:00 – 01:30 Break/Online Audience – a chance for viewers to interact via Twitter @WritersWebTV
01:30 – 02:30 Declan Hughes
02:30 – 02:45 Break/Online Audience – a chance for viewers to interact via Twitter @WritersWebTV
02:45 – 04:00 Niamh O’Connor
This one-day workshop will be streamed live from a multi-camera broadcast studio in Dublin. Bestselling authors interact with an in-studio audience of aspiring writers, who present their work for critique. Online viewers can communicate with those in the studio using Twitter, Facebook or email. They can ask a question, take part in a workshop exercise, comment online and benefit from on-screen feedback from the authors in-studio.
Led by experienced workshop facilitator, Vanessa O’Loughlin, founder of writing.ie, the panel will consider the key elements of fiction writing and furnish viewers with tips, advice and actionable insights to help them improve their writing and get it on the path to publication.
I’ll be there – as part of the studio audience – hope you’ll join me!
Awarded 1st Prize – SDCC European Week Against Racism Poetry Competition, 2012.
Oblivious, I shop in this busy city.
Warmly lit windows show their wares;
amidst the hustle and bustle of busy lives.
I watch you sit on ice cold concrete.
A young man, scrunched forward,
a woollen hat low on your head,
your shivering palm held upwards.
My heart reaches out to you.
Thin jumper pulled over knees.
Skinny, bare legs folded tight;
long feet flat on the ground.
Sockless, shoeless, homeless.
Focus Ireland https://www.facebook.com/focusirelandcharity
a non-profit organisation you may like to follow.
It’s about the people who help and it’s about helping people. And it’s about connecting the two.