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Just a catch up on the Walter Macken centenary celebrations.

I wasn’t able to get to Galway on the 3rd May to the street party in St Joseph’s Avenue, but I met Deirdre Kennedy last week. She told me a great time was had by all and they had a good turnout.

A photo appeared on the front page of the Connacht Tribune on Friday 8th.

Photo Joe O Shaughnessy Connacht Tribune

Photo Joe O Shaughnessy Connacht Tribune

And I should say here: although there didn’t seem to be much coverage in the Tribune my wondering if there was coverage in the City Tribune proved to be correct.

Deirdre told me that there was a lot of info, and Macken related material in that paper – which is only available in Galway city.

We bumped into each other on the 12th at Ultan Macken’s one man show about his father. The event took place in An Taibhhearc, where Walter spent many of his years as an actor, writer and director.

It was a lovely evening of remembrance and for those not too familiar with Macken’s writing, a great introduction to the books. Ultan had brought many first editions of his father’s books with him.

In the second half of the evening, a Cursaí/RTÉ documentary from the 1980s was screened. A younger Ultan was the on-screen presenter. The interview with his mother Peggy was wonderful. It reinforced what we had already heard that evening: Walter and Peggy were such a wonderful couple, and a great team.

It’s sad that Macken died so young, leaving Peggy behind him.

So – thanks to Deirdre, and to those who contributed to the talks and events. Other commitments meant that I couldn’t get to everything, unfortunately. But special thanks to Anne McCabe, An Taibhdhearc and Ultan for bringing Walter Macken back to us for an evening.

Walter Macken Centenary 1915-2015

Well – it was Walter’s big day yesterday. And if it got a mention on RTÉ, I missed it. Last year I wrote an article in NUI Galway student newspaper, SIN, and here on the blog.  In it, I suggested that in the months to come, Galway might think about celebrating one of its famous writers. The article got quite a bit of support. As the new year came in, I thought I should try to get an article into a local Galway paper. I got the push I needed: a conversation with Anne McCabe of An Taibhdhearc Theatre spurred me into action. Anne told me about An Taibhdhearc plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Macken’s birth. She also told me about a commemoration committee from the west end of Galway city, where the writer grew up.

Plaque at Macken's birthplace, St Joseph's Ave. Photo c. Karen McDonnell

Plaque at Macken’s birthplace, St Joseph’s Ave.
Photo c. Karen McDonnell

I went to St Joseph’s Avenue and spoke to Deirdre Kennedy about plans for a street party in honour of Walter. The local businesses funded a stage for the day, and musicians and singers associated with the Crane Bar were going to participate. Both of Macken’s sons – Walter and Ultan – would be there on the day. The residents had received a grant towards the event, but most of the sponsorship has been local. Ideally though,they would like to paint a mural on the gable end of the terrace or – in common with Ultan Macken – they would love to see a statue of Macken somewhere in Galway city.  (There’s always the option of public/private cooperation in terms of funding.) I wrote my article, phoned and then emailed it to the Connacht Tribune.

Later, I thought about the fact that The Silent People is set mainly in north Co Clare, where I live. I wrote another article and sent it to the Clare Champion. They published it in their 1 May edition.

Clare Champion Walter Macken article

I couldn’t be at St Joseph’s Avenue yesterday. But the Galway Advertiser was there and posted photos on Facebook:

Tom and Des Kenny will have Macken articles in the Galway Advertiser and Books Ireland.

Getting Ready for Walter's birthday party.  Photo C. Galway Advertiser

Getting Ready for Walter’s birthday party.
Photo C. Galway Advertiser

It’s such a shame that the opening festivities did not appear to be even listed in the Connacht Tribune, considering that Walter Macken’s wife was from the family which owned the paper – and wrote for the paper herself. There didn’t appear to be any mention of the centenary in last Friday’s issue (unless there’s something in the City Tribune?) . Even if they do a spread next week, they have ignored this weekend’s events.

It seems to me that most of ‘official’ Galway has opted out. Nothing about a new plaque to replace the old one in St Joseph’s Avenue. Even less than nothing about calls for a statue of Walter Macken in the city of his birth. Galway is aiming to be City of Culture 2020. The city might mark the Macken centenary in some official way!

However – and this is important – though events were launched in An Taibhdhearc by Tom Kenny last Thursday, and the street party happened yesterday, there is more to come. An Taibhdhearc is hosting  lectures on 12,14, and 15 May. Ultan Macken will speak about his father on the 12th. That will be followed by a screening of a 1988 RTÉ documentary about Macken.  At 10.30am on 13 May, there will be a screening of the The Flight of the Doves – a film of one of Macken’s children’s books. Paul in the Bell, Book and Candle bookshop will be displaying Macken memorabilia. He also has quite a few out of print books. Don’t forget, you can buy Macken’s work online.  Also, Ultan Macken’s book about his father, Dreams on Paper, is available in paperback and online.

I’m definitely going to some of these events and, having missed the fun in St Joseph’s Avenue, I hope to get to ‘Street to Stage’  at 8pm on the 15th. It’s a film of yesterday’s celebrations and – if the residents of the St Joseph’s Avenue squeeze up in the seats – I’d love to be in their company.

Why don’t you join us?

May Day Poetry & Coffee

Record Break Café. Photo by Gerry Doyle

Record Break Café. Photo by Gerry Doyle

Hello, my lovelies!

I will be doing a poetry reading at the Record Break Café in Ennis, on May 1st at 8pm

Come on – join us for some poetry & damn fine coffee at Sinéad’s lovely café in the Lower Market area.

Location of  Record Break - Ennis

Location of Record Break – Ennis

Dublin in Poetry

This is a bit of fun!

Tweet a twittery poem to Poetry Ireland, and it may get used on a Dublin-related app …

What part of Dublin do you want to write about?

I’ve already done mine … no surprises there.

Statue of Oscar Wilde Merrion Square  Dublin

Statue of Oscar Wilde Merrion Square Dublin

April – The Cruellest Month?

April is the Cruellest Month‘ wrote T.S Eliot in The Wasteland.

It was if you were on the Titanic.

Titanic.  c.

Titanic. c.

For me, though, April has been peachy so far.

poeticdiversity in Los Angeles has published my flash fiction Down in the April 2015 issue.

You can read it here:

Many thanks to editor Marie Lecrivain for her continued support.

The Nobel Room, Writing, and Radio

The Nobel Room, Farmleigh  Photo - OPW Ireland

The Nobel Room, Farmleigh
Photo – OPW Ireland

Two weeks ago I attended a poetry workshop with Theo Dorgan in Farmleigh House, where he is the artist in residence. Well, lucky us – and lucky Theo who gets to hang out there for a  while!

The Nobel Room commemorates Ireland’s four Laureates for Literature – Shaw, Yeats, Beckett, and Heaney. Here is a link to the OPW site, if you want to see more of Farmleigh.

Needless to say, we didn’t have the workshop in the Nobel Room … but we were in the study. Just six of us and Theo. With tea and coffee on tap and lunch provided downstairs in the Arkle Room (which may originally have been a tack room?). Terri, who joined us for most of the workshop, works in Farmleigh. After lunch, she brought us on a tour.

The Spring sun was waiting for us in the conservatory. We oohed and aahed over the Blue Room and the Nobel Room, and the artwork. I was nearly drooling in the Library. Such a lovely room. A real ‘Goldilocks’ library: not too big; not too small. Terri didn’t need us to tell her how lucky she is to work in such beautiful surroundings. And she’s also got the Phoenix Park at the end of the drive.

The workshop was fantastic. I always get gems of wisdom, or pointed in interesting writing directions, at each new workshop I attend. And I love the interaction with other writers. The day’s worth was reflected in the fact that I was awake half the night, thinking of new ways to rewrite work I had presented to the group.

Many thanks Theo – and thanks to John, Tom, Jean, Victoria and Terri – for a day I won’t forget.



On the Diploma in Radio front –

Well, what busy bunnies we all have been, both before AND after Easter. Assignments delivered up. And live shows for the past two weeks. In addition to co-presenting The Brekkie Show each morning, I  also presented two solo shows. One about Easter , with classical music, the other about Irish traditional music.  You’ll get podcasts of all our shows at

I’ve podcast the two solo shows, and given playlists. You’ll find them on my new website: 

I’ve linked in readwritehere to the ‘BLOG’ page, and I’m in the process of updating all my writer’s ‘stuff’ there too.

It would be great to get your comments on the website, so do pay a visit.

It doesn’t have a Nobel Room … but nobody’s perfect!

First Interview!


Ready to launch

Ready to launch

My first interview …

A short chat with Lorraine Higgins about writing …

Thanks, Lorraine!


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