Thursday, July 14, 2011

The West Cork Literary festival / The 2011 Fish Anthology Launch in Bantry, Ireland

If you read my earlier post about my literary adventures in Dublin, I think I made a pretty good case for Ireland as possibly the most literature-friendly country in the English-speaking world.

My trip to Bantry, to participate in the West Cork Literary Festival and the Launch of the 2011 Fish Anthology, confirmed that the Irish love their writers, and their writing.

(Cover Art by Max Brooker)

This was my view of Bantry, and Bantry Bay, from my hotel room window. Nice, eh?

After arriving on Tuesday evening, I met with the other authors present for the Fish Anthology launch at the legendary local pub, Ma Murphy's. After that, I strolled over to the Maritime Hotel to participate in the "Bedtime Stories" Reading Series. There was an incredible turnout for such a late-evening event; the readers were passionate and entertaining, the audience fully absorbed.

(Photo by Tom McCarthy)

For a full description of this event, by journalist and super nice guy Tom McCarthy, click HERE.

After the readings followed a VERY late night of conversation and beverage consumption (Writers, talking and drinking? I know, I know, you're shocked. . . who has ever heard of such a thing?).

The late night didn't stop me from getting up early to accompany my new friends, first-time (but not last time, methinks) author Kirsty McCormack, well-known (and well-spoken) Irish Poet Mary O'Donnell, and her husband Martin (all pictured below) on a walk to explore Bantry House (also pictured below).

And then, that evening, the Main Event - the launch of the 2011 Fish Anthology, with readings from many of the authors with stories or poems included in the book, including yours truly.(Photos by Andrew Holman)

Although the poems and stories included in the anthology are in fact quite delicious, I was not preparing to (ravenously) devour the book, as the photo above might suggest.

Here are all of the authors who read at the launch! Wonderful, talented people, every one of them.

(Photo by Andrew Holman)

From left to right - me, Brian Turner, Kelly Holman, Ken Taylor, Michael McCarthy, Richard Bond, Jenni Lawson, Stephanie Scott, Marie Altzinger, Kirsty McCormack, Joanna Bury, Clem Cairns (Editor Extraordinaire!), Jean Tuomey, Cecile Callan, Caroline Green, Mary O'Donnell, Robert Portious, and Kita Shantris.

It was both inspiring and humbling to have my work selected to appear in a volume with so much excellent writing. Go order a copy of this book now! You will not regret it.

It was also incredible the number of people who showed up to celebrate the launch of this book. St. Brendan's Church was PACKED with literary fans. The next day, people on the street stopped me to talk about the book launch and the readings from the previous night, which both moved and inspired me.

So, thank you Bantry, thank you Dublin, thank you Ireland, for showing me that there are places in the world where literature still matters.

(Photos, unless otherwise credited, by Richard Scarsbrook, 2011)