Current and Forthcoming Activities in 2018.
On Saturday 24 Feb, I will be participating in the conference ‘The Irish Writer in “Little England”‘ at the University of Kent, in Canterbury. The website still says Fri 23rd, but the event has now been moved to Sat 24th.
I will be discussing second-generation Irish writers Maude Casey and Moy McCrory.
On Wed 28th Feb, I will be interviewing Nottingham-based Graham Caveney about his critically-acclaimed autobiography, The Boy with the Perpetual Nervousness.
Venue: Middle Street Resource Centre, Beeston NG9 2AR. 7pm.
The memoir won rave reviews in The Guardian, The Times, and The Observer.
In March, I’ll be making a return visit to Birmingham Irish Centre, to talk to the Birmingham Irish Heritage Group about Irish Famine emigrants and the English Workhouse system: Wed 7 March @ 7pm, in their new venue at the Rowton Hotel.
States of Independence,
Saturday 10th March, Clephan Building, De Montfort University, Leicester
This is a one-day festival celebrating independent publishers, run by Five Leaves in conjunction with De Montfort University. Sinéad Mooney and I will co-present a talk as part of the programme; we will discuss the exciting new voices in Irish fiction, such as Sally Rooney, Eimear McBride, Mike McCormack and Sara Baume.
Christmas at the Workhouse event @ Southwell
Spent the weekend of Sat 2nd & Sun 3rd December 2017 in character as a vagrant immigrant from Ireland. My character was a storyteller who was forced to leave home because of the famine. I was dressed in ragged clothes and told old Irish legends, interspersed with snippets of factual information, telling people a little about the history of the 1840s and Irish emigration to England. There are lots of parallels with current immigration and refugee stories.
This is the outline of my talk at Readers’ Day on Saturday 18 November 2017:
Austen’s Father Figures
Jane Austen portrays some peculiar papas in her fiction: sardonic, selfish, or plain soft-headed. Join Deirdre O’Byrne of Loughborough University for a discussion of far-from-perfect patres familias.
Readers’ Day is run jointly by Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County Libraries. This year it was on Saturday 18 November. Details, progamme and booking here:
In 2018, I’ll be making a return visit to Birmingham Irish Centre, to talk to the Birmingham Irish Heritage Group about Irish Famine emigrants and the English Workhouse system: Wed 7 Feb 7pm.
* Loogabarooga Festival
- The Giant’s Causeway and other stories
Thursday 19th November 2017, 11am – 12.00 Charnwood Museum, Loughborough
I told some old Irish tales. Some of the audience joined in to make bullish noises.
- Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows
Thursday 19th November 2017, 7pm, Charnwood Museum, Loughborough
I discussed the enduring themes of this classic, and how it continues to appeal to adults as well as children.
As Grahame almost wrote: there is nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in books.
Suitable for adults and older children (age 12+)
I was back in Crawley on Sunday 27 August 2017, telling stories at Crawley Irish Festival. The weather was beautiful, and as usual, it was a splendid festival.
I ran an Irish storytelling session on Tues 12 Sept at Nottingham Women’s Centre Open Day. I met great people, and got very rewarding feedback.
The Open Day event ran from 10am – 1pm: http://www.nottinghamwomenscentre.com/2017/09/06/nottingham-womens-centre-open-day-invitation/
Lowdham Book Festival
On Fri 1st Sept, I gave a talk at Lowdham Methodist Chapel on ‘Nottingham in Literature’, looking at poems and stories from DH Lawrence, Derrick Buttress, John Lucas and Rosie Garner, among others.
Saturday 24th June 2-3pm. I ran a session on Jane Austen’s depiction of men and masculinity – mostly examining the representation of men as love objects, desirable husband material and so on.
I got lots of nice positive comments from audience members who enjoyed the presentation.
* I collaborated with Sheelagh Gallagher on an event as part of Inspire Poetry Festival: Fri 14th July 2pm @ Mansfield Library – ‘Poems Please!’ People suggested their favourite poems, and Sheelagh and I read them (and a few of our own favourites).
* I participated in the book-launch of Ten Poems About Home (Candlestick Press), edited by Mahendra Solanki at Nottingham Central Library. I read the opening poem, W B Yeats’s ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’.
The readings and commentaries were repeated as part of Inspire Poetry Festival at Southwell Library on Sunday 16 July 4.30pm – 6pm. Info https://www.inspireculture.org.uk/poetry-festival/
* On Thurs 18 May, I gave a brief introduction to the film The Journey, at Nottingham Broadway Cinema. The film is a fictionalised representation of a journey shared by Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley, who, after years of political strife, ended up working together as power-sharing colleagues, and developed an unexpected friendship.
For other Nottingham Irish Studies Group events, see https://nottinghamisg.wordpress.com/
* St Patrick’s Day Festival 2017:
I worked with artist Brian McCormack on a project with local schoolchildren. The theme story this year was Fionn MacCumhaill and the Giant’s Causeway. I told the story to the children, Brian played Fionn, and we helped them make some props to carry in the parade.
Read one version of the story here: http://myths.e2bn.org/mythsandlegends/textonly5639-finn-maccool-and-the-giants-causeway.html
* I am researching the history of Southwell Workhouse, looking for evidence of Irish visitors (mostly classed as ‘vagrants’ and only allowed to stay one night) at Southwell Workhouse. I presented some of my findings at a Creative Retreat at the Workshouse 18-19 March.
More information about the event here
I’m open to invitations from groups and institutions, and am prepared to travel reasonable distances. Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.