It brings together an amazing range of voices and opinions from the literary and publishing sectors in Northern Ireland, from agents to writers, arts officers to librarians, with a good sprinkling of organisers, poets, publishers and academics.
There was a great energy in the room and while the forum is ony a few months old, it seems to have a real head of steam. My read on the future was that it was secure. It seems ready to grow beyond its original founding and beyond indeed the LitNet NI beginnings into a truly inclusive voice for the literary & commercial publishing and reading sector in Norther Ireland.
So you can see why I found it inspiring, but there’s more.
The same day and the same event was the venue for the sectoral launch of PublishingNI a new company dedicated to promoting and growing Northern Irish publishing and writing.
There’s a real energy and passion at work in Northern Irish publishing sector right now and I was excited and pleased to be part of it.
As for what I spoke about, well I started off with a dispassionate overview of how digital publishing and distribution were fundamentally reshaping the world of books and literature, changing models we have come to see as ‘the right way’ of doing things. I got a little carried away towards the end of the talk and discussed the need for a concerted response from the entire reading and writing sector to the encroachment of technology firms intent and leading the sector in a direction of their choosing. Maybe it was in the air.
But then again, maybe it was a bit intemperate, but it’s not untrue. Eoin
Nice review in The Irish Catholic for Pat Sweeney’s Liffey Ships & Ship Building, one of my commissions while at Mercier Press.
The book is not only the result of very detailed archive research, it shows too the benefit of Pat Sweeney’s skills as a professional photographer in recording so many of the ships while they were still sea-going.
Attractively produced, this is not just a book for the enthusiast, but for anyone at all interested, not just in Dublin’s past, but in a much neglected aspect of our national history.
Over the last few months I have heard three different Government ministers, including Mr Cowen, extolling the importance of ”heritage” to tourism and the creation of those all important ”bed-nights” around which our economy seems to spins.
The ship builders chronicled in these pages are part of that heritage, part of the heritage which the Maritime Institute of Ireland museum was set up to foster, but which central funding has neglected. Let us hope that Pat Sweeny’s excellent book will be a foundation on which a new future for Ireland’s total maritime heritage may be built.
What a week for books I’ve commissioned it is turning out to be! Laurence Fenton’s The Young Ireland Rebellion and Limerick was featured in the Irish Examiner at the weekend. I’m delighted, it’s a fine book on a fascinating topic:
LAURENCE FENTON has written a tantalising introduction to the events leading to the Young Ireland rebellion of 1848.
The author’s goal was to “explore the manner in which the men and women of Limerick reacted to the tumultuous year of revolutions”.
This sense of something beyond the everyday pervades the book, which is a collection of essays about the area and its people. There is a concise, well-put-together account of the history of the area by Poyntz and Jim Hyland, a lyrical description of the personal effect of the beauty of the Burren by Tony Hartnett (“There is something here that pulls at you inside”) and a deeply personal piece by Lelia Doolan, who spent her childhood summers in the Burren.
a lavishly illustrated portrait of the city and county, charting the changes in the historical areas, such as the Georgian Quarter and St John’s Castle, as well as towns and villages such as Adare, Bruree, Kilmallock and Newcastlewest. One of the more fascinating sections is about the building of the Shannon scheme at Ardnacrusha, which put Ireland on the map internationally and helped to raise the profile of the infant Irish Free State abroad.
Always nice to see one of my commissions getting a review, however late after release. Patrick Kavanagh & The Leader is the third book by the very talented Pat Walsh. His previous two were also published by companies I worked with (Nonsuch & Mercier). He has an ability to spot a great story and bring it to life and he does that again with this book.
Kavanagh was perennially poor, thoroughly abrasive and ready to bite all hands that tried to feed him. With no carapace to ease the world’s buffets he used an anonymous profile in a Dublin magazine as a chance to ease his hurt and make a bit of money. The resulting trial in 1954 became the finest piece of theatre ‘the blind and ignorant town’ had experienced for years.
Some time ago, while I was still working at Mercier Press, probably back in early 2008 in fact, I read a submission. It was for a book by a young man called Kieran Mark Crowley. The pitch was great, the text was zingy and the whole thing just read exceptionally well.
I met Mark, liked, him, pitched the book at the new title meeting and before we knew what was happening, Colm & The Lazarus Key was published and on bookshelves (complete with a rocking cover by the wonderful Snowbooks folks).
Last week the shortlist for the 20th Bisto Children’s Book of the Year Awards was announced and Kieran’s wonderful book was one of the ten books chosen for that shortlist. I’m delighted because I honestly believe that Kieran has many more fine books in him and that Colm & The Lazarus Key is one of the finest Irish children’s debut novels for some time.