Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ballylinan Writers Group

‘Lines from Sleepy Hollow’ is the title of the book launched last week by the Ballylinan Writers Group.  The book is an enjoyable literary saunter, courtesy of an impressive list of local writers ranging from young pupils of Ballylinan National School to the ageless and tireless James Farrell who produced his own book of reminiscences a year or so ago.

Mary Liz Carbery who is administrator of the Molly Kane Writers Centre in Waterford features with her own short story ‘Carol Goes to Eddies’.  This is the second time within recent weeks for one of Mary’s stories to be included in a book of short stories.  Her work first appeared in the Liberty Press publication ‘Little Book of Christmas Memories’ which was launched two weeks ago.  Mary joined such illustrious writers as Roddy Doyle, Dermot Bolger and a host of other well known Irish writers with the inclusion of her story, ‘The Year of the 22’.  Mary was also one of the participants in the Edwardian evening held this week in Cosby Hall Stradbally where she gave a reading to an appreciative audience of one of her short stories.

It has been a great year for Athy based writers, what with the success of Niamh Boyce’s ‘The Herbalist’ and now the emerging talent of Mary Carbery. 

The Ballylinan Writers Group publication features a wonderful collection of short stories, ranging from Tony Lacey’s historical introduction to the village of Ballylinan and its hinterland.  We who live in what was once the garrison town of Athy (as mentioned by Tony) cannot but be envious of the wonderfully extensive history which underpins community life in Ballylinan and its near neighbour Barrowhouse.  It’s a history which comes alive in the essay by Tony Lacey and brought up to date in more recent times in the writings of James Farrell whose experience of life in Ballylinan stretches back over eight decades.

Apart from the pupils of Ballylinan National School there are twelve contributors to the book, all members of the Ballylinan Writers Group.  I understand the Writers Group was set up by Brid Brophy of the South East Laois Arts Committee in 2008.  Meetings are held every two weeks in Flemings of Ballylinan and such well known writers as Ann Egan and John MacKenna have provided writing courses for its members.  Two members of the group who have obviously benefited hugely from their involvement are Bridget Bambrick, who published a book in March 2012 and Ballylinan resident Niamh Boyce, who won this year’s Young Irish Writer of the Year Award.

Their colleagues who have short stories in ‘Lines from Sleepy Hollow’ include Geraldine O’Neill, Dolores McHugh, Mary Carbery, Anthony O’Grady, Liz O’Rourke, Paddy O’Byrne, Aidan McHugh, Marian George, Brid Brophy, Tony Lacey and Jimmy Farrell. 

I end this piece courtesy of a beautiful Christmas card received from John MacKenna, author, playwright and actor with words composed by the man whom I regard as one of the finest Irish writers of his generation.

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