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Arts & Culture

Inspiring hope through travel tales

Lahinch author Ruairí McKiernan writes about the challenges of writing his first book, overcoming initial rejection from publishers, and then launching what became a No.1 bestseller at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was never my dream to write a book, but it seemed life had other plans. The first call to write came when I was 23 and living in Canada. A publisher approached me after hearing me on the radio discussing globalisation. I was no expert on the subject, but I decided to give it a go. A third of the way through the first draft I gave up. Too hard, too time-consuming; the writing life not for me. “Never again,” I said. Fast forward a decade. I’m hitchhiking around Ireland on what I called a listening tour; seeking out hope for myself and my country. At that time I was burnt out, feeling lost and depressed, and so too was post-boom Ireland. I began meditating, bringing awareness to …

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UCH panto extended due to “overwhelming” demand

IRELAND’S only Irish Sign Language Interpreted pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk at UCH Limerick has been extended due to overwhelming public demand. The panto will now run until midnight on Sunday, January 10 with a choice of online streams with or without signing. With people watching everywhere from Panama to Portlaoise and Brisbane to Bantry, the UCH Panto has already been viewed thousands of times right across the world. People have tuned in over Christmas from countries including Australia, the US, South America, Canada and New Zealand, as well as throughout Europe and of course, in every corner of Ireland. The smash hit international sensation can now be enjoyed for an extra week, keeping the kids entertained during their prolonged holiday. Jack & The Beanstalk features long time UCH Panto favourite, Richie Hayes, joined by the always irresistible Dame Myles Breen. Liam O’Brien of Emmerdale fame makes his UCH Panto debut as the baddest of baddies! Dayl Cronin, is back …

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Another top writer’s prize for Lisdoonvarna novelist

LISDOONVARNA writer Bill Bradshaw has finished a tough year on a high note after his third book scooped him a prestigious international award. The plot of his third book, Delphine, is described as a horror story, exploring moral taboos and family dynamics in a fictional Clare town. In recent days, it earned Bill the prestigious Kite Award from the World Authors organisation. The novel fought off stiff international competition, but judges chose it from a highly competitive field, describing it as a “searing supernatural thriller”. The former prison officer and Rathkeale native isn’t resting on his laurels, with two more novels in the pipeline and plans to turn Delphine into a six-part Netflix series. Delphine has already won several awards in the US and the film script took honours in Tokyo, Estonia, the UK and Canada, where it picked up the Fear of the Year Award in Toronto.

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Paddy Cole shares love of Lahinch in new autobiography

AS HIS book The King of the Swingers climbs the best selling Irish books chart this Christmas the veteran musician Paddy Cole has revealed that he put the finishing touches to it in Lahinch, where he has a holiday home for years. The acclaimed saxophonist also penned a poem, during lockdown, about his love of the Banner County. The memoir was written, during lockdown, with Galway author Tom Gilmore. With both of them cocooning on different sides of the country, most of the interviews were done via Skype. “However, when the first lockdown was lifted, Tom and myself met in Lahinch over a weekend and the finishing touches were put to the book at Lahinch Golf Club,” Paddy said. Known to music fans as ‘The King of the Swingers,’ Paddy has been an international star for almost 70 years and his book lifts the lid on his showbiz exploits at home and abroad. The autobiography reveals the secrets of his …

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Tributes pour in as Edna O’Brien turns 90

Tuamgraney-born author Edna O’Brien celebrated her 90th birthday this week to huge plaudits from the global literary world. President Michael D Higgins described the novelist as one of the finest chroniclers of Irish life. Widely regarded as Ireland’s greatest living writer, Ms O’Brien marked her birthday with the delivery of the TS Eliot lecture on Eliot and James Joyce for The Abbey Theatre. The piece was recorded at the Irish Embassy in London and broadcast on Tuesday evening (December 15). Ms O’Brien’s debut novel The County Girls convulsed 1960s Ireland with its honest representation of female sexuality and small town communities. Despite the reaction, Ms O’Brien in an interview in 1970 with RTÉ expressed warm feelings fro the county. “I would not want to have come from anywhere else despite certain inconveniences which I haven’t omitted to remember,” she said. In more recent years, The Country Girls trilogy has taken its rightful place in the canon of 20th century Irish …

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Bunratty woman ‘jumps the gate’ to create line of children’s books

CREATIVITY, and an eye for a gap in the market, has inspired a Bunratty woman to ‘Jump Over the Gate,’ by developing a line of children’s books. Interior designer Edel Moloney has branched into children’s publishing, alongside a creative team featuring writer Róisín Meaney and illustrator Louisa Condon. The new company, called Jump Over the Gate, has created what Edel describes as “Ireland’s coolest puffin, Puffin Paulie, who resides in his burrow at the Cliffs of Moher”. “We’re three women with complementary skills,” notes Edel. “We’re very excited about the potential of this project.” Puffin Paulie Goes West is the first of two planned books, which will be accompanied by merchandise including a soft toy and T-shirts. The book, which is available, fittingly, at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Centre, features Paulie on the back of his motorbike whizzing along the west coast, playing tunes, surfing the waves, cleaning some beaches and having lots of fun. his wonderful and entertaining …

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Tara’s play creates waves on air

IMAGINE a typical rural shopkeeper in the Ireland of yesteryear. “I picture him wearing a brown shop coat with ballpoint pens in his top pocket,” says actor and journalist, Jim O’Brien of Ogonnelloe. “He lives over the shop, and the shop is his life.” Now imagine that his merchandise is of a very specialised variety. This shopkeeper’s trade is not in groceries or other domestic essentials. His customers come from far and wide to purchase accoutrements of every kind, from small nuclear weapons to solar-powered chainsaws. All of them are tailored to the client’s exact needs. The only thing that links them is the fact they are all ‘plot unblocking devices’. This is the kind of shop – or rather ‘emporium’ – that is at the heart of an award-winning radio play recently produced and aired on Scariff Bay Community Radio. Its writer Tara Sparling devised the fantastical plot in a post on her popular blog (Tarasparling.com) and was encouraged …

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Key Clare images from War of Independence brought to life in colour

COLOURISED images of key moments in Clare’s revolutionary history have been included in a new book on the period between the East Rising and the foundation of the State. Among the pictures that author Michael Barry has included in An Illustrated History of the Irish Revolution (1916-1923) is a photograph of Eamon De Valera at Ennis Courthouse after the by-election of 1917. Other shots include scenes of tanks in Clare and an armoured car at the RIC barracks in Ennis. There is also a picture of De Valera’s arrest in 1923 at a Sinn Féin gathering. The latter appeared in the Illustrated London News just after the outbreak of the Civil War.   There’s also a photo of De Valera in America in the period 1919-1920. During a visit to the Chippewa Reservation Reserve in Wisconsin, he was famously made honorary chief of a Chippewa tribe, and the colourised image shows him wearing a Native American ceremonial headdress. “I specially …

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