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Clare writer receives two nominations for Irish Book Awards

RELEASING her debut prose book ‘A Ghost in the Throat’ in the midst of a pandemic, Clare poet and author Doireann Ní Ghríofa admits she didn’t know what to expect. However, she had no need to worry, with the publication going on to receive critical acclaim, becoming a best seller and securing two nominations in the forthcoming Irish Book Awards. Doireann, who grew up in Kilnamona tells us, “It was due to be published in April but that was postponed until the summer. Everything was so strange with the coronavirus, and I was worried that after so many years of work, that my book would sink without trace and completely disappear – but I was wrong. “Readers took it into their hearts from the very start, and they kept it the Top 10 national bestsellers from when it was published in August all the way up to October, something I could never have dreamed of. I’ve been surprised and delighted …

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Flagmount woman’s poetry raises funds for IKA

A FLAGMOUNT woman is using her new-found literary talent to express her gratitude to an organisation to that supported her to donate a kidney to her husband. Reah Higgins and her husband Aaron underwent surgery in January 2017 so that the couple could share the gift of life. For a number of years up to that point, Aaron had been on gruelling dialysis to manage his chronic kidney disease. “I was a live donor in this instance and fortunately it was a success,” said Reah, “We were blessed to be a match and it was a miracle really and life changing, in that we could make plans again. We had been very restricted before with Aaron on dialysis three times a week and often ill or fatigued. He now has lots more energy, less hospital appointments and his spark back.” Together with their sons Fionn (12) and Stephen (10), the couple have been enjoying greater freedom until the pandemic hit …

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Composer inspires a new musical generation

MUSIC and its impact on mental health and well-being are the twin elements that concertina player, composer and producer Pádraig Rynne has been reflecting a lot on lately. As Development Officer with Music Generation Clare, his ‘day job’ takes him to educational settings the length and breadth of the county – mainly virtually – and he has seen first-hand the benefits for children and teens of creating, composing and performing. Music Generation is a national partnership programme whose mission is to create inspiring experiences for children and young people through music. In a county like Clare, where songs and tunes are part of the fabric of daily life, the organisation has been going from strength-to-strength over the last seven years. The pandemic has prompted it to move many of its core activities online, and, with other young peoples’ activities curtailed, it has been a creative lifeline for many. “When the lockdown hit last March, we were lucky to have so …

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Return to The Twelve

The other weekend I took the chance to slip away with my hoomans for another little break. It looks like we were just in time. Although Level 3 doesn’t mention dogs, I have a feeling I’ll be staying at home for the next few weeks. Saturday morning saw us heading for Galway city with a stop in Clarinbridge for a swift dogguccino. We had a little wander around the city but it was soon time to head off again and as I suspected, we were going to The Twelve, my Galway home from home. Now I hadn’t arranged this trip, the hoomans had and they’d have to pay for it too because my bone account has gone into boverdraft. I’m not worried though as I believe the Government are making PUP payments now. It’s been a while since I was a pup but I’m so cute I’m sure I’ll get away with it and it won’t be long before my …

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Looking forward to Brunch

Doggy Brunch for Animal Welfare Charity

With apologies to my friend Bev, I have to take over the column again this week to tell you how I spent my weekend. I was lamped into the shower early so I knew something was up but then I went to Pat, my lovely dog minder. I haven’t stayed there much since Covid began so it was nice to have a proper catch-up as I was in residence for two nights. I love a little change of scenery. On Sunday, I was collected bright and early and after a quick dogguccino, we headed off in the car. When we arrived in Limerick, I was hoping we’d be going to The Buttery, where dogs are always welcome, although I was puzzled, as we usually go on a Saturday. What a sight met me! Dogs everywhere, inside and out. It turns out that this was a Doggie Brunch in aid of Limerick Animal Welfare. What a lovely idea, although I noticed …

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Sweet smell of success for childhood friends

TWO enterprising Ennis ladies put the long weeks of the lockdown to good use when they learned news skills and started their own business. Danielle Kenneally and Chantell Keane, who are long-time friends, and hail from Waterpark Heights and Hermitage respectively, both have day jobs that they love, but recently found that a shared passion for candle-making has inspired them to work towards building their own business. “We go back a long way,” said Chantell. “We spend a lot of time together and during lockdown, we decided that we would do some online training. We were interested in scented candles because we both love them and saw a gap in the market in terms of providing a great customer service.” The girls were soon putting their training and creativity to good use with the production of a special line of wax melts. “A wax melt is basically a wickless candle,” Danielle explained. “They’re fragranced and you melt them by putting …

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I could get very used to travelling in a convertible. It's the human's 325i.

Lockdown Staycation Part II

So, this is the second part of our lockdown staycation. After visiting the Twelve Hotel in Galway, I got a taste for another adventure so last weekend we went off to another of my favourite places, BrookLodge in Co Wicklow. Because the weather was so nice, the humans decided to take that funny car with a tent instead of a proper roof. It was bought last year but it seemed to spend most of the summer in the garage with bits being done to it but it seems to be ready now. I only half listen but I believe it’s had softer springs fitted since I drove in it last and it really makes a difference. I can snooze comfortably in the footwell now and that’s all that matters. Even though rain was threatening as we arrived in Aughrim, the roof was folded down for the last bit of the journey, allowing me to sniff the air. As we pulled …

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Harsh realities inspire jailers’ tales

PRISON might seem an unlikely environment to inspire a creative career. For Lisdoonvarna’s Bill Bradshaw, however, working in that tense, high-pressure environment did exactly that. The Rathkeale native is an award-winning screenwriter and novelist, and credits a long career as a prison officer with his unique writing style, as well as some of his subject matter. Bill has just published his third book, Delphine, which draws on influences such as horror writer Stephen King and explores moral taboos and family dynamics. Two more novels are in the pipeline and Bill is actively fundraising to turn Delphine into a six-part Netflix series. He is also part of a Clare-based publishing initiative, backed by the Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and bringing together a number of other creative minds. While his work in the Irish Prison Service is partly responsible for Bill’s approach to his writing, it is a career that has taken a heavy toll. “There is a raw reality in a …

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