Category Archives: Literature

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In the summer of 1952, sixty-year-old J.R.R. Tolkien encountered a tape recorder for the first time [and]…So enchanted was Tolkien with this novel technology that he proceeded to record himself reading much of his work over the years to come.

MORE: J.R.R. Tolkien Reads from The Lord of the Rings and Sings “Sam’s Rhyme of the Troll” in a Rare Recording (Brain Pickings)

(Image: The One Ring)


SaraBaume1 [Sarah Davis-Goff]


Enjoy the written word?

The first guests for this year’s West Cork Literary Festival were unveiled earlier  this week, with a collection of national and international names appearing at the event, running July 14-21 in Bantry.

Louise Kearney writes:

Colm Tóibín, Anne Enright, Mike McCormack, Sara Baume (pictured) and Alissa Nutting are just some of the guests announced for the  West Cork Literary Festival, which runs in venues all over Bantry, West Cork, from July 14th to 21st.

Poetry is again well represented with the new Ireland Chair of Poetry 2016-2019, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Paula Meehan, former Ireland Chair of Poetry (2013-2016), and former editor of Poetry Ireland Vona Groarke.

Since the Festival’s inception in the late 1990s workshops have been at its heart, encouraging both novice and experienced writers. Dean Bakopoulos, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Vona Groarke, Lara Marlowe, Dave Lordan, John Spillane, and Phoebe Smith are among those facilitating workshops.

From Writing a Novel to Investigative Reporting Techniques, Playwriting to Poetry, there is a workshop to suit every aspiring, or established writer, looking to spend time in beautiful Bantry honing their craft.

West Cork Literary Festival

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Maps you may or may not have perused as a child, including Frank L Baum’s map of Oz (above). To wit:

All told, Baum drew forty individual maps of Oz to accompany his novel. This is the major one, though, showing the entirety of the land and its surrounding areas. The Emerald City, in the center, is surrounded by four distinct countries.

MORE: The Maps We Wandered Into As Kids (The Awl)


From top: Poet Kevin Higgins: Anthony Cronin

On the passing of  Anthony Cronin, poet, writer and Charles Haughey’s cultural attaché.

One Has To Admire His Ability As A Poet

“I was struck by … his courage in speaking out to defend the memory of Charles Haughey”
Vincent Woods, RTÉ website

To defend the memory of Boris Yeltsin’s
vodka bottle. To take money from both the late Benito
Mussolini and, when pragmatism demanded it, those
who spat on him when he was safely
hanging upside down outside an Esso station.
To put in the proper context of realpolitik
as practised in parts of County Wexford
the late Father Fortune’s harem of boys.
To share a Ouija board with President Duvalier
while supping rum from the skull of an infant
who was always going to come to this
because, in the words of W.H.Auden,
‘poetry makes fuck-all difference’.
To share a roast leg with General Amin
and not mind which of his enemies was being eaten.
To recite even his longer poems
to a musical accompaniment of Vladimir Putin
twanging his jock-strap, like a rude balalaika.
To roll around wrapped in the French flag
with Marine Le Pen, whispering
in her cockle shell the words ‘Barbie, Bormann,
Goering’, because that’s the sort of thing
an advocate for the arts must sometimes do.

Kevin Higgins

First published by Poethead (curated by Christine Murray).



The Frank O’Connor library, in the Mayfield area of Cork city’s northside, has closed indefinitely owing to the failure of the building’s heating.

The library, which has also been beset by short-staffing issues in recent years, closed yesterday, with Cork City Council being able to offer very little notice given the nature of the issue.

Sinn Féin Cllr. Stephen Cunningham wrote yesterday online:

I just received information that the Frank O’Connor Library in Mayfield will be closed indefinitely from close of business today to carry out repairs. This is of much concern and I will be raising the issue with City Council management and the library services over the coming days.

Mayfield is an area that has long been deprived of the services and facilities needed to thrive. With no bank, very few services for the community and the ongoing staffing and investment issues with the library itself, I feel it is important that the funding required to carry out the repairs is provided immediately to ensure the library is re-opened as soon as possible.

I will post updates as I get them. In the mean time, it is my understanding the City Library on the Grand Parade will take book returns.

Mayfield Library


Irish rabble-rouser laureate Dave Lordan, he of the Bogman’s Cannon, has been busy on his latest opus: a collection of essays discussing Irish & international literature, multimedia and social change, entitled The Word in Flames.

It’s available exclusively as an eBook from Lordan himself, at the suggested donation of €10 (bigger or smaller accepted), with all proceeds funding an upgrade of his community-use media suite.

Writes William Wall, Author of This is The Country:

Every once in a while an organic intellectual pushes through, by sheer strength of will and intellectual capability, the dense network of disciplinary and punitive systems that are designed to control the working class. Such a person is rare in Ireland, because public life works to hedge around and make precarious the voice of the outsider who has not been to the right school or played the right games. Dave Lordan is one such voice.

Payment via Paypal:

Bogman’s Cannon


Consternation has broken out in the Irish literary community with news breaking last night of Dublin independent publishing house Liberties Press instituting a €100 reading fee for authors’ manuscripts.

Liberties boss Seán O’Keeffe plays it off as covering costs and maintaining standards in this piece in the Irish Times.

“They are, of course, free not to send material our way. However, we have a hard-earned reputation as an innovative and successful publisher, and we believe that in a few years, this will be standard practice among publishers.

We receive hundreds of unsolicited submissions every year, and if this policy results in the number declining, that will be no bad thing.

We hope it will encourage authors to think carefully before submitting material to us, and to value the work we do.”

Irish lit Twitter is, of course, apoplectic. Writer and founder of, Susan Tomaselli has been vocal since the story broke last night.

Writer Thomas Morris, currently of Faber Books, has his carefully-measured thoughts on the matter:


Publisher takes Liberties (Irish Times)

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In the 1960s, realising that the surrealist Salvador Dali and the fantasist mathematician Lewis Carroll were quite possibly of a mind, publishers Random House commissioned Dali to create illustrations for a special limited edition of Alice In Wonderland, of which the artist signed every copy.

Long sought after by bibliophiles and making rare appearances at auction, the edition is something of a publishing legend.

For the 150th anniversary of Carroll’s 1865 surrealist masterpiece, Princeton University Press reprinted the original edition.

Above: Dali’s illustrations forThe Mock Turtle’s Story; The Caucus Race and A Long Tail; The Lobster’s Quadrille; The Queen’s Croquet Ground; Down The Rabbit Hole and Advice From A Caterpillar.