Thousands of children all over County Clare visited their libraries in October 2009 to enjoy the varied programme of events organized to celebrate children’s books and reading during Children’s Book Festival. The celebrations began with the official festival launch in the Seán Lemass Public Library, Shannon, on the 3rd of October by Councillor John Crowe. Hundreds of young visitors along with their parents enjoyed non-stop entertainment in a four hour extravaganza of fun, including disco dancing, juggling and magic with the added attraction of a chocolate fountain. The hero of the day was Famous Seamus, who unicycled and juggled with hurleys and knives, all at the same time, to prove that men can multi-task after all. The launch kicked off a full month of children’s activities in Clare’s fifteen library branches where children met with authors and storytellers from Ireland and around the world, participated in print workshops, listened to the poetry of Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Paul Tubb and one of Britain’s best loved and most famous children’s poets, Brian Moses, who even inspired air-guitar displays from his young audiences! Children’s puppet theatre also featured in this year’s programme providing an opportunity for children to explore everyday issues in a fun atmosphere with lots of interaction from enthusiastic audiences. Overall this year’s festival was an oustanding success with reports from branches that some events could have been filled twice over.
Five authors, Sarah Webb, Enda Wyley, Meadhbh Ní Eadhra, Fiona Tierney and Kieran Mark Crowley toured the county during the month bringing their books to both the very young and older children and offering plenty of tips on how to become a writer and construct a story for children in senior classes. Sarah Webb brought children and parents together in a special event for pre-schoolers and their parents in Shannon Library designed to provide ideas for selection and sharing of stories with children from an early age. Poet and author Enda Wyley whose books for children (including The Silver Notebook) are published by O’Brien Press spoke with older children about how begin writing and how to translate everyday events into creative experiences by using the imagination. The children she met with in Ennistymon, Miltown Malbay, Lisdoonvarna, Kilmihil and Kildysart were all enthused by this writer’s personal experiences and her warm, charming personality. Appalachian storyteller Jerry Harmon told stories, played his guitar and sang songs from the southern mountains of America giving his audiences a chance to see a unique and very entertaining performance in what must have been a school day with a difference for the children whose teachers took them to the library. Andrew McKenna, whose stories are shaped by Australia’s local legends and millions of stories from all over the world gave an all encompassing performance inviting children, librarians and teachers to become involved in the enrichment of his tales.
Dog and String Theatre’s performance of Tales from the Forest had children from Ennistymon to Kilkee shouting at the King and searching for puppet characters among the bookshelves of their local libraries. Individual branches held fancy dress competitions for the best dressed book character, provided traditional games, storytimes and craft classes to the generous appreciation of children and parents in towns and villages in the county. Clare County Library is most grateful for sponsorship received from local industry and businesses for Children’s Book Festival. Please click here for a list of sponsors of this year’s Children’s Book Festival in Clare.