Thursday 27 May 2010

Fleadh Nua Ennis 1977

Brief video clip of Fleadh Nua and Campsite in Ennis in 1977. Posted on Youtube by Failte Slainte on 21st November 2009

Bisto Children’s Book of the Year Award winners to visit Clare County Library

The Third Pig Detective AgencyWinners of the prestigious Bisto Children’s Book of the Year Award are scheduled to visit Clare County Library for Children’s Book Festival 2010. Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick has won the 20th Bisto Children’s Book of the Year Award for her stunning picture book There. The results were announced on Monday 24th May 2010 at a ceremony in The Hugh Lane Gallery where Marie-Louise was presented with a cheque for €10,000 by Senator David Norris, Sean Brett, Marketing Controller Premier Foods and Chairperson of the Judging Panel, Maire Uí Mhaicín. This is Marie-Louise’s third win in these prestigious awards, winning in 2001 and 2003 with two of her previous picture books You, Me and the Big Blue Sea and Izzy and Skunk.

Clare County Library is delighted that Marie-Louise will be one of the main attractions for this year’s Children’s Book Festival which will be celebrated in all branches throughout the county in October 2010. Clare author Bob Burke won the Eilis Dillon Award in this year’s Children’s Book of the Year honours for his recent and much publicized book, The Third Pig Detective Agency. In it Harry Pig, one of the three renowned little pigs whom we’ve all been introduced to in our childhood years, has grown up to be a private detective. Described by critics as a book for everyone, the wit and charm of this publication will entice readers young and old. Bob Burke will also tour library branches during CBF 2010. Look out for both authors at a branch of Clare County Library near you.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Get behind the Cliffs of Moher – Vote Now!

The Cliffs of Moher and the New 7 Wonders of NatureThe Cliffs of Moher in County Clare have been listed in the top 28 in the global online campaign for the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The third and final phase of voting is now underway with people again able to vote for the Cliffs from the selection of 28 official finalist candidates. All votes from phase one and two are not counted in the final phase so it is vital that everyone votes again. The new 7 natural wonders of Nature will be chosen by an estimated 1 billion votes. Voting will continue throughout 2010 and 2011 with the official declaration of the new 7 wonders of Nature taking place on 11 November 2011. The famous County Clare landmark is Ireland’s entry and needs your support more than ever.

The New 7 Wonders of Nature campaign was set up by the New 7 Wonders Foundation – a Swiss based non-profit organisation. It is a global online and telephone/text voting campaign. This group organised a global vote on the New 7 Wonders of the manmade world that completed in 2007 and saw over 100 million votes cast around the world. They expect that the current New 7 Wonders of Nature campaign will see 1 billion votes cast.

Why should I vote for the Cliffs of Moher?
The Cliffs of Moher are 320 million years old and tell the story of the earth through geological time. They are Ireland’s most visited natural attraction with almost one million visitors every year. They are a Special Protected Area for seabirds with over 30,000 nesting pairs each year including Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmars & Kittiwakes and so Ireland’s largest mainland seabird nesting colony. O’Brien’s Tower, the first visitor centre, was built 175 years ago in 1835 by Cornelius O’Brien. Ireland’s largest and most spectacular surfing wave “Aileens” rises below O’Brien’s Tower. They have inspired music, literature and legend since time immemorial

What would this mean for Ireland?
Success in this campaign would lead to huge economic benefit to the island of Ireland as a whole and the west of Ireland and County Clare in particular. Failte Ireland has estimated that it could drive 35% more overseas tourists to Ireland - this could mean an additional €1.7billion in tourism revenues. The previous global vote to find the New 7 Wonders of the manmade world has been assessed as driving US$5billion in tourism revenue globally as well as other areas (e.g. media spend etc.)

Ireland needs your help to see the Cliffs become one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, so please get behind the Cliffs today and vote. Log onto and vote now!

Thursday 20 May 2010

Troubles by J G Farrell voted as the best novel of the 1970s

Troubles by J G FarrellForty years after it was first published, Troubles by J G Farrell has been announced as the winner of the Lost Man Booker Prize - a one-off prize to honour the books published in 1970, but not considered for the prize when its rules were changed. It won by a clear majority, winning 38% of the 4,000 votes cast by the international reading public, more than double the votes cast for any other book on the shortlist. Troubles - set in Ireland during the War of Independence - is the first in Farrell's trilogy on the British Empire. The other books in the trilogy are The Siege of Krishnapur, which takes place during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and The Singapore Grip which is set in Singapore just before the Japanese invasion in the Second World War. The Siege of Krishnapur won the Booker Prize in 1973 and was shortlisted for the Best of the Booker, a special award created to mark the 40th anniversary of the prize in 2008. Set in Ireland in 1919, just after the First World War, Troubles tells the story of Major Brendan Archer who has gone to visit Angela, a woman he believes may be his fiancée. Her home, from which he is unable to detach himself, is the dilapidated Majestic, a once grand Irish hotel, and all around is the gathering storm of the Irish War of Independence. Ion Trewin, Literary Director of the Man Booker Prizes commented, "Troubles is a novel of such lasting quality that it has never been out of print in the 40 years since it was first published. Had this been the winning novel in 1970, J G Farrell would have gone on to become the first author to win the Booker Prize twice." Farrell was born in England. He grew up in Ireland and was living here at the time of his early death by drowning off the coast of Cork. The winning book was voted for via the Man Booker Prize website, chosen from a shortlist of six selected by a panel of three judges, all of whom were born in or around 1970. The shortlist included The Birds on the Trees by Nina Bawden; The Bay of Noon by Shirley Hazzard; Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault; The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark and The Vivisector by Patrick White. All of the titles have seen a boost in sales since the shortlist for the prize was announced. "When you consider that some of these books were out of print a short time ago, the Lost Booker has had a Lazarus-type effect on their sales – we're now selling them in their hundreds," said Waterstone's fiction buyer, Janine Cook. "It proves that a good book is a good book, someone just needs to be told about it." The Booker Prize started in 1969. The original concept was to award a prize to the best fiction book written by a Commonwealth citizen in the previous year. Then, in 1971, the rules were changed. It was decided the prize would be awarded to the best book of the current year. At the same time the award moved from April to November and, as a result, a wealth of fiction published for much of 1970 fell through the net and was never considered for the prize.

The Banjo Strikes Back at Fleadh Nua

BanjoThe reception which greets a Banjo Player when he or she turns up at a session often differs from that afforded to other musicians. For, despite the best efforts of Barney McKenna, Kieran Hanrahan and Gerry “Banjo” O’Connor, the Banjo does not enjoy universal and unqualified acceptance among the Trad Community. Thus the arrival of a “Framus” or a “Deering” on the scene can often spell the end of a session. Horrified at hearing of this discrimination, the Equality Authority demanded that Fleadh Nua take immediate action to remedy this injustice. And so “The Banjo Strikes Back!!” was born. Declan Brandon has kindly made his fine hostelry available for this dedicated Banjo, Mandolin and Guitar Session – nowhere else in the town has the required level of sound proofing!! So if you prefer your tunes plucked rather than played join Fleadh Nua in Brandon’s on Friday, 28th May from 7.00 p.m. And remember - there is no show like a Banjo show! More info...

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Dorothea Lange - County Clare captured in photos in 1954

Michael Patsy FlanaganDorothea Lange is one of the most influential photographers of all time. She is most associated with her iconic photographs of the Great Depression in the USA, but in 1954 she spent a month in Ireland and took 2,400 photographs. Part of that archive was published in the book, Dorothea Lange’s Ireland, edited by Gerry Mullins, which was a bestseller in 1996. It was also the basis for the documentary film Photos to Send , which won Best Documentary awards in Galway and nine other film festivals around the world. During that trip in 1954 she spent a few days in Dublin, and a month in County Clare, on the farms, and at the fairs, hurling matches, churches, villages and towns. She was accompanied by her journalist son, Daniel Dixon, who wrote the essay to go with her Irish photos in Life Magazine in March 1955. According to Daniel Dixon, “the photographs Dorothea Lange took during her time in Clare have become part of the heritage and history of the county. She looked at and into the people of Clare. There are photographs of the Clare people at hurling matches, at snug gatherings. She also made beautiful portraits of the eternal landscape of Clare. There are photographs of faith, age, strength and eternity. She also captured the future of Clare in 1954. She believed in the children of the county. She knew the people because they were rooted in the land and they made her feel at home”.

Dorothea Lange was drawn to Clare through the work of Harvard scholar Conrad Arensberg who lived outside Doolin from 1932 to 1934 in order to experience rural life in Ireland. Arensberg’s experience in Clare was recorded in The Irish Countryman, a celebrated book that painted word pictures of the social and economic traditions of rural living. It was this publication that resulted in Lange capturing close to 2,000 images of Clare. Arensberg also published Family and Community in Ireland with Solon T. Kimball as part of the 'Harvard Irish Study, a three-stranded study undertaken by researchers from Harvard University in Ireland between 1931 and 1936'.

Contact prints of the 20,820 photos in the "Early Years (1918- ) Portraits & Lange Personal Photos" can be viewed on the Online Archive of California website at;developer=local;style=oac4;doc.view=items

Limiting the collection by searching for 'Ireland' brings up 2,400 images:;developer=local;style=oac4;doc.view=items#onlineitems=/search%3Frelation%3Dark%3A/13030/ft3f59n5wt%3Bstyle%3Dattached%3Bquery%3DIreland

Or selecting the 'Ireland' subsection of the 'Collection Contents' brings up;dsc.position=30001;style=oac4;view=dsc#omca_742
which also includes descriptions of the photos and links to thumbnail and larger versions of the contact prints, many of which of course feature people and places in County Clare in 1954.

The late Michael Patsy Flanagan, from Barrtra, Lahinch, was one of those photographed working on his farm by Dorothea Lange in 1954 as she travelled through County Clare. Michael Patsy was the drummer with the Tulla Céilí Band for more than fifty years.

Monday 17 May 2010

Stuck for Words - Mondays on RTE1

Stuck for Words“I left school not being able to write my own name. The biggest problem with not being able to read and write is that people will find out the problem – you just build up a fear in yourself. You just don’t want anyone to know,” says Tom Flynn from Knocklong, Co. Limerick who features in a new RTE TV series ‘Stuck for Words’. Like many people his age, Tom left school without being able to read and write and spent many years living with the fear of being found out. “I left school at 14 and got work on a farm because there was no reading and writing on that. I was always afraid people would look down on me because when you can’t read and write you feel you can’t talk to people who are more education than you.” Attending local dances, buying cattle at the mart, and going to restaurants were a source of great fear for Tom, as he couldn’t fill out forms or read a menu, so he rarely went out. That is until he took the brave step back into education and since then he has never looked back.

“This is going to be like school, I had in my own mind. But when I got in there it was completely different. It was a different setting altogether. The first thing I did was learn to write my own name!” says Tom. 8 years on, he’s still learning. And he has one big ambition - to sing a full song from a page at the local ‘rambling house’ in his local community. Most of us take reading and writing for granted but for thousands of Irish it’s a constant struggle. ‘Stuck for Words’, a new 6-part RTE documentary, tells the story of some of these people and the profound impact going back to education is having on their lives. On Monday 17 May at 7.30pm on RTE One, Tom tells his story and how learning to read is allowing him to lead a fuller life. “I never went near a library, that’s one thing I’m going to do now. I look forward to that now,” says Tom. ‘Stuck for Words’ is a personal transformation series that focuses on the journey of each individual person. It is a fresh, honest, often moving and insightful look at how people cope with having to learn the basic skills many of us take for granted. One in four adults in Ireland have difficulties with basic reading and writing skills, enough to affect their everyday lives. Many people invest a lot of time and energy into hiding this, due to the stigma associated with having literacy difficulties in today's society. This series aims to dispel this stigma and deepen our understanding of the importance of good literacy skills in 21st century Ireland. ‘Stuck for Words’ is a joint project between RTÉ and the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) with support from the BCI Sound & Vision fund. It will be broadcast on RTÉ One Television on Monday evenings at 7.30pm from the 10th of May.

Scariff’s Silver Birches – launch of mosaic artwork

Silver Birches, by Mayo artist John McNulty

The exquisite mosaic Silver Birches, by Mayo artist John McNulty, will be officially launched in the Scariff Public Library on Wednesday, May 19th at 2p.m. by Mayor of Clare, Tony Mulcahy. This artwork was commissioned in 2009 by Clare County Council through the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government’s ‘Per cent for Art Scheme’ following an open competition. The winning artwork was selected from over a dozen entries and according to Helen Walsh, County Librarian, ‘the standard of proposals was exceptionally high. We were initially concerned that the location would be challenging for artists, but were pleasantly surprised by the standard and variety of responses to the location. We are delighted with the finished piece and the reaction locally has been phenomenal’. The chosen work is a mosaic image of silver birch trees in a riverside environment with reeds, birds, insects and a fox created in glass and ceramic tile. The mosaic surface is fractured with multiple hues and sizes of tile. The tree trunks and larger branch shapes are cut from cement board and fixed to the base board to give a low relief to the tiling. The darker patterns on the tree trunks rising from the planter match the tone of the window and doorframes leading the eye up to the softer curves above. More fracturing towards the top with lighter and brighter colour reflects the light down into the space. Local transition year students at the nearby Scariff Community College were involved in creating the ceramic elements of birds and insects at workshops with the artist, under the guidance of their art teacher Mary Rouine. ‘The involvement of local people in the creation of the artwork is a very important element of commissioning public artworks’ explains Siobhán Mulcahy, County Arts Officer. ‘Not only did these young people get the opportunity to work with a professional artist, they learned about the various stages in planning, making and installing an artwork as well as gaining immense enjoyment from the creative process. They should be very proud of their efforts which will be on show as a lasting legacy at the library.’ The overall effect of the piece is to provide a bright calm space behind the library reflecting the natural habitat around Scariff. The local branch librarians are thrilled with the positive feedback from members of the public. Click here for more info on John McNulty...

Friday 14 May 2010

"Sweet Ennistymon" Performed By Danny Quinn

Danny Quinn, Live At Cornwall, playing "Sweet Ennistymon". Posted on Youtube on 28th March 2009 by DannyQuinnMusician

Recommended reads – from babies to teenagers

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Reading to your child in the years before going to school is of primary importance. It is our responsibility as adults to choose the most engaging books to get them hooked and with the enormous variety of picture books available today, choosing the best reads can be a challenging task. Children’s book experts including children’s editor of The Guardian Review Julia Eccleshare recommend the following tried and trusted titles for babies through to teenagers in The Guardian 12th May 2010 .

0 to 2 year olds:
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
The Baby’s Catalogue by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Where’s Spot? By Eric Carle
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Burningham
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
The odd egg by Emily Gravett
Hug by Jez Alborough
Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Browne

2 to 4 year olds:
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd
The Elephant and the Bad Baby by Elfrida Vipont and Raymond Briggs
The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
My Friend Harry by Kim Lewis
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Dogger by Shirley Hughes
Not Now Bernard by David McKee
Gorilla by Anthony Browne
Once There Were Giants by Martin Waddell and Penny Dale

5 to 7 year olds:
The Sheep-Pig by Dick King-Smith
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
The Legend of Captain Crow’s Teeth by Eoin Colfer
The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy
The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon by Mini Grey
Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown
Mr. Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire by Andy Stanton
Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age by Raymond Briggs
The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson

8 to 12 year olds:
Stig of the Dump by Clive King
Charlotte’s Web by EB White
The family from One End Street by Eve Garnett
The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
The Narnia Books by CS Lewis
Harry Potter Books by JK Rowling
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror by Chris Priestly
The Lionboy Trilogy by Zizou Corder
Skellig by David Almond

12 years old and over:
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian
A Little History of the World by EH Gombrich
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Witch Child by Celia Rees
Exposure by Mal Peet
The Sterkarm Handshake/The Sterkarm Kiss by Susan Price
The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean

Thursday 13 May 2010

Music PAL

Music PALAre you a musician, a music researcher, an aspiring composer or a music student? Clare County Library is now a member of the Music PAL scheme which opens doors to a wealth of music resources and will get you into some of the best music libraries anywhere in Ireland. Public libraries, academic libraries and special libraries are all included. The basic purpose of Music PAL is to facilitate access to music information and materials available across a broad range of libraries and archives throughout Ireland. Participating libraries collaborate to provide improved, easy access to the wealth of music resources held in Irish libraries. The scheme is aimed at music researchers, music students, musicians and aspiring composers.

People who want to access a music collection held by an organization which is participating in the scheme may apply for a Music Pal card to allow them to access materials in another library. Any member of Clare County Library with a current membership can be issued with a Music Pal card which is valid for a year. They can then access other libraries subject to the rules and conditions of those libraries. See for a list of the participating libraries and the rules for accessing them. Some of these libraries limit access to those undertaking scholarly research. The participating libraries include public libraries, universities and a number of specialist libraries with music collections. Speak to the librarian at your local library and ask about the Music PAL Access Card.

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Burren Lakes and Turloughs

"The Burren is a karst limestone plateau measuring of 100 square miles in north County Clare, punctuated with lakes and seasonal lakes called turloughs..." Posted on Youtube by jratt2 on the 31st January 2009. Soundtrack: The Monaghan Jig & Old Hag You Have Killed Me performed by Donal Clancy.
More info...

Orange Prize Celebrations

Orange Prize for FictionThe shortlist for the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction was announced at the London Book Fair on 20 April 2010. Celebrating its fifteenth anniversary, the Orange Prize for Fiction celebrates women's writing and is awarded annually for the best full-length novel by a female author published in the UK that year.
This year's shortlisted titles are:
The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey

Black Water Rising and The Very Thought of You are debut novels for Locke and Alison. They are up against last year's Man Booker winner, Wolf Hall. Hilary Mantel and Barbara Kingsolver have previously had books shortlisted for the prize which is worth £30,000, the winner of which will be announced on Wednesday June 9th.

As part of the prize’s 15th anniversary celebrations, an Orange Prize Youth Panel’s shortlist has also been announced. Recruited via teen website,, the shadow panel selected their shortlist of six from the 14 previous winners.
The shortlisted titles are
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie
A Spell of Winter by Helen Dunmore
When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant
Small Island by Andrea Levy
Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
On Beauty by Zadie Smith

The panel has been sharing their judging experience on, the site for book loving teenagers. Waterstone's are also asking the public to vote for their favourite Orange Prize winner from the past 14 years at The vote is open from 7th - 27th May and everyone who votes will be entered into a prize draw.

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Ireland’s first Laureate na nÓg

Laureate na nÓg 2010-2012 Siobhán Parkinson discusses her work as a writer and her plans for her term as Laureate. Posted on Youtube on 9th May 2010 by childrenslaureate.

This new award was conferred on Siobhan Parkinson by President Mary McAleese on May the 10th 2010 at a special event at the Arts Council. Laureate na nÓg is a new initiative of the Arts Council and has the support of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Children’s Books Ireland and Poetry Ireland. It is hoped that the title will promote the importance of the availability of high quality children’s literature and encourage a love of reading and will underline the value of literature among children and young people. Speaking at the ceremony Pat Moylan, Chairman of the Arts Council said, “This is an exciting and valuable initiative and it comes at a time when good news and optimism, particularly in relation to children and young people, are vital.” Siobhán Parkinson said, “I am thrilled and honoured to be chosen as the first Laureate na nÓg. I believe that children’s literature lays the foundations of the imaginative life of a people, and that every child deserves to have access to a reading haven - a well-stocked and well-run library in their school and in their community.” Siobhan’s award-winning books for children include Sisters... No Way!, Amelia, The Love Bean, Breaking the Wishbone and Four Kids, Three Cats, Two Cows, One Witch (Maybe). She has always been a popular author for children in County Clare and many of her ardent fans were pleased to get the opportunity to meet with her in the late 1990s when she toured Library branches during Children’s Book Festival. See for more info...