Wednesday 26 October 2016

Man Booker Prize Winner 2016

A book described as a searing satire on race relations in contemporary America has been awarded the Man Booker Prize for 2016. The Sellout by Paul Beatty is narrated by African-American ‘Bonbon’, a resident of the run-down town of Dickens in Los Angeles County, which has been removed from the map to save California from embarrassment. Bonbon is being tried in the Supreme Court for attempting to reinstitute slavery and segregation in the local high school as means of bringing about civic order.

Amanda Foreman, who chaired this year’s judging panel, called it a “novel for our times”, particularly in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement. She said ‘Paul Beatty slays sacred cows with abandon and takes aim at racial and political taboos with wit, verve and a snarl’.

The Sellout beat five other novels: the psychological thriller Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh, a book about revolutionary China Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien, All That Man Is by David Szalay, the Scottish crime thriller His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet and the coming-of-age psychodrama Hot Milk by Deborah Levy (UK).

The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. The winner receives a further £50,000. On winning the Man Booker Prize, an author can expect international recognition, plus a dramatic increase in book sales.

Volunteering at Clare Museum – Case Study 2

In a previous case study we outlined the role that volunteer Karen Dunn has played at the museum and how her skill set has opened up new options in support of our exhibitions. This case study examines how the museum’s educational activities for primary schools has been developed by one of our volunteers.

Caitriona O’Sullivan joined the museum as a volunteer in January 2016 and came with a background in both primary school education and as an experienced field archaeologist. Caitriona initially volunteered to fulfil a research role at the museum, but following the departure of a staff member shortly before she started, Caitriona was offered the opportunity to develop curriculum based museum workshops for schools.

In the past Clare Museum’s educational activities for primary schools had centred around quizzes based on images of artefacts on our website and tours of the Riches of Clare exhibition. While use of the website in this way was quite innovative – it provided remote access to the museum collection – follow up school tours were of limited educational value as they failed to make the most of our unique selling point which is of course our collection of authentic objects.

A new approach was needed which would address this situation, one that would take the opportunity presented by a curriculum that encourages schools to utilize resources in the local community. Following consultation with the Clare Education Centre, the idea of curriculum-based workshops was born. Caitriona took up the challenge of researching and developing the programme to improve the museum as an educational resource to local schools. Her first workshop, entitled ‘Prehistoric Ireland’, has been developed to support teachers of 5th and 6th classes in the delivery of the curriculum strand ‘Early people and ancient societies’. This workshop focuses on the museum’s collection of prehistoric artefacts to teach children about the lives of Stone Age and Bronze Age people in Clare, as well as giving the children the opportunity to handle some of the more durable objects in the collection such as stone axes and quern stones.

Caitriona drew on her own field experience and utilises excavated material from Roughan Hill, a Neolithic farmstead and items from the burials of the same period at Poulawack, Parknabinnia and Poulnabrone which are all on display in the Riches of Clare exhibition. The workshop has been developed with an emphasis on pupil engagement and interactivity and Caitriona has also helped the children to develop an understanding of the work of the museum and an appreciation of its value to the community. It has been promoted to local primary schools through the Clare Education Centre and has proven very popular. The workshop is conducted on the gallery floor surrounded by the objects associated with early people and ancient societies.

Piloted to local schools in the Spring of 2016, feedback from teachers has been very positive. Teachers appreciate the value of enabling the children to experience authentic archaeological objects at first hand and have commented that the experience really brings the past to life for the students in a way that wouldn’t be possible in the classroom. Having a trained teacher and experienced archaeologist to deliver the workshop is appreciated by teachers, and has only been possible through the engagement of a volunteer. For the museum, Caitriona has provided the ability to achieve one of its strategic goals – the provision of workshops that are supportive of the school curriculum.

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Children's Book Festival 2016 at Clare County Library

'There's So Much in a Book!

That’s the message from libraries across the country this October when the annual Children’s Book Festival gets under way. Clare County Library is hosting close on sixty events scattered throughout its branch network.

Visiting authors include Alan Nolan who’s known the length and breadth of the country for his Cartoon Capers workshops and for his very popular books for children including the Murder Can Be Fatal mysteries series. Alan’s more recent titles for children, Fintan’s Fifteen and Conor’s Caveman were published in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

E. R. Murray is a writer, reader, lover of adventures and all things outdoors will join us also for CBF 2016. She is the author of The Book of Learning (Nine Lives Trilogy Book 1) and her first young adult novel Caramel Hearts (Alma Books) is coming out very shortly. In her workshops she will make stories come alive in her Magical World of Senses & Storytelling workshops. There will be games and experiments included in Elizabeth’s talks and she will also answer questions about what it’s like to be a writer.

Alan Early returns to Clare’s libraries this October. Alan is the critically acclaimed author of the Father of Lies Chronicles (Mercier Press) including Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent, Arthur Quinn and the Fenris Wolf and Arthur Quinn and Hell’s Keeper. His events for schoolchildren are always engaging, interactive, and varied. In his new workshop, THOR BLIMEY! The Secrets of the Vikings and their Gods, children are invited to take part in the oldest game show in history – Who Wants to be a Viking God? They will learn all the secrets of the Vikings; how they lived, what they believed in, even how they kept themselves clean. Alan’s audiences will make up their own stories as he answers as many questions as they can ask at the end of this fun, interactive event.

Junior classes are guaranteed to thoroughly enjoy debut author Etain McCooey’s presentations including lots of chat, music and song based on her children’s book, Deefer’s Day Out. Illustrated by Alison O’Brien, the self-published book tells the story of Deefer the adventurous border collie puppy and her travels through a snowy countryside.

Other events for younger children include visits by first time guests for CBF in County Clare. Sarah Murphy, BA, H. Dip in Ed. loves to write children’s stories and is also a self-taught artist. She has worked for many years as a teacher at both secondary and primary level. Her workshops will be fun and interactive and are guaranteed to fire up, cultivate and give free reign to children’s imaginations.

Author Valerie Sheehan has written a series of stories for very young children featuring Tony the Turtle. These she describes as “short social stories to help families with children who see and feel the world a little differently.” In her workshops in Clare’s library branches Valerie will present circle time activity where, sitting on the floor everyone can interact with the story, ask questions and use a loveable puppet to bring Tony in and out of his shell while following the story. Valerie’s books have been showcased by Ryan Tubridy on the Late Late Toy Show.

Clare County Library are also delighted to welcome the O’Brien Press published author, Gillian Perdue to four branches on the 21st and 22nd of October. Gillian worked as a primary school teacher for many years and this experience both informs and inspires many of her stories for children. Her first novel, Adam’s Starling, won the Eilis Dillon Memorial Award for that year (2002), and the Evening Herald hailed it as a book that ‘belongs on the shelf of any home with school-going children.’ Subsequently her Conor Stories in the O’Brien Press Panda Series for younger children were published - Conor’s Cowboy Suit (Panda 23), Conor’s Concert (Panda 25) and Conor’s Canvas (Panda 35). Gillian is also a dance teacher (ballet and jazz) and she brings this expertise to all her school and library visits, combining them with dance and drama workshops. Gillian encourages even the youngest or most reluctant children to engage with the characters in her stories, to get involved in the action and to bring the stories to life.

Children’s Book Festival was an ideal opportunity to join in the 1916 commemorative events and who better than author Brian Gallagher to bring a sense of the Easter Rising to children, through his novel Friend or Foe (O’Brien Press, 2015). Brian’s books have been hugely popular with schools, and have been chosen for many “One Book One Community” projects. In his visits to Clare libraries, Brian will reveal the nuts and bolts of how a historical novel is put together, using Friend or Foe, as a reference point to explore inspiration, research, plotting, and characterization.

Another 1916 commemorative event that needs little introduction is Irish History Live’s 1916 show. The inimitable Michael Moylan will be here with his display of weapons, ammunition, costumes and an impressive volume of information for four shows that are guaranteed to be presented with fun and laughter but will impress upon his young audiences the story of the Rising. During the hour-long show children will become Irish volunteers! join the Irish Citizen’s Army or the I.R.B.! and discover how our country became a nation.

Libraries are proud to present another event with an historical theme coming to us courtesy of Brid O’Sullivan, Learning and Outreach Department, National Library of Ireland. In the Ancient Art of Heraldry, Children’s Coat of Arms Workshop, classes will learn about the ancient art of heraldry and look at the ways coats of arms are used today. They can design their own imagined coat of arms at this fun workshop! Heraldry had its birth on the battlefields of Medieval Europe. This workshop has been specially developed for a primary school audience. Specifically, it explores themes covered by the SPHE syllabus for 5th and 6th class, including: Myself, Myself and My Family, My Friends and Other People and Developing Citizenship. An accompanying exhibition entitled Hosting Heraldry: Coats of Arms Uncovered consisting of eight banner stands and a discovery box containing hands-on learning materials and activities will be available for viewing at participating libraries. The exhibition was inspired by the National Library’s unique collection of genealogical manuscripts and explores the related themes of identity and citizenship.

Illustration and drawing workshops come courtesy of Alan Shoosmith and Aidan Courtney who will both focus on the books of Roald Dahl celebrating the famous author who would have been 100 years old on the 13th of September this year. Children and teachers are requested to attend in Roald Dahl fancy dress and library staff are very much looking forward to seeing the 2016 representations of Charlie Bucket, Veruca Salt, Harry Wormwood or Agatha Trunchbull from schools all over County Clare. In Kilrush and Kilkee libraries Alan Shoosmiths’s art workshops will be followed by helpings of Roald Dahl style delumptious delights; Liquid Chocolate Mixed By Waterfall, Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight Sauce or Fizzy Lifting Drinks are all possibilities, compliments of Marie Clohessy who is in charge of the menu!

Declan Holmes of Science Ireland will have children participate in activities and demonstrations, launching rockets, playing songs and making waves in Ennistymon, Miltown Malbay, Newmaket on Fergus and Sixmilebridge. Flight, pressure, density, waves, light, sound and electricity are among the topics covered in this interactive learning experience. His not-to-be missed show includes a multimedia presentation, experimental demonstrations and lots of group participation.

The closing event of Children’s Book Festival 2016 takes place in Glór Theatre, Ennis on the 27th of October. Renowned storyteller Niall de Burca will take to the stage for two shows beginning at 10am for junior primary school classes and at 12 noon for senior classes. A lover of stories and an advocate of reading and libraries, Niall’s show will be a fitting end to the festival. His memorable and bewitching stories are guaranteed to enchant audiences of all ages.

Monday 10 October 2016

Photograph from Clare County Library's Foto collection to appear on Building Ireland on RTE One on the 14th October.

In the Building Ireland series a team of expert presenters in engineering, architecture and geography explore some of the finest example of Ireland’s building and engineering heritage. The series marries local heritage with construction technology and engineering. Architecture, geography and engineering are the disciplines brought to bear; each programme focuses on a prime example of Ireland’s built heritage and recounts the fascinating story of its construction.

The episode airing on Friday 14th October on RTE One at 20.30, explores the scheme that brought Ireland into the electric age – The Shannon Scheme and Ardnacrusha power station. The photograph from the Miscellaneous Photographs Collection shows workers on the building of the Ardnacrusha power station outside one of the offices and it was taken in the early 1930s.

In the episode Engineer Tim Joyce fulfills a life-long ambition to get up close and personal with Ardnacrusha power station and to explore the innovative engineering that made it the biggest hydroelectric project in the world when it opened in 1929. Tim meets with Plant Manager Alan Bane, who details how the scheme turns water into electricity. By any standards, Ardnacrusha was a marvel of modern engineering. Within ten years of opening, it was generating 96% of the state’s electricity. Tim also looks at the head race of the Shannon Scheme, which is a 100 metre wide and 12.5 kilometre long canal. It feeds water from the weir at Parteen to the turbines in the Ardnacrusha station. Tim speaks to Professor Tom Cosgrave to find out what it took to construct these huge man-made canals.

Geographer Susan Hegarty sets out to investigate why the engineers chose the Ardnacrusha site and to examine the River Shannon - an almost completely flat, slow-moving river. Susan speaks to Tom Hayes, Civil Engineering Manager at Ardnacrusha, about the challenges of diverting the river to create enough of the drop and provide sufficient water for the hydroelectric power station to function.

Above the surface, Ardnacrusha is an impressive structure. Its weirs, sluice gates, and penstocks are instantly recognisable as icons of Irish engineering. However, the buildings themselves have their own unique character, as architect Orla Murphy will explain. Orla meets with Jan Frohburg of the University of Limerick, to discuss the stylistic features of the building and the different cultures which inspired them.

The scheme was formally completed on the 22nd of July, 1929. By that stage, 700 tonnes of explosives had been used to blast away 1.2 million cubic metres of rock – and Ireland had changed forever. Tim concludes the episode by describing the value of Ardnacrusha as a national institution.