|Anthology Editor, Sinéad Gleeson|
I had read most of the stories by the time I got there so it was great to match the writers with their work: John Butler and his funny and wretched story of male friendship 'The Fir Tree'; John Kelly and his story about a money-spinning, west of Ireland dolphin called Finbar; Declan Hughes and his very enjoyable 'Gloria' about a priest and his feisty daughter (his first short story ever, he tells me).
Other writers with stories in the book whom I chatted to included Mary Costello (recently longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award), Colm Keegan, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Keith Ridgway and Peter Murphy. Also there were Declan Meade, editor of The Stinging Fly, journalist Róisín Ingle, writers Jamie O'Connell and Susan Stairs (expect to hear a lot about Susan soon), actor Hugh O'Conor and Seán Rocks of RTÉ's Arena.
|Anne Enright and commissioning editor with New Island, Eoin Purcell|
Sinéad Gleeson spoke about editing the anthology and she thanked New Island for their unwavering support; Eoin Purcell of New Island mentioned the publisher's pleasure at supporting such a worthy charity. Paul Kelly of Console spoke very movingly about the charity and its work, and about his sister who took her own life at just 21 years of age. He talked about the devastation that suicide causes within families.
Despite the sad aspect of the charity's cause, the launch was a warm, positive evening of chat and drinks. You could feel people's delight at being included in the anthology and in being able to support Console with their writing. I had to dash back to Galway, of course to get the kids to bed for college, school and creche respectively. But sometimes those are the best nights - the ones where you dip in and dip out and enjoy every minute of your stay.
The book is beautifully produced: a small, dust-jacketed hardback and it is good value at €14.99. There are 28 brand new stories by 28 Irish writers in the book; the writers include Kevin Barry (with a hilarious satire on foodies, Gaeilgeoirs and snobs), Dermot Bolger, Declan Burke, Emma Donoghue, Roddy Doyle, Dermot Healy, Colum McCann, John McKenna and Belinda McKeon. I've even got one in there. It would make an ideal Christmas prezzie for the lit lover in your life.
You can buy it here and in book shops.