Thursday, 11 October 2012


Anthology Editor, Sinéad Gleeson
I dashed to Dublin yesterday for the launch of the charity anthology Silver Threads of Hope (New Island) edited by Sinéad Gleeson. The charity being supported is Console, which is so apt in these times of high suicide rates in Ireland.

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
The launch took place in the beautiful stuccoed surroundings of The Lost Society in the Powerscourt Town House. Anne Enright, whose idea the book was in the first place, launched the book. She has an extraordinary introduction in the anthology about depresion and suicidal thoughts and the power of the written word '...I believe in the power of fiction, because it examines the way that people are uncoupled or connected, in a safe, imagined place. Sad stories are, sometimes, the most consoling.' Anne is lovely and friendly in person. I was thrilled to meet her (super-fan!) and she signed my copy of the book.

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.


rozz lewis said...

28 brand new stories! This anthology is a gift! To me!
My ears cocked up when I heard that Kevin Barry has a new story. And you, of course and Roddy
Doyle and so on!
Amazing but the question is can I buy more books?!
Other question is how do you get the time to write short stories and attend events and write about them? #inawe
Thanks for the post, really enjoy your blog, Nuala.
P.s. Are there any stories by the lovely Jamie O Connell?


Ha ha Rozz, you're KB's superfan! It's a great story, you HAVE to buy it, my dear!! If only for your beloved Kevin.

Sadly Jamie is not in the book but he was there last night, swishing gorgeously around the room!


Rozz - re. your question: I can fit a lot into 24 hours ;)

Anonymous said...

Sorry to have missed this launch! Will definitely pick up the book. :)


It would've been nice to see you, Eimear. I hope all goes well with your writing. N x

dan powell said...

That's gone straight to the top of my Christmas list. A fantastic line-up. Congratulations.

Miss_Úna said...

Sounds like a really nice launch. I will definitely picking up a copy very soon.