Monday, 17 July 2017

Jane Austen 200 - Limerick

I was in Limerick at the weekend for a #JaneAusten200 event organised by Rose Servitova, author of The Longbourn Letters: Jane Austen Afternoon Tea at 1 Pery Square. Jane died in 1817 at the appalling age of 41, hence the 200 year commemorative marking.

We had delicious cakes (blackberry & pear crumble, lemon & pineapple panacotta, tiny scones, choc pistachio) and great entertainment from costume experts, a historian who spoke about Jane's would-be fella, Tom Lefroy of Limerick. We also had a talk on tea, sweet songs from the Regency period, and the wonderful Miss Bates (of Emma fame) came to visit too.

The event was livestreamed and there are now videos of it here. Rose has many more events planned, up as far as December, so keep any eye on the Jane Austen 200 Limerick Facebook page for details. Janeites in Dublin and Cork are also having events, so there's plenty to entertain the Irish Austen-lover for the 200 year celebrations.

We stopped off in Bunratty along the way and spent the afternoon in Limerick city. Great shopping, though the plentiful charity shops are overpriced compared to my midlands home. We ate at Aroi, which was my regular spot when I did the short story project with Limerick School of Art. It was as good as I remembered. I enjoyed the Limerick City Gallery of Art, especially the gorgeous landscapes in the permanent collection. I also got a new tattoo from an amiable Gaeilgeoir from Kerry called Liam. And we stayed the night in Kilmallock, a handsome walled town with lots of intact medieval buildings.

The weather was fab and we really enjoyed exploring the friary and town gates and sweet houses. Ireland is a wonder at the best of times but when the sun shines, there's glory.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017


The incomparably shiny Claire Hennessy interviews me here on stop four of my virtual tour. We talk about my use of my birth name, stories vs novels and more.

'There was a shit-storm on Twitter when I reverted to my birth name, from a bunch of Irish writers whom I shall not identify. Betrayal of identity, blah-fucking-blah. These people don’t even know me; they’d be better off writing books rather than bitching about what I do, imo…'

Tuesday, 4 July 2017


My virtual tour continues with a fab review from Cathy Brown at 746 Books here.

'Joyride to Jupiter is a collection that shows a writer with complete mastery of her craft. The best of the stories hint rather than shout but all are poignant and complex, riding on the dichotomy between hope and despair. She is clear-eyed when exploring the dark realities of human behaviour, but the humour and wit displayed within her affecting prose allow this collection to soar.' Cathy Brown

Sunday, 2 July 2017


I am in the middle of the book-just-out swirly madness. Hence somewhat neglected blog. I had a great time at the Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Derry on Friday with Jan Carson (a sweetheart) and before that at the Flash Fiction Festival in Bath with all my flash fiction friends, including Tania Hershman and Christopher Allen. Well done to organisers Jude Higgins and Meg Pokrass.

Seamus art in my B&B, Laurel Villa in Magherafelt

More B&B art - I felt a bit like this after my long drive from Galway

My rather lovely bed in the Michael Longley Room

Meanwhile my Virtual Tour for Joyride to Jupiter continues apace. So far Margaret Bonass Madden has reviewed the collection on her high-octane blog, Bleach House Library. And Rae Joyce has also interviewed me at her fabulous blog, Snow Like Thought. Next stop is Cathy Brown's 746 Books this week.

Here are the virtual tour stops so far, with links:

Bleach House Library - review

Snow like Thought - interview.

In the coming weeks, after Cathy's review, I will be visiting the lovely Claire Hennessy (interview) and also my dear friend Shauna Gilligan (interview).