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A blast with the past

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‘History is not just something that happened long ago and far away. History happens to all of us all the time. Local history touches your life, the life of your family, your neighbourhood, your community.’             Thomas J. Noel, historian I used to hate history at school, with its dates […]

Hospital heroics

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Hooray for the heroes and heroines of Our Lady’s Hospital Crumlin. For the last six months children and young people at the hospital school http://olhs.scoilnet.ie have been exploring what makes a hero. Is it muscles, wealth or smarts? Courage, kindness or enthusiasm? The result is this book in which they reinvent themselves as superheroes, dreaming […]

Once upon a goodnight

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  Like thousands of other mums around Ireland, I read a bedtime story to my daughter last night. Unlike thousands of other daughters being read to, she’s nineteen. I found a book we haven’t looked at together for twelve years. And it turned out to be not so much a book as a collection of […]

Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do

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                Wow. What would our beautiful, bullied planet say in a letter to humankind? According to second years at Borris Vocational School during a WorldWise Global Schools workshop on climate change: ‘Stop treating me like dirt.’ ‘What have I ever done to you? Look what you’re doing to […]

Rejection and connection

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Like most writers (I’m guessing) I love famous rejection stories. Last week saw the dismissal of a Nobel Prize winner’s book by 19 publishers. 12 wrote back rejecting Claude Simon’s 1962 novel ‘The Palace’, submitted under a pseudonym by a fan, and 7 didn’t reply. In 1984 Doris Lessing, another laureate-to-be writing under a synonym, […]

What the Donald?

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I was amazed to learn the other day that ‘What the dickens’ doesn’t come from Charles but Shakespeare. ‘I cannot tell what the dickens his name is,’ says Mistress Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor. Which begs the question, did Charles Higginbotham or Grundible or something, re-surname himself in honour of the Bard? (Probably […]

A Kind of List

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Kindness is like sprouts and silence – underrated. You rarely see it promoted in laws or tested in exams. It fails to reach the Hollywood heights alongside beauty, brains, courage and wealth. It’s not a gift bestowed on Sleeping Beauty at her christening. And the frog wins his kiss through a guilt trip, not generosity. […]

Telling Tales

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Doing the rounds of Children’s Book Festival this month is a reminder of the joy, comfort, escape and pure wild fun that books can bring at any age. But there are always a few children who say they don’t like reading. I hugely admire their courage and honesty in admitting that in front of teachers, […]

Wonder weaving in Gort

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How much do local legends shape a place? If Gort in South Galway is anything to go by, a lot. The legacy of King Guaire lives on in both the magazine named after the 7th century ruler of Connaught and the minds of his young Gort descendants. To celebrate its 40th anniversary next year, Guaire […]

Blown away by books in the west

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A brilliant day launching Children’s Book Festival in Clifden and Inisbofin. http://www.familyfun.ie/the-childrens-book-festival/ They’re avid young readers in Clifden, spurred on by their book-loving teacher fresh from the 40th Clifden Arts festival. Then across the very choppy sea (even the captain said rough) to beautiful Inisbofin to launch the first ever One Book, One Island month, […]