Fermanagh Writers took part in two events during the first Islander Festival based on Upper Lough Erne, 2nd-5th May reports our Vice-Chair, John Monaghan. Our first performance was at the Moat Ring on Friday night and the second was a boat cruise on Sunday afternoon.

Ten of our members made music, told stories, recited poems and one even pretended to be drowning. That very briefly sums up our contribution to the success of the Festival but it does not begin to describe the effort put in by the members, some of whom wrote works especially for the events. Given the fact that we had a relatively short time to prepare ourselves for the Festival, I think we did a wonderful job and Barry Flanagan, the festival organiser, has confirmed that opinion from his viewpoint. Both events in which we took part were “sold out.” Barry had planned for an audience of 50 at the Moat Ring and approximately 100 turned up, while the Boat Cruise was full.

The second event was a Boat Cruise on the Upper Lough from the Share Centre at Lisnaskea to Crom Castle and back. It lasted 2 hours and FW provided the entertainment on board with an additional contribution by the well known local writer John Reihill.

We met at the Share Centre jetty at 1.30pm on Sunday 4th to finalise our preparations. We were unsure if we would have an audience, other than ourselves and the boat crew, but in the event we had a full house.

We left the jetty to fiddle music by Pauric Dolan. This set the mood for the journey which was relaxed and attentive. Jenny Brien captivated everyone with her version of the legend of how Lough Erne came to be filled with water. Mary McElroy followed with a poem and Tony Viney gave us a story of gods, prophets and devils. Bob Baird gave us a song and Wayne Hardman regaled us with the story of a canoe trip on the Sillees River. John James followed with his poem about the various lives of an oak tree and Pete Byrne gave us a humorous story/poem about a fishing trip romance. Pauric Dolan recited a poem accompanied by flute music while I recited my poem “Rivertalk” and then we took a short break.

John Reihill, the well-known local poet, writer and historian gave us his poems naming the islands of both Upper and Lower Lough Erne.  Ken Ramsey read his story of the “Derry Shirt” and followed up with his poem on Fermanagh Writers’ rowing trip to Devenish Island. Jenny recited a poem and for our finale Tony Viney in his kayak and John James on shore gave a powerful rendition of the Steve Smith poem “Not Waving But Drowning” while Tony did “Eskimo rolls” to wonderfully dramatic effect.  I spoke to several people afterwards and all were very happy with their afternoon outing and considered it good value for money.