Fermanagh Writers on the air!

Fermanagh Writers on the air!

After a recent call to arms from BBC radio, Members of Fermanagh Writers will be showcasing their talents on air in the coming weeks. BBC radio ulster issued the call, for original content by local writers over a certain age (we won’t disclose). Several members of Fermanagh Writers have applied and been contacted to record their works for later broadcast. Bob Baird, Kate O’shea, Catherine Vallely and Wayne Hardman will all be showcasing.

The broadcasts will take place on the Sunday Time Of Our Lives programme, presented by Colm Arbuckle, sharing the lives, stories and talents of local folks.

The first of these will be Bob Baird reading some of his memoirs and an interview with Catherine Vallely, broadcasting today (sunday 22nd) between 2-3pm on BBC radio ulster and radio Foyle.

Next week has Kate O’shea and Wayne & Louise Hardman. Wayne will be discussing his unique upbringing with a team of eleven baseball playing surrogate mothers, whilst his wife Louise will be discussing her craft of unique handmade textile scarves. Kate O’shea will be performing her original spoken word poetry,Sunday 29th May.

If you miss any of the broadcasts they will be available to stream online via the iplayer radio > here.

Tune in and keep your ears open!

Celebrating Shakespeare

FullSizeRender (2)Members of Fermanagh Writers met on Saturday 23rd of April to celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare. Taking place in Blakes of the Hollow’s room no.6 we recited some of our favourite quotes and some of the more memorable soliloquies over a quiet drink.

It was a great opportunity to share and discuss opinions, theories and ideas on the bard himself. Topics on offer included the legitimacy of his identity and authorship, the fact that it has been disputed by many whether the works attributes to Shakespeare were actually written by him.


Bob Baird reading Shakespeare inspired poetry.

questions were then raised concerning how he attained the wealth of knowledge that went into said works if indeed the authorship was truly his, with discussion about life in those times and the position of one close to court.

We then discussed the effect of his works on the theatre and its effect on them in turn. A notable example being the common expectation of a balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet where indeed there was no balcony, inspired by the interpretations of theatre productions.

FullSizeRenderOther topics included the facts (and fiction) of the historical reality behind his works, the politics of his time,the language of Shakespeare and the use of iambic pentameter and his relationship to royalty and connections to alchemy and secret societies.

We were then treated to performances of original works of poetry and prose inspired by Shakespeare, all in all it was an entertaining and informative way to pass the afternoon.

Performing Poetry With Colm Keegan

Our Chair, John Monaghan reflects on Colm Keegan’s workshop with the group last Saturday:

Colm Keegan

Colm Keegan

Colm Keegan has an enthusiasm for poetry so strong that his energy just pulls you along effortlessly on the creative journey. He started the day by asking each participant to name one favourite word and then he passed a well-worn laminated card to each of us with some inspirational lines from well-known people. Our Corncrake magazine editor has got permission from Colm to reproduce the card in the first issue.

Keegan 5He then suggested that for the day we should focus on things that:

make us Angry: make us Love:  or on Precious Moments in order to produce a poem.

He got each of us to speak about one thing that makes us angry. There was a fair amount of anger released and general discussion before we had a break for lunch.

Keegan 3Afterwards he got us to spend about twenty minutes writing a poem with a view to performing it before the group.

He gave us lots of tips on how to perform effectively on stage. Among those were:  ‘be your favourite version of yourself on stage,’ to ‘own your poem,’ ‘don’t be contrived,’ and ‘silence is a friend, use it,’ and ‘above all, make eye contact with the audience.’

Keegan 4He gave lots more advice and then we all performed our poems to the group. He asked us to email the poems to him when we have them typed up.

The day fizzed with energy so dynamic that it created its own Synergy (the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts).

I’m sure that everyone who was there went away with the enthusiasm to create some new work.

Keegan 2

Keegan 1

A New Ghost Story By One Of Our Members

Visitor-FINAL-3DCongratulations to our member, Dianne Ascroft, on the release of her Short Read, An Unbidden Visitor, last week. On her blog she talks about the inspiration for the Irish ghost story. You can find the post here.

Poetry Workshop With Paula Meehan

Tony Brady, our Chair Reflects on Paula Meehan’s Poetry Workshop:

Meehan 9

Paula Meehan

Last Saturday thirty people participated in Paula Meehan’s Poetry Workshop which was hosted by Fermanagh Writers in Fermanagh House. By an amazing co-incidence, Paula began with a reference to a Russian poet that Carlo Gebler had opened his series of private classes with Fermanagh Writers last Autumn.  The image was Mandelstam’s breathing onto a pane of glass in the train transferring him from one gulag to another and tracing words that remained on its surface after the mist of breath had evaporated. The poet was “disappeared” in transit to feed the myth that he was consumed by wolves. Words then as expressed in poetry, endure and are liberating.

Paula with Teresa Kane

Paula with Teresa Kane

Paula suggested that before words began to form language, sounds were the medium of communication, and taking as her theme Seamus Heaney’s – Hearth Word Hoard – encouraged participants to recall the primal sounds that shaped expression in pre-speech development. She reminded us of the pre-birth medium of water and evolution evidence of prehensile tails

Caimin O'Shea and Bob Baird

Caimin O’Shea and Bob Baird

(primates) in humans, and arms as vestigial flippers (fishes).
Paula suggested we make a mental map of sounds over time spans. The pre-natal child is aware of sound: a pulsing in rhythm with its mother’s heart beat, a drumming “When memory fails imagination spurs the recall of birthplace sounds.”  At my age, I could not remember my pre-birth or post-natal sounds, but recalled the sounds of when attending and assisting at the birthing of my 3 children: screams, moans, laughter, whispers, buzzing, exhortations, blips from machines, shouts, urging voices, distant ambulance sirens, deep breathing, hiss of gas, silences, new born babies’ cries.


Ken Ramsey

Ken Ramsey

Later life situations are loaded with their own unique language: jargon, religious rituals, music, hymns, distinct zones like churches evoking liturgy and prayers.  Children learn without being taught by repetitive chanting of familiar passed down chants in playtime. Hearth sounds assist re-creation through poetry: light, flames, crackles, splitting, spitting, sharp sudden retorts of bursting coal, turf, wood. Unusual words cropped up: brattle, scroig, scrug.  The word Quoof used by poet Paul Muldoon turns out to be a hot water bottle.
Regrettably, I had to leave early as caring duties called me away. I just had time to hear an extemporised poem by Ken Ramsey

Meehan 5

Mary McElroy

Our treasurer, John James adds a few words:
Excellent summation of the workshop, Tony. Thank you for that. One or two points I would add.  The amazing turnout for poetry on a rare sunny afternoon in Fermanagh, after a winter of torrential rain, gale-force wind and the persistent chill in the air that stole the very breath that elixir of life from our chests.

We also had a considerable force of nature in Paula Meehan. She proved herself a true daughter of Gaia, by weaving a spell over us in the soft yet strong, lilting voice, that took us back many years – for some, too many to mention, to our childhoods. Memories of joy, memories of pain, memories of happiness, memories of loss and sadness too.  She opened doors that will never be shut again, no bad thing.

Our gratitude to Paula for a wonderful afternoon.

Paula with Trish Bennett

Paula with Trish Bennett


Some More Photos from Women Aloud Fermanagh

The evening wasn’t finished yet. Here’s some more photos:

Helen’s bold poem spoke for women in every situation they find themselves in.

Helen Daniel

Helen Daniel

Antoinette shared poems full of beautiful images.

Antoinette Rock

Antoinette Rock

Jenny’s tales always have a twist.

Jenny Brien

Jenny Brien

Dianne spun a story of friendship and priorities.

Dianne Ascroft

Dianne Ascroft

Some Photos of Women Aloud Fermanagh

Join us for a glimpse of Women Aloud Fermanagh which we hosted on Tuesday evening.

Trish Bennett was there with her trusty potato peeler and she told us why she never goes anywhere without it.

Trish Bennett

Trish Bennett

Teresa Kane shared a poem she wrote to help her daughter set for in life.

Teresa Kane

Teresa Kane

Diane Jardel’s poetry is inspired by nature and the world around her.

Diane Jardel

Diane Jardel

Natasha spun a story about young love in Paris.

Natasha Martin

Natasha Martin

Women Aloud Fermanagh: A Great Night

Aloud small group

L-R: Teresa Kane, Jenny Brien, Trish Bennett, May Morris

On Tuesday evening Fermanagh Writers celebrated International Women’s Day as part of Women Aloud NI. The province wide voluntary organisation, Women Aloud NI, was formed a few months ago to highlight the work of women writers in Northern Ireland. During their first year they set out to stage one event where women’s writing would be heard in each county in the province on International Women’s Day. They succeeded and surpassed their original goal. There were 15 events in the province as well as one in Scotland and another in Spain. They were held in libraries, bookshops, cultural centres, a museum and a theatre – and ours was possibly the most unique, in a wonderful room at the top of one of the oldest pubs in Enniskillen, Blakes of the Hollow.

The twelve women who shared their stories and poems were Aloud crowdamazing: dramatic, funny, touching, wistful, flamboyant and more. They didn’t just read their work, they performed it and kept the audience spellbound the whole evening.

The room where we held the event added to the atmosphere of the evening. It’s small stage with a reflective glass backdrop were the perfect setting for our performances and the mixture of booths, and tables and chairs gave the room a relaxed, comfortable feel. It was a great performance space.

As well as sharing our writing, we also wanted to contribute to a

Kate O'Shea

Kate O’Shea

worthwhile cause so the admission fee we charged will be donated to Fermanagh Women’s Aid. We were delighted that Blathnaid McKinney, the Chair for the organisation was able to join us for the evening. Afterwards she said that she had enjoyed the performances, especially the quirky ones. Our treasurer is still toting up the amount we raised – we’ll have that information soon.

All in all Women Aloud Fermanagh was a great evening.

Aloud full group