Thursday, 27 April 2017

Come Together Now! at Clare County Library to celebrate the annual Bealtaine Festival this May

The Bealtaine Festival is Ireland's national celebration of creativity as we age. During May, all over the country Bealtaine events are running in arts centres, theatres, libraries, galleries, community centres, local halls, care settings, cultural spaces and even out in the open air! The theme for 2017 is All Together Now! Collectivism, civic engagement and protest!, which continues Bealtaine’s three-year exploration of Nationhood and Citizenship. Age and Opportunity states that this theme aims "to explore the concept of ‘people power’, the collective, civic engagement (and yes protest!), as well as the empathy that accompanies these human activities". Bealtaine, established in Ireland in 1996, is an Age and Opportunity initiative part-funded by the Arts Council and delivered by hundreds of organisations around the country with over 120,000 people now taking part, making it one of Ireland’s biggest arts festivals. From dance to cinema, painting to theatre, Bealtaine showcases the talents and creativity of both first-time and professional older artists.

Once again Clare County Library will participate in the Bealtaine Festival with a varied and widespread programme of events throughout the month of May in library branches throughout the county. All events are free of charge and everyone is welcome. Events will include talks, craft displays, workshops and movie screenings as part of the Bealtaine Film Tour which is presented by access>CINEMA in partnership with the Irish Film Institute.

This year’s chosen films for the Bealtaine Film Tour are Dare to be Wild (2016) starring Emma Greenwell, Tom Hughes, Don Wycherly and Carrie Crowley, Pride (2014) starring Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Andrew Scott, Paddy Considine and Dominic West and 12 Angry Men (1957) starring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, E.G. Marshall, Jack Warden and Jack Klugman. Screenings begin on Tuesday 2nd May in Ennis and will take place throughout the month in library branches in Ennis, Ennistymon, Kilkee, Kilrush, Scariff and Shannon where the libraries will be transformed into a cinema with a difference for your viewing pleasure. You can contact your local library for screening times or visit Killaloe Public Library will also host a film screening of A Date for Mad Mary (2016) starring Seána Kerslake, Tara Lee, Charleigh Bailey and Denise McCormack on Friday, 26th May at 7.30pm. Movie screenings for adults take place monthly at Killaloe and Scariff libraries. Details are available on the Library’s website.

On Saturday 13th May at 11am in the Dr. Patrick J. Hillery Library in Miltown Malbay Cora O’Grady will hold a workshop on the art of Decoupage. Participants will learn how to transform everyday objects into works of art by pasting cut-out images on to an object and then covering the object with several coats of varnish or lacquer. Cora will first give a demonstration followed by a workshop with audience participation. People are advised to bring a small sturdy cardboard box to decorate, e.g. a jewellery box. Everyone is welcome, no booking required.

On Tuesday, 23rd May at 12pm Carmen Cullen presents her show Hello Delia Murphy, a tribute to her aunt, the singer Delia Murphy, in the De Valera Library in Ennis. Delia Murphy, from Hollymount, Co. Mayo, was one of Ireland's best known recording stars of the 30s and 40s in Ireland. A revered figure in Irish music Delia is thought of today as being one of the major figures of Irish song. She was a mould-breaker and pioneer in her field and created a role for herself as an Irish female popular singer that, some would say, hasn't been equalled yet. Having established ballad singing as an acceptable song form, she was known for such songs as The Spinning Wheel, If I were a Blackbird and Three Lovely Lassies from Bannion. Along with musician Gerry Anderson, Carmen Cullen will give the audience a special opportunity to hear about Delia's life as well as listening to her songs. Carmen will also give a dramatised reading from her novel Two Sisters Singing, published by Liberties Press in 2013 and loosely based on Delia's life. Carmen says, "We are making a special effort to bring back memories of my aunt to people who recall her, as well as attracting new interest in her as a unique woman and artiste".

Also on Tuesday, 23rd May at 6.30pm Breda Stack, the Declutter Therapist, will host an event at the Seán Lemass Public Library in Shannon. Breda teaches her audience how to break free from being overwhelmed by clutter so you can enjoy a simpler, happier life. Breda is author of Declutter Therapy, founder of Ireland’s National Declutter Day and International Declutter Day, creator of The Declutter Academy for professional student training and a regular contributor to TV, radio and print media. Breda’s talk covers a variety of practical wardrobe and home decluttering information, tips and guidelines on personal style, organisation, storage and lifestyle as well as her uniquely specialised and essential area of decluttering mindset, challenges and benefits. Breda visited the library in Ennis in early April when her event attracted a huge audience so this is a great chance to catch the event if you missed it then.

On Thursday, 25th May at 11.30am Ennistymon Public Library will host Eamon Doyle, the Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark Geologist, with his talk entitled There’s Life in the Old Rocks of Clare. This is a fascinating insight into the variety of fossils found in the rocks of County Clare and the interesting stories they tell.

The Library continues to team up with Friends Ireland, a group that provides volunteers to teach basic computer/laptop/tablet/mobile phone classes on an ongoing basis. The classes are free and run in four week slots but places are limited and should be booked through the participating branches. These classes are currently running in the libraries in Ennis and Shannon. Full details are available on the Library’s website. For more information on Friends Ireland visit

On Wednesday 31st May staff from Clare County Library will join Gavin Grace on Clare FM’s Morning Focus show to discuss a title chosen especially for the Bealtaine Festival as part of the monthly radio book club, which is a collaboration between the two organisations. Stay tuned to Clare FM for more details and/or see the Library’s Facebook page at

Membership of the Library is free and Clare County Library boasts 15 branches throughout the county. So, during the Bealtaine Festival, why not join your local branch? You’ll discover a whole world of books, CDs, DVDs, free online resources including e-books and e-magazines and so much more. You may even join one of the many clubs being run including book clubs, movie clubs and scrabble clubs. A whole new experience awaits you! For more information on the Bealtaine events and much more visit Clare County Library’s website at or phone 065-6846350. Remember all events at the Library are free of charge! For information on Bealtaine events happening nationwide visit

Monday, 24 April 2017

Diarmuid de Faoite to read at Ennistymon Library

Clare native Diarmuid de Faoite will visit Ennistymon Library at 6.30pm on Wednesday 26th April to read from his new translation of Pádraic Ó Conaire’s seminal collection of short stories, Seacht mBua an Éirí Amach/Seven Virtues of the Rising. Listed in The Irish Times/ Royal Irish Academy’s Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks and first published in 1918, Seacht mBua an Éirí Amach is considered the first literary response to the Rising in any language and is beautifully presented here as a dual language book with a fascinating and detailed introduction by Brendan McGowan of Galway City Museum.

The idea for this dual language publication was first mooted by Brendan and Diarmuid to bring the work of Pádraic Ó Conaire to a wider audience and is the result of a collaboration between Galway City Museum, publishers Arlen House and Cló Iar-Chonnacht, Galway City Council and the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme. The book will be part of RTE’s Book-On-One throughout the month of April.

Seacht mBua an Éirí Amach secured Ó Conaire’s position as the foremost writer in modern Irish and, arguably, the only one of international standing. As to the stories themselves, Brendan McGowan points out they are not directly concerned with the actual events of the 1916 Rising (although there are several allusions to key figures and locations); instead they reflect “the seismic shift in public opinion in favour of those pursuing Irish independence rather than Home Rule, which culminated in the electoral success of Sinn Féin in 1918.”

Diarmuid adds that Ó Conaire himself played a role in de Valera’s own success in Co. Clare, having campaigned on his behalf. “Ó Conaire worked as an election agent for de Valera in East Clare, having first gotten to know him as a student in Blackrock College.”

Diarmuid maintains that Ó Conaire’s Clare connections have been severely overlooked in the past: “Pádraic had at least as many close relatives in Clare as he had in Galway. He spent a year in school between Rinneen and Miltown Malbay and it was these same relatives who arranged for his subsequent education. Ó Conaire would return to West Clare almost every year up until a few years before his death.” Diarmuid hopes to put the Clare connection to rights in this reading.

Born in Galway town and reared in Connemara and Co. Clare following the deaths of his parents, Pádraic Ó Conaire (Patrick Conroy) was the most innovative Irish-language writer to emerge from the Gaelic Revival, producing much of his best work between 1901 and 1915 while working as a civil servant in London. Having returned to Ireland in 1915, he wrote profusely but unprofitably. He died in poverty in Richmond Hospital, Dublin in 1928 and was buried in Bohermore Cemetery, Galway. In his relatively short lifetime, he published more than 400 short stories, six plays and one short novel, as well as some 200 journalistic essays on a variety of topics. A statue of Ó Conaire by master sculptor Albert Power, which was commissioned by the Gaelic League, was unveiled in Eyre Square by Éamon de Valera in June 1935.

Diarmuid de Faoite’s translation is available in libraries, instore and online from,, The Ennis Bookshop, An Siopa Leabhair (Harcourt St, Dublin), Kennys, Charlie Byrne’s and Dubrays in Galway. His reading at Ennistymon Library on Wednesday 26th April at 6.30pm is free entry and all are welcome.

2017 International DUBLIN Literary Award

10 novels have been shortlisted for the 2017 International DUBLIN Literary Award (formerly the IMPAC award), sponsored by Dublin City Council and managed by Dublin City Libraries. The list includes The Green Road by Irish author, Anne Enright, six novels in translation from Angola, Austria, Denmark/Norway, Mexico, Mozambique and Turkey, and novels from Nigeria, Vietnam and the USA.

The International DUBLIN Literary Award is worth €100,000 to the winner and is the world’s most valuable annual literary award for a single work of fiction published in English. If the winning book is an English translation, €75,000 is awarded to the author and €25,000 to the translator. Books are nominated for the award by invited public libraries in cities throughout the world. The winner will be announced on June 21st.

The shortlisted titles are:
1. A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa (Angolan)
2. Confession of the Lioness by Mia Couto (Mozambican)
3. The Green Road by Anne Enright (Irish)
4. The Prophets of Eternal Fjord by Kim Leine (Danish/Norwegian)
5. The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli (Mexican)
6. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Vietnamese/American) First novel.
7. Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta (Nigerian-American) First novel.
8. A Strangeness in My Mind by Orhan Pamuk (Turkish)
9. A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler (Austrian)
10. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (American)

Margaret Hayes, Dublin City Librarian said of the shortlist ‘Issues of conflict and communication are set against a myriad of cultural and family settings and in contemporary and historic time periods. For readers, these stories add new and absorbing characters to our circle of international literary acquaintances’.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Cruinniú na Cásca at Clare Museum

Clare Museum will be holding two family oriented events for Cruinniú na Cásca on Easter Monday, 17th April.
At 2.30pm, Storyteller Ruth Marshall will tell about traditions and stories associated with the start of spring and Easter for children aged between 7-12 years.

The museum will also host a quiz and egg hunt based around the museum exhibition, beginning at 4pm.

While the museum will be open to the public for general visitors between 2pm and 6pm, booking for these events is essential. There is a maximum of 35 children and parents permitted for each event and parents are required to be present throughout. Bookings can be made by contacting John Rattigan at

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist announced

This year’s six shortlisted books include one previous winner of the prize and one debut novelist with books by well –renowned authors Margaret Atwood, Annie Proulx and Rose Tremain failing to make the shortlist.

The 6 shortlisted books are:
Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀̀ - a story of marriage and motherhood set against the social and political turbulence of 1980s Nigeria.

The Power by Naomi Alderman - a science fiction thriller imagining a world where women develop a power to hurt or kill men with a single touch.

The Dark Circle by previous prize winner Linda Grant - a story of East End London teenage twins suffering from tuberculosis, who are sent to a sanatorium in deepest Kent where they meet a very different world.

The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan - a story about race and horse racing following a father and daughter who try to mould a wilful thoroughbred into a champion.

First Love by Gwendoline Riley - draws the reader into the battleground of a marriage between a mid-30s author and her older husband.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien - the story of China's Cultural Revolution told through the interwoven lives of three Chinese musical prodigies.

The prize, worth £30,000 celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in writing by women in English from throughout the world. The winner of the 2017 prize will be announced on 7 June 2017.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Curtin Clan Gathering, April 21-23, 2017 at the Temple Gate Hotel in Ennis

“You can’t know where you are going until you know where you’ve been”, Old Irish Proverb

Ennis, County Clare, Temple Gate Hotel: The Curtin Clan will celebrate their 10th Gathering at the Temple Gate Hotel in Ennis on April 21-23, 2017. The Curtin Clan are a group of people with a connection to the Curtin surname that are curious about how generations before lived in Ireland. The Curtin surname is found in counties Clare, Cork, Kerry and Limerick. It involves an international community for genealogy, research and fellowship.

The Gathering will include speakers on the impact of the Penal Code on late 19th century Ireland, history of Curtins in Clare, Cork War of Independence, Clan DNA update, Rambling House, Gala Dinner, dancing, traditional music, Mass at the Franciscan Friary, and a tour of the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren.

For registration information, visit

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Spring Into Storytime at your Local Library

Libraries in County Clare are inviting you to Spring Into Storytime this April.

Spring Into Storytime is a national library initiative taking place in all counties in the coming weeks. Parents and young children are welcome to visit any of the participating branches of Clare County Library to celebrate the importance of families reading together and sharing stories.

deValera Library Ennis will host a storytime session every Thursday morning at 11.30am during April.

Ennistymon Library’s next storytimes will be on Saturday the 25th of March and Saturday the 22nd of April and will continue once a month as usual thereafter, beginning at 11am.

Storytime at Kilkee Library will take place on Friday the 31st of March at 10.45am with special invited guests from Giggles Montessori while monthly storytime sessions continue in Kilrush Library, the next one taking place on Saturday the 11th of April at 11am.

Miltown Malbay Library will welcome the children of Spraoi playgroup to a special storytime on Thursday the 6th of April at 12 noon.

Scariff Library will host a series of Spring Into Storytime sessions on Sat the 8th of April at 12 noon, Wed 12th at 3.30pm, Sat 22nd at 12 noon and Wed 26th of April at 3.30pm.

Neighbouring Killaloe Library will also join in the fun of sharing stories and will host special Baby Bear Rhyme Time sessions for very young children and their parents at 11am on the 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th of April. This series of stories will run in tandem with a separate storytime programme that will take place regularly at the branch beginning on the 27th of March and continuing on a weekly basis every Monday at 3.30pm.

Shannon Library’s storytimes will take place each Tuesday in April at 4 pm and Sixmilebridge Library will welcome the children of Tomorrow’s Child Montessori to join in a fun storytime session at the branch at 11.30am on the 4th of April.

Through this initiative which is part of the National Right to Read strategy, parents of children from toddlers to five year olds will have a special opportunity to help engage in the experience of sharing stories and laying the foundations for their little ones to become readers. Children automatically and unknowingly reach the pre-reading stage when parents begin to read stories to them and they begin to listen. This can happen in infancy and the process of becoming a reader spans the first four years of your child’s life.

During the series of scheduled storytimes in the library, children along with their parents/carers will be invited to participate in some of the most suitable stories for young children expertly chosen by staff. Simple fun activities based on the featured stories may also be planned. There will be a special focus on demonstrating to parents how best to read and share stories with your child at this crucial time. Listening to stories at an early age has a major impact on your child’s development that is guaranteed to have a lasting effect.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Public Consultation on proposed County Library for Clare

Members of the public and stakeholder groups interested in the proposed new County Library for County Clare are being asked for their input at one of seven public consultation events being held later this month. Clare County Council says the public consultation events are aimed at gathering information on the design and use of the new facility which will be developed at the site of the existing glór facility on The Causeway Link providing a new County Library and art gallery for Clare to replace the existing public Library on Harmony Row.

A full design team has been appointed to progress the design and planning phases of the new build project and Clare County Council anticipates that a planning application will be lodged in early summer 2017. Helen Walsh, Clare County Librarian commented, “The purpose of the upcoming open public consultation events is to explain the scope of the project and provide opportunity for interested stakeholder groups and individuals to share their views. Graphic explanatory materials will be on display along with informal opportunities to engage with members of the team to offer input and comments.”

The open public consultation events will be held at glór, Ennis (4.00 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. and 6.30 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.) on Monday 27th March, Scarriff Library (11.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.), DeValera Library, Ennis, (3.00 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.) and Shannon Library (6.30 p.m. to 8.00 p.m.) on Tuesday 28th March, and at Ennistymon Library (11.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m.) and Kilrush Library (3.00 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.) on Wednesday 29th March. Submissions will be accepted at the open events. Written submissions and observations may also be made to the County Librarian, Library Head quarters, Harmony Row, Ennis, Co. Clare by 4.00pm on the 5th of April 2017.

Clare County Council has been allocated a €3 million capital grant towards the cost of the proposed project under the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government’s Capital Funding Programme for Public Libraries. An additional €1 million in EU funding was also allocated from the Southern Regional Assembly’s Operational Programme 2014-2020. Clare County Council will fund the balance of €4.6 million of the overall cost of the project.

The architect-led design team appointed by Clare County Council comprises Keith Williams Architects Ltd (Architects), Ove Arup & Partners Ireland Ltd T/A Arup (Civil & Structural), Axiseng M & E Ltd T/A AxisEng (Mechanical & Electrical), AECOM Professional Services (Quantity Surveying Services) and OLM Consultancy (PSDP).

For more visit

Creative Ireland Public Consultation

Creative Ireland is the Government’s legacy programme for Ireland 2016. It is a five-year initiative, from 2017 to 2022, which places creativity at the centre of public policy and to mainstream creativity in the life of the nation. It is essentially a culture based programme designed to promote individual, community and national wellbeing. It follows the same design as the 1916/2016 programme with five pillars - the Local Authority curating the second pillar - ‘Enabling creativity in every community.’

Clare County Council and the Creative Ireland national team will host an open meeting to share details about the Programme and to explore opportunities to increase access, engagement and collaboration in the local arts and creative industries. This public consultation will take place in the Temple Gate Hotel, Ennis, at 7.30pm on Thursday, 30th March 2017.

For further details please contact County Librarian, Clare Library HQ., Mill Road, Ennis, Co. Clare.
Email: Tel 065 6846350
Full details of the Creative Ireland Programme are available at

Monday, 13 March 2017

Being an Archaeologist

A group of adult local history students from the Ennis campus of the Limerick Clare Education and Training Board recently took part in our first ‘Be an Archaeologist’ workshop of the year at Clare Museum. It is the first time that LCETB students have taken part in this programme, which is primarily targeted to support Transition Year programmes in Secondary Schools around the county.

Professional archaeologist Kate Taylor from TVAS Archaeological Services took the students through a power point presentation initially, and then gave them some practical experience of ‘digging’ in excavation boxes containing real artefacts. This taught the adult learners how to excavate, describe and record their finds. They also learned about radio carbon dating and how tree rings are used to date wood found in an archaeological context.

Although none of the students intend to be archaeologists in the future, the experience shed light a profession that often rouses curiosity and is frequently misunderstood. Kate also took the opportunity to discuss recent archaeological excavations and finds from around the county which was of particular interest given their area of study.

Feedback from the LCETB has been very positive, and there is a possibility of extending the programme to other adult education courses.

There are still workshops available for booking by Transition Year or community groups. Bookings for groups of up to 25 students can be made by emailing These will be taken on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Killaloe Library Craft Club featured at International Women’s Day Event

The Killaloe Library Craft Club was invited to demonstrate crafts at an International Women’s Day 2017 Event organised in Nenagh Arts Centre on Sunday 5th March. There was great interest in the display of spinning, weaving, knitting, crochet and tatting that the group put on. Mary Goss, Library Assistant at Killaloe Library, spoke about the group’s charitable knitting project making hats, cardigans and blankets for premature babies and Monica Hannaford told how the group had knitted 34 jumpers for orphans in Missionvale in South Africa.

Monday, 6 March 2017

YA Book Prize 2017

The YA Book Prize established in 2014 is awarded annually to the best young adult book written by an author living in the UK or Ireland. Its aim is to showcase the best Young Adult writing by awarding the special book prize to a piece of work deemed something special by a panel of expert judges, including young people.

It is the first UK and Ireland prize to specifically focus on fiction for young adults and addresses an important need for a prize in the growing YA and teen market. It celebrates great books for teenagers and young adults and aims to get more teens reading and buying books. Previous winners of the prize are Louise O'Neill's Only Ever Yours (2015) and Sarah Crossan's One (2016).

The winning author receives a £2,000 prize which is presented at Hay Festival.

This year’s shortlist includes a new YA book by Francesca Simon and Ireland’s Peadar O Guilin’s The Call is also shortlisted.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Ennis Book Club Festival Children’s Programme in partnership with Clare County Library

For the first time Ennis Book Club Festival, in partnership with Clare County Library presents a children’s programme as part of the annual weekend festival running from March 3rd-5th.

Children’s events taking place over the weekend include the following:
Ruaille Buaille event with Aidan Courtney in Scéal Eile book shop in Ennis at 9am. Aidan, aka Coimicí Gael, will lead this fun, magical workshop teaching children aged 9-13* how to draw a cartoon character through the medium of Irish (no need to be fluent - a few words of Irish will be just fine!). The theme of the workshop is your favourite Harry Potter character. Some materials supplied, but children are welcome to bring their own pencils if preferred. Numbers for this event are very limited, so please come EARLY to avoid disappointment.
*Younger children welcome with older siblings
Le tacaíocht ó Seachtain na Gaeilge le Energia

Book Clinic with Children’s Books Ireland on Saturday 4th March from 10am-1pm in Visit Clare, Abbey Street Car Park in Ennis.

Throughout the year Children’s Books Ireland (CBI) brings the Book Clinic around the country, working with many different partners. Parents and children are invited to drop in for an informal consultation with one of CBI’s friendly panel of Book Doctors, who are ready to offer the best advice for the young readers in the family. The visit begins with a few moments in the waiting room with the Doodle Doctors, working on a Doodle Starter and learning more about drawing as well as enjoying a selection of children’s books. When the Book Doctor is ready to see a patient, the consultation begins with some questions about books the young reader previously enjoyed as well as activities, movies, TV shows and video games they enjoy. This lets the Book Doctor know a little bit more about the patient so she can write a book prescription, which is a personalised list of books recommended for the individual patient. Every patient and their family leave with a Reading Passport containing this book prescription to take to their local library or bookshop to have it filled! Remember, the Book Clinic is always free of charge!

There will also be a Children’s Book Club event with author Caroline Busher in the De Valera Library, Ennis on Saturday 4th March at 2.30pm. This is a first for Ennis Book Club Festival, to include a children’s book club event. Festival organisers and Library staff are very excited and hope many young people will come along to meet Caroline and discuss the book. It could even be the start of a new children’s book club in De Valera Library, Ennis so we want to call out to all 11 & 12 year-old readers to come along to this free but ticketed event. Call De Valera Library on 065-6846353 for more information.

Ennis Book Club Festival and Clare County Library also partnered for this year’s Teen Week at the Library with events featuring authors E.R. Murray and Dave Rudden in the libraries in Ennis and Ennistymon.

For all details of the Ennis Book Club Festival visit

The 1916 Centenary Commemorative Medal

Recently an unexpected package arrived by mail from the Irish Defence Force HQ in County Kildare. The package contained a sample 1916 Centenary Commemorative Medal, one of a type presented by President Michael D. Higgins to all members of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps to mark the fact that the Defence Forces had played such a prominent role in the commemorations to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising.

The medal has a familiar look to it, which is intentional according to documentation that was included in the package. It explains that, as the Defence Forces trace their origins to the foundation of the Irish Volunteers in November 1913, the medal was designed to reflect the tradition of the original 1916 medal but was made respectfully different in deference to the men and women of 1916 to whom the original medal was awarded.

The documentation also explains that because of the prominent role played by the Defence Forces at local authority level during the commemorations, it is considered appropriate to provide local authority museums with a sample for our collections.

We at Clare Museum would like to thank the Defence Forces for their generosity. The medal is a welcome addition to our collection and will serve as a tangible link to the centenary commemorations in the years to come.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Waterstones Book of the Year 2016

Historical novel The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry has beaten the likes of J K Rowling and Beatrix Potter to be crowned the Waterstones Book of the Year for 2016.

Described as “a novel of rare intelligence”, it was voted “overwhelmingly” as the title which booksellers were most proud to recommend to customers Set in Victorian London and an Essex village in the 1890s, The Essex Serpent has at its heart the story of two people who fall for each other, despite agreeing on absolutely nothing. Cora is a well-to-do London widow who moves to the Essex parish of Aldwinter, and Will is the local vicar. They meet as their village is engulfed by rumours that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Balancing Care with Access: Patrick Brennan’s Autograph Book

In a previous blog post, we told the story of how Clare Museum acquired Patrick Brennan’s Frongoch autograph book and its significance as a link between County Clare and the Easter Rising in 1916. The autograph book records the names, thoughts, hopes and political aspirations of fifty-four Frongoch internees from all over Ireland and is beautifully illustrated, but since its acquisition it has been mostly in storage and away from the public eye. It is probably no surprise then that as part of Clare’s contribution to mark the centenary of the Rising, the opportunity was taken to place this album of signatures in the long-term exhibition at Clare Museum.

However, early in the planning there was an awareness that, paradoxically, placing the autograph book on public display would actually restrict access in many ways as only two pages can be displayed to the viewer at any one time. The decision to display the item would also pose another problem which would become apparent over time: in order to make it available to researchers it would require the autograph book to be taken off exhibition for periods, while the handling of its delicate pages would place it at increased risk of damage and deterioration.

In order to overcome these restrictions to access while simultaneously protecting the artefact, it was decided early on to produce a book as a resource that would make available the original material the autograph book contains. With funding provided by the Clare 1916 Programme, Dr Tomás Mac Conmara, oral historian and an expert on Clare during the Irish War of Independence was commissioned to research and write the text of the publication.

Titled ‘An Interpretive Guide to Patrick Brennan’s Autograph Book’, Dr Mac Conmara provided biographical notes on each of the signatories and translations from Irish to English of their compositions. He also provided an analysis of both the compositions and of life in Frongoch as experienced by the internees.

In addition, because the Clare 1916 Programme provided the funding for the printing of the book, it became possible to provide the ‘Guide’ free of charge to the public. Dr Mac Conmara’s research and the funding received for publication has allowed the museum to provide:

- The widest possible access to the original document.
- An educational resource for adult learners, students, local historians and the general public
- Reduced risk of damage the original document through handling

In addition, the project allowed the museum and the Clare 1916 Programme to:
- Provide scholarly research for our objects as outlined in our Exhibition Policy
- Provide a significant souvenir for the people of Clare of the county’s contribution to the centenary commemorations.

Patrick Brennan’s Autograph Book is on display in the Riches of Clare exhibition at Clare Museum, where admission is free.
The Interpretive Guide was launched on 22nd December, 2016, to bookend the Clare’s commemorative programme. It is available to the public at Clare Museum.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

2016 Costa Book of the Year

Sebastian Barry has become the first novelist to win the Costa Book of the Year a second time. His latest book Days Without End has been announced as the winner of the 2016 overall award. The book, set in 1850s America, tells the story of Sligo-born comrades and lovers Thomas McNulty and John Cole. The chair of the judging panel described the book's gay relationship as "one of the most wonderful depictions of love in fiction". The Dublin-born author was inspired to write about a gay relationship after his son came out.

Barry previously won the Costa Book of the Year award, regarded as one of the UK’s most prestigious literary awards, for his novel The Secret Scripture in 2008.

Celebrating books across five categories – novel, first novel, children’s fiction, poetry and biography – the Costa awards shortlist four writers in each category, with the winner in each then eligible to win the overall book of the year award which attracts a prize of €35,000.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Big Picture Event with PJ Lynch and Eoin Colfer

Photo © Peter Cavanagh taken at dlr Lexicon, 20 Nov 2015

Clare County Library in association with glór welcomes Laureates na nÓg past and present to Ennis on February the 15th 2017.

At a special schools event for 5th and 6th classes, teachers and pupils are invited to attend a live drawing experience by current Laureate PJ Lynch. PJ will be accompanied by fellow award-winning, world renowned author and ex Laureate Eoin Colfer.

Visiting schools will learn about PJ's illustrations for Patrick and the President, a book created with broadcaster Ryan Tubridy. Eoin Colfer will share his well-known stories with special emphasis on Once Upon a Place, a collection of short stories and poems collated during his time as Laureate na nÓg. The event will end with one lucky audience member having their portrait drawn by PJ, with some assistance from Eoin and the audience!

School bookings can be made by contacting Clare County Library at tel. no. 065 6846266.

PJ Lynch was appointed the fourth Laureate na nÓg in May 2016. An exhibition of his paintings will be available for viewing in glór from Friday the 3rd of February to Sat 25th February. This is a unique opportunity for visitors to the arts centre during the coming month, including teachers and schoolchildren, to see the work of one of the finest illustrators of children's books of all times.

Entitled the 'Pilgrims, Princesses and Beardy Old Men Exhibition' the collection of original paintings by the award-winning Irish artist includes pictures from the million-selling The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, and classics such as Dickens' A Christmas Carol right up to the newly published The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, as well as PJ's charcoal drawings for Once Upon A Place, a new anthology of stories by top Irish writers compiled by Eoin Colfer. PJ Lynch has worked as a children's book illustrator for many years. He has lectured on his own work, and on Art and Illustration at the National Gallery of Ireland, The National Library of Ireland and at the National Print Museum of Ireland, as well as at numerous conferences and colleges across the U.S.

Museum Advocacy, Survey and ‘1916 Around the County’

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Heather Humphreys launched Museums Advocacy Day in the National Library of Ireland on Wednesday November 30th 2016. The event was organised by the Local Authority Museums Network (LAMN), working in partnership with the Irish Museums Association (IMA) and with the assistance and support of the Heritage Council. Clare Museum is one of the twelve local authority members that make up the museum network.

The key focus of the day was to highlight the significant work of museums on our island, both north and south of the border, with a particular emphasis on the role museums played in this historic year of commemoration. Museums across the country, working in collaboration with communities, have brought epic tales of passion, patriotism and sacrifice to the public in an array of thought-provoking and engaging exhibitions and events.

The Minister also officially launched the LAMN’s new exhibition ‘1916 Across the Country’ and the IMA’s new Irish Museums Survey. This exhibition was developed by the LAMN to provide a snapshot of some of the key stories brought to light through the work of the local authority museums that make up the network. Clare Museum’s contribution, highlighted in an earlier blog post, features the Committal Form of Countess Markievicz from May 1916.

The exhibition represents the key role played by museums in exploring and presenting the story of 1916 to millions of visitors throughout the year. This point was highlighted by Minister Humphreys when she referred to the legacy of the 1916 year of commemorations and the vital part that the museum sector has and will play in the future development of the heritage sector in Ireland.

The Irish Museum Survey was carried out by the IMA in partnership with University College Dublin and is the first comprehensive quantitative and qualitative survey of Irish museums, north and south, for more than a decade. The report shows that more than six million people visit Irish museums annually and also outlines the challenges being faced by our museums, with the effects of the economic recession clearly evidenced since the last report in 2004. The real value of the survey is that it provides the tools to make evidence-based arguments both for the importance of museums and the need for increasing the supports available to them.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Sebastian Barry wins Costa Novel award for the second time

Sebastian Barry's Days Without End has been announced as the Costa Novel Award Winner 2016 . Barry's The Secret Scripture won the award in 2008. The judges described the novel as
“A miracle of a book - both epic and intimate - that manages to create spaces for love and safety in the noise and chaos of history”.

The novel tells the story of Thomas McNulty and John Cole who have fled 1850s Sligo to rebuild their lives in America. Fighting in the Indian wars and the Civil War, they find these days to be vivid and alive, despite the horrors they both see and are complicit in. Their lives are further enriched and endangered when a young Indian girl crosses their path, and the possibility of lasting happiness emerges, if only they can survive.

The Costa Children's Book Award Winner 2016 was another author of Irish interest, Brian Conaghan. Brian was born and raised in the Scottish town of Coatbridge but now lives in Dublin. His winning novel is The Bombs That Brought Us Together

It tells the story of Charlie Law lives in Little Town almost on the border with Old Country where over there he has heard that life is better even though you play by the rules. No one argues with the Rascals who run it and most especially not with the Big Man. Charlie becomes friends with Pavel from Old Country, a dangerous liaison that will force him to make impossible decisions. When the bombs come Charlie must decide between country or friend, trust or betrayal, future or past, right or wrong. Nationalism, war, refugees, trust and friendship are the major themes explored in this thought-provoking novel that will surprisingly make you laugh while you consider such serious issues.

What the Costa judges said about The Bombs That Brought Us Together:
“Timely yet also hilariously funny, Bombs is a necessary take on modern life in extraordinary circumstances.”

The Costa Book Awards honour some of the most outstanding books of the year written by authors based in the UK and Ireland. There are five categories - First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book - with one of the five winners chosen as Book of the Year, announced at an awards ceremony in London every January. This year the ceremony will be held on January 31st.