Launch of CAP Awards 2017

Last year my novel for children The Rising Son was nominated for a CAP Award. The Carousel Aware Prize for Independent Authors was created by, author and creative writing teacher, Carolann Copland last year to promote the best in self published literature. The team at CAP write:

“The publishing industry in Ireland is changing: traditional publishing is no longer the only route to publishing success and The CAP Awards is leading the way in its championship of Irish independent authors.

We are committed to acknowledging and promoting excellence in all aspects of independent book publishing and hope that the Awards will inspire and encourage Irish Indie authors to focus on ensuring that their work reaches the highest possible standards in all aspects of publishing, from writing and editing through to design and marketing.

The CAP Awards is also a reader’s guarantee of quality, offering readers fresh, new voices and vision only available from independent authors combined with professional, high-level standards of publishing.

These Awards would not be possible without the support of many.

The CAP Awards Committee would like to thank all the judges for 2016 – Louise Phillips, Claire Hennessy, Jax Miller, Tony Canavan and St Colmcille’s Junior National School, Knocklyon for giving so generously of their time in supporting the Awards. Thanks also to Hazel Gaynor for cutting the red ribbon on the night. A huge thank you to our 2016 sponsors for their support at the gala evening and throughout the year: Dubray BooksEasonsBooks IrelandEmu Ink PublishingThe Dublin Writers’ Conference and InTallaght Magazine.

A big thank you to CAP Awards founder, author and owner of Carousel Creates Writers’ Centre, Carolann Copland, whose vision and passion for writing and independent publishing was the inspiration and the driving force behind these Awards, and to Gerry O’Brien and all the staff at Aware for their support and assistance in our first Award year. And last, but not least, thanks to the other members of the CAP Awards Committee: Anne O’Leary, Neil Copland, Joan Brady, Bernadette Kearns and  Tara Sparling for all their hard work and dedication to making this inaugural year of The CAP Awards such a success.”

Winners 2016

Last year’s winners were:

  • Best Novel  – Orna Ross, Her Secret Rose
  • Best Short Story Anthology  – Kevin Doyle, Do You Like Oranges?
  • Best Junior Book  -  Aisli Madden, Zenji & the Muzzy Bug
  • Best Young Adult Book  – Brendan O’Connell, Death’s New Lease On Life
  • Best Non-Fiction Book  -  Lorna Sixsmith, How to be a Perfect Farm Wife


Launch of 2017 CAP Awards

There is a general invitation to the launch of “The CAP Awards 2017” on 25th March 2017 between 2pm and 5pm at The Teachers Club, 36 Parnell Square West. There will be a readers’ and writers’ day with panel discussions from both the world of traditionally and independently published authors. There will also be some short readings from authors and they will be announcing the amount that was raised by The CAP Awards 2016 for their charity Aware. Both writers and readers are welcome to attend on the day and to ask questions from the judges and the committee regarding the upcoming submissions for our awards. They will be seeking submissions following the launch with the closing date for receipt of all submissions being 31st May 2017.

This is a great opportunity for self published and independent authors to get their book out there, raise their profile and to establish a readership. I would encourage every one to get behind this farsighted venture.


So far so good in 2017

So here we are in a new year, facing new challenges. Trying to keep writing and producing new work is a challenge always, but it’s one I relish. I hope 2017 will be a good year for me and my work. I have publication of my first poetry collection After The Fall to look forward to in September this year from Salmon Poetry, and I’ll be revising and polishing the poems over the next few months. But in the meantime I’m pleased that I’m continuing to publish new poems and stories. Here’s how things have shaped up so far in 2017:

So far so good I reckon, but I’m working on some new projects too at the moment which I hope to tell you more about soon.

Round up of 2016

2016 ended on a huge high for me when my Christmas villanelle When We Were Small was published on the front page of the Irish Times on Christmas Eve. It doesn’t get any better than this! Huge thanks to IT Poetry Editor Gerard Smyth for accepting the poem.

Most of the year was about The Rising Son, my 1916 related novel for kids, which I took out and about to schools and libraries throughout the year. This was a great experience for me, meeting young readers who showed a huge appetite for the story and whose close reading provoked some great questions which I hope I was able to answer. I also brought the book to Over The Edge in Galway and to the Belfast Book Festival in June.

Next year I look forward to the publication of my first collection of poetry with Salmon Poetry. This is really important to me as its something I’ve been working on for years now. I will post more news about the publication as soon as it becomes available.

In the meantime here’s a brief run down of prizes and publications for 2016. Not a bad year at all. Thanks to all the journals, editors and competition judges. Rejections are a part of life as a writer, so these acceptances are much appreciated!

I wish you all a very happy and productive and successful new year!

The Rising Son at the end of 1916 Centenary Year

It’s been a really exciting 1916 centenary year and my novel The Rising Son has sold way beyond my expectations and has kept me busy doing readings and library and school visits all over the place. Belfast Book Festival and Over The Edge in Galway were high points for me!  My last three class visits will be held at the beginning of December in South East Dublin just before the close of the year and almost exactly one year after the date of publication. I’ve really enjoyed meeting the kids. Their appetite for knowledge is so well reflected in the quality and quantity of questions I’ve had to answer during the year.

I’m looking forward now to new and exciting projects in the new year, more news of  which I hope to share with you soon. So before I do my annual run down of “what I’ve done and failed to do” in the current year I will, for the last time, list the many ways in which you can get your hands on a copy of The Rising Son (if you haven’t done so already!) If you’ve read the book I’d be really pleased if you could put a short review up on Amazon or Goodreads – thanks!

So here we go:

  • You can buy it directly from me by clicking the cover image on the right side of this page.
  • Eason in O’Connell Street still have a couple of copies (it’s in the adult Irish Lit section for some reason)
  • Kenny’s Book Shop, Galway.
You can always try your local independent bookshop – there may be copies floating around in some Easons stores around the country also. Failing that you can always borrow it from your local library! Which ever way you get your hands on it, I hope you enjoy the read.
Thanks to all the readers who made it such a success so far! It’s been a trip…

CAP-Indie Book Awards 2016

I can’t say how pleased I am that my novel The Rising Son has been short-listed for The CAP-Indie Book Awards 2016 in the Young Adult category. The awards ceremony takes place this Tuesday evening at 7pm, 25th October 2016, at The Teachers Club on Parnell Square.

Huge thanks to Carolann Copland, of Carousel Writers’ Centre, who is the brains behind this award.

Carousel Writers’ Centre launched the Carousel Aware Prize for Independently Published Authors on January 11th 2016; with all money raised going to Aware(A charity which assists those directly affected by the illness of depression.)

These awards aim to provide a platform to showcase the cream of Irish Self-Published authors, bringing them to the attention of book shops, distributors and the media in Ireland and abroad.

The shortlists in all five categories are as follows:


To be judged by Carolann Copland and the children of St. Colmcille’s Junior National School, Knocklyon, Dublin

Fiona Buckley                  Better Than Gold
Dolores Keaveney           The Scary Spider
Aisli Madden                    Zenji and the Muzzy Bug
SP McArdle                     The Red Letter Day
Caroline Twomey            The Dream Catcher



To be judged by Claire Hennessy

Siobhán Davis Saven Deception
Drew Darkwood Link
Brian Kirk The Rising Son
Alan Murphy Prometheus Unplugged!
Brendan O’ Connell Death’s New Lease on Life


To be judged by Louise Phillips

Kathryn Crowley         Sweaters and Small Stuff
Kevin Doyle                 Do You Like Oranges?
Annmarie Miles           The Long & The Short of it



To be judged by Tony Canavan

Corina Duyn                                               Into The Light
Sharyn Hayden                            I Forgot to Take My Pill
Lorna Sixsmith                 How to be a Perfect Farm Wife
Michael Turlow                                        The Marley Man
Fiona Van Dokku     From the Inside – Raising,Teaching
and Loving an Autistic Child


To be judged by Jax Miller

Thomas Paul Burgess          White Church, Black Mountain
James Lawless                     American Doll
Pam Lecky                           The Bowes Inheritance
Neil Rochford                       The Blue Ridge Project
Orna Ross                            Her Secret Rose

If you’d like to attend the awards night please register here.

Thanks to everyone who supported me in publishing The Rising Son which has been a big success for me. And wish me luck! Fingers crossed!!



Ó Bhéal Poetry-Film Competition Shortlisting


I was delighted to get news of the shortlisting of my Poetry Film “Red Line Haiku” in the  4th Ó Bhéal Poetry-Film Competition. I have to acknowledge the fine work of Bao Zhu who made the film with me and used her expertise as a film maker to marry her vision to my words. The film has been chosen to be included in a shortlist of 28 from 163 films entered from 28 countries. It will be shown on the afternoon of 16th October as part of the IndieCork Film Festival along with the other shortlisted films at the Blacknight Festival Centre, Kino Cinema:

Competition Screening A Sun 16th Oct / 12:00pm / 50 mins

Sun Hours / Dotan Gur / Israel

Once in Whitley Bay / Diana Taylor / UK

Dictionary Illustrations / Marie Craven / Australia

One Dream Opening Into Many / Marie Craven / Australia

Red Line Haiku / Bao Zhu / China,Ireland

SMART USER / Kuesti Fraun / Germany

Two Story Train / Martha McCollough / USA

Song of Calling / Jason Lam / Australia

DADA! / Stephen Chang and John Weselcouch / USA

Peter and the Wolf (Aladdin Sane?) / Patrick O’ Shea / Ireland

The Nat King Cole Post Office / Pamela Falkenberg and Jack Cochran / USA

Repères (Landmarks) / Karoline Georges / Canada

Love Mykolaiv if you dare / Angie Bogachenko / Ukraine

Adondar a lingua (Kneading language) / Celia Parra / Spain

Competition Screening B Sun 16th Oct / 2:00pm / 50 mins

What The Waves Brought In / Paul Broderick / USA

Joining the Lotus Eaters / Marie Craven / Australia

Eclipse / Eugenia Lindblat / Italy

SADDLE / Corbin Louis and Devin Ensz / USA

Thames Way / Diarmuid Fitzgerald and Ciarán Ó Floinn / Ireland

Known Unto God / Suzie Hanna / U.K.

Baisan and Buben – F5 / Anatoly Kuris / Belarus

Helvetinjumalankone (Hell’sgodmachine) / Sanna Larmola / Estonia, Finland

The Eternal Footman / Pamela Falkenberg and Jack Cochran / USA

The Bloom / Pamela Falkenberg and Jack Cochran / USA

Chamada Geral (Calling All) / Manuel Vilarinho / Portugal

A Demonstration / Pádraig Burke (Ireland)

Wat Zegt De Zee? (What Does The Sea Say?) / Jan Peeters & Paul Bogaert / Belgium

We are the ones who were born / Urs Mader / Germany


The awards will be made later that night at The Gate Cinema, Cork. Wish us luck!



Radio Radio


On 28th July 2016 I was delighted to be a guest on The Late Lunch with Gerry Kelly on LMFM in Drogheda. In a very relaxed and enjoyable interview I got to talk about The Rising Son and also read a couple of poems from my collectionm, After The Fall, which is due out in early 2017 from Salmon. You can listen back to the interview here. I come on at around 26.34. Gerry kindly invited me back next year to read some poems and talk about the collection when the book comes out.

This Sunday morning at 11am I’ll be talking to Teresa Quinn on Bookline on Liffey Sound FM. Again I’ll be mainly talking about The Rising Son and the school visits and readings I’ve been doing as part of the centenary of the 1916 Rising. I will also perhaps read a poem or two if time permits.

I’m very grateful for these opportunities to talk about my work. This year has been much more about the public interaction around writing which is no bad thing after an extended period of creative confinement!

I hope you’ll tune in and/or listen back.








Belfast Book Festival 2016

I’m delighted to be taking part in this year’s Belfast Book Festival at the Crescent Arts Centre on Saturday 18th June 2016.

I will be reading from The Rising Son and talking about how I came to write my first novel for children based on the events in Dublin in 1916. It’s been a great year so far, meeting lots of young readers in schools and libraries, getting feedback on the book and talking about history and writing stories and how the two can come together.

If you haven’t read the book yet, you can read the first chapter here right now. The book is available from Easons nationwide and at all good bookstores and also as an e-book from Amazon.

Celia Keenan reviewing for Children’s Books Ireland wrote: ‘He had never wanted to come here… He only ever wanted to be the boy who enjoyed football and television and computer games… Until he came to Dublin that was who he was… now he was someone else. He was Irish … he had a history that was full of sadness. He shouted with all his might “I’m English for God’s sake”’. This powerfully expressed crisis of identity comes late in the story of Jack O’Connor.’ You can read the full review here.

If you’re in or around Belfast I hope you will come along on 18th June at 11.30am. You can book tickets for my event here and you can have a look at what is a hugely impressive festival programme here.




The Rising Son at Scoil na Mainistreach, Celbridge

I’ve been doing a series of schools and library visits in the last couple of months, talking about my novel, a little about 1916 and history in general and doing some writing exercises with the kids. All in all it’s been great fun and really surprising to find how engaged children can be with writing and literature.

On 27th April I visited Scoil na Mainistreach in Celbridge, Co. Kildare and met with three fifth classes there who were extremely enthusiastic and had great questions for me. One of the teachers there, Julie Holmes, was good enough to send on this message to me at the weekend.

“The boys in 5th class really enjoyed your visit. We managed to finish your wonderful novel in record time! We found it to be a gripping and very sensitively written book. The boys from my class have written some reviews and reports about your workshop on our blog. You might like to have a look
I will definitely be including The Rising Son amongst my class novels for next year.”

I am very grateful to the teachers and the boys for taking the time to write these reviews and reports on my visit. Getting such positive feedback from readers has to be the best thing about having a book out! Thanks guys!

Red Line Haiku text and video

Last Sunday, 17th April 2016, was International Haiku Poetry Day and my film poem Red Line Haiku was one of a number of poetry films featured as part of HaikuLife Haiku Film Festival by The Haiku Foundation in the US. My thanks to Jim Kacian, director  of the festival,  and to my fellow Hibernian Poet Maeve O’Sullivan who drew it to my attention.

There is a link to my film here.

A couple of people who enjoyed the film have asked to see the text of the haiku sequence, so here it is. I hope you enjoy it!



not even morning…

eyes close as the tram shudders

house lights coming on




buzz in my pocket

battery almost run down –

the mountains don’t care




cold wind at Kylemore

blear island in a smoke sea

oh please close the doors




eyes bent to phone light,

night and morning cross without

either one speaking




the east lighting up

burnt gold over drab buildings –

I stare at my phone




Red Cow Bluebell bends

into Blackhorse Goldenbridge –

so many colours




seagulls on canal – how do they not miss the sea?




James’ s hospital

end of the line for many:

not for me – not yet




children on the tram

next stop Probation Service –

on flows the river




one-sided blather

look away from your neighbour

dream lives not your own




push through numb bodies

the doors close on your ankle

unhurt embarrassed




ghosts in Smithfield square

haunting the benches, the law

calls them out by name




warm cans passed around

wonder what that life could be –

it could have been mine




crow taps my window

numbers march in a column –

start over again




phone’s shrill insistence

I will ignore it for now

no one can see me




dull meeting:

in a drab room opposite

a tired girl dresses




Angelus bell clangs

never sounded so foreign –

what country is this?




I hear my own voice

but I don’t recognize it –

who have I become?




voice over tannoy

murmurs vague words from the past –

I am my father



the dogs in the street

barking at leaves as they fall –

seen then forgotten




spoon out routine days

in hours that pass in lifetimes

forget your own name




warm rain on bare heads

the streets wet at evening

must get umbrella




soft lights of the pub

impossibly attractive –

swallow bitter draught




on my own again

eyes always drawn to the door –

what are you watching?




girl in a doorway

checks her lips in a hand glass –

curse fugitive love




old man with a bag

tests the bins for a bottle –

curse fugitive God




new moon blesses night – who blesses the night walker?




back on the Red Line

night muddies the windows

with an orange glare