Murals with PJ Lynch

Photo PJ took just as Niamh and myself began to work on our walls.

As part of his Laureate na n√ďg Big Picture project, my good pal and birthday bud, PJ Lynch took on the task of organising SIX permanent murals (or muriels, as we say in Dublin) for a school in Cork, the very lovely Gaelscoil Mhainistir na Corann in Midleton. He invited Niamh Sharkey, Chris Judge, Lauren O’Neill, Michael and myself to join him and each take on a wall. Here are some photos of each mural as it happened, from blank to finished – click on the first photo to get larger images and some notes on what’s happening. Then keep clicking right.

PJ’s wall; The Children of Lir

Niamh’s wall; the King of Ireland

Lauren’s wall; Gulliver in Lilliput

Chris’s wall; Irish Creatures, Past & Present

My wall; image from The Long March

The school requested an image from my book The Long March (see two previous blogposts) as Midleton is home to the Feathers sculpture which commemorates the Choctaw gift to Ireland in 1847.

The whole team -Niamh Sharkey, Chris Judge, Jenny Murray (CBI), Lauren O’Neill, me, Aingeala (L na n√ďg project manager), PJ Lynch – Laureate na n√ďg.

Aingeala and Jenny looked after us so well (of course) and the school laid on a constant supply of sandwiches and scones and smiles and encouragement plus a laughter-filled night with the teachers at Muinteoir Gr√°inne’s on Saturday night. Unfortunately Michael was sick – whooping cough – and missed the trip, but he will tackle a wall for the school in May or June. We’ll add photos then.

Top photo of Niamh and myself beginning our murals is one PJ quietly snapped from the return of the stairs.

Once Upon a…

…Place is a collection of stories and poems, all new, all set somewhere in Ireland. I was delighted to be asked to contribute¬†to this book¬†put together by Eoin Colfer as part of his Laureate-ship. That was the brief – that the setting be a real place in Ireland – and here is where I set mine:

Kells, County Kilkenny, is a wee village. It’s on a bend in the King’s River and there’s¬†nothing much there but a garage and a small pub called Shirley’s. And the Priory. Or the Seven Castles as locals also call it – because of the tower houses dotted along the walls.

It’s the nearest¬†village¬†to the farm my granddad was born and¬†grew up on, the farm where my mother spent her childhood summers. She brought us there as kids to visit with our cousins and we all continued to spend weekends over the years. As a child, trundling through Kells in the old blue Beetle meant we were, in fact, Nearly There. As an adult¬†I¬†cork-screwed through Kells at breakneck speed many a night as my madcap cousin drove us¬†into Kilkenny¬†city, to the ‘disco’ at Langtons. Occasionally we’d stop, for¬†a quiet-ish pint in Shirley’s¬†or to walk off a hangover in the Priory of a Sunday morning.

PJ Lynch did an amazing job of bringing Kells Priory and my story, Gren’s Ghost, to life with¬†his atmospheric black and white charcoal images. You¬†can¬†click¬†HERE¬†to see one of them happen¬†(1 min), or HERE to see PJ chat about illustrating the book (2.39). Meanwhile the book will be available from tomorrow, all over the country.

The Inevitable Electric Picnic Post




Children’s Books Ireland and¬†our¬†Laureate na n√ďg went to Electric Picnic this year and they invited us along. Eoin Colfer’s laureate project is a fab new collection of short stories and poems, all set in Ireland and called Once Upon a Place. I was thrilled to be asked to contribute a story and excited to be invited along to Electric Picnic¬†(Ireland’s biggest arts &¬†music fest)¬†to chat about it with a load of other contributors. PJ Lynch, Enda Wyley, Siobh√°n Parkinson (who¬†edited/published), Patricia Forde, and Eoin Colfer,¬†are¬†all in the top photo, and Ois√≠n McGann, Sarah Webb, myself, Roddy Doyle, and Patricia again, are in the second shot.

Two days equalled two morning gigs inside the Literary Stage tent. Meanwhile outside Michael and Steve¬†McCarthy¬†were busy running Monster Doodles…

Inbetween gigs ourselves and our friend and fellow¬†author, Sarah (Sarah Webb, author of Amy Green, The Songbird Cafe Girls), were free to roam and people watch…

…check out the art installations…

…Michael and myself had our vows blessed by Elvis at the Electric Chapel, with Sarah as witness/photographer…

…oh, and we did catch¬†a little music.

Once Upon a Place is due out in October 2015:

Click for info on¬†Children’s Books Ireland and¬†Laureate na n√ďg



Paul Howard, Peter Salisbury, Oisin McGann, me & Michael, Aoife Murray, Elaina Ryan, Nessa O’ Mahony

Picti√ļr (exhibition of 21 leading Irish/Irish-based illustrators, curated by our Laureate na nOg Niamh Sharkey) went to Belfast March 3rd and we headed up for the opening. Michael’s first intro to the city was stepping into the parliament buildings – not something you get to do every day. Quite a few illustrators and children’s lit folk made the trip and we were all very excited – as you may deduce from photo above!