Thursday, February 19, 2009


Wednesday February 18th, 2009 the last event in Cavan's Caomhnu Literary festival took place in Johnston Central Library in Cavan Town, and boy was it a special evening.
Caomhnu is an Irish word meaning to protect and conserve, and this festival seeks to celebrate our literary past, present and look to the future.
On this evening we were fortunate enough to have two quest speakers, Colum McCann and Terry Prone. The original order of proceedings was disrupted when Terry Prone got very delayed in our notorious Irish traffic. So after a delay of just under an hour, Cavan's County Manager, Mr. Jack Keyes took the floor to welcome the very substantial audience and thank them for their patience.
He was followed by Mrs. Josephine Brady, County Librarian, who introduced Colum McCann in the most glowing terms, praising him as a great storyteller, known for his detailed research. He is a writer who loves libraries (his novel Zola was dedicated to librarians everywhere) and who creates pictures through his writing. Up to date Colum has published four novels and two short story collections, with a fifth novel, "Let the Great World Spin" due to be published later this year.

When Colum McCann stepped up to the microphone himself he treated us to two readings. The first one a twenty year old story about the emotions resulting from the wave of emigration that swept Ireland in those days. He mentioned that it was very appropriate to read this story today because our economy is once again in grave danger, although he hoped it wouldn't lead to mass emigration this time around.
The second reading was from his upcoming novel, and we the audience were honoured to be the first group in Ireland to hear a reading from this book. "Let the Great World Spin" is a powerful allegory of 9/11, although the story starts in 1974 and ends with a reference to recently electied President Obama.
McCann proved himself to be a fabulous reader. So good in fact that I'm almost afraid that when I get my hands on his books and start reading them myself I'll be disappointed to find that my internal voice is nowhere near as good. But, after hearing the reading from his forthcoming book I can't wait for the publication in September. The subject as well as the writing have left me fascinated, and impatient to read all of it.

After the two readings there was time for a few questions from the audience before it was time for Mrs. Josephine Brady to introduce Terry Prone who was there to deliver the annual Greer lecture.
Mrs. Prone has so far published 26 books; novels, short stories and non fiction. Her subject for the Greer Lecture was Women in the Workplace, a subject on which she holds strong opinions. She pointed out various reasons why women in general don't go as high up the career ladder as men, such as the fact the in general women's life's are more affect by the arrival of babies than those of men, the unwillingness of women to get into direct conflict, and the dislike women have for women who are ambitious. As she said, you may not like these statements, but that doesn't make them any less true. More home truths like these as well as practical advice can be found in Terry Prone's latest non fiction book," What Every Working Woman Should Know... and Do". And if her writing is anywhere near as captivating and interesting as her speaking, this book should be fascinating, funny and filled with practical advice.
She also spoke of her deep and life long love for books, because she said, as long as you have books you can go anywhere and meet anyone.
Terry Prone proved herself to be a great speaker; knowledgeable, funny, with a good sense of timing and a great ability to keep her audience captivated.
This fantastic evening was finished with an opportunity for the audience to meet both authors for further, more individual talks as well as book signings. Books by both authors were available to buy through the courtesy of Crannog Bookshop, Cavan Town.
I'd like to finish this piece with a quote mentioned by Josephine Brady earlier in the evening. She was quoting Germaine Greer on the subject of libraries, a quote that features on the Johnston Library building in Cavan Town:
"Libraries are reservoirs of strenght, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark. The pleasure they give is steady, unorgastic, reliable, deep and long-lasting. In any library in the world, I'm at home, unselfconsciously, still and absorbed."

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