Thursday 25 April 2019

Wee County Big Book Club launch

Margaret Roddy

Avid readers from a number of local book clubs gathered in the County Library, Dundalk last Friday as the award winning author Michael Harding launched the Wee County Big Book Club Festival.

Wee County Big Book Club is a collaborative initiative of Louth Library Service, Creative Spark, An Táin Arts Centre, Dundalk and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda.

The 'wee book' chosen for 2018 is Michael Harding's 'On Tuesdays I'm a Buddhist'.

The Wee County Big Book Club initiative invites book club members and the general public to read and discuss Harding's memoir 'On Tuesdays I'm a Buddhist'.

The Longford based author expressed his gratitude at having is book selected for as the Wee Book, saying that 'a writer is absolutely no good unless there are readers.'

He explains how, in telling stories from hidden Ireland, he writes with his ears. He joked that he was once told that he was 'a dangerous person to talk to' as a person can end up in his column in The Irish Times.

He said he gets great pleasure from the conversations he has with readers and how he was looking forward to returning at the end of the festival for a reading in An Táin Arts Centre on September 29th.

County Librarian Yvonne O'Brien explained that the idea was for everyone, not just the members of book clubs, to read the book and discuss it with their friends and neighbours.

Copies of the book are available to borrow from the library and it will also be on sale in local book shops.

A programme of creative writing events and author readings of various other titles will take place in the venues of the participating partners, including Creative Spark, An Táin Arts Centre Dundalk and all Louth Libraries.

The idea stemmed from a conversation between Sarah Daly, Director of Creative Spark, Elaine Cronin, An Táin, and Daire O'Connell, Arts Coordinator at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, all of whom are interested in deepening participation in the arts and creativity, and promoting creative activity as a benefit to everyone's well being.

Louth County Council Cathaoirleach Councillor Liam Reilly remarked that 'this county wide festival is sure to grow to include more of the creative organisations and agencies working with the citizens of Louth in future years and to become a highlight of the year for many. It adds the literary element and yet another festival to our burgeoning calendar of events in Louth.

According to Creative Spark Director Sarah Daly, 'the Wee County Big Book Club has the potential to become an annual Festival reflective of the flourishing creativity in Louth.

An Táin Arts Centre Director Paul Hayes says 'we are very excited to be part of this initiative and look forward to welcoming Michael back to Dundalk.

Members of a number of local book clubs attended the launch and were looking forward to reading Harding's latest book.

'It's wonderful to meet the author is person and get the opportunity to read the book before seeing him appear live on stage talking about the book in An Táin Arts Centre in September,' commented Mary Gilsenan, who is a member of a book club comprising a group of friends.

Maura Larney, Joan Brown and Margaret Conlon are all members of a book club in Louth village.

'We've been meeting for eight years and before that we didn't know each other,' says Maura. They are all fans of Michael Harding's work and are looking forward to reading 'On Tuesdays I'm a Buddist'.

'When you read his book it's like you're talk to him,' says Maura. 'You are reading it with your ears,' quips Joan.

Drogheda Independent