There was great excitement in the Coast Hotel in Kilmore on Saturday night as local secondary school Bridgetown Vocational College joined in the literary theme of the weekend by launching their collection of stories and poems, 'Ten Years Of...'
The book is the by-product of the school's writer-in-residence programme which has seen local playwright, author and musician Billy Roche facilitating creative writing workshops for the fifth year students of the school for the past ten years. Originally started as a way of giving students a voice through creativity, the success of the programme garnered the interest of the committee behind the local literary festival Write By The Sea.
The programme is sponsored by Poetry Ireland who have covered the main costs of running the workshops for the past ten years but in the past year, the local festival committee backed the school in creating a published collection of stories from the programme. Therese Burke, a committee member, pushed for funding for the publication and 'Ten Years Of...' was born.
The collection consists of a selection of the winning and runner-up stories and poems from the past ten years, plus artwork by a variety of students. The striking front cover image was drawn by former student, Tara Power.
Eilish Leddy, Director of Schools for Waterford Wexford Education and Training Board started off the proceedings, welcoming everyone to the event and congratulating the school and writers in the book on their achievements. The book was officially launched by Dr Richard Hayes, Head of Humanities in WIT.
Billy Roche said that the book had always been a dream of his, pointing out that at least two of those featured in the book had gone on to pursue third level courses in creative writing.
'Every year, I would discover a few little gems. The themes were quite incredible and diverse. It was interesting to see at the things that fascinated young people's minds. There were plenty of surprises in the work that was written.'
He complimented the team of English teachers in the school who had helped with the various aspects involved in putting the book together.
Coordinating teacher, Anne Hally said it was a nice way to mark the success of the past decade of writing in the school: 'I never saw it coming to this; when it began, it was just a workshop to encourage creativity among the students, to give them a voice. It has been an incredibly successful programme and long may it continue.'
A number of students read works from the book on the night.
The books were available at the Write By The Sea festival over the weekend. The book was free but donations were welcome and all proceeds will go towards the library and reading corner in the school.