A voice cries out in the wilderness…

In the past 8 days, these are the things I have managed to fit into my life:

3 gaelic football matches

a hurling match

6 assorted training sessions

a ballet lesson, a singing lesson, 3 piano lessons, two choir practices and a partridge in a pear tree.

In addition, I have kept all four of my children alive, endured tin-whistle practice and refrained from hitting anyone.  A few days ago, I even had a conversation with my husband. All in all it’s been a successful week. Except I haven’t written anything, not one word. Don’t talk to me about “the pram in the hall”. It’s the sports-gear on the washing line that’s stunting my development as a writer. And what am I going to do about it?

By lucky coincidence I happened to discover that a wonderful local writers’ group, Liffey Writers’ Circle, has swapped its meetings from Tuesday to Wednesdays, necessitating the afore-mentioned conversation with my husband (about the extreme inadvisability of his being late home from work on Wednesday evening!)

The group is hosted by Eileen Keane and she kindly invited me along. I printed a few pages of The Flight of the Wren, my famine novel which was selected for presentation at the Greenbean Novel Fair in February, and wondered whether it would be eviscerated. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Eileen and (recently signed to Poolbeg author) Olive Collins joined Pauline Clooney in careful listening and gently pointed out a few improvements and suggestions. It was a most welcoming experience, and I will definitely be back. Hopefully when I get my feet under me, I will have a few thoughts I can share with them.

Eileen is no stranger to the Newbridge literati, being well known and respected in both her fields of creative endeavour; writing and art. She’s a past winner of the James Plunkett literary award and has been short-listed for the Hennessy! Her art has been displayed and curated widely. I look forward to getting to know her better.

Olive’s first novel is listed for publication in October 2016, having just signed a contract last month with Poolbeg. I was treated to a snippet of her work-in-progress and I can’t wait to hear more. I look forward to raising a glass at the launch in the Autumn. Hopefully she’ll follow two other local Poolbeg authors Margaret Scott, and Maria Murphy, straight into the Irish Times best-sellers list.

Pauline is working on her first novel, having already had great success with her short fiction, short-listed for the Fish and Doolin short story competitions, and winning the RTE/Penguin short story comp in 2015. Drawing on her knowledge of the Bronte family from her M.Litt dissertation, her first novel deals with a motley crew of Irish amateur thespians staging a drama based on Wuthering Heights. She had brought along an extract from the twelfth chapter, and I was snorting with laughter at her skilful handling of some very awkward encounters during the drama group’s pilgrimage to Haworth. Humour is so difficult on the page, mine always falls flat and has to be deleted from the final draft. This will be a book to savour when it hits the shelves.

It’s so lovely to feel that I will no longer be a lone voice crying in the wilderness, and I look forward to meeting the other members of the circle in weeks to come.




  1. Lovely piece, Orla! Hats off to you, I found it so hard to get any writing done when in the full throes of child-rearing, sports-clothes-washing, and etc etc! Not to mention keeping the children alive and exchanging the odd word with one’s husband to boot!! I remember the importance of my writers’ group, how support from other writers means so much. So glad you’ve found this group to work with!

  2. Oh thanks Christine. After a training session yesterday I had to wash four pairs of shoes, a pair of football boots, the kitchen floor and the dog. Such awful weather we are having making outdoor sports a pain in the proverbial.

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