Out and About with Maria Nolan at Excited!

imageHad to share this on my blog today – so excited about this.

Short story I entered to timelesswisdomwritingcomp2018 early this year has been chosen and will be published in a Short Story Collection called Love and Loss and will be published in Ireland, the U.K., the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

How cool is that!




Out and About with Maria Nolan at The Library

Ireland`s Best Kept Secrets:

On Thursday evening 15th November I attended a fascinating talk at Enniscorthy Library about a librarian, a Nazi spy and Ireland`s secret role in turning the tide of World War 11.

Now beat that for fascinating!

Marc McMenamin teacher, author and documentary maker was at Enniscorthy Library to speak about his debut novel Codebreaker which tells with the true story of Dublin Librarian Dr. Richard Hayes described by MI5 as Ireland`s `greatest unsung hero` who cracked the Gortz Cipher – a Nazi code that had perplexed some of the greatest minds at the infamous Bletchley Park during World War 11.

Marc, a gifted storyteller introduced the library audience to a clandestine Ireland teeming with Nazi spies, Secret Agents and Codebreakers – in fact it appears that at the time Dublin was a hot bed of intrigue and espionage.

Not a lot of people know that – and McMenamin`s Codebreaker uncovers a `secret history that has remained hidden in plain view for the past 70 years.

The focus of Dr. Hayes attention was a German spy called Herman Gortz who was parachuted into Ireland in 1940, along with quite a few others it appears – one by the name of Gunther Schultz was even dropped in Wexford, near Taghmon.

Dublin became the Casablanca of the North with the IRA leadership of the day, Maurice Twomey and Sean Russell encouraging the Irish/Nazi link. Gortz was provided with safe houses and sent coded messages back to Berlin encrypted in a cipher to keep them hidden from MI5.

Hayes, a gifted mathematician and cryptographer, was given the go ahead by Taoiseach of the day, Eamon de Valera to work at cracking the cipher and intercepting messages sent by Gortz and a house in North Dublin owned by the German Embassy called Nazi House.

But because Dev and the new Irish State were eager to maintain a stance of neutrality much of Hayes work and success went unseen and certainly unannounced and until now he has been virtually unheard of in his own country.

But all that is about to change with this most intriguing tale told with passion, enthusiasm and admiration for an unassuming, mild mannered academic with an extraordinary mind.


Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

The information contained in this email and in any attachments is confidential and is designated solely for the attention and use of the intended recipient(s). This information may be subject to legal and professional privilege. If you are not an intended recipient of this email, you must not use, disclose, copy, distribute or retain this message or any part of it. If you have received this email in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete all copies of this email from your computer system(s).

An Roinn Talmhaíochta, Bia agus Mara

Tá an t-eolais san ríomhphost seo, agus in aon ceangláin leis, faoi phribhléid agus faoi rún agus le h-aghaigh an seolaí amháin. D’fhéadfadh ábhar an seoladh seo bheith faoi phribhléid profisiúnta nó dlíthiúil. Mura tusa an seolaí a bhí beartaithe leis an ríomhphost seo a fháil, tá cosc air, nó aon chuid de, a úsáid, a chóipeál, nó a scaoileadh. Má tháinig sé chugat de bharr dearmad, téigh i dteagmháil leis an seoltóir agus scrios an t-ábhar ó do ríomhaire le do thoil.image

Out and About with Maria Nolan at the Wexford Literary Festival

Happy Birthday to Us:

Last weekend Enniscorthy hosted its 5th Annual Wexford Literary Festival and what an amazing birthday celebration was had, with acclaimed authors from all over Ireland and the UK converging on the town for a fantastic feast of fabulous prose, poetry, art, film and drama, making our Festival one of the most popular and most visited in the country.

The feedback from visiting writers, readers and potential writers has been phenomenal, complimenting both the Festival, the town, and the welcome they received here and pledging to return again for next year`s event.

The Festival opened with a flourish on Friday 2nd November with the introduction of a new and innovative collaboration between local authors and artists with Artists, Nadia Corrigan, Lar O`Duinn, Oonagh Latchford and Kate Tyrrell creating beautiful pieces of art in response to 4 pieces of prose by Festival Committee authors Carmel Harrington, Caroline Busher, Sheila Forsey and Shane Dunphy and the results were stunning and on display at the Presentation Art Centre.

Opening Night continued with dramatic readings by Enniscorthy Drama and Wayside Players of the final 4 plays in the Billy Roche International Short Play Award, with Wexford`s Declan Dempsey`s excellent play A Sergeant and A Gentleman being chosen as the winner by an astute panel of judges – Elizabeth Whyte, Carol Long and Andy Doyle. Declan was presented with his cheque and trophy by the man himself Billy Roche who also did the honour of officially opening the Festival.

Chairman of Enniscorthy & District Council Willie Kavanagh complimented the Festival Committee on an excellent line up of both events and distinguished authors saying that the Festival has been such an asset to the town and so beneficial to existing and aspiring authors and he wished it every success going forward.

Saturday at the Riverside Park Hotel was an oasis of literary talent with panel discussions chaired by South East Radio`s Karen Tomkins, IMG_9724IMG_9730IMG_9745IMG_9784IMG_9801IMG_9854IMG_9841IMG_9865FullSizeRenderIMG_9882IMG_9913IMG_9929IMG_9976IMG_9999IMG_9969IMG_9872beginning with The Short Story: Life at a Slant delivered very eloquently and most definitely at a slant by slightly left off centre and extremely authors Sinead Gleeson and June Caldwell, Horror & Science Fiction Masterclass with Dr. Sarah Cleary who has a PhD in Horror ( who knew anything like that even existed!), our own adorable if scary Caroline Busher and the remarkable Andrew Cartmel Script writer for Dr. Who joining us all the way from the UK.

And if we weren`t scarred enough by horror fiction the next discussion – Cracking Crime with acclaimed crime journalist Paul Williams, (whom I might add was the most charming and entertaining lunch guest) the lovely Jane Casey looking who proclaimed to be a feminist `in the gentlest non scary way` and our own Inspector Wexford – Shane Dunphy, who likes to end each novel on a cliff hanger, proved yet again that real life is often stranger, more scary and definitely more horrific.

We invited in Adele Parks from the UK who has written 18 novels in 18 years to talk to us not just about her latest novel I Invited Her In but to discuss her writing life and share her journey with us from the beginning to being published in 26 different languages.

This was Adele`s Irish debut and this blubbly, friendly, warm hearted and extraordinarily honest lady was an immediate hit with her first ever Irish audience and is already planning her return trip next year with her husband and family.

New Voices another innovative addition to our Readers & Writers Day produced some wonderfully performed and exquisitely written pieces from Sheila Forsey, Tina O`Callaghan, Mary Cotter, Stephanie Hanley Baird, \Karen McDonnell and Derek Flynn.

The inspirational trio of Wexford Literary Festival Chair and Best Selling author Carmel Harrington, Historical Fiction Best Selling author Hazel Gaynor and Best Seller and Co- Founder of the Inspiration Project Catherine Ryan Howard provided us with invaluable insights on How to write a Bestselling Novel, from beginning, middle to end.

Saturday concluded with a magical, candlelit evening at Enniscorthy Castle where the soft spoken, gentle and positively frank Liz Nugent was interviewed or should that be ginterviewed by the probing Carmel Harrington with questions on life, childhood, writing, books, and finally one from the beyond `when you arrive at the pearly gates and God is there to met you what would you like him to say?` `The Cocktail cabinet is to your right` was Liz`s quick retort. A woman after me own heart!

Sunday the iconic Athenaeum was the venue for our Awards Ceremony with Jupiter Jones from the UK claiming first prize in the Colm Toibin International Short Story Award for her entry Moth. A Joseph Black from Antrim came in 2nd Place for his entry The Price of Everything and Michael Harnett in 3rd place for his very moving tale Tell Me.

Prizes were presented by Chairman of Wexford County Council Mr. Keith Doyle, who was lavish in his praise of the Committee and the Award winners saying that the Festival has truly gone international and is most professionally organised.

Judge June Caldwell applauded the winners and the standard of writing of the entries saying that she thoroughly enjoyed reading the beautiful stories presented and commending the winner as truly outstanding.

Poetry prizes were presented by Anne Haverty the wife of the late Anthony Cronin who said Anthony would have been delighted to have his name added to the prestigious competition. Judges John Kelly and Denis Collins appraised the entries saying that the quality of the writing was top quality.

Joan Morrissey from Tipperary took first prize in the Anthony Cronin International Poetry Award for her poem Wash Day, with James Leader of the UK and Luxembourg coming in second with his entry Europe 1945 and Margaret Galvin originally from Tipperary now living in Wexford took 3rd prize for her piece Flying Pigs.

An extremely full and inspiring weekend of writing including a wonderful Children`s Book Trailer Competition at the Presentation on Saturday morning with Best Selling childrens authors E.R. Murray and Caroline Busher enthralling the young minds and hopefully instilling a love of books and reading in them.

There was certainly something for everyone at the 5th Wexford Literary Festival and most definitely cause for celebration of a very successful five years, an ever popular and growing Festival and another major attraction to the town of Enniscorthy.

So here`s to the next five!


Out and About with Maria Nolan on the Longest Day

Shaking Scythes At Cannon:

One cannot but be moved standing on Vinegar Hill, on 21st June, the longest day and the anniversary of the Battle of Vinegar Hill.

Last evening listening to Sean Doyle recite Seamus Heaney`s poignant poem Requiem For Croppies, watching the sun slowly slide behind that infamous hill one could almost see shadows of the ` Terraced thousands ` who died ` shaking scythes at cannon ` .

What a terrifying sight it must have been 221 years ago as up to 2,000 bodies of Wexford men, women and children lay scattered over the hill.

What must it have been like to look up from the town a week, 2 weeks, a month later and see the same bodies left there to rot until ` the barley grew up out of their graves `.

We can but imagine the horror, the fear and the sacrifice that these, our people made so that we could live in a different Ireland and it is only fitting that each year on the 21st  June we head to The Hill and remember the enormity of what they did …………` shaking scythes at cannon `.

Last night Enniscorthy Historical Re-enactment Society were joined by new Councillors Aidan Browne, Jackser Owens and Cathal Byrne, the new Chair of Enniscorthy Council Kathleen Codd Nolan who laid a wreath at the 1798 Monument and Vice Chair of the Council Barbara Anne Murphy.

The commemoration was MC `d by Rory O Connor who gave a brief account of the illfated battle before calling on Sean Doyle to recite Requiem For Croppies, followed by a rousing rendition of The Croppy Boy by Re-enactor Tim Corrigan, prayers and wishes for a peaceful future from Rev. Nicola Halford of St. Marys, Rev. David Conkey of Enniscorthy Presbyterian Church and Fr. Billy Swan of St. Aidans Cathedral.

Derek Myler of 1798 Centre read a poem titled The Unknown Patriot for not only all who perished on The Hill but also those who were deported or who escaped to foreign lands never to see their homes, their families or Wexford ever again.

It was Kathleen Codd Nolans first official function as new Cathairleach and she thanked everyone for turning out and paying silent homage to ` those who fought, suffered and died in respect of their beliefs and the freedom of this nation ` . ` The desperation of the Irish people exploded into flames on Vinegar Hill 221 years ago and we stand here this evening on the very soil where they fought and died for the freedom we cherish today `.

A second wreath was laid at the ` 98 Monument by the youngest member of Enniscorthy Historical Re-enactment Society Emily Murphy and the ceremony concluded with Amhran na bFiann by Piper Liam Doyle and a welcome for all to a Reception at Enniscorthy Castle.

If you have never attended at Vinegar Hill for the 21st June Commemorations then do put it in your diary for next year – it is such a beautifully moving event and one that bring us closer to our history and to those who made us who we are here in Enniscorthy


Out and About with Maria Nolan on the film set of The Racer

Pikes & Bikes:

Yesterday, I had the distinct and unusual pleasure of experiencing the flurry, hurry, hustle, bustle, noise, excitement, patience, silence, standing and endless waiting of an authentic film set as an Extra with Enniscorthy Historical Re-enactment Society at the making of a new film The Racer.

The Racer, a new cycling movie directed by Kieron J Walsh and based around the Tour de France in Ireland in 1998 was filmed today on location in a beautifully sunny Tinahely that was set up to resemble Enniscorthy where a stage of the tour actually began back in 1998.

As I stood on the set today as a 1798 Pikewoman I was transported back 21 years ago to that marvellous day when Enniscorthy took its place on the world stage as part of the 1998 Tour de France.

It had already been a magical year for Enniscorthy with the success of the 200th Anniversary Celebrations on Vinegar Hill Day, 21st June just over, hosting a stage of the famous Tour de France was an ambition, a dream that we never thought would become a reality.

But, we in Enniscorthy made it happen – what a proud day it was for all of us.

Yesterday, Irish cyclists, members of the general public and members of Enniscorthy Historical Re-enactment Society relived those proud moments on the set of The Racer, a fictitious tale about an ageing cyclist who dreams of one final shot at the big time – a day in the Tours Yellow jersey.

Fictitious it may be but set around the facts of the 1998 Tour in Ireland, Belgian cyclist Chabol gets his chance for one last shot at glory when a team mate is dropped on the eve of the Tour, under the shadow of a doping scandal.

He finds himself in Ireland, in the race and in love – all the ingredients of a good movie.

Today was a huge amount of fun even if it did give us an insight into the very unglamourous working life of actors. But the crew of Blinder Films were friendly, efficient and pleasant, making our day more about enjoyment than work.

Enniscorthy Historical Re-enactment Society under Chairman Ray Murphy were invited to play the Pikemen of 1998 who lined the streets of Enniscorthy for the Tour.

FullSizeRenderracer1IMG_1943racer3racer2We arrived in Tinahely at 10am, began filming at 12pm and finished at 4pm with a break for lunch at 2pm which consisted of a choice of Beef Chilli or Vegetable Tagine followed by a piece of fruit and bottled water all served speedily with the minimum of fuss.

We were given very clear instructions throughout the day and treated with politeness and respect and overall I would have to say I found my day as a film Extra a very pleasant experience and one I certainly hope to repeat and one that will also promote Enniscorthy and our recent and more distant past all at the same time.

Out and About with Maria Nolan at the Wells Classic Car Show

Classic Car Show At Wells:

Rain, torrential at times, was surprisingly no damper to the annual Classic Car Show at Wells House yesterday as car enthusiasts from all over the country and beyond descended in numbers in the stately home in North Wexford.

The lawn in front of the iconic building was populated with exquisitely cared for automobiles of all shapes, makes, ages and sizes fascinating everyone from the very young to the more senior viewer.

Speaking with owner Sabine Rossler who said she was delighted with the marvellous turnout and the continuous and ever expanding interest in classic cars and classic car shows, with the annual event at Wells House growing each year.

There were even a few classic motor bikes on show and some witty contributors took the opportunity to express their own individual sense of humour.

Lots more exciting events coming up at Wells so do keep an eye on their website and facebook pages.IMG_9618IMG_9606IMG_9626IMG_9616IMG_9636IMG_9637IMG_9599IMG_9604



Out and About with Maria Nolan talking to John Aspill

Aspills Aspirations for Athenaeum:

With the current plethora of Summer Camps available for your little treasurers over the fast approaching Silly Season I am going to make a recommendation to those parents seeking something creative, flexible, artistic and different.

Drama Summer Camp from 5th to 12th August at The Athenaeum, Enniscorthy promises something for everyone with music, song, dance, performance and above all fun and games according to Organiser John Aspill, who will be working with local well known entertainer Maura Flannery and Choreographer Sorcha O` Connor.

John is a charming, enthusiastic, animated man who`s background is in theatre and drama. Born in Lincoln in the UK, John took his drama degree at Lincoln University and ended up teaching drama at the college for several years. He also spent time teaching English in Thailand, toured all over England with a theatre company before touring with his own company and his own show and was also a Ringmaster with a French Circus.

All experiences adding to his extensive repertoire of performing art and to his joie de vivre and enchanting tales. John, a lovely, engaging man to chat to has also written his own plays and musicals and only moved to Ireland six years ago with his dad who was originally from here and wished to return home to Dublin.

Exorbitant house prices in the city proving to be prohibitive, they bought a house in Wexford – a place they had no connections with but had easy access to Dublin. However, John`s dad passed away only six short months later.

John is currently teaching Performance Art with Youthreach in Waterford and has been anxious for some time to do something at the Athenaeum which he deems to be a most impressive building that should be utilised more to the benefit of the people of Enniscorthy.

John believes that the Athenaeum will lend itself beautifully to the Drama Summer Camp and is excited to be working with talented musician and singer Maura Flannery and Sorcha O` Connor who holds a degree in Contemporary dance.

It is John` s aspiration to continue Drama Classes on Saturday mornings in September culminating in a Christmas pageant at the Athenaeum.

I like his ambition and his aspirations and wish him well in his endeavour – wouldn`t it be lovely to see the Athenaeum become a school for Performing Arts.

Drama Summer Camp is for 8-12 year olds and will run each day from 10am – 2.30pm and costs €75.

If you want your little star to sparkle then book now at the Athenaeum.


Out and About with Maria Nolan at Anam Cara

IMG_9252IMG_9253IMG_9255IMG_9282IMG_9306IMG_9276IMG_9267IMG_9322IMG_9310Luxury On Our Doorstep:

Recently, I was invited to join my friends Moira Fowler and Michael Murphy for morning coffee at their luxury Manor Anam Cara at Cherryorchard, Enniscorthy and I took the opportunity to take some shots of their truly beautiful property.

Nestled snugly in a bend in the road in the rich Enniscorthy hinterland less than a mile from town, this beautiful residence is the epitome of elegance.


Purchased in 2016 by Moira and Michael, Anam Cara or Soulmate stands on 4.25 exquisitely manicured acres complete with woodland walk and meandering stream creating the illusion of being ` far from the madding crowd`.

With a recently awarded 9.9 Recognition of Excellence rating and rave customer reviews this is,

without doubt, a gem on our doorstep and a wonderful addition to the Enniscorthy landscape.

Moira, the embodiment of charm, born on the Navan Road, Dublin, has spent most of her life in the hospitality trade, albeit, on the other side of The Pond. 30 years actually in Colorado. Moira smiles modestly recalling that her B&B – Emerald Manor at Estes Park, Colorado was awarded the Hospitality of the Year Award. And chatting with her over a cup of coffee one can easily see why. This lovely lady is the perfect hostess, warm, welcoming and attentive with that magical `eager to please`, and ` nothing is too much trouble` attitude that endears her to travellers, visitors and friends.

When Moira`s husband passed away seven years ago she decided to return home to Ireland and spent five years searching for her dream residence in the perfect location. She believes she found both at Cherry Orchard, Enniscorthy.

From the moment you step over the threshold the plush interior exudes laid back chic and sophistication with an eclectic blend of natural materials and the rich finishes of its Tommy Bahama furnishings suggestive of cool, casual yet classy living with oodles of style.

The 5 spacious bedrooms are luxurious, the beds, solid and decorative with Moira`s penchant for pillows and cushions very much in evidence with as many as 7 adorning some of these Chariots of Dreams that are simply built for comfort. Some of the beds were shipped over from the States and one was actually made in the 1700s.

Each bathroom is kitted out with €75 worth of Molton Brown products and indeed according to Moira the only complaint from guests is that the extra large cotton bath towels are simply too heavy!

With high quality, locally sourced food, lovingly prepared and served with pleasantries and panache this is a unique bed and breakfast experience to savour.

`When people are on holidays this is their time ` according to Moira Fowler `and they deserve the Royal treatment`.

And that is exactly what you can expect at Anam Cara.

Out and About at the Wexford Literary Festival 4th – 7th July


Eamonn – One of our own:image

Eamonn Wall of the well known Murphy Floods family will be In Conversation With long time friend and local author Paul O`Reilly and again we are thrilled to have Eamonn with us, one of the Festivals staunch supporters from the get go.

This modest Enniscorthy man who has seven collections of poetry to his credit along with essays, articles and reviews is currently the Vice President of the Irish American Writers & Artists Association and is the Smurfit-Stone Professor of Irish Studies and Professor of English at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

He teaches courses in Irish, Irish-American and British Literature, directs the University`s Irish Summer School in Galway and curates the Irish and Irish American Lectures/Concerts Series for International Studies & Programmes

Eamonn and his wife Drucilla have both performed previously at our Festival and have been Friends of the Festival since its inception back in 2013.

Eamonn will be discussing his poetry, his writing and his documentary Your Rivers Trained You filmed in Enniscorthy and of course his latest book From Oven Lane to Sun Prairie.


Tá an t-eolais san ríomhphost seo, agus in aon ceangláin leis, faoi phribhléid agus faoi rún agus le h-aghaigh an seolaí amháin. D’fhéadfadh ábhar an seoladh seo bheith faoi phribhléid profisiúnta nó dlíthiúil. Mura tusa an seolaí a bhí beartaithe leis an ríomhphost seo a fháil, tá cosc air, nó aon chuid de, a úsáid, a chóipeál, nó a scaoileadh. Má t agus scrios an t-ábhar ó do ríomhaire le do thoil.

Out and About with Maria Nolan for the 2019 Wexford Literary Festival

imageFelicity Hayes McCoy:

We are delighted to have Felicity Hayes McCoy back in Enniscorthy for this year`s Festival. Felicity has been with us since the very beginning, and I mean the very beginning, in 2012 I met Felicity and her husband Judd at her book signing for House on an Irish Hillside in the Book Centre in Wexford.

Chatting to this lovely lady with the beaming smile I soon discovered her Enniscorthy connection to Marion Stokes one of the three Cumann na mBan women who hoisted the Tricolour over the Athenaeum during Easter Week 1916, so I immediately invited her to be part of the 2013 Strawberry Fair Literary Trail – Words In Wexford.

Strawberries and Cream in Enniscorthy Castle with Felicity Hayes McCoy was a huge success not alone as an event but it also provided Felicity with an idea for her next book A Woven Silence: Memory, History & Remembrance, which she researched in Enniscorthy, among other places, coming to the Library to meet with locals and explore what they remember and how they remember it.

Felicity had an Enniscorthy Launch of Memories at the Library and has returned to Enniscorthy many times since. On one such occasion to launch her series of novels set in the fictional Finfarran, of which she now has five – The Library at the Edge of the World, Summer at the Garden Cafe, The Mistletoe Matchmaker, The Month of Borrowed Dreams and her latest just hot off the Press and launched in Dublin last week The Transatlantic Book Club, which she will be signing at Byrnes Bookshop during the Festival.

Felicity will also be In Conversation With well known Librarian Jarlath Glynn on Saturday 6th July speaking about her Enniscorthy connection, her love of and passion for her adopted Dingle and the now famous and much loved Finfarran series set in a fictional county on Ireland`s West Coast.

Don`t miss this charming and engaging author who speaks passionately about her work, her life and her history.


Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

The information contained in this email and in any attachments is confidential and is designated solely for the attention and use of the intended recipient(s). This information may be subject to legal and professional privilege. If you are not an intended recipient of this email, you must not use, disclose, copy, distribute or retain this message or any part of it. If you have received this email in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete all copies of this email from your computer system(s).

An Roinn Talmhaíochta, Bia agus Mara

Tá an t-eolais san ríomhphost seo, agus in aon ceangláin leis, faoi phribhléid agus faoi rún agus le h-aghaigh an seolaí amháin. D’fhéadfadh ábhar an seoladh seo bheith faoi phribhléid profisiúnta nó dlíthiúil. Mura tusa an seolaí a bhí beartaithe leis an ríomhphost seo a fháil, tá cosc air, nó aon chuid de, a úsáid, a chóipeál, nó a scaoileadh. Má tháinig sé chugat de bharr dearmad, téigh i dteagmháil leis an seoltóir agus scrios an t-ábhar ó do ríomhaire le do thoil.