Well, there’s less than a day left now to cast the reader’s votes towards the Bórd Gais Energy Irish Book Awards – voting ends at noon 23 November!! I’m shortlisted in the “Short Story of the Year” category which is sponsored by the Irish website Writing.ie. My story is called “Dogs” and it’s from Ferenji, my debut collection of short stories, published by Doire Press of Galway.
The book was well received and covered in the press, see some of the reviews and features that have appeared in the press about “Ferenji and other stories” HERE.
If you’d like to read “Dogs”, it’s right here on the Writing.ie website along with the other great stories shortlisted. Then if you’d like to vote for it, just click on the link below and scroll down …
If you haven’t read the book, and would like to, you can order it from most book shops in Ireland, or from Doire Press directly, with free international shipping. If you’d like to buy it from this website, I’ll send you a signed copy for €16.00 postage included or $20 to the United States. Just click here.
If you like eBooks, Ferenji and other stories is available on any Amazon website, and many large online book stores, such as Barnes & Noble in the U.S., Indigo Books in Canada, Booktopia in Australia and more:
Thanks so much for reading this, and if you’ve got this far, why not check out the book trailer:
BLUE TARPAULIN – from ‘Ferenji’ by Helena Mulkerns from Cyberscribe on Vimeo
MORE COMING LATER, AND PHOTOS! MEANTIME: SEE THE FULL STORY HERE:
Shortlist Unveiled for the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2017
I’m really looking forward to reading this Friday, 15th September, at the Shorelines Arts Festival in Portumna, Galway, a wonderful long weekend of the Arts on the shores of historic Lough Derg.
The festival will be opened by Vinnie Browne
of Charlie Byrne’s bookshop in Galway on Thursday at 7pm and end on Sunday evening. I’ll be booking into what looks like a lovely place to stay: Portumna House
on Friday, to read at lunchtime
, but plan to make a weekend of it.
Particularly looking forward to seeing Cherish The Ladies
, and catching up with the wonderful Joanie Madden, a friend from the days I lived in New York. Joanie’s father, Joe was an All-Ireland Champion accordion player who hailed from Portumna himself, so that’s a gig not to miss.
There is a spectacular art exhibition at the formidable, now restored Irish Workhouse Centre and a pop-up museum on the theme of “Lace”. There are short and feature films, plays, workshops, children’s events. But don’t just trust me, download the brochure here yourself and see the full programme.
But if you want to hear some good stories and poems, of course – I want to invite you to join fellow Doire Press
author Martin Malone
and myself, along with Kerry poet Simon O’Faoláin, for the lunchtime reading on Friday at 1:30pm
in Hayes’ pub – all three for a fiver, plus songs and sandwiches! Click on the image below for details.
Trawling through my hard drive in search of an errant fiction file, I came across my original “Trainspotting” review, done this month 21 years ago for one or other of the New York publications at the time …
Currently not so much a film as a phenomenon, “Trainspotting” has been preceded by a blast of mega-hype reaching all the way across the Atlantic. Do you have to see it? Do you really? Well, read on…
Based on the novel by Scottish writer Irvine Welsh (who also wrote “The Acid House”), the book meanders in and around of the lives of the post-punk, no-future generation of unemployed Edinburgh youths enmeshed in heroine addiction, not unlike many in our other favourite post-colonial city, Dublin.
For all the hype, though, it grossed $15 million, more than any other Scottish film. Made by director Danny Boyle, screenwriter John Hodge and producer Andrew McDonald (who made “Shallow Grave”, released last year), it deals with heroine addiction, AIDS, unemployment and poverty. But it also delivers a full-blast infusion of the lust for life that any gang of twenty-somethings will have in any city.
Taking no prisoners, it’s an honest, brilliant and devastating take on a very real part of urban life, managing to deliver that world faithfully – with all its gallows humor and its highs and lows.
If the book is one of the best ever penned about about heroine addiction, the film follows suit. Because while anybody watching the film will work out that heroine is an evil that consumes its victims continuously and relentlessly, you see that the characters, to put it in their own words, “aren’t stupid” – they do it because of the sheer pleasure. They have fun, they are rebels, they care nothing for the society that has provided them with nothing, they run around committing small-time robberies, organizing scams and petty deals to fund their habits, and they do their drugs. Addiction is set out on the screen with no frills, no excuses. It’s comparable in grit to Gus Van Sant’s “Drugstore Cowboy”, although for sheer scatological detail “Trainspotting” is more harrowing.
Renton, Spud, Sick Boy, Begby and the others know no pain when they are on smack, they have no everyday worries, no bills, no problems, no rent, no emotional hassles – everything in their lives is solved and sugared by this incredible substance. And yet everything in their lives is at the same time reduced to a vile lowest common denominator, as when one squat mate’s baby dies of neglect in its cot, and all the mother can think of doing is banging up another hit of smack. Or when Tommy, the only one in the crowd who remained outside the game, finally joins in and falls faster than any of them.
The controversy surrounding “Trainspotting” in England and Ireland is centred on whether this film “glorifies” drugs. This is fairly typical of the Irish and British authorities, who seem to get more worked up about peripherals than actually getting down and dealing with the everyday challenges of their gang-strangled streets. Recently the Irish government sent 500 of their policemen up to the Northern Ireland border to save the Republic from the illegal crossings of potentially “mad” cows, while journalist Veronica Guerin was gunned to bits in Dublin city by drug lords. With an estimated 10,000 heroine addicts in Dublin alone, how worrying can one film about drugs be?
Take “Trainspotting” as you like. See it to get a bloody hard look at a problem that is widespread in Irish and Scottish society today. See it for its spectacularly stylish cinematic qualities or its fabulous soundtrack. See it for Ewan McGregor’s grin, for Spud’s glasses, for Kelly McDonald’s demented school uniform, see it to have a good laugh – or see it and weep. But see it.
Friday, 16 December
9 pm, Adm €12
Now in its 7th year, Cabaret hosts Helena Mulkerns and Josh Johnston are always happy to return to the Cáca Milis alma mater, The Wexford Arts Centre. This time around, Mulkerns, fresh from the success of her own fiction debut, “Ferenji” (on sale at The Wexford Book Centre) is excited to present both new and long-standing Cabaret performers.
The evening will kick off with some tributes to the ones that got away this year, including Bowie, Cohen and Prince, and then there will be high drama as dancers Ellina Shmarkovska and Andrew Green perform some sensual Argentinian Tango and Milonga. We’re delighted to welcome Natalia Cullen, a popular chanteuse in the Russian Irish community, joined by musician Des Kiely for some smooth vocals and jazz guitar.
Readers may be most familiar with the fine singer songwriter Gar Cox through his wonderful song, “Too Late For Christmas” and its yule time reflections of an Irish person living abroad issued last year. He’ll sing it (and more) tonight. To provide some literary thrills, author Cat Hogan will read from her best-selling book, “They All Fall Down”. And to rev up the night, don’t miss the much-anticipated performers Aileen Mythen and KJ McEvoy – otherwise known as The Remedy Club, one of Wexford’s hottest blues/rock duos.
Then: the movie! For your entertainment pleasure, we present My Life For Ireland the brilliant and hilarious story of a young Irish man willing to fight for his country. Directed by Kieron J. Walsh and written by Patrick McDonnell, it gives the 1916 commemerations a whole new take… Following that there’s a last minute Christmas surprise as the inimitable Mr Eoin Colfer, along with cast members from the upcoming production NOËL, will present a song from the show, playing from 19-23 December at the Wexford Opera House.
Wexfordian Seán Kiley’s original poetry and short fiction, already published in several anthologies and reviews, has made him a man to look out for in Wexford letters. He’ll be reading live for the first time on Friday night and is sure to receive a warm welcome.
Top of the night the audience can expect a treat as the compelling artist known as The Late David Turpin takes to the stage. His work could be described as a sort of superlative fusion of mood, fantasy, glam and techno. Performing with a visually stunning multi-media edge, it’s not surprising that David is involved both in music and in film. His first feature screenplay, “The Lodgers” is currently in production.
Finally, work by all on the bill will be available to purchase from the artists themselves, and audience members may well get some DVDs or books for their Christmas stockings this year among the grand raffle prizes. You’ll also be able to purchase your copy of “Ferenji” by Helena Mulkerns, and of course the Cáca Milis anthology “Red Lamp Black Piano.”
Show starts at 9:00 pm sharp – so get there early, as seating is limited, or book ahead at:
www.wexfordartscentre.ie / phone 053-912-3764 Also see: www.cacamilis.org
And for more on your Cabaret hosts: www.HelenaMul.com / www.JoshJohnston.com
It was such a wonderful surprise to open the Irish Times today, and find my book mentioned by one of my favourite short story writers, Nuala O’Connor, as one of her “Favourite Books of 2016”. The full article is filled with great recommendations for Christmas presents, 2016 – check it out at this link:
Nuala says: “Ferenji is the debut short story collection of Helena Mulkerns, a former press officer with the United Nations. The stories concern both aid workers’ and locals’ stories and are humane and graphic. Beautifully written and topical, this book is a heartbreaking look at the realities of post-war lives.”
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Really looking forward to the “Finding a Voice” special evening on Thurs, 8th December at 18:30, when author, poet and playwright Dermot Bolger hosts an evening of readings and music at The National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin.
The event celebrates Dermot’s 2016 writer’s residency, a collaborative project set up by the Museum’s 1916 Public Entertainment Programme and Poetry Ireland, which saw a series of events entitled “Finding A Voice” take place throughout the year. Combining workshop, panel discussion, lectures and readings, these afternoons were a pleasure for all – both the writers who read and spoke at them, and the participants – often first time writers – who benefitted from the series.
Elsewhere at the museum, the centenary is celebrated by “Proclaiming a Republic – The 1916 Rising” – a splendid exhibition in the Riding School venue at Collins Barracks – a visit to which would be more than worthwhile on Thursday afternoon, before the reading in .
With this aspect of the 1916-2016 centenary celebrations in mind, Dermot asked me to join in the final event, not only as a writer (I’ll read from my book, “Ferenji“), but also as the Granddaughter of the 1916 rebel Jimmy Mulkerns, who fought at the Four Courts during the Rising, and who then spent eight hard months incarcerated at Frongoch Prison Camp, along with almost 2,000 other Irish rebels.
My grandfather, a fine actor and tenor who had his own touring theatre troupe, was part of the “Amusements Committee” that set up the weekly entertainment evenings in Frongoch camp, along with some of the other prisoners involved in the theatre or the entertainment field of the day, who fought in the rebellion.
At the time, there were at least three theatres in operation in Dublin – the posh new Abbey Theatre, founded by Yeats and Lady Gregory, the more popular Queens Theatre, and several other music hall style venues – including the old Empire Palace Theatre (now The Olympia). It wasn’t surprising that a number of the rebels were also entertainers and actors. To keep up the spirits of the men, they organised a little cabaret/seisúin each Friday evening.Their efforts included the presentation of music, original drama as well as skits and satire.
Jimmy Mulkerns served in the role of Master of Ceremonies and satirical songster at these evenings, earning the nickname “The Rajah of Frongoch” in playful reference to the exotic costumes he would derive from curtains, rags or donations from women of the local Welsh community. The Rajah was the inspiration for my own entertainment evening, The Cáca Milis Cabaret, at which Dermot Bolger has been a much appreciated participant on several occasions.
So this Thursday evening promises to be a lively and enjoyable event, with the participation of those who have attended Dermot’s excellent workshops through the year since March and from literary friends, as well as a few songs to remember those who might have fought in the area in or around what is now the National Museum, Collins Barracks, in 1916.
For more fun stuff, click the links:
National Museum of Ireland 1916 Public Event Programme
The daughter of the Rajah of Frongoch Val Mulkerns, visits the location of the camp, 2016 (by Maev Kennedy)
With thanks to Matthew Lloyd for the links to his fascinating website on old music halls and theatres:
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Click here, or on the image to read a short story from Ferenji,
published on The Irish Times website.
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