It is such a privilege that my work in Cork City Libraries allows me to collaborate with so many creative people in the city

Patricia Looney, Cork City Libraries, talks about her work with community groups, the upcoming Culture Night, and the Poetry in the Park initiative
It is such a privilege that my work in Cork City Libraries allows me to collaborate with so many creative people in the city

Patricia Looney, Cork City Libraries. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

TELL us about yourself

I studied in UCC, receiving a BSocSc., and worked in the area of social work and youth work for a few years before joining Cork City Libraries many moons ago.

I really enjoyed working at the public desk for many years, mostly in The City Library and Tory Top Library in Ballyphehane. Libraries have changed so much over the years and now represent multi-functional community hubs across 10 libraries in the city.

As a Senior Executive Librarian, my work is less desk-based but I continue to work with community groups and those involved with the arts and learning in the city.

Where were you born?

Cork.

Where do you live?

I live near Macroom, 2k outside the town.

Family?

Two daughters, Sadhbh and Andi.

Best friend?

I am very lucky to have a small group of very close friends, who are always there for the craic and the craziness!

Person you most admire?

I admire everyone who worked so hard during Covid, by keeping the economy going, and also those who were so creative and innovative in presenting the arts in new ways.

This was evident during Culture Night 2020 when art became more prevalent in the city’s public spaces. Cork City Libraries and the Glucksman had a wonderful exhibition of artwork by teenagers in Direct Provision which saw the City Library as the canvas. Also, the anthology Cork Words published by Cork City Libraries showcasing the wonderful writers based in Cork became an outdoor trail called Words on Windows. These pieces of poetry and prose can still be seen in prominent places throughout the city and are beautiful art installations on the hoardings on the works taking place on Horgan’s Quay.

Where was your most memorable holiday?

Summers in Caherdaniel when the girls were younger, long days on the beautiful Derrynane beach through rain and sunshine.

Favourite TV programme?

I’m loving Grace and Frankie on Netflix, everyone should have a friend like Frankie to make life more colourful and interesting.

Favourite radio show?

I like Brendan O’Connor on Saturday mornings. He asks the questions I am interested in hearing the answers to, and of course the Cork accent helps as well as his sense of humour and touch of sarcasm!

Last book you read?

A Very Strange Man, by Alannah Hopkin. It is a wonderful love story and honest account of her life with the writer Aidan Higgins and is based in Kinsale.

Author Danielle McLaughlin, who wrote The Art of Falling.
Author Danielle McLaughlin, who wrote The Art of Falling.

Best book you read?

There are so many great books I can’t choose one, but each year I always love the One City One Book choice, which this year is the debut novel The Art of Falling by award winning short story writer Danielle McLaughlin. It is based around art and sculpture and set in Cork. Taking the subject matter into account, Cork City Libraries have partnered with Crawford Art Gallery on an event for Culture Night based on the book and the Menangerie Exhibition currently in the gallery. Watch out for the event, which will include a visit to the gallery to inspire you to write a piece of flash fiction.

Favourite song?

Because I don’t have a musical ear, I tend to be drawn more to the lyrics, hence the Squeeze purchase! Also, with two daughters I find Abba’s Slipping Through My Fingers resonates with me, I love All I Ask by Adele and most of Lily Allen’s songs. I also love Cheap Thrills by Sia as it brings backs memories of the anticipation and preparation for going out when you are young and what everyone, but especially young people, have missed during the pandemic. 

We also have such unique singer songwriters in the city and the local lyrics of John Spillane and others reflect our city’s personality so well.

Your proudest moment?

It is such a privilege that my work in Cork City Libraries allows me to collaborate with so many creative people in the city. For example, Culture Night in The City Library this year includes bilingual slam poet Julie Goo, Kenneth Hickey and his team presents a poetry dramatisation Fragment of the Furies - a multi voice poem dealing with the complex interaction of memory and loss, the story of Joan Denise Moriarty is brought to life once more through an exhibition The Dancer and the Dance, including her own words, photos, awards, costumes, online interviews and a special performance by the students of the Joan Denise Moriarty School of Dance on the night. Also, with Munster Literature Centre we will host readings and discussion with the 2021 Frank O’Connor Fellow, yet to be appointed.

I was very proud to be part of a small but effective Cork World Book Fest team this year which presented our fest totally online for the first time, attracting great audiences both nationally and internationally with participants and audiences stretching from Australia to Sweden to Texas!

What makes you happy?

Currently, I am very happy to be working on the second edition of the Cork Words anthology. 

The number of established and emerging writers in Cork is amazing and I am so delighted that I am in a position, through funding from Creative Ireland, to showcase their wonderful work. Over 30 writers were included in the first anthology and over 50 in this one!

Again, working together with remarkable organisations such as the Munster Literature Centre, Ó Bhéál, Fiction at the Friary and UCC and others makes it possible to highlight the vibrant literary life of Cork. It excites me to continue to think of ways of using public spaces for the arts.

What else are you up to at the moment?

I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming Cork City Culture Night events that will take place on Friday, September 17. There will be over 70 free events for all to enjoy, in-person, outdoor and online. At the library on Grand Parade, we’re looking forward to enjoying a wonderful evening of poetry, literature and dance. See https://culturenightcork.ie/

Patricia Looney, Cork City Libraries, and Rosalin Blue, Poet, launching Poetry in the Park. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO
Patricia Looney, Cork City Libraries, and Rosalin Blue, Poet, launching Poetry in the Park. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

Along with that, I continue to work on our Covid-inspired Poetry in the Park collection, which continues due to it capturing the imagination of the public, initially as they walked within the 2-5k restrictions. Installations of poetry were erected in Tramore Valley Park, Ballincollig Regional Park, and Fitzgerald’s Park initially to celebrate Poetry Ireland Day. Again, the wealth of writing in the city has seen it continue, with the poems being changed every three weeks. To date, poetry by award winning poets, students of the MA in Creative Writing UCC, Young TY poets involved in The Unfinished Book Of Poetry, and Many Tongues of Cork have been showcased.

To celebrate Culture Night, the Poetry in the Park collection has been by invite from Cork’s First Poet Laureate William Wall. The pieces will feature three poems by William Wall and a poem each by Thomas McCarthy, Kathy D’Arcy and Afric McGlinchey.

Special thanks to all in the Parks Section of Cork City Council who have made this operationally possible! Also organisations like The Arts Council, Creative Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development help us hugely in bringing innovative programmes to communities and beyond.

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