CÓNAL Creedon’s book of short stories, Pancho And Lefty Ride Again, is this year’s ‘One City One Book’ choice by Cork City Libraries and he has decided on a unique event to celebrate.
The popular library initiative aims to get people to read and discuss the same book, and encourages individuals, book clubs, work colleagues and clubs to take part and engage in lively conversations about what they have read.
“It’s a massive honour to have my book of short stories awarded the ‘One City One Book’ for 2022,” said Cónal.
“I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Patrica Looney in Cork City Libraries, as well as to John Breen in Waterstone’s, the creative team helping Irishtown press bring out my books, and my brilliant ‘Marketing Manager’ - my 11-year-old niece Asha.”
To celebrate, Cónal will be hosting a very special reading at Crane Lane on April 23. He has teamed up with sound artists ‘Small Birds’ to host ‘Angelus to Angelus’, where he will read his collection of short stories, Pancho And Lefty Ride Again, from cover to cover.
“We called it ‘Angelus to Angelus’ as the event will run from noon to 6pm,” explained Cónal.
“It’s is an idea we’ve had for many years. Cork has a vibrant and extremely active sound/performance art scene. Quiet Club, Domestic Godless and Small Birds are just some of the groups based in the city, but there are countless others.
“‘Small Birds’ are Irene Murphy, Harry Murphy and Mick O’Shea. I became a total convert to their work over the past few decades. I went to London a while back to see Irene and Mick do their thing at the Vortex Jazz Club, and it was sublime.
“Over the years, strong bonds of friendship formed between us and we often considered doing something together, we were just waiting for the right opportunity. So when we found out that Pancho and Lefty was awarded ‘One City One Book’ it was like - Bingo!- what a perfect way to mark such a special occasion.
Cónal describes sound art as ‘performance but not a symphony of defined sound effects dictated by a narrative’.
“It’s probably best described as pure creativity ‘On the Fly’. The creation of sound for sounds’ sake,” Cónal said.
“It’s a place I’d aspire to get to with my writing - basically writing without consideration for the reader, writing for the joy of writing and what remains on the page is just a by-product of that journey.
“I’m just absolutely delighted to join up with ‘Small Birds’ and to paraphrase the old posters - ‘For One Afternoon Only.’”
The event is not intended as a gig or a concert.
“People are welcome to come and go, drop in, sit for a while, listen to the sounds, listen to a story or two or more, and then go back out into the madness of downtown ‘Pana’ on a Saturday afternoon,” Cónal said. “It will be very much an organic experience, with ‘Small Birds’ being more prominent at times, while at other times the reading will take precedence.”
Pancho and Lefty Ride Out was first published in 1995 by Collins Press, and last year Pancho and Lefty Ride Again was published by Irishtown Press, featuring many of the original stories.
“For me, this is a collection of stories and rewrites that have been reformed and re-tweaked and written as new right up to the present day,” Cónal said.
“Short stories have a tendency to become autobiographical, for example After The Ball sticks with me because it is the first story I ever wrote, and is a fairly accurate account of a real life event.”
The story recalls a tragic event which occurred near Cónal’s home in downtown Cork. A little boy got knocked down and killed while playing football on the street, and this tragedy marked a turning point in time, when playing on the street stopped being a safe activity for children due to the invasion of traffic.
“I recently met the real life brother of the small boy who died in that story, and it was the first time that I was actually struck by the autobiographical nature of my stories.
“Of course, I was totally unaware that his family had read the story, or had made the connection between the fictional account and the reality of the child’s death, but he told me that his mother kept a copy of the book on the mantel by a photograph of the small lad.
"To describe the full extent of the emotion that overtook me at that moment would be impossible - no words come close to explaining it.”
He is currently working on his next novel at his ‘word factory’- his home in downtown Cork.
“Its working title is Glory Be To the Father and I think it’s the maddest thing I’ve written yet.” he said.
Six Hour marathon reading and sound event ‘Angelus to Angelus’ is on April 23 at Crane Lane (noon to 6pm)