Workshops and readings for youths at Cork festival

Pet O’Connell previews events for young readers at the West Cork Literary Festival and also looks at what made the ‘Pride Reading Guide’ launched by Children’s Books Ireland and An Post featuring LGBTQIA+ inclusive stories
Workshops and readings for youths at Cork festival

Caroline O'Donoghue who will be giving a creative writing workshop at the West Cork Literary Festival.

CORK-born author and podcaster Caroline O’Donoghue, will deliver a creative writing workshop inspired by tarot and aimed at teenagers and young adults as the West Cork Literary Festival returns as a fully in-person event in Bantry next month.

Erstwhile columnist with the Irish Examiner, Caroline will introduce the audience to tarot and share how the archetypes which feature can be used as a means for storytelling, with participants given the chance to share their work and receive feedback.

The writer of young adult fantasy series ‘ Hidden Gifts’, Caroline also teams up with Mary Watson, author of ‘ Blood to Poison’, in a reading event for young adults.

Schull-based author Elizabeth Rose (ER) Murray joins poet and essayist Dave Lordan to host the popular ‘ Words Allowed’ workshop for teenage writers.

Elizabeth, author of the Nine Lives trilogy and ‘ Caramel Hearts’, and Dave, now in his 13th year leading the literary festival’s teen creativity programme, deliver a three-day workshop designed to build creative confidence in 14-17-year-olds and covering poetry, story, and essay-writing and the essentials of editing and performance.

Laureate na nÓg Áine Ní Ghlinn, author of 28 children’s books, hosts a Crann Filíochta poetry workshop in Irish and English for children aged 10-12, with poetry inspired by the environment and nature hung at the end of the event on a poetry tree.

Author of the newly-published ‘ The Shop of Impossible Ice Creams’ Shane Hegarty gives a reading for children aged seven-plus, while Beara resident Alex Barclay will read from her novel ‘My Heart and Other Breakables’ at an event aimed at readers 11-plus.

West Cork writer and illustrator duo Niamh O’Mahony and Annabel Langrish, who created picture books ‘ Why Are We Here?’ and ‘ Fay Goes to Sea’ lead a storytelling workshop at which children aged six to nine get the chance to join in a hands-on writing/illustrating session and create their own book.

West Cork Literary Festival runs from July 8 to 15. See:


Meanwhile Newmarket, County Cork, author Helen Corcoran is among the authors featured in a new ‘Pride Reading Guide’ launched this week by Children’s Books Ireland and An Post.

Containing 100 books featuring LGBTQIA+ inclusive stories, the guide offers ways to encourage solidarity, allyship, and confidence in children and young people.

 Queen of Coin and Whispers by Cork author Helen Corcoran.
 Queen of Coin and Whispers by Cork author Helen Corcoran.

With the Dublin Pride parade taking place tomorrow and Cork Pride from July 23 to 31, live events are back in full swing this year and the launch of the guide tomorrow will be accompanied by a Pride Book Clinic at the Pride Village in Merrion Square, Dublin.

The ‘Pride Reading Guide’ features picture books, fiction, non-fiction, and graphic novels, for readers aged up to 18, with books from Irish authors and illustrators denoted with a shamrock symbol.

“Positive representation on the page is so important: It is crucial that every member of the LGBTQIA+ community can feel seen and heard in the stories we tell,” said Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland.

“It is clear that there is still much work to do to build empathy, understanding, and allyship from an early age. Happily, the list of excellent books has grown since last year, and we hope it will continue to grow year after year.”

Corcorcan’s debut novel ‘ Queen of Coin and Whispers’ (O’Brien Press €12.99) features among the guide’s young adult selection, telling the story of teenager Lia, who following the death of her uncle assumes the throne of Edar and determines to reform the profligacy of her predecessor.

Xania, her new spymaster, needs to keep her queen alive during political upheaval and the two young women, brought together by duty, attempt to protect their growing friendship and love. The developing romance between Lia and Xania, its tentative first steps and eventual blossoming, forms the pivotal interest in a tangled web of plot told through the first-person narratives of the two women.

Dublin-born author-illustrator Yasmeen Ismail’s picture book ‘ I’m a Girl!’ (Bloomsbury €9.80) challenges gender stereotypes, while ‘ Only a Tree Knows How to be a Tree’ by Dublin’s Mary Murphy (Otter-Barry Books €11.20) highlights the uniqueness and commonality of living things.

Our Big Day’ by Bob Johnston and Michael Emberley (O’Brien Press €12.99) follows the young narrator’s Uncle David and Uncle Simon as they prepare for their wedding day in a picture book celebration of love, family, and marriage equality. ‘ The Lotterys Plus One’ (Macmillan €9.80) is the debut children’s book from bestselling Dublin author Emma Donoghue and introduces Sumac, who lives with her two mothers, two fathers, and four siblings in a madcap mansion called Camelottery.

The Deepest Breath’ by Donegal-based Meg Grehan (Little Island €9) concerns Stevie’s journey to self-discovery in a coming-out novel aimed at readers aged nine-plus.


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