THE consensus on Thursday evening was that Cónal Creedon’s Pancho and Lefty Ride Again was the perfect choice for this year’s Cork City Libraries’ One City One Book festival, and the Farmgate Cafe was the perfect place to launch it.
The Cork author has been a Farmgate regular for decades and, if he didn’t actually brew his stories there, they probably percolated under those wooden upstairs eaves.
According to Mr Creedon, Pancho and Lefty Ride Again is a digitally remastered re-issue of his 1995 short story collection Pancho and Lefty Ride Out, with 11 bonus tracks added.
Launching the festival, Judge Helen Boyle, a long-time friend of the author, described Mr Creedon as the quintessential Cork writer and said the book was a joy to read.
“It’s a perfect book for One City One Book, which is an effort to get people in Cork, and people visiting Cork, to read a book based in Cork, and Cónal’s stories, as he says himself, are based in the spaghetti bowl of streets around Devonshire St where he was born and reared.”
John Breen of Waterstones said the bookseller had been delighted to be asked some years ago by Cork City Library’s Patricia Looney to come on board the One City One Book festival. He said that he had been part of the panel that chose this year’s book and, after two years of Covid-19, there had simply been no other choice.
“Everything about Cónal is steeped in Cork City and his writing is steeped in his love of the characters and the history of the town,” said Mr Breen.
“He’s an amazing writer that doesn’t get enough credit and doesn’t give himself enough credit either.
“This is an absolute gem of a book and it was the perfect choice for this year.”
Ms Looney said the festival had run since 2016 and recognition for Mr Creedon was overdue.
“It’s a wonderful time for us to be back in person and to celebrate Cónal,” she said.
Speaking to The Echo yesterday, Mr Creedon said he was proud and humbled to be chosen for this year’s One City One Book.
“We live is epic times, where a scuffle outside a chipper can seem like, if not become, a global event,” he said.
“Maybe it’s that post-Covid feeling but [Thursday] evening took on a special and emotional significance for me. There was a genuine sense of warmth in the room, that sense of feeling safe among my own, in the context of these epic times.”
Angelus to Angelus!, a reading of Pancho and Lefty Ride Again takes place today at Crane Lane, beginning at midday.