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Halloween Literary Offerings

Halloween, Hauntings, Ghosts, Vampires and Other Literary Fare

The festival that is Halloween has become so pervasive and ubiquitous to the extent that its origins have been somewhat obscured. The traditions associated with it, however, are rooted in the ancient Gaelic harvest festival of Samhain, giving it pre-Christian and pagan origins. It transitioned into the Christian milieu as All Hallow’s Eve (the day that precedes All Saints’ Day in the Christian liturgy). Irish and Scottish migrants, most likely, carried the traditions with them to the New World until, by the 20th century, it gained a worldwide following, aided no doubt by the growth of new media with vaster, more global reach – including literature but also in the form of cinema, TV, etc.

Bram Stoker and the Irishness of Dracula

Dressing up in costumes that invoke legendary characters – such as Count Dracula, for example – is just one part of the Halloween fare. Much like Halloween itself, however, the lore that surrounds the figure of Dracula has gained a life of its own – one that has come to surpass its origins which, in fact, have nothing to do with Halloween at all although, they are Irish.

Author, Dennis McIntyre in his book, Bram Stoker and the Irishness of Dracula brings it all back home as far as the world’s most enduring, much imitated but never emulated vampire story is concerned.

Once in a while, a book comes along that is definitive in its subject matter – this is one such book

Bram Stoker and the Irishness of Dracula by Dennis McIntyre is published under the imprint of The Shara Press and is available to buy online.

From the Pen of Susan R. Murphy

Susan R. Murphy reckons that she has been “addicted to horror” since an early age. “While other children played with the Ken and Barbie dolls, I played Vampires with mine!”

Over the years, her interest in horror, science fiction and mythology grew. One day, in 1993, she sat down and wrote a series of short stories on these subjects. The Immortals: Thrills, Chills, Tales of the Macabre is a collection of “truly terrifying tales”, containing a blend of ancient Greek mythology, American Gothic horror, UFO abductions, Halloween scares and campfire tales. In much the same vein is The Ghost in My House, a short story on a haunted house theme.

These and other books by Susan R. Murphy are available to buy online, in print and e-book editions.

Stories on Irish Mythological Themes

The Battle for Coman’s Wood by Mario Corrigan is a fast-paced, action-packed adventure story, told on the back of Irish mythological themes that will leave you gasping!

An American family have come to Ireland in time for Halloween, for the ancient Festival of Samhain. Their journey becomes a quest to thwart the evil plans of Queen Medbh and The Morrigan, as terrible, evil creatures issue forth from beneath the earth. Our brave heroes must face the might of these supernatural forces, in an epic showdown in Coman’s Wood in County Roscommon (the name, Roscommon deriving from the Irish Ros Comáin, meaning ‘Saint Coman’s wood’).

The Battle for Coman’s Wood by Mario Corrigan (with illustrations by David Butler) is suitable for all ages. It is published under the imprint of Do Fish Wear Pyjamas Publications and is available to buy online, in print and e-book editions.

The GhostÉire Investigates Series

Finally, for those who like to ‘keep it real’ where horror and ghostly hauntings are concerned, the GhostÉire Investigates series attempts to do just that.

GhostÉire are an Irish-based group of paranormal researchers, whose quest to find spiritual and scientific explanations for the paranormal, the supernatural and similarly unexplained phenomena take them to many locations, the length and breadth of Ireland. In their reports on their investigations into possible hauntings, they offer personal insight and suggest rational thinking towards any strange phenomena that has been observed.

These investigations have been recorded and documented in two volumes to date, comprising written and audio-visual accounts. The Rising of Haunted Ireland, published in 2016, has been followed by the publication, earlier this year, of Drowned-Out Voices, which takes up where the previous volume leaves off (an investigation into Ireland’s famous Blarney Castle).

Both The Rising of Haunted Ireland and Drowned-Out Voices by GhostÉire are published under the imprint of The Manuscript Publisher and available to buy online, in print (both paperback and hardback) and e-book editions, fully illustrated and accompanied with video footage (DVD and online video formats).

Parental Advisory: The books in the GhostÉire Investigates series are suitable for age 16 and over only. They contain strong language and possibly disturbing themes.

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In Memoriam: Seán O’Donoghue (1958-2019)

Seán O'Donoghue holding a Kirby Morgan 17A helmet in Poppintree Youth Centre, Ballymun

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Seán O’Donoghue (1958-2019)

– author, poet, deep-sea diver –

Seán O’Donoghue passed away three years ago this weekend, not long after the publication of his second book, Native Freeborn Irishman. The first print run had almost sold out within just a few short weeks.

Native Freeborn Irishman is a volume consisting of poetry, prose, family and other photographs. It describes a life inspired by tales told around his father’s fireside, about the actions of General Michael Collins, Cumann na mBan, Éamon de Valera, Tom Barry, Terence McSweeney, the Flying Columns and many, many, many more.

“The bravery of these men and women, inspired Seán to become a deep-sea saturation diver – one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, after that of a frontline soldier or a spy. In all his work with divers, over many years, he never met a diver who was not brave.”

– from the Preface to Native Freeborn Irishman

Seán O’Donoghue was born in Dublin, in 1958. The eldest of four boys and one girl, Seán studied at St. Aidan’s Christian Brothers school, Whitehall; at Fort Bovisand Underwater Training Centre in Plymouth, England and at Fort William Underwater Training Centre in Scotland. Later, Seán studied English for one year at All Hallows, DCU and then, for one year at DCU proper, for Creative Writing.

His job as a deep-sea diver took him to Malaysia (to Sarawak), to work for Shell and, to Eygpt and the North Sea. When the Piper Alpha oil rig went on fire in July 1988, Seán was part of the recovery mission and the toppling operation. He suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after that job. When Seán finished diving, he became a financial consultant, working mostly with divers and oil company personnel.

He also volunteered to work as a Public Relations Officer for Grampian Irish Social Club and, in that capacity, after listening to a group of boys playing in a Mandolin orchestra, he was invited to visit a Romanian orphanage. He went for a week but stayed for six.

Seán won first place with a piece called Ripples, in a competition for the north-east of Scotland organised by the Grampian Speakers Club. Ripples is the story of Seán’s near death experience under the Piper Alpha oil rig, four years before the fire.

Seán O’Donoghue passed away on 8 October 2019. He is sadly missed by family, friends, all who knew him. May he rest in peace.

Native Freeborn Irishman by Seán O’Donoghue is published under the imprint of The Manuscript Publisher (ISBN: 978-1-911442-18-9) and available to buy online.

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Upcoming Events | SiarScéal Festival 2022

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SiarScéal Festival 2022

– including the Hanna Greally Literary Awards –

Saturday, 12 November is the date that has been announced for SiarScéal Festival 2022, which takes place at Roscommon County Library HQ, starting 10am. Details of the festival, including the full programme of events, have been posted to the festival website.

The Hanna Greally Literary Awards will be announced on the day, with a prize fund totalling €600 to be given out in cash prizes. Entries are still being accepted and the closing date is Friday, 14 October.

Entry is free but limited to one per person and may consist of poetry or prose but, should be on the theme of the competition, which is Sunlit Mornings, Ebbing Tides.

Full details, including terms and conditions and how to enter can be found on the SiarScéal website. Winners will be announced and, prizes presented at the festival in November.

SiarScéal Festival (with the associated Hanna Greally Literary Awards) has been taking place annually, in Roscommon, since 2007. The festival draws its inspiration from unique culture and heritage of the Roscommon environs, together with the regional counties of Leitrim and Sligo. Further information about SiarScéal, including how you can get involved and support their work, is available from their website.

Publications sponsored by SiarScéal, reflecting the array of talent that the festival has attracted over the years, are on sale and available to buy online from this website.

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Book Launch: The Joys of a Second Rattle at Life by William Tiernan

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The Joys of a Second Rattle at Life by William Tiernan

– the author’s third collection of poetry to be launched on Saturday, 8 October

The Father Flanagan Community Centre in Ballymoe, Co. Galway is the venue for the launch, this Saturday, of local author, William Tiernan’s third collection of poetry, The Joys of a Second Rattle at Life, arguably his most ambitious to date.

Whether addressing himself to issues such as pandemics or the war in Ukraine, to more universal themes of redemption and rebirth, battles of the body and the bullying of the mind, Tiernan’s observations go straight to the human heart, breaking down the distance between what is right from what is wrong, conveying it all in his unique and inimitable lyrical style.

William Tiernan is a poet and author who resides in rural Galway, close to the Roscommon border. His writings reflect his personal experiences and convictions as well as strong ties to the community in which he lives, his identification with the place where he grew up. These impressions are particularly reflected in his first two volumes of his poetry: Greetings from Guilka, Ballymoe (2016) and Bluesy Ballymoe (2018). In 2014, he was National Winner in the poetry category at the Hanna Greally International Literary Awards, organised as part of the annual SiarScéal Festival in Co. Roscommon.

The Joys of a Second Rattle at Life by William Tiernan is published under the imprint of The Manuscript Publisher and available to buy online, along with other books by the author. Signed copies will also be on sale at the book’s launch, to take place on Saturday, 8 October at the Father Flanagan Community Centre, Ballymoe, Co. Galway starting 8pm.

Important Announcement

The launch, due to take place today (Saturday, 8 October) of William Tiernan’s book, The Joys of a Second Rattle at Life, has had to be postponed due to a bereavement. A new date, not too far into the future, will be set however, with details posted here as soon as we have them to hand.