Category Archives: AGM

Irish PEN 2013 Summer Newsletter

Page 1
Irish PEN’s summer 2013 newsletter
  • o New Members & Members’ News
  • o PEN/NEW VOICES Competition
  • o AGM 2013
  • o Irish PEN Award Dinner
  • o Irish PEN and Blasphemy
  • o Irish PEN co-sponsors Free Author Media
  • Training Day – held June 15th
  • o Upcoming Festivals
  • o PEN’s 45th International Writers Meeting
  • o Mary Russell: a talk on Writing & Travel in Syria
New Members

We extend a  warm welcome  to PEN’s  newest members: Morag Prunty, also known as Kate Kerrigan, will be known to many as a New York Times  bestselling author;  her latest release City of Hope, the second part  of  Ellie’s  trilogy, was published by Harper Collins in the U.S. on June 26th


Deirdre Conroy is responsible for the blog called Diary of  a  Dublin Landlady,  as  well as  many art  and architectural  reviews  in journals, and has  written chapters  of  published books, Painting Ireland and Great Irish Houses. Deirdre has just finished her first novel.


Rosemarie Rowley was born in Dublin. To date she has published five books of poetry, and has four times won the  Epic  award  in the  Scottish  International Poetry Competition. Her most  recent  books  are  Hot  Cinquefoil  Star (2002)  and In Memory  of  Her (2004) and (2008); see more at


Padraig Hanratty has published one short story collection A Blanket of Blues,  in eformat and hardcopy,  as  well  as  a  novella  Dimestore Avenue Blues.  Pádraig has  also been published in Judas! Music magazine, Hot Press and Electric Acorn website.


Margaret  Scott is  an author,  blogger and guest blogger with Easons.  The Irish Independent reviewed her  novel Between  You and Me, as  “a  stylish, effervescent  page-turner, which is  sure  to strike  a chord with readers and propel Scott’s wry wit into the limelight”.  Margaret  has  also been published in the Irish Independent,  Irish Daily Mail and Woman’s Weekly.


Mayo native Elizabeth Reapy is  the  founding editor of Wordlegs, an online creative writing journal which has  spawned  numerous ebooks, a  short fiction collection (30 under 30), and as of 2012, a brand new festival: The Shore Writers Festival. Elizabeth was the Tyrone  Guthrie  Exchange  Irish Writer  in Varuna  for 2012,  she  is  a  pushcart  nominee and this  year,  the Arts  Council  awarded  her  a  Literature  Bursary to complete her debut short story collection. Elizabeth was Irish PEN’s nominated entry to the PEN/NEW VOICES AWARD 2013.  The Award is open to writers  of  short stories,  creative non-fiction, journalism and poetry who are  aged 18-30, and are put  forward by PEN Centres.  The  Award  aims to encourage  new writing worldwide,  to promote translation – especially into English,  French and Spanish – and to help emerging writers by providing advice  on how  best  to work  towards  a  career  as  a writer.  The  distinguished panel  of  judges  includes Carole Blake, who represents Irish PEN’s 2012 Award recipient Joseph O’Connor, and all of the judges will give feedback  to the  six  long-listed  competition finalists. The closing date for entries was on June 20th


Among our newest Associate Members, we welcome Joseph McCloskey,  Karen Ryan,  Paul  McNulty, Carolann Copland, Diane  Ward, Mark Edmund Hutcheson, and Colleen Nelligan Connolly.


Members’ News
We  were  delighted to hear Cyril McHale’s wonderfully written  piece about  his  grandfather,  titled  ‘Past Projections’,  broadcast on Sunday Miscellany on June 16th  You can listen back to the broadcast online by clicking on this link, or visit
One  of  the  highlights  of  the  June  2013 celebrations of James Joyce’s Bloomsday was the launch by Joyce biographer, Peter Costello, of Brendan Lynch’s latest book, CITY OF WRITERS. The  Lives  and Homes  of  Dublin Authors. The launch was attended by seventyguests,  including Robert  Nicholson,  curator  of  the Writers Museum, and Guy St John Williams, grandson of novelist Oliver St John Gogarty.

Page 2
Irish PEN AGM 2013


We are happy to announce that following elections at Irish PEN’s AGM on June 7th


The Irish PEN Executive Committee  for  2013-14 is  as  follows: Kay Boland, Chairperson; Vanessa O’Loughlin,  Vice  Chairperson and PRO; Timmy Conway,  Treasurer; Brenda O’Hanlon, Correspondence Secretary; Máire Moriarty, Minutes Secretary; Emer Liston, Newsletter Editor  and Writers  in Prison Committee Secretary; Tony Gaughan, Honorary Committee Member.


We will  sorely miss the  huge  talent of our Social Media Co-ordinator, Chris Murray, who is no longer able to work in this capacity on PEN’s committee due to writing and editing commitments. As  well as having her work performed at last year’s Béal Festival, Chris is  a member of  the International PEN Women Writer’s Committee, and manages a successful Poetry Blog called Poethead’.


Along with the loss of our Social Media Co-ordinator,  Irish  PEN  is also  urgently in need of a Membership Secretary, and an Email Correspondence  Secretary. Please  get  in touch if  you would like  to know  more about the essential (and never dull..!) roles mentioned here. 


Irish PEN Award Dinner  2013


The  2013 Irish PEN Award for  Outstanding Achievement in Irish Literature was awarded to John Banville,  the  novelist  and playwright  whose  most
impressive  works  include The  Sea and The  Book  of Evidence.  The  ceremony took  place  on the  22nd February  at  the  Royal  St.  George  Yacht  Club,  Dun Laoghaire. At the ceremony, the presenter of the award, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan described  the  recipient  as “a  writer  of  innumerable gifts,  of immense talent, of  superb  reputation in Ireland and abroad”.  Accepting the  award,  Banville expressed pleasure at receiving recognition in his own country, adding: “PEN is a splendid organization…that has done  great  work” and described his  first experience of PEN while working in Eastern Europe in the early 1980s. John Banville’s previous honours include the Booker Prize for his 2005 novel The Sea and the Franz Kafka prize in 2011. The Irish PEN award has been presented by Irish PEN since  1999; previous  winners  include Seamus  Heaney and Edna  O’Brien,  and the Award’s trophy was sponsored by
Also, PEN warmly congratulates Maria Duffy on the launch and success of her third novel, The Letter (published by  Hachette Books Ireland).

Page 3
Irish PEN & Blasphemy


“The Executive Committee of Irish PEN, the Irish Centre  for  PEN  International,  campaigns  for  the offence  of  blasphemy to be removed from the Irish Constitution in 2013.  Human rights  attach to  individuals,  not to  states, organised groups or ideas. When governments seek to limit the rights of individuals to criticise, they  are  not  seeking,  as  they claim,  to  protect  faith  or belief. Rather, they are seeking increased power over their  citizens.  It  is  essential  to  maintain freedom  of  expression, ensuring writers are free to criticise. Irish PEN  calls  upon the  Government  to  restore  our reputation for free speech without delay”. Available to read in full at
Two years ago, Irish PEN undertook to campaign for a referendum on Blasphemy and the Irish Constitution. Currently,  the  Government’s  policy is  that the Convention on the Constitution, a forum made up of 100 people with  an independent  Chairperson,  will convene to consider and make recommendations on certain topics as possible future amendments to the Constitution.  The Convention is to complete its work within 12 months,  and has  received  Irish PEN’s submission  on Blasphemy and the  importance  of removing it from the  Constitution without  further delay.  You can read Irish PEN’s submission here, and visit for further information.


Dublin City of Literature/ Irish PEN Free Author  Media Training Day
June  15th saw a  very special day-long event, sponsored by Dublin City of  Literature  and Irish PEN,  and run in conjunction with and the  National  Emerging Writer progamme. Over  40 new and established writers who attended  this workshop found out  exactly how  to approach the media, how to win at radio and TV interviews and how to deliver  a  first  class  reading.  MTV  VJ and now corporate trainer Emma Ledden (pictured) and author Declan Hughes kept the audience busy making frantic notes in the morning, while in the afternoon, internet entrepreneur and Business Woman of the Year Darina Loakman,  explained  the  importance  having a  well thought  out  blog or  website,  of  understanding your target market and having a social media strategy that looks for quality over quantity. Participants,  many of  whom had had that  all- important  author  photo taken by professional photographer Paul Sherwood at a special rate, left the day significantly better prepared for the challenges of book promotion.  Describing it  as  ‘brilliant’  and ‘fantastic’, both the calibre of the presenters and the insights they offered were highly praised. PEN members  may book author  photographs separately to the event, at Paul Sherwood’s studio in Blackrock,  Co.  Dublin – contact  Paul  directly at or by mobile 087 230 9096.




There  are  many exciting festivals  coming up for writers and book lovers in the autumn; the Mountains to Sea Festival again promises to be a feast, with an especially interesting programme  on Sunday September 8th in Dún Laoghaire; visit for more details. Also, among the UNESCO Dublin City of Literature events coming up, one of the most exciting promises to be the Dublin Festival of  History which takes  place  between  27 th September and 10th October.


2013 is the year of the Gathering and the year when we mark  the  100th  anniversary of  momentous historical events in the city of Dublin. The upheaval of the  Dublin Lockout  and the  formation of  James Connolly’s Irish Citizen Army are but two of a series of historical topics  which will  be  explored  in the  new Dublin Festival of History. More information will be made available  at – always a space worth watching. Last year the Dublin Book Festival 2012 presented a packed programme of events, almost entirely free of charge  with  readings,  interviews, debates,  book launches  and workshops for adults,  children  and schools.


The  festival  found a  new home  in Smock Alley theatre,  Temple Bar,  and there  it  will return in 2013. The Dublin Book Festival team was  kind enough to lend support to Irish

Page 4
PEN and Front  Line  Defenders’ event  to mark November  15th,  which is  the  Day  of  the  Imprisoned Writer – a date marked by PEN Centres  around the world,  to recognize  and support  writers  who resist repression of  the basic human right to freedom of expression. Last  year’s event featured support and readings  from Brian Keenan, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill  and Justine McCarthy, and some  highlights  can be  viewed here, uploaded to YouTube at this link; we hope to work again with both Front Line Defenders and the Dublin Book Festival in 2013.
Pen’s 45th International Writers Meeting was held at Bled from May 8th to 12th 2013. Delegates representing 34 centres from across  the  world attended, welcomed by Dr Uros Grilc, the Slovenian Minister  for  Culture. Subsequently  they were entertained  by a presentation of  the  culture and literary traditions of the central region of Slovenia. The first theme discussed was ‘Literary Creation, from the Periphery to the Centre’; it was recognised that in terms  of  ideology this was  a  basic  dynamic in society. Each Periphery gradually draws nearer to the Centre,  eventually replacing it  and prompting the process to repeat itself.
The second topic was the writer as a traveller creating peace.  This  resonated  with the delegates.  Clearly travel  enables  people  to get beyond viewing other peoples in terms of their stereotypes. It also provides an opportunity to appreciate the  cultural  roots  and riches  of  those  residing in different  parts  of  the world. The result is a genuine respect and regard for the  otherness  in peoples. There  was  unanimity that extending boundaries in this way is a creator of peace both within and without. The  PEN Declaration on Digital  Freedom, passed  at the  International  Congress  in Gyeongju,  Korea,  in 2012 was discussed.
Four articles were appended to it  to clarify  how  it would affect  the  Targeting of Individuals, Censorship, Surveillance and Business and Human Rights.
October  2013: Mary Russell,  writing  and  travelling in Syria
Mary Russell is well-known for The Blessings of a Good Thick  Skirt,  her  book  about  women  travellers  and explorers throughout the ages. In her latest book, My Home  is  Your Home:  A Journey  round Syria,  she employs the survival strategies of the solo traveller, seasoning a devil-may-care  attitude  with  a pinch  of common sense when taking on everything that comes her  way in Syria – be it a  pack of  feral  dogs, an important  host  or  a  chain-smoking Sufi  sheik. Essentially a  cultural  travel book,  appended  to it is a postscript which offers both a background and an update to the  present  political situation which readers will find useful. Join Irish PEN October 10th to hear riveting stories  and insights  from successful and admired travel writer, Mary Russell.
Become a member of Irish PEN, or rejoin – it’s  quick, easy and hugely beneficial.  Simply  click on this link, or visit

Irish PEN Chair, Joe Armstrong’s, speech at AGM, Thursday, 12 May, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, is my pleasure to address you as Chair of Irish PEN on the occasion of our AGM. Our year began late. It was July or August when our previous honourable chairperson, Anne Hartigan, resigned due to work pressures and I was asked to take over as chair. Most of the outgoing committee also resigned, taking with them years of experience and knowledge. Only three remained, Dee, Tony and myself.


I was delighted to be asked to become Chair although it was a somewhat daunting prospect. I knew I could not achieve anything without a working and committed committee and, to be honest, the viability of Irish PEN was very much in question. If volunteers would not emerge to form a new committee then it seemed that it may well have been time to wrap up this august organisation, founded by Lady Gregory, and with literary greats like W.B. Yeats, Lord Longford, Sean O’Faolain, Liam O’Flaherty, Frank O’Connor, Mary Lavin, Kate O’Brien, Eavan Boland, Sam McAughtry, John Banville, Joseph O’Connor, and our President, Brian Friel on our membership roll of honour, to name but a few.


In short, the volunteers volunteered! And we have had, what for me has a very humbling and remarkable experience, watching individual volunteers within the committee take on their role and run with it.


Vanessa with her ‘can-do’ attitude to everything, and she has done a marvellous job of editing the newsletter both in the hardcopy versions and also by developing the online Aweber electronic version. She’s also done our PR, she has been the holder of the Irish PEN mobile phone for the last several months, and on her initiative we now have a wonderful Irish PEN banner.


Dee has been a power of strength to me, not only doing the monthly minutes faithfully and the minutes we’ve just read at today’s meeting from last year’s AGM. She has also provided encouragement to me and, very importantly, continuity with previous committees. I’m sorry that Dee won’t be available to continue on the committee in the new year and, on a personal note, and on your behalf, I thank her for all she has done. We will miss her greatly.


Carol has being a wonderful support spending hours and days writing letters and correspondence on our behalf when most of us are not even aware that she’s beavering away doing this. She has also taken a keen interest in the Irish PEN archive and as you know she’s our representative on the UNESCO city of literature committee.


Kay was one of the first to volunteer to join the new committee, initially agreeing to be treasurer, and then very willingly moving aside when Timmy came on board, who is a qualified accountant. She then took on chairing the subcommittee for the Irish PEN dinner and award. And she did a fantastic job, a superb job – what a wonderful night that was – and more recently she has volunteered to give of her time and go to Serbia for the PEN conference in September.


What can I say about Emer? Our membership lists and database were in a bit of a mess, to say the least. Emer willingly took on the job of sorting out the database, and devising the online confidential live database which is continually renewed and kept fresh. She is also the first representative from Irish PEN to attend a PEN International event for several years, and she is the first person in Irish PEN for some time to have the Writers in Prison Committee brief, which is a central part of what we are meant to be about as Irish PEN, in association with our international colleagues worldwide.


It is fabulous having Timmy on board, and very reassuring knowing he is a qualified accountant. He is also a great encourager and supporter and he has been efficient and practical from the word go, helping me to submit grant applications to the Arts Council and to Dublin City Arts Office. And on that point, I want to take this formal opportunity to thank both the Arts Council and Dublin City Arts Office for their continued financial support to Irish PEN.


I thank Tony for his membership of the committee, for the continuity he brings with him as a former chair, the experience he brings as an honorary member, and for his generosity in not only volunteering to attend the Belgrade conference, but for offering to pay his own way, and we’re lucky that he is in a position that he is able to do so.


The latest member of our team is Christine, and as with the whole committee, we are so lucky with what she brings to the table, her competence and familiarity and interest in Facebook and Twitter, her computer competence, and her willingness also to take on the role of Webmaster, a job she is doing very well indeed.


Kristi cannot be here tonight and we are sorry to be losing her too. She is emigrating. Since joining the committee only some months ago she has shown herself to be utterly reliable, committed, intelligent, competent, gracious, indeed as have you all. She did a wonderful job of the website, especially in updating it on the blasphemy campaign. And she was brilliant as e-mail manager, knowing the emails I didn’t need to see, dealing with them, and forwarding them to the appropriate person. And it was also Kristi who handled bookings for events, and she devised an online list for this purpose on the email site. Again, on my own behalf and on behalf of the committee and our members, I thank Kristi for all she has done, and we wish her well in her move from Ireland.


I also want to acknowledge Catherine Daly and Helen Flanagan, both of whom were on the committee for some time. Catherine, a former chair, needed to resign due to family commitments and Helen, who was our first intern, moved on to other work. We are grateful to them both.


I’m happy to report that there have been major achievements in the past year. The most outstanding one was the Irish PEN dinner, which was a wonderful affair. Kay Boland and her subcommittee members Vanessa, Kristi and Dee, made it all happen, as if by magic. At least it felt like magic to me but I’m sure that Kay, Vanessa, Kristi, and Dee know the blood, sweat and tears that went into it. It was a grand location, great to give the award to Colm Tóibín, and an excellent idea – I can’t remember whose it was – to have invited Mary Cloake, Director of the Arts Council, to make the presentation, and she delivered a very fine, highly researched speech.


Another achievement is the newsletter. Not only did we get three hardcopy newsletters written, edited and posted out, and thanks also to those who stuffed envelopes, I think Vanessa, Carol and Dee – apologies if I’ve left anyone out here – but Vanessa also introduced the Aweber format for electronic newsletters, which look well and form a new email database to complement Emer’s even more comprehensive live database.


Apart from the annual dinner, we have also had a superb programme of monthly events. In October 2010, we looked at the changing face of publishing and in particular at electronic publishing. That month we had Eoin Purcell of Irish Publishing News and Gareth Cuddy, director of was there too, as was Catherine Ryan Howard, an author who took the electronic route to publishing, and the event was very competently chaired by Vanessa.


In November 2010 we had our annual ‘Get Published’ event, again chaired by Vanessa. Speakers that night included Sheila Crowley, the literary agent with Curtis Brown; Jean Harrington, President of Publishing Ireland, and Brian Langan, editor with Transworld Ireland.


Our scheduled event in December, 2010, like almost everything else that month throughout Ireland, had to be cancelled because of the freezing conditions.


We had a wonderful debate in March of this year on ‘What makes a good book?’ I was delighted to chair that event which included Patricia Deevy, editorial director of Penguin Ireland, Bob Johnson of the Gutter Book Shop, Ciaran Carty of the sadly now defunct Sunday Tribune but his literary page on new Irish writing has now happily found a new home with the Irish Independent; and there was the much loved book lover Margaret McCann from the Wise Owl Book Club in Navan, who gave us an all-important reader’s perspective.


What a joy it was for those present to hear Patrick Mason, famous director at the Abbey Theatre, speak to us here last month, and how he brought alive so many moments, most memorably for me his account of the ending of a performance of Chekhov’s ‘The Cherry Orchard’ directed by Peter Brook, when all the doors were locked, the darkness fell and that single old man emerges, lies down, under a barely visible shaft of light, and dies.


And tonight, after the business of this AGM is concluded, we have Joseph O’Connor to look forward to, the event being chaired by Tony. I have been pestering Joseph to come for some time so I’m thrilled he’ll be here tonight.


Another important achievement this year has been our reconnection with PEN International. We had let that drop, so much so that I really didn’t know anything about PEN International, and I was delighted to have conversations during the year with Jonathan Heawood, Director of English PEN, and, of course, with Dublin man Frank Geary, Interim Director of PEN International. I was very happy that Frank could join us at our annual dinner and I met him again the following morning for discussions, which in turn has led to our greater awareness of the PEN Charter, Irish PEN’s new involvement in the Writers in Prison Committee, and our having two representatives at next September’s PEN conference in Belgrade. I want to thank Christine as well for her initiative such that now anyone can go to our website, click on a button, and sign up to the PEN Charter.


Another major achievement in the last year has been our agreement as a committee to campaign for a referendum to remove blasphemy from the Irish constitution. We have agreed an Irish PEN position paper, which is on our website, we have written to ministers, thanks to Kay, and to former recipients of the Irish PEN Award thanks to Carol. We have sent out press releases, and we have received unprecedented support from PEN International in our campaign. They issued a statement supporting us, sent it to the Minister for Justice, and took the unusual step of sending it to the Irish media as well.


Another significant achievement, and thanks to Timmy for this, is our successful application for grants, without which, quite simply, we could not function. That we have a healthy financial situation cannot be taken for granted, and I thank Timmy again for his work in this regard.


Having a presence on Facebook and Twitter is another welcome development, just in the last few months. How lucky we are that Christine walked in that door some months ago.


Having a Writers in Prison Committee in Irish PEN is another very welcome development the past year. Emer and I have already this year made representations on behalf of a writer from abroad who is in imminent danger of deportation from Ireland. This is a new activity for Irish PEN in Ireland, at least in recent years.


The ordinary humdrum activities of writing letters, writing minutes, checking e-mail, issuing press releases, updating the website, writing the newsletter, turning up at meetings, and on time, are the things which keep the engine ticking over. I thank each member of the committee for the quiet, unsung work that you do for Irish PEN, our members and our charter.


I also want to thank our members and associates for paying their subscriptions, which we need, and for turning up at events and at the annual dinner.


Issues that I think we need to address next year include poor attendances at some events, declining membership numbers even as, if I may say so, the committee is more committed and hard-working than ever. With declining membership come fewer subscriptions and a depletion of our funds. I think we need to ask ourselves why it is that eminent writers might join but not renew. As for associate members, there are now many organisations, private or public, offering courses, opportunities to meet editors and writers, and of course there is the Internet which is a free source of so much information. If we think, for instance, of events run by the Irish Writers Centre or the many literary festivals or Poetry Ireland, and other writer organisations, it strikes me that what we need to do is to focus on our unique selling point. Our long and honourable tradition, with so many Irish literary luminaries having been members, is one aspect of what makes us different. A second distinguishing feature is our commitment to free speech and to the PEN Charter, which each member is required sign and commit to. Perhaps we need to form alliances with the likes of Amnesty International here in Ireland, and others concerned about free speech and human rights. The third element of our unique selling point is that we belong to an international organisation, that we participate in it, and as has been the case so very recently, we are supported by it. And a fourth is that we defend people incarcerated or discriminated against because of their thoughts and words, oral or written.


Looking ahead, it is unlikely that the referendum on blasphemy will be held this year. I suspect it will be one of the many issues which will be dealt with in the Constitutional Convention promised for next year. But the referendum will come and we need to have a plan to make, and win, the argument. We need to come up with a strategy to communicate to the electorate why they should vote to delete blasphemy from the Irish constitution. And speaking of constitutions, we also need to update our own Irish PEN constitution.


We became aware over the year that English PEN employs seven or eight people. Might it be possible for Irish PEN to employ one or two or three in the future? Could we? To what end? And who might fund us? This is perhaps something that the new committee could explore.


Let us not forget too that each of us has our own personal writing ambition, I assume. I would like to see a situation, particularly for people who serve on the committee and who work so hard for not a button, in fact it costs us to take part, I’d like if the work we do could somehow move forward our own personal aspirations as writers. Perhaps we can somehow help one another towards our personal writing goals, whether to finish that novel, write a bestseller or earn a few bob.


We do need to find replacements for Dee and for Kristi and I hope at least two people will make themselves available to join the committee. Please don’t be shy. You will be very welcome.


Finally, I have really enjoyed this year, and I have been privileged to be your Chair. I have enjoyed the adventure. And if the adventure next year is half as good and half as fruitful as it has been this year, I should be happy. I’m looking forward to the ride. Thank you.


The Link to the PEN International Charter follows here :

12 May 2011: AGM, followed by Joseph O'Connor

Thursday 12 May:

7 pm: AGM

8:00 – 9:30 pm: We’re delighted that Joseph O’Connor will join us to provide cheer and insight, sharing from his wisdom and wit about his life as a professional author, journalist and broadcaster.

Where: United Arts Club, 3 Upper Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2

When: 8:00 – 9:30 pm

Fee: All events are €3 for members, non members welcome €5

Booking is essential!

Email: or Telephone: 087 9660770

Forthcoming Events

Thursday 10 March TV3 Book Reviewer Bob Johnson of the fabulous Gutter Book Shop, will be joined by Patricia Deevy, Editorial Director of Penguin Ireland and Ciaran Carty of the Sunday Tribune for a PEN debate exploring the key question ‘What Makes a Good Book?’ Margaret McCann of the Wise Owl Book Club in Navan will be giving a reader’s point of view!

Thursday April 14 Anne Hartigan in Conversation with Patrick Mason of the Abbey Theatre

Thursday 12 May, AGM at 7 pm

Thursday 12 May, following our AGM at 8 pm: We’re delighted that Joseph O’Connor will join us to provide cheer and insight, sharing from his wisdom and wit about his life as a professional author, journalist and broadcaster.

And for the Autmn:

Thursday October 13th:  ‘Writing for Children and Young People.’ A top-notch panel including a leading agent Julia Churchill, publisher Paddy O’Doherty, author & illustrator Oisin McGann and authors Sarah Webb and Anna Carey

Thursday, 10 Nov: David McWilliams speaks about writing, broadcasting and his experience of theatre

Thursday, 8 December: Crime Writing (fiction and true crime). Leading authors including Abigail Rieley, Sandra Mara and Arlene Hunt

Chair's speech at AGM

Speech by Chairperson Anne Le Marquand Hartigan at AGM Irish PEN 13th May 2010.

Good evening everyone, you are all very welcome. We have had a good year in Pen with many enjoyable and unique evenings with contributions from wonderful writers, but first, I must thank those who helped so much to make this possible. We are very fortunate to receive a small number of grants and are very grateful to the Arts Council who have given us a grant and will continue to do so this year which in the financial circumstance we are all the more grateful, although they have reduced the amount slightly. We thank Dublin City Arts for their continuing support which also means a lot to us. And may I thank the committee of the Arts Club here who allow us the use of this room and the bar, they are always helpful and we appreciate this comfortable and convenient venue. Our highlight of the year was of course the giving of the Irish Pen award for contribution to Irish Literature. This year the winner was the distinguished poet and lecturer Brendan Kennelly, and we presented this to him at our annual dinner. This was a sparkling evening. Brendan’s former TCD colleague Senator David Norris made the presentation for us with his usual brilliance, Brendan then most movingly showed his deep appreciation in receiving the award then gave us a magical recitation of poetry, interspersed with his great Kerry wit. All this happened despite the snow and cold in the hospitable Royal St George Yacht Club, and we thank them again for this wonderful facility. All of these things combined to make this a more than delightful evening. This leads me to mention that for the last two years we have not had a sponsor for our award, and we need one, Cross Pen generously supported this award for some years, this generosity we warmly appreciated. Now, however, we are looking for and needing a new sponsor, as our funds are small and limited, we would appeal to any member who might know a possible sponsor to let us know as we will be making an extra effort this year to find a new one. During the year we have had many distinguished and delightful writers reading from their work and discussing it, also panel discussions, and workshops dealing with all the various forms of writing from fiction,non fiction, humour, how to get published all beginning last May with Gerry Stembridge and Chris Binchy, in November we had a workshop on writing a successful novel with Patricia O’Reilly, also that month we had the pleasure and fun of having a conversation with Frank McGuinness who delighted us with his candour, his answers to questions were like his name frank and full of his unique creative energy. We also hosted Patricia Scanlon and Aidan Story, had a night for the Associate Members. We came towards the close of this year with the Great Debate, on the Arts and the Economy, the panellist included, Declan Kiberd, Arthur Lappin, Aidan Burke, Claire Doody, and Gerry Godley. It was a lively night with heated contributions from the floor. This just a taste of the many events that took place during the last year. Thank you so much to all these generous contributors. I would also add that we are in need of members subscriptions, we realise that hard times are upon us, but we do need your support to keep all these good functions going, thank you so much. Now I want to thank this wonderful committee, it is they who with great generosity do all the work, Dee Cunningham who acts as secretary taking all the minutes, Joe Armstrong who took great trouble setting up our web-site, Fr Tony Gaughan who is a long time member over the years and always helping on the committee, Catherine Daly who was such a dedicated Chairperson for the last few years. Caroline Brady thank you for all you have done, Fedelma Kelly who puts in such hard work and was such a help and support to me at the annual dinner, Mary Rose Callaghan who was there to help too, finally Marita Conlon-Mc Kenna, our present treasurer, who to our great regret is going off the committee this year. Marita is so knowable about PEN, has been Chairperson four times, and always full of energy and ideas. She sadly is retiring this year and personally I do not know what we will do without her, thank you Marita and all of the committee, you are all wonderful, generous and fun to be with. Thank you

May 13th: AGM & Hugo Hamilton event

The AGM of Irish PEN takes place at 7 p.m. on Thursday 13 May at the United Arts Club, after which Hugo Hamilton will be reading from, and talking about, his latest book.

We appeal to all members to attend the AGM. Several committee members are leaving the committee and Irish PEN cannot continue to serve Irish writers without people to replace them. This is a cri de coeur, appealing to you to make yourself available for service on the committee, whether you are a full-time or associate member. Please consider offering some of your time for the benefit of Irish writers.

Long-time committee member, treasurer and former chair Marita Conlon McKenna will sadly be stepping down after many years of committed service.

The committee meets once a month for the hour preceding the monthly Irish PEN event. Now is the time to go for it. Please turn up and make yourself available. We need you!