- Little Island Author to Receive Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature
We were delighted by the news that Little Island author Eilís Ní Dhuibhne is to receive the 2015 Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature. The Award will be presented at the Irish PEN annual dinner on February 20th at the Royal St George Yacht Club, Dún Laoghaire.
Speaking on Friday to the Irish Times, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne said: ‘It’s a great honour and a great delight to receive this award from Irish PEN and to find myself in such illustrious company as Edna O’Brien, Maeve Binchy, Jennifer Johnston and Frank McGuinness.’
Irish PEN is the Centre in Ireland for PEN, an international association of writers which promotes literature and defends freedom of expression. PEN, which stands for poets, playwrights, editors, essayists and novelists, is a non-political organisation with special consultative status at Unesco and the United Nations. Founded in 1921, it has from its earliest days in Ireland been associated with Lady Gregory, WB Yeats, and Lord Longford. Irish PEN set up the award in 1998 to honour an Irish writer who has made an outstanding contribution to Irish literature. This award is for a significant body of work, written and produced over a number of years, and is open to novelists, playwrights, poets, and scriptwriters.
Sincere congratulations to Eilís and we hope the night is a wonderful one!
- Siobhán Parkinson Named Irish Tatler’s Arts & Literature Woman of the Year
On November 8th of this year, our editor and publisher Siobhán Parkinson was named by Irish Tatler as the Arts and Literature Woman of the Year. Find out what she thought about the awards ceremony, and why it means so much for this award to go to a children’s author for the very first time.
To be honest, I was a little nervous – sceptical, even – about attending the Irish Tatler Women of the Year Awards 2014 at the weekend. I am a well-known stick-in-the-mud and general party-poop. Champagne does tend to help this condition, though, and fortunately there was something that bubbled convincingly in champagne flutes. There was a certain razzmatazz quotient on the night, as you’d expect, but not so much as to be scary, and glitz was definitely outshone by genuine warmth. And the food was scrummy too. I don’t tend to eat in the Four Seasons much, but it is some achievement to provide food for a very large number of people at this level of deliciousness.
Awards were made in several categories: arts, media, music, film/drama, public life, business and so on, so lots of women got to be applauded and have their contribution recognised. Christine Keeling won in the business category, for example, and Faye O’Rourke (Little Green Cars) in music. Very popular winners were Joanne O’Riordan, in a category that escapes me but should have been something like Enthusiasm, Good Humour and Lack of Cow-pats (female for BS); Philomena Lee (the real-life woman played by Judy Dench in Philomena); and Panti Bliss (who claimed not to be a woman at all, for goodness’ sake!). The overall Woman of the Year award went to Joan Burton – a brave choice (you only have to look at the venom on Facebook to see what I mean) but I for one was cheering. Also an excellent choice was the charity to which people were asked to donate: it wasn’t an obvious pull-your-heartstrings one, but the Irish Traveller Movement and its work in supporting Traveller women in education and into the workplace. Now, that’s serious women-supporting-women stuff.
There was absolutely no tolerance at this event for the idea that women don’t need this kind of support any more – we always need each other’s support, and even when we (eventually, in about three more centuries) get equal representation of women in all areas of Irish life, it will still be valid for women to affirm and support each other. That, guys, is what women do. It’s part of the deal and it’s why Ireland needs women in business, public life and the arts at least as much as women ourselves need to be represented equally in all areas of life.
It is conventional to accept such awards on behalf also of one’s colleagues and the sector in general, but I am genuinely thrilled on behalf of all my colleagues in children’s books that a children’s writer can be honoured in this way. Everything to do with children tends to have low status in our competitive, economy-centric society, and so to single out a children’s writer for a general arts/literature award is imaginative, possibly even revolutionary.
Well done to Nora Casey and Irish Tatler on their truly excellent and thoughtful awards scheme.
- The Powers tops the records as most borrowed children’s book!
Last month Dublin City Public Libraries released figures around the most borrowed books from libraries across the city, and we are delighted to say that our very own The Powers by Kevin Stevens was number one in the list! That’s right – out of all the children’s books in the city, the kids chose The Powers time and again while visiting the library.
Dublin City Libraries comments that ‘The top children’s title, The Powers: the Not-So-Super Superheroes by Kevin Stevens, in fact topped the overall list here in Dublin City, while the ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ series has proven to be the best read series by some distance. As if to demonstrate the ‘power’ of library reading initiatives, The Powers was the 2014 Citywide Read for Children choice.’ We especially enjoyed their powerful pun!
The UNESCO Citywide Read took place for one month back in March 2014, where children all across the city were encouraged to read the same book at the same time, facilitating conversation and discussion about books and allowing children all over the city to bond over the written word. Dozens of library and school events with the author, illustrator and storyteller proved hugely popular and successful and encouraged reading and library visits all across the city. We’d like to say a huge thank you to UNESCO for their support and for choosing us in 2014!