Duchas and the Elmbridge Literary Festival

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Two nice things happened in the last week…

The first was a trip to Kilkenny in Ireland to watch my father, Tom Phillips, launch a book called In the Shadow of the Steeple.  It’s a compilation of articles written by historians, storytellers and locals who make up the Tullaherin Heritage Society.   This was number 10 in the series and it’s compelling – the sort of book that you read and you can feel your roots and know that they are strong.   It’s societies like this who have the foresight and expertise to commit our stories to paper so that they can be preserved.  Custodians of all our yesterdays – I felt very proud.

The other thing happened last night.  It was the first prizegiving evening for the Elmbridge Literary Festival  – the children’s evening.   The other readers were the poet, Agnes Meadows and the writer Simon Cherry.  I was first to read. It was a poem written by a six-year -old girl and I thought it might be nice (for her!) if I asked her advice beforehand on how to read it.  Very seriously, I read the first couple of lines and said, ‘Is that right?’

She rolled her eyes and looked at me as if I really hadn’t had my Weetabix.

‘Noooo,’ she said, ‘don’t sing it – just say the words!’

Right so.

Later they lined the children up for photographs with the Mayor.  To see a row of small kids, all clutching their certificates, with their chests stuck out so far they looked like chickens was a treat.

Tonight it’s the adults’ turn.  I have to read a story by a talented writer called Terry Ryan. There are a lot of song titles in it. I will not attempt to sing any of them.

I will just say the words…

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