On Home Ground

On home ground

The only thing which could possibly warrant a late blog post is… well, it has to be a literary festival of course! The past four days have seen a wealth of poetry, literature, art and music mingle with sumptuous amounts of tea and scones at the lovely Laurel Villa Guesthouse in Magherafelt.

Singer/songwriter Ciara O'Neill (far right) with poets Alice McCullough and Nathanial J McAuley, who all performed at the On Home Ground Festival 2014

Singer/songwriter Ciara O’Neill (far right) with poets Alice McCullough and Nathanial J McAuley, who all performed at the On Home Ground Festival 2014

This was the On Home Ground Festival 2014 and having launched last year after Seamus Heaney sadly passed away (he was to have been the guest speaker at the opening), it embraced all things Heaney this year in his memory. Celebrating his life, work and legacy, the festival brought together an impressive array of talent and it’s a festival which will hopefully continue on into the future.

I was once again literally on home ground, as Magherafelt is my old stomping ground, where I grew up and developed my own love of literature at the Rainey Endowed Grammar School. I return as a visitor but rarely, although I think that like Heaney (yes, I’m about to compare myself to Seamus Heaney in the loosest possible way!), I too have a connection with the place which will never go away. You always have a history with your hometown, no matter how long you’ve been away from it.

Anyway, I didn’t get to enjoy as much of this brilliant event as I did last year, but I did manage some poetry readings by Damian Smyth of the Arts Council NI, Myra Vennard (who incidentally, lives up the road from me here on the coast, in Ballycastle) and singer-songwriter, Ciara O’Neill (one to look up – her music is hauntingly beautiful).

DD EverestI also caught up with business journalist turned children’s author, Mr D D Everest and I am now in possession of Archie Greene and the Magician’s Secret. Will Archie be one to rival Harry Potter? Will Everest reach the dizzy heights of fame that JK Rowling has attained? It’s early days, but I relish delving into this magical mystery and finding out just what it’s all about.

The man himself was a pro with the kids, despite this being his very first reading (the book was only published by Faber & Faber last week), and he was extremely encouraging and helpful afterwards when I chatted with him. Watch this space for a review of the book soon…

As I left the On Home Ground Festival yesterday I have to admit I was even more motivated to continue with my writing and to push on with trying to get my own children’s novel published. I may only have dipped into the wealth of creative inspiration on offer, but I tasted enough to sustain me for a little while longer…

(PS Read my official review for Culture NI here)

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