John Hewitt Society, part 2

While thinking about this post and going over again all the wonderful events, it really brought home, how important receiving the full bursary was for me. Armagh is up north in Ireland and I live down south, so it was a four and a half hour car journey minimum, which to be honest would have made me reconsider travelling the distance and the cost involved. Having received the award, made it more accessible, so again, thank you to the JHS International Sumer School 2019.
My week began attending an address from Judith Thompson, Commissioner for Victims and Survivors of the conflict in Northern Ireland. An interesting and informative talk that set the bar high for the rest of the week, which each event after reached and soared beyond. My favourite event of all was the talk delivered by Professor of Modern Irish History, Diarmaid Ferriter of University College Dublin and the interview following it. His address was titled, The Problem Child Nobody Wants: The Irish Border 1919-2019. I could have listened to him forever, his books are too many to mention but do look him up.
Also other events that captivated me, was the interview with Ann Cleeves, author of over 25 novels and the author behind ITV’s Vera and BBC One’s Shetland. Such a lady and lovely to chat with. Kevin Barry, author of Nightboat to Tangier, read from his new book and entertained us all with his pearls of wisdom. Jo Spain, crime writer shared her writing habits etc. as part of a Crime Writing Panel.
Poetry was not forgotten by any means. In fact I was so taken with the poets who attended, I have dabbled in this genre since hearing the poetry and I must admit, I’m enjoying it. Poets, Mary Jean Chan and Billy Ramsell stood out for me. Again, down to earth people who gave time for a chat afterwards. Not to mention, Billy Collins, twice US Poet Laureate who held us spell-bound.
There was theatre to attend in the evenings, art exhibitions launched, music to listen to, and friends to be made, (New Yorker, Joanne and Donegalian, Lorraine) plus many others, Pat, Bill, Stephen, all in my workshop, the list is endless. Plus food and wine receptions, many other talks and events.
On the closing day we were presented with out certificates of attendance by the lady Mayoress of Armagh and had our photos taken with her.
It really was a busy, interesting, packed, and exciting week. I’d urge everyone to attend if only once. There was so much more that I have not covered here, but honestly, it was brilliant. The open mic on the last night? Fantastic!

I’ve come home with a car load of books to read, memories to savor, ideas and ambition to reach for the stars and know that I can.
Like all events/festivals, you get from them what you put in so it is worth making the effort when attending to learn and involve yourself in what is going on around you.


From left to right:
Top: Prof. Diarmaid Ferriter, Mary Jean Chan, Kevin Barry
Bottom: Ann Cleeves, Mick Herron and Jo Spain (in centre of photo).



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