Me and Eilis
14 June 2012
In a night filled with music, readings and a spectacular movie
trailer, the crowd that gathered in Ballyvourney Library, Co. Cork, for the launch of Selkie Dreams, and the biography, Anahareo :
A Wilderness Spirit were not disappointed. Award-winning singer and university lecturer, Eilís Uí Shúillebheán, began the programme with a humorous and informative introduction, explaining the idea of selkies in Irish folklore, before recounting my background in history and the love of music that drew her to live in Ballyvourney.
A movie trailer of the novel, directed and
produced by Gerry MacBride, provided a dramatic and effective insight into the book. The audience really enjoyed it. Accompanied by a soundtrack of singing and harp music, it showed wonderful sweeping shots of the Irish
landscape and photos of 19th century Alaska, and was accompanied by singing and harp music. With the scene set, the characters on stage, I gave the story life when I read two compelling excerpts to the audience. The icing on the cake I felt was when I sat down at the
harp and sang a rendition of the haunting song that framed the book, ‘The Silkie of Sule Skerrie.’
My great grandmother
After presenting the novel I moved to the biography on Anahareo and began by explaining how it was a chance viewing of the film, Grey Owl produced by Richard Attenborough that began the journey, a journey prompted by my husband pointing out Anahareo as an obvious subject for me to study.
I showed the trailer of the book and read an excerpt from the biography
that gave an indisputable insight into Anahareo’s strong and determined
character. I also summarized her
contributions in the area of
conservation and her own challenge to the negative images white people generally held of First Nations/Native Americans, including that of the ‘noble warrior’ close to nature, which prompted many organizations that celebrated white people’s idea of what native ceremonies and native people did. These events I illustrated with the photograph of my own great-grandmother dressed in Indian costume as part of her lodge, The Daughters of Liberty.
With plenty of drink and food to fuel the chat and craic it was truly a great night to kick off the book launches.
Shrewsbury Library, England
20 June 2012
Set in a beautiful 15th century building, Shrewsbury Library was a wonderful setting for any historical novel. I presented my books to the Shrewsbury Readers Group, an interesting organization of very enthusiastic and discerning readers who gave over their monthly meeting to my presentation. I was hosted by my friend, Sandra, who had moved there from Cleethorpes, some eight years ago.
A few staff from nearby libraries also attended and the reception was nothing less than enthusiastic. It was nearly midsummer’s night, the perfect night for selkie transformation, something I explained in great detail, so that they could be on alert in the days to come.The format I used was fairly close to the one I had presented in Ballyvourney only I was the technical crew as well as
the presenter. Nevertheless I managed to play the book trailers without any mishap, handle the money and also stand on one leg (not really) all in the course of the hour. A great experience in a beautiful old English town.
28 June 2012
I journeyed from Shrewsbury to Cleethorpes, my old library when I lived in Lincolnshire.
It was a great reunion with friend and fellow writer, Moon who kindly hosted me and made the arrangements for the presentation there. She was no shirker; I had plenty of coverage in the Cleethorpes Chronicle and even the Grimsby Telegraph made me the centrefold in their ‘what’s on’ section. First and last time, I’m sure. The Olympic torch also arrived in town just as I did, making the paper along with me. A great thunderstorm blew in just as it was making its way down the seafront, but that didn’t seem to daunt anyone involved.
Before the event itself I was able to attend my old writer’s group and had a lovely time meeting up with them and hearing the various projects they are working on. Moon, Dave Evardson have had their novels published this year and two other members have their work under consideration. A truly talented group, I’d say.
Rain was never far away in the time I spent at Cleethorpes and it certainly came in with a bang when I gave my presentation. Thunder and lightning no less, providing a dramatic background to the tales of selkies while the waves crashed ashore across the road from the library. Water was a big theme that day, causing floods and also creating a memorable experience for a friend from the Grey Owl Society who came all the way from Newcastle to see me at this event and get copies of the biography and even the novel too. A day out in Cleethorpes almost became a night and another day as he struggled to get home on the train. Finally he made it in the wee hours of the next morning, having been delayed and detoured due to all the floods.
Kristin Gleeson is a writer, artist and musician who lives in the west of Ireland in the Gaeltacht.
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