Ross’s golden ticket, a literary love-in for Valentine’s and everyone’s for Ennis

News and upcoming events in the books world

December 2014 saw the sale of the one millionth copy of the Ross O'Carroll-Kelly series. To celebrate, Penguin Ireland placed a golden ticket inside a copy of Keeping Up With The Kalashnikovs, Paul Howard's fifth title in a row to be in the Top 10 bestselling books of the year in Ireland. The ticket found by Des Lattimore from Meath, who has won a trip for two to Rome to watch Ireland's opening match against Italy in the Six Nations Championship.

TIME Top 100

An Irish author has featured on TIME magazine's list of the Best 100 Young Adult Books. The Dublin writer Michael Scott came 44th on the list for his fantasy novel The Alchemyst, the first book in his series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. The New York Times bestseller has been printed in 20 languages, with the film rights sold to Lorenzo di Bonaventur, the American film producer behind the Harry Potter movies. Cast your vote for Scott's novel, or another childhood favourite, at A separate list and poll is being run by TIME for children's literature, featuring titles such as Where the Wild Things Are, Owl Moon and Harold the Purple Crayon.

Children’s literature conference


The importance of literature for younger readers will be the focus of a one-day conference on Saturday, January 24th in the new dlr LexIcon building in Dún Laoghaire. A Day in the Life is presented by Children's Books Ireland in partnership with dlr Libraries to celebrate the final appearance of Pictiúr, an exhibition of 21 contemporary Irish children's illustrators. Laureate na nÓgs past and present, Niamh Sharkey and Eoin Colfer, the illustrator Alan Nolan and the Guardian children's literature editor, Julia Eccleshare, are among those speaking. The dlr's writer-in-residence Colm Keegan will interview the author Sarah Crossan. A panel of new writers features short readings from Catherine Doyle, Patricia Forde, Kim Hood, Susan Maxwell, Darragh McManus, Dave Rudden, and Carmel Uí Cheallaigh. Visit for more information.

In other news, the comedian-turned-children's-author David Walliams has written a picture book for Comic Relief. The Queen's Orang-utan will publish on February 26th, with all proceeds going to the charity ahead of Red Nose Day on March 13th. Walliams cemented his reputation as a children's author in 2014, with his most recent book, Awful Auntie, topping the bestseller charts in both the UK and Ireland.

Literary loving

Forgo the tables-for-two hell of Valentine's night and opt instead for a literary event on February 14th. Nothing says romance like the Freemasons Hall in Dublin, the venue for an evening with writer Kevin Barry, historian Declan Kiberd, and the Chair of Irish Poetry, Paula Meehan. The event is organised by Young Hearts Run Free in support of the Simon Community. Throw in music from I Am The Cosmos, Brigid Power-Ryce and Scotland's Withered Hand for the ultimate forget-me-not. More information here.

The Cork Spring Poetry Festival takes place from February 11th - 14th in the Cork Arts Theatre on Carroll’s Quay. Douglas Dunn, Peter Fallon, Liz Berry, Don Share, Martina Evans, Dave Lordan and Gabriel Rosenstock are just some of the poets speaking at events throughout the week. The line-up for Saturday night includes Tom French and David Wheatley, Emily Berry and Michael Crummy, and the English poet and novelist Lavinia Greenlaw in conversation with her contemporary, the Costa award-winning poet Jo Shapcott. A number of masterclasses and journal launches will also be held as part of the programme. Further details can be found at

Young love is also catered for, with Louise O'Neill, author of the award-winning Only Ever Yours, teaching a one-day workshop in the Irish Writers Centre on February 14th. Aimed at older teenage writers, the course will look at character development, how to create a distinctive narrative voice, and the importance of trusting instincts. The workshop costs €70 for members and €80 for non-members.

Anyone for Ennis?

Anyone who's anyone in the literary world seems to be heading to Ennis for the town's Book Club Festival from March 6th - 8th. The stellar line-up features a host of home-grown talent such as Mary Costello, Joseph O'Connor, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Colin Barrett and Sara Baume. Scottish crime writer Val McDermid, the former politician Dessie O'Malley and the RTÉ broadcaster Evelyn O'Rourke will also be part of the three-day event that hopes to attract over 3,000 people to the town. More information at

Writers Centre news

From self-publishing advice to open mic nights, the Irish Writers Centre has plenty of variety in its springtime programme. On January 31st a one-day conference on self-publishing will have talks from publishers Robert Doran and Anne-Marie Scully, along with advice from self-published authors Catherine Ryan Howard and Emily Evans.’s Vanessa O’Loughlin, who is also the Irish representative of the international umbrella organisation the Alliance of Independent Authors, will be on hand to discuss the essential steps to successful self-publishing.

An open mic night hosted by writer and comedian Tara Flynn takes place at the centre on January 30th. Welcoming poets, prose writers, songwriters, musicians, comedians "and anyone else who wants to have a go", the five-minute slots can be pre-booked by emailing

A trio of Irish poets, Peter Sirr, Enda Wyley and Michael O'Loughlin, will offer a nine-week course on the Art of the Poem from February 2nd at the centre. Rob Doyle, author of Here Are the Young Men, will give a 10-week course on Reading Fiction for Writers from February 9th. The course promises analysis of authors such as Roberto Bolaño, Martin Amis and Virginia Woolf. Other well-known names at the helm of courses and workshops include Sarah Webb, Catherine Dunne, Louise Phillips, Harry Clifton, Pat Boran, the travel writer Manchán Magan and the Sunday Business Post arts editor Nadine O'Regan. More information can be found at