All posts by admin

Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award Long List

The short story demands a level of attention from the writer that is unnervingly exact. Within a relatively short space of time a reader is propelled into a world that is unfamiliar to them. It may be breath- taking, devastating, fraught with complexities and uncomfortable to read. It will examine the fundamental elements of human existence forensically. The everyday situations that our lives centre around are smouldering embers out of which the skilful short story writer is able to produce a fire.

It has been an absolute pleasure for me to be affiliated with the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award, and to chair the sub-committee on behalf of Wexford Literary Festival. Colm Tóibín is one of the greatest writers of all time and we are honoured that he gave his name to this prestigious award.

The standard of entries that we received for the inaugural Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award has been exceptionally high. We received over three hundred entries from writers all over the world.  I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of Wexford Literary Festival to thank everyone who took the time to enter.

I would also like to express my sincere thanks to the members of the Colm Toíbín International Short Story Award sub-committee: Cat Hogan, Paul O’Reilly, Carmel Harrington and Alison Martin. The sub-committee were initial readers for the competition, and we have been meeting on a weekly basis for a number of months to discuss the stories and to compile the longlist.

The shortlist for the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award will be announced on 23rd April 2016 and the judges will then make the final decision.

The judging panel consists of:

• Lisa Coen, a founder of Tramp Press
• Nuala O’Connor, esteemed writer and poet
• Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, founder of The Inkwell Group and the online national writing resource magazine

Thanks again to everyone who entered.

The Wexford Literary Festival will take place on 27th-29th May 2016.

The results of the Colm Tóibín Short Story Award will be announced on 29th May at 3pm in the historic Athenaeum in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford


Caroline Busher


Longlist for the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award 2016

The List by Louise Hall

Winter 1963 by Judith Wilson

The Long Goodbye by Martin McSweeney

Another Mouth to Feed by Johanna C Leahy

Accessory by Sharon Dempsey

A Life Lesson by Anna O’Donovan

Settling by Jane Harrington

Turning Away by Sinead Slattery

The Required Distance by Jean Roarty

The Station House by Ellen Britton

The Front Pew by Sheena Lambert

Comrades in Arms by Sean Lyons

Very like a Whale by Joe Neal

Cash in hand by Jo Verity

The Alphabet Patients by Edel Williams

Cold Water Richard by  Scarsbrook

It’s the little things by Anne O’Leary

The Irish Mammy; Reworked by Maire Ryan

Carmine by Richard Newton

Pietá by Jonathan de Burca Butler

Minstry of the interior by Louise Kennedy

Close by Padraic Whyte

Our Golden Finery by Riona Judge Mc Cormack

The Roundabout by Catherine Donelly

The Cube by Fergal O’Byrne

Red flags and empty nans by Wendy White

Remember that summer by Lucy Welch

A Reunion by John Clinch

Hemlock 11 by Rory Endean

The Tether by Diarmuid O’Connell

Kathleen’s lit up sky by June Caldwell

Kissing tiny flowers by Sarah Grout

Saltwater by Rose Stevens

On an earth uniformly covered by the sea by Laura Morgan

A roman candle by Sophie Kelliher

Brad Pitt in the movie Thelma and Louise by Chris Connolly

Into the Darkness by Gina Wollerman

Nobody knows the shivering stars by Niamh Mac Cabe

A meal to remember by Michael Tennyson

Home by David Butler

John-John by Pauline Clooney

Breaking Eggs by Joe Mc Kiernan

Cry of the Gull by Lorna Cooper

Freedom by Tina Sweeney

Cruel woman by Elizabeth Mc Cullum – Ryan

Cut to the bone by Stephen Leach

A Dance With Time by Zandra Carrington

Skunk and Beastie by Holly Atkinson

Kicking the Habit by Clare O’Reilly

The best photo I never took by Tom O’Brien

The Anchor by Delia Mac Taggart

Dancing Turtle by Thomas Atkinson

The Burrow by Rosemary Hennigan

An Unexpected Visitor at Elbow Lake by Louise Mangos

The Latent Test by Liam Curtin

Jimmy by Robert Fields

Camping with Daddy by Michele Sheldon

A hand to hold Ayobami Adebayo

The last post by Valerie Ryan

Into the forest by Andrea Mara

They took to the sky by Chris Pritchard

Dad’s lost soul  by Lourdes Mackey

Rebirth by Anne Mc Loughlin

Anna’s picture by Mary O’Brien

Roundabouts and swings by Eleanor O’Reily

My Date with Nigella by Peter Kettle

Shrinking from Life by Catherine Talbot

Festival 2016: Author Talk – Historical Fiction

Our first session on Saturday 28th May, is with bestselling historical fiction author, Hazel Gaynor.

A limited number of early bird tickets are available, book your tickets for #WEXLITFEST here

Venue: Church Institute, Saturday 28th May, 9.00 – 10.00 am

Author Talk, Historical Fiction

With Hazel Gaynor 

One Foot In The Past: The challenges and joys of writing historical fiction set in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Hazel Gaynor is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME and A MEMORY OF VIOLETS. She was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015, was a spring 2015 WHSmith Fresh Talent pick and received the 2015 RNA Historical Romantic Novel of the Year award for THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME. As features writer for she has interviewed Philippa Gregory, Sebastian Faulks, Kate Mosse and Cheryl Strayed, among others. Hazel is a contributing author to WWI anthology FALL OF POPPIES. Her third novel, THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY, is published in June. Hazel lives in County Kildare with her husband and two children.



An invitation to our Press Launch for Festival2016




Wexford Literary Festival would like to invite you to our festival launch night, in The Enniscorthy Athenaeum, on 7th April, at 7.30pm. We are delighted to welcome Madeleine Keane to Wexford, to formally launch our festival. All are welcome and there will be a wine reception with a chance to meet some of our festival speakers.



Madeleine Keane was educated at UCD and Trinity. She worked in the editorial departments of Irish Tatler, Image Magazine and the publishing house Chatto & Windus before joining the Sunday Independent in 1988. She has been the Literary Editor of the Sunday Independent for the last 11 years and during that time co-founded the Irish Book Awards and curated two writers’ festivals in Dublin – Books ’08 and Books ‘09. 

 She also presented a books programme for RTE TV (‘First Edition’) and has written a non-fiction careers guide for teenagers (What Will I Be? Mercier Press 1995). She was a member of the steering committee for the successful Dublin City of Literature Unesco bid. She regularly writes about books, theatre and travel. She has broadcast on tv and radio (The View, Ryan Tubridy, Tonight with Vincent Browne, TV3 Ireland AM, 4FM) about books and publishing and presents at literary festivals and events (Dublin Book Festival, Dalkey Books Festival, The Irish Book Awards etc).

Our third annual literary festival will take place between 27th – 29th May, 2016,

The full programme will be released to the press at the launch on 7th April. We have worked hard over the past couple of years to promote Co. Wexford nationally as a place of literary excellence. Our aim has always been to both honour our existing literary greats and to support aspiring writers on their own creative paths.

The festival will include workshops and panel discussions with some of Ireland’s beloved bestselling authors and industry experts. We will also announce the winners of our Schools Book Trailer Award, The 1916 Poem for Enniscorthy and The Colm Toibin International Short Story Award. Full details of the lineup will be on Tickets are available to buy online now

Carmel Harrington curator of the Wexford Literary Festival, said: ‘We are excited and honoured that such talented speakers are coming to Co. Wexford. We have worked hard to ensure that our programme appeals to both writers and readers. Our festival has earned a reputation as one of the most friendly and fun events in the literary calendar, where all speakers are accessible. Ultimately, our festival is a celebration of books and writers and this year promises to be our best yet.’

Open Mike Friday 4th December Rescheduled …

We have decided to reschedule our event to February 5th, 2016.

We hope you will not be too disappointed and encourage you to go to Fusion Cafe, Wexford Friday 4th December 7.30pm for a local poetry reading evening with guest Mark Roper.

In 2016, Focal is encouraging all Wexfordians to explore their talent.

We will have TWO Venues as part of our Bi-monthly Open Mike Nites. A full year’s schedule and Venues are listed bellow:

05th Feb. 2016 – Wexford Art Centre
01st April 2016 – The Presentation Centre Enniscorthy
03rd June 2016 – Wexford Art Centre
05th August 2016 – The Presentation Centre Enniscorthy
07th October 2016 – Wexford Art Centre
02nd December 2016- The Presentation Centre Enniscorthy


Book Launch of Carmel Harrington’s Every Time A Bell Rings

Focal Wexford Literary Festival and Harper Collins Ireland are co-hosting the book launch of Carmel Harrington’s latest novel, Every Time A Bell Rings.


If you would like to attend, please email

Carmel Harrington is the bestselling and award winning Wexford author of Beyond Grace’s Rainbow and The Life You Left.

Every Time A Bell Rings will be on sale nationwide in all good bookshops from 19th November 2015

If you prefer to read on your eReader or kindle, you can download here

What the blurb says:

‘Beautiful and uplifting…Written with such heart it warms the soul’ – Claudia Carroll, bestselling author of ‘Meet Me in Manhattan’

‘A compelling, magical, festive cracker of a book’ – Alexandra Brown, bestselling author of ‘The Great Village Show’

Every Time A Bell Rings

An angel gets its wings…

Belle has taken all the Christmas decorations down. This year they won’t be celebrating.

As foster parents, Belle and Jim have given many children the chance of a happier start in life. They’ve loved them as if they were their own. They shouldn’t have favourites but little Lauren has touched their hearts. And now her mother is well enough to take her back and Belle can’t bear the loss.

Hence, Christmas is cancelled.

So when Jim crashes his car one icy December night, after an argument about Lauren, Belle can only blame herself. Everything she loves is lost. And Belle finds herself standing on The Ha’Penny Bridge wishing she had never been born.

But what happens to a Christmas wish when an angel is listening…

Will Belle realise, before it’s too late, that her life is the most wonderful life of all?

Inspired by the timeless tale of beloved Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, Carmel Harrington’s next book tells the story of Belle, a young woman and foster carer from Dublin who faces the hardest decision of her life this Christmas on The Ha’Penny Bridge.

Full of Irish charm, magic, and the warmth of the festive season this is an emotional, heartwarming story that will stay with you long after you’ve reached ‘The End’. Perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern & Jojo Moyes.

Carmel is the bestselling author of The Life You Left & Beyond Grace’s Rainbow, voted Romantic eBook of the Year 2013.

Guest Post – Carmel Harrington gives the inside scoop on what it’s like to be a Focal Committee Member

Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a literary festival?  Well, as a founding member of Focal, I reckon I’m the perfect person to give the inside scoop!

First and foremost, we’re quite young, with two festivals under our belts. So, as my dad is want to say, every day is a school day. Each event we’ve hosted we learn something new, take that away and make sure we do better the next time round.

We had a meeting last Saturday and we had so much to discuss. Focal started out as a literary festival, held once a year, but it’s evolved over the past forty-eight months. We now host a number of events throughout the year, but this means of course that our workload has quadrupled!

At our recent meeting, the agenda ran into two pages. We meet in the meeting room of Enniscorthy’s Library, with coffee and scones centre table. Look we’re Irish, we can’t go more than half an hour without a cuppa!

Maria Nolan is our secretary and she tries to keep us on track, with an agenda. But despite all of our best intentions, our meetings always at least two hours!

First of all, we look at recent events and ask ourselves some questions – what worked, what we could do better, should we do again.

Here’s some news for you, hot off the press. On Saturday we made a decision to make our Focal Has Talent Open Mic nights, a regular event, run bi-monthly. These nights, are perfect way for Focal to give a platform to aspiring writers and artists. Our next event will be on 4th December and we’ll be back with full news on that soon!

The subject of money always takes up a large chunk of our meeting. As a not-for-profit festival, we are always in need of funds. We are mindful of the fact, that most writers and artists are not earning millions – yet! So we try to keep our fees low, which means we have to be creative in ways to keep our costs down. It has been known, that committee members themselves dip into their own pockets to pay for events. For e.g. at our recent Thank Focal For Coffee fundraiser for The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, a number of the committee donated gifts for the raffle.

We also brainstormed ways to increase awareness about our charity anthology From Wexford With Love. We hope readers will consider buying this as a stocking filler for family and friends this Christmas. At only €10.00 it really is a beautiful gift for anyone with a love for travel, especially those with a Wexford connection. And do check out our Facebook page for details on our Around The World in 80 days Competition. There’s opportunities to win lots of beautiful artisan products from Wexford businesses.

We have a number of exciting events coming up – that I can’t tell you about yet! But what I can tell you, is that on 28th October, at the Brooklyn premiere in Enniscorthy, an announcement will be made.

Lastly, we had a look at book launches that are coming up, discussing how we can support by attending. We also host a number of launches for local writers too. We have two coming up. The first for Cathy Keane, who has compiled a stunning photo book of images she captured during the filming of Brooklyn in Enniscorthy. Details of her book launch will be advised shortly. It promises to be a fun, 50’s inspired launch. Focal are also co-hosting the paperback launch of my novel Every Time A Bell Rings, again, I’ll be sharing details of that shortly, but it promises to be magical.

There’s lots of laughter in our meetings too, its not all work. And the fact that we are so diverse means that we have different perspectives to contribute to the meeting. And thank goodness for that.

Our committee members are

Jarlath Glynn, Chairman, Maria Nolan, Secretary, Richie Cotter, Treasurer, Roger Harrington, PRO, Carmel Harrington, Caroline Busher, Anne Gilpin, Brian Byrne, Cat Hogan, Paul O’Reilly & Cathy Keane.

From a personal perspective, I am so happy that on a wet rainy night in Enniscorthy Library, Maria Nolan came to hear me speak about my first novel. We chatted, we clicked and before the end of the night, she had talked me into joining Focal. And it has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’ve made wonderful friendships and as a result of my role in Focal, have met many interesting and talented artists. I can’t wait to see where the next 12 months brings us.


About Carmel Harrington

Carmel is published by the prestigious HarperCollins publishing house, represented by Trace Literary Agency. Her first two novels – Beyond Grace’s Rainbow & The Life You Left were bestsellers and she has won several international awards, including Romantic eBook of 2013 and Kindle Book of Year 2013. Her third novel, ‘Every Time A Bell Rings’, inspired by the beloved Christmas movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, published in eBook format 15th October 2015 then in paperback 19th November 2015. Carmel writes emotional family dramas and they share one common theme – strong characters who find themselves in extraordinary situations. She loves to dig deep and see how they cope, as they grapple with life-changing moments.

Carmel is one of the panelists on TV3’s Midday Show and a regular on both national and local radio stations. A popular freelance writer, she has written features for The Irish Independent, The Daily Mail, The Evening Herald & Woman’s Way and USA’s acclaimed online blog, Mothering In The Middle. Carmel is also a motivational keynote speaker and has given talks at events in Ireland, UK and US.

Living with her husband Roger and young children Amelia and Nate in a small coastal village in Wexford, she credits the idyllic setting as a constant source of inspiration. Follow Carmel on Twitter @HappyMrsH, or become friends with Carmel on Facebook/happymrsh. For more information on Carmel’s books see

Competition Time – Around the world in 80 days

*Competition Time……..And so it begins! Around the World in 80 Days…………



Head over to our Facebook page to join in all the fun. There will be lots of fantastic prizes up for grabs!


And no matter where you live, you can get involved!

‘From Wexford with Love’ is a collection of travel stories, from some of Wexford’s best known and well loved personalities. Published by Focal Literary Festival, all the proceeds from the sale of the book go directly to the Alzheimer’s Society.
Now we want to see how far the book can travel!

To enter the competition, all you have to do is post a picture to our page (once you have liked it) of you with a copy of the book .You order- we will cover post and packaging to anywhere in the world. It’s a lovely gift idea for those who are away from home. From Enniscorthy Bridge, to the Golden Gate bridge, get those pics coming into us. We have details of flash competitions, and the overall prize coming next.

To purchase a copy, drop us an email at or call into one of the local bookshops in Wexford to purchase. 

The Book Centre and Byrnes Bookstores are both supporting us in our endeavours to raise money for this amazing charity.