Tag Archives: Focal

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 happymrsh@yahoo.ie

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 www.carmelharrington.com

Writer Jillian Godsil shares her thoughts on Focal’s Open Mic Night!


Presentation Arts Centre in Enniscorthy is the most perfect building. An old convent, the conversion to secular building retains the stained glass windows and ornate carved wooden beams arching overhead. When one walks into the hall it is breath-taking, literally, in its beauty. And, as with all ecclesiastical architecture, the acoustics are impeccable. This was the venue for the ‘Open Mic’ run by the Wexford Focal Literary Group and I had been very kindly invited to read. It was my first public reading (unless one counts a reading at EroticaUK of a slightly different nature) and I was relaxed as a newbie on their opening night which is not very much at all. Still a glass of red wine and a lovely welcome from guests already assembled soon calmed those incipient nerves.

I had another practical reason to feel nervous. My youngest child had just begun college in Dublin and had, it seemed, emptied her bedroom lock stock and barrel to her digs in Dublin. The tidy bed at home did not look lived in, at least not the way it was normally strewn with clothes, books and electronic devices. She had taken other items from around the house, in a weekly drip drip loss of goods. On the last return to Dublin the printer had been the official casualty and now resided snug in her new digs. As a result I had to ring her and ask her to print out my reading. I am pleased to say my daughter has become parsimonious in her new student life to the extent that she managed to fit my 2000 or so words onto just three pages by using tiny fonts and carefully printing on both sides.  I was less pleased that I would now have to read the tiny text on stage and had resorted to digging out a pair of random reading glasses – the thick, cheap kind you find at shop tills – with which to tackle my work.

I was up first which was, like the curate’s egg, good and bad in parts. I was glad to kick off the evening but I was also uncertain how to behave. I opted for standing at the mic rather than sitting as I was wearing my brand new shoes. They were bright red in colour and never worn before. I had driven the forty minutes to Enniscorthy in them so that they were settled in but I think I miscalculated. By two hours they were killing me with a passion. I reckon I should have waited until I arrived before wearing the murderous duo.  I am familiar with the term ‘car to bar’ shoes but I am not sure how I managed to buy a ‘killer heels’ with the emphasis on killer.

The second thing that happened to me was on stage, mid reading. I was reaching a part of my narrative which talked about the bonehead banks and how they were responsible for my being bankrupt. I had received an offer on my house but they refused consent to sell, preferring to repossess my home and sell it for a tenth of the price. The escalating results were catastrophic and while they certainly resulted in the loss of my home, my income, my business, my belongs – they almost certainly resulted in the loss of my life. I know this part of my story, I have written and told it before, but as I reached these lines I found emotions wellsprung in me and I faltered, my voice broke and I almost cried and pulled up in my reading. But I found the courage and the voice to continue. I got through my emotion and carried on reading.  What was funny was afterwards I spoke with another writer and she complimented me on my reading but it transpired she thought I had cried for effect. I am not sure whether this is a compliment or not.

Finally, yet another writer and speaker told me she had gone bankrupt too – at the early age of 21 in Australia. Afterwards I pondered was it better to go bankrupt early or late. I thought about this for a bit but I reckon early is better – it gives more time to recover, less hurt to be felt and less loss to be suffered. Young people know there are invulnerable, older folks are less sure.

Until the next time …

Guest Post from author Joan Brady who shares her thoughts on Focal – Wexford Literary Festival

I’ve been writing forever but I got serious about it five years ago when I took a course at the Irish Writers Centre called Finish your Book. That’s where I met my writing buddies, Carolann Copland, author of ‘Summer Triangle’ and ‘Scarred’, award-winning blogger and novelist Tara Sparling and writer and editor Bernadette Kearns. With these three cheerleaders at my back I finally achieved what I had been threatening to do for years – I finished my book! (For the record Carolann finished two books, Tara finished three and Bernadette finished hers as well as launching her Book Nanny business. No slouches in our little writing group!) Keen to take my writing to the next level, I had Wexford based editor Mary McCauley edit and proof-read my novel The Cinderella Reflex and it was she who phoned me back in 2014 to tell me about the first Focal literary festival. She rightly thought I’d be interested in the Date with an Agent slot. This was a fun event where, for a ten-euro donation to charity, you could pitch your work to US-based agent Tracy Brennan who represents best selling author Carmel Harrington and fiction writer Caroline Busher. I can still remember the creative buzz of that weekend, listening to writers talking about their work and going to the launch of Carmel Harrington’s The Life You Left in the stunning setting of Enniscorthy Castle. It was so well organised it was hard to believe it was the first year of the festival and I went home full of renewed enthusiasm for my writing. If that had been all I’d got from that weekend, it might have been enough for me. But there was more to come. Soon after, Tracy Brennan asked to read the full manuscript of The Cinderella Reflex. By November, she’d said she loved the book and agreed to represent me. Fast forward to this year’s Focal, and I was there meeting Tracy and Carmel again and enjoying the great line up of writers who were speaking, including Rachael English of Morning Ireland fame and an old colleague of mine, Claudia Carroll, crime writer Louise Phillips and of course Carmel Harrington. I remember thinking, so this year I have an agent, maybe by the next Focal festival I might have my book in my hand? And soon after that Tracy told me the exciting news that Poolbeg wanted to publish The Cinderella Reflex (written for all women who think they’re independent but still harbour a secret wish that Prince Charming will rescue them some day). Since then I’ve signed a two-book deal with Poolbeg – The Cinderella Reflex is due to be published for Valentine’s Day 2016 and my second book, which I’m currently writing – name to be announced! So to say the Focal literary festival has been lucky for me would be an understatement. It’s brought me on an exciting new adventure and I’m already looking forward to the next one.

Open Mic Night! The stage can be yours …



One of the successes of the recent Literary Festival was our “open mic” night so were having another one!. This gives an opportunity for anyone to come along and get a 10 minute slot to perform a piece of your choice. It could be a poem, song, prose, play, sketch, variety acts, everyone is welcome. The open mic night gives an opportunity and an outlet for people to perform and showcase either their own work or indeed the work of someone they admire.

Hosted again by bestselling author Carmel Harrington and writer Caroline Busher, it’s a night that cannot be missed!
Admission is €5.00 and drinks will be available to buy on the night.

Slots still available, so don’t delay, send an email to carolinebusher@hotmail.com immediately.


Focal – Wexford Literary Festival on Irish TV!

We were delighted when Sharon Clancy and the Irish TV crew turned up to our Literary Festival last weekend.

They filmed our Publishing Experts panel discussion with Gavin Hatch (Head of Books, Easons), Tracy Brennan (Trace Literary Agency) and Sue Conley (Books Editor Evening Herald & Author).

Also interviewed was Jarlath Glynn our eloquent chairman, Tracy Brennan, Literary Agent and author Carmel Harrington.

If you would like to watch, set your sky planner to Irish Tv on SKY191 Sunday at 6.30pm.

You can also watch online here too and we promise to share a link to the programme afterwards.




Focal Raffle winners are…

Congratulations goes to first drawn winner, Catherine Hourican. It was wonderful that Catherine had just “popped” in to Robbies to support the morning tea and purchased the winning line! It was also lovely to hear that she so loves Christmas in Enniscorthy that, even though now living in Co, Kildare, she came with her family to shop for Xmas!


Local Cathy Keane was the second drawn, who bought her winning line at the same morning tea.

Mary McManus, our third raffle winner, purchased her lucky line at Byrnes Bookstores.

Our smaller day draw prize winners in order drawn were Joe Neal, Maria Nolan, and Jennings Opticians.

Thank you all for your support. We wish you all a Happy Christmas and a Focal New Year!

Focal Xmas Morning Tea Raffle Prizes

Joe Neal’s “Poetry in Blue”

You are invited to hear one of Wexford’s great living poets, Joe Neal, read on Thursday 11 December, 7.30pm. Focal were thrilled when Joe was involved in our 2013 and 2014 Literary Festivals. It will be a very pleasant atmosphere in the Norman built Enniscorthy Castle. As Edmund Spencer once owned the Castle, one will be able to imagine how much poetry those walls have heard!

"Poetry in Blue" by Joe Neal
“Poetry in Blue” by Joe Neal