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Airwaves and marine molluscs at Rolling Sun


Áine Ryan

THE doyenne of RTÉ’s newsroom, Anne Doyle, may have disappeared from our screens for some time now but the inimitable news anchor will neither be in ghostly or ghoulish form when she appears at the launch of this year’s Rolling Sun Book Festival, over the weekend of November 4 next. Now in its seventh incarnation, this annual boutique gathering during the dark  days of Samhain – when the veil between the real and the imagined shivers delicately–  is an essential and distinctive component of Westport’s busy festival programme. This year’s line-up includes, Ms Doyle, who will officiate at the launch shenanigans in the Clew Bay Hotel on Friday evening, November 4, alongside historian, Donal Fallon, biographer of Major John MacBride and a member of the famous Dublin ‘Come Here to Me' blog. Retired from RTÉ since 2011, poetry lover, Anne Doyle will share her love of books and, undoubtedly, some of her sharp wit and humour, at the informal gathering.  
As is the norm, the festivities on Friday evening will be made musical with the acappella songsters, Coda while food and fare will have a maritime flavour.

Couch surfing
‘CONVERSATIONS on the Couch’ has become part of the hallmark of this festival’s lively intimacy. This year Westport native, Clare Grady, the former Editor of the Irish Independent, will chat to Deirdre Purcell and Ann O’Loughlin exploring the theme ‘From journalist to novelist’. This event will be held on Saturday afternoon at 3.15pm in the Clew Bay Hotel also.
Originally from County Clare, journalist, Ann O’Loughlin spent most of her 30-year career with Independent Newspapers, where she was Security Correspondent and a senior journalist on the Irish Independent and Evening Herald. She currently works as a senior journalist with the Irish Examiner covering legal issues. Her debut novel, ‘The Ballroom Café’ was  an Irish bestseller  just three months after publication in June 2015 while her second novel ‘The Judge’s Wife’ was published in Ireland and the UK in July of this year and is now in the Irish Top Ten bestsellers.
Award-winning journalist, Deirdre Purcell, has published twelve critically acclaimed novels, most recently The Winter Gathering and The Husband, all of which have been bestsellers in Ireland. While a Dublin native, Ms Purcell was educated in the inner city and at boarding school in Crossmolina, Co Mayo.
Like her former colleague, Anne Doyle, her busy career included a time as anchor of  RTÉ’s Nine O’Clock News. Purcell’s latest novel, ‘The Husband’ was published in September 2016.

Mariner’s narrative
EARLIER on Saturday afternoon, local author and mariner, Alex Blackwell, will host a seminar on ‘Self-Publishing for Success’ in the Seán Staunton room of the Town Hall Theatre (2pm). A self-publisher and copywriter, Alex Blackwell has written about his sailing adventures, as well as  two novels and a cook book on oysters. (See Later on Saturday afternoon, Angie Coady’s debut novel ‘The Bumblebee Key’ will be launched in Séamus Duffy’s Bookshop at 5.30pm.
Playwright, novelist and poet, Sebastian Barry has been nominated for the prestigious Booker Prize twice and is the recipient of the Costa Award. On Saturday night he will read from his newly published book, ‘Days Without End’ and talk about his career as a writer in the Plaza Hotel,.
This year’s fringe event will be the launch, by Ger Reidy, of Terry McDonagh’s book of poetry, ‘Lady Cassie Peregrina’. It will be held on Thursday, November 3 at the Custom House Studios at 6.30pm. Kiltimagh native, McDonagh is a poet, translator and dramatist, whose work is included in  the Gill & MacMillan poetry anthology for young people 2016.
The 2016 festival will conclude in the Town Hall Theatre on Sunday night, November 6, with wildlife cameraman Doug Allan. The evening will encompass a reading from his new book, ‘In the Company of Giants’ and documentary film footage, followed by a Q&A session. With this paean from Sir David Attenborough – “Wildlife cameramen don’t come much more special than Doug.” – it is bound to be a thrilling event.

See next week’s Living for an interview with Sebastian Barry.