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PI News Roundup: Heaney Remembered; Grammar Takes Hold and Stinging Fly Brings Back Davy Byrnes Award

This week in Irish publishing has been unsurprisingly dominated by the funeral of Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney. The service took place on Monday at the Sacred Heart Church in Donnybrook and was broadcast live by RTE.

Despite having been broadcast live, the service itself was a deeply intimate one with every event tailored to the memory of a humble and thoughtful poet and reflected a fitting tribute to a man of both local and international acclaim. The morning was punctuated with emotive music performed by long-time friend and collaborator of Heaney’s Liam O’Flynn as well as moving speeches from Msgr Brendan Devlin who remarked that Seamus would have been pleased to have his funeral mass celebrated in ‘a northern accent’.

Another towering figure of poetry and friend of Heaney Paul Muldoon also gave a touching and deeply personal eulogy, reflecting that Heaney had ‘a signal ability to make each of us feel connected not only to him but to one another’. During the many touches of humour, Muldoon also added that he is one of the few people who can genuinely say that he was once ‘shoulder-charged’ by the Nobel Laureate, referring  to a game of football once played among the poet, his children and himself. The full text of Muldoon’s eulogy can be found on the New Yorker website via

Publishing Ireland would like to once again express its deepest sympathy to his wife Marie, his daughter Catherine Ann and two sons Michael and Christopher. He has always been a great support to us and will be deeply missed.

 Davy Byrnes Award

More good news for the short story as the Stinging Fly Press announces the return of the Davy Byrnes Short Story Award after it was last held in 2009, which wasjudged by Richard Ford. The 2009 competition was won by Claire Keegan, whose story ‘Foster’ was subsequently published in The New Yorker and in book form by Faber and Faber. This year’s prize is no less ambitious in the company it keeps as the 2014 award will be judged by Booker Prize winner Anne Enright, Impac Winner Jon McGregor and Yi Yun Li winner of the Guardian First Book Award. The short story as a genre has enjoyed much success of late as is reflected in the recent collections brought out by the likes of Kevin Barry and Mary Costello- both who which owe their discovery to the Stinging Fly. It is a timely award which underlines a growing taste for the form.


Sponsored by Redmond Doran on behalf of Davy Byrnes, it is a fitting partnership given the pub’s status as a literary landmark. Davy Byrnes was first mentioned by James Joyce in Dubliners; however, it was Ulysses that made the pub famous, as it is visited by Leopold Bloom in the “Lestrygonians” chapter. Bloom meets his friend Nosey Flynn there and partakes of a “gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of Burgundy.”

Further information on the prize and entries can be found on

Further Information from Peter O’Connell Ph: + 353 (0)87 681 4499



The Language Scalpel and Dublin Book Festival

More attendees have come in this week for our upcoming seminar on Grammar with Fergal Tobin on Friday 27 September, giving us the idea that we may need, for want of  a better phrase ‘a bigger boat’. For more information on what will undoubtedly be a master class, go to

We are also nailing down our plans for the ever-popular trade day as part of the Dublin Book Festival, which will take place on Friday, 15 November.  We at the towers have been busily climbing inside the brains of Irish publishers to see what they want most from the day and already have some very exciting international speakers being confirmed on the bill so keep your eyes peeled over the next week or so as we announce more details!

Launches and Other Happenings

Last night saw the launch of Storymap City of Words in the aptly chosen venue of James Joyce House on Ushers Island during which musical & spoken word performances took place. Mountains to Sea has also been going strong with packed audiences and events and Justin Quinn’s book Mount Merrion was launched in Hodges Figgis on Dawson St.

Culture Ireland have also put a call out to Irish publishers intending to head to Frankfurt this year inviting them to apply for travel grants. The deadline for submissions is on Monday, 5pm on Monday, 9 September so if you haven’t yet applied, now is the time to get your skates on! For more information on who to send it to, go to


Beyond the Shore: International Publishing News

Good news for the ever-expanding Bloomsbury UK as it announced its  purchase of legal publisher Hart Publishing for £6.5m as part of its strategy to increase its academic and professional revenues to 50% of its total sales in five years’ time.

Moving onto the somewhat controversial Waterstones ‘restructure’ as it continues toward completion,  new managers have been hired into the bookshop manager position after having seen 200 of 487 managers leaving their posts.  Waterstones chief James Daunt is quoted in the Bookseller Magazine as having said that in no way did they ‘celebrate their [the managers’] parting’ but that it was ‘an inevitable consequence of this process to give that opportunity to booksellers coming through, some of whom are extremely capable.”  To read the full article, including opposing remarks made by James Heneage, go to

The upcoming launch of the massive M & C Saatchi Books Are My Bag campaign is being hailed as a ‘sea of orange’ waiting to happen on Saturday, 14 September as bookshops across Ireland and the UK open their doors- bags in hand to promote books and reading. If you fancy celebrating this in Ireland, you should head over the Gutter Bookshop (   where Bob will be waiting! For more on the campaign, go to

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