FERDIA Mac Anna has been Writer-in Residence at Dundalk Institute of Technology since last November.
His residency is now coming to an end. It has been a great success and will finish in what is sure to be one of the best arts events the town has ever seen: the first ever Dundalk Book Festival.
On the way he brought together 33 local writers who recently published some of their work in a book called No Bother.
Ferdia Mac Anna is an accomplished writer. He has written scripts, novels, and produced and directed for television.
He has edited the Penguin Book of Irish Comic Writing. His plays include The Last of Johnny Synge and Big Mom. Screenplays include The Ghost of Graine O Malley, Hamlet and his Brothers and Romeo on his Owneo.
He has also published a memoir, the story of his encounter with cancer, and an account of his time as rock star Rocky Devalera who played with the Gravediggers.
This guy’s larger than life.
Dundalk has of course a special meaning for him. This is the town his father came from. Tomas Mac Anna was twice artistic Director of the Abbey Theatre and was at the helm when the new Abbey Theatre opened in 1966 and in the 1980’s he led the company on its famous tour of the USSR.
The idea of bringing a writer-in residence to the college campus came from DkIT chief librarian Ann Cleary.
Ferdia worked with a total of 46 writers in workshops held each week and No Bother is testimony to the fact that they wrote and wrote well.
“We covered everything,” said Ferdia. “Poetry, fiction, memoirs. We had a really good launch and 10 writers read from their work.
“We also had performance poetry. It was terrific. Sean Crudden contributed a diary he has been working on, so we had everything.
“People put a lot of energy and care into their work and it was as good as anything to be found at any writing workshop.”
Ferdia also worked with Dundalk Youth Drama, the schools, and the County Library which is now linked up with DkIT library.
And of course he met many people who knew – or said they knew – his father.
The experience has also created the idea that some day he might publish some of his late father’s work.
“He kept diaries and memoirs,” said Ferdia, “and I have spoken to Dun Dealgan Press about them.”
Part of Ferdia’s brief as writer-in-residence was to organise Dundalk’s first book festival which will be held on Friday 26 April and Saturday 27 April.
It will be launched by Peter Sheridan at the Whitaker Theatre at DkIT.
SEE Page 27.