Success – What does it mean to you?

As a writer, there can be personal success and public success. Personal success could be mean creating something and getting a feeling of achievement when you finish it. It could be self-publishing a book and seeing the finished product for sale. This is where personal success crosses over into public success. To see a child read and enjoy one of my children’s books gives me a great deal of personal satisfaction. Good reviews from people I don’t know personally, and especially good reviews from my writing peers means personal and public success to me.

To be printed by a traditional publisher would make me feel like ‘a real writer’ and would give me public recognition that I am a ‘professional’. If I made money while enjoying writing books that would be a great thing, but it is not my main motivation to write.

Personal success for a writer would be to love what he is writing and to write out of the joy of his heart. He feels that he couldn’t live without writing and, because of that belief, he actually writes, not just thinks about doing it someday – Sierra Close,thinks%20about%20doing%20it%20someday.

Successful Moments

At the book launch of my first children’s book, ‘Rory Gumboots’, at Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre, Ardagh, Co. Longford. A successful moment for me.
My second cousin’s grand-daughter, Emmaline Lecroy, who lives in the USA, four years ago. She was very proud to talk about her family and share her books with her classmates on Dr. Seuss’s birthday. She wanted to dress as Jacques from my book, ‘Hattie and Jacques Love London’. I was very touched by this.

This quote from my friend’s grandson made me feel very successful.

It was that good that I didn’t want it to end. So I stopped in the middle and went back to the beginning – 11 year old, Karl Adam – about my book, ‘Frances Darwin Investigates’.


Well over a year ago, I was admiring the photographs taken by my friend, Margaret O’Driscoll. They were beautiful pictures of wild flowers and trees from around her home in West Cork. They gave me an idea: wouldn’t it be lovely to write poems about wild flowers and trees? Poems for children, but which adults could enjoy as well. As I started to write, I remembered reading books about flower fairies when I was young. I knew the ideal person to do illustrations of flower fairies to accompany the poems, my sister, Angela Corkery, who from her youth has been a brilliant artist. When Margaret, Angela and I met to discuss the project, one could feel the creative magic in the air. This cemented the relationship between us.

The magical meeting of creative minds: Eileen Moynihan, Margaret O’Driscoll, and Angela Corkery Bickley

I researched each poem I wrote to give a bit of the background and history of each plant. Angela read each poem, taking elements from them, along with her own research, to shape her artwork. Thanks also to Rose Moran who contributed to the editing of the poetry. Her deep knowledge was much appreciated. She is also a friend and a member of Longford Writers Group.

One of the illustrations my sister, Angela Corkery Bickley painted
Poet, Rose Moran who helped with editing my poems. Photo by Sally Martin

We then thought about a cover and I asked my friend, Dan Flynn, if he would be willing to try, as he has done a few covers for books prepared by members of the Longford Writers Group, of which we are both members. He agreed on the understanding his work was accepted as a contribution to the project. Another friend and member of the group, Sally Martin, photographed Dan’s cover design to prepare it for printing.

Book cover art – Dan Flynn. Photo by Sally Martin
Sally Martin who photographed Dan Flynn’s art for the cover.

This has been a collaboration of love for what we do and an appreciation of the concept of the book: seek wonder in the world around you.


A Posy of Wild Flowers is out now!

To buy in the USA or the rest of the world

To buy in the UK or Ireland

What a corker!-y: the collection of the Rev. Seán Corkery of Maynooth

This is about my uncle, Fr John Corkery.

MU Library Treasures

by Yvette Campbell, Assistant Librarian, Russell Library Cataloguing Project

Fr John Corkery Fr. Seán Ó Corcora

Father Seán [John] Corkery was a graduate of St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth and held a BSc and an MA. His appointment to the post of Librarian to St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth from 1951-1973 afforded him the opportunity of bringing a professional approach to the organisation and development of the library and its collections. In developing these collections in line with the challenges posed by the introduction of lay students in 1966, he worked long hours and sought the collegial support of professional librarians in Ireland.

On a personal level, Corkery was a bibliophile at heart, a collector of books and pictures. In a professional context, he was an authority on the rare items within the Maynooth College collections. His passion for this is evidenced in his many publications.

Corkery was a priest of the diocese of Ardagh…

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Mick Murphy: A Legend in Longford, and throughout Ireland.

When my good friend, Lalin Swaris, asked me to write a piece on, Mick Murphy, I personally didn’t know the man as I am only a ‘blow-in’; therefore I had to do a bit of research and ask other people. What became clear as I learnt more about Mick Murphy was that he is a family man, a volunteer who likes to help in the community, he loves basketball, and that he is loved and respected by all.

Mick Murphy

I contacted Longford Falcons Basketball Club for some background into the history of Mick’s involvement with the sport of basketball in the local community. This is what they told me.

‘Mick Murphy, is known locally as Longford’s Mr Basketball! He is a proud Kerry man who introduced basketball to Longford in 1973/1974. He is the founder of, Longford Falcons Basketball club and the hugely successful, Longford Basketball Academy.  The club was known as Longford Juvenile BBC back then with the first club teams being Boys / Girls U16. Since then and every Saturday morning the club runs a very successful Academy programme.  Mick has coached thousands of kids down through the years, many of whom have represented Ireland and even played professionally. He is one of the most successful basketball coaches in Ireland. Mick has achieved All Ireland success from Community Games level with, St. Mel’s College, where he was head coach for over 20 years to Senior National League level with Falcons. He has also been involved with Irish national teams. Mick is an international basketball referee who is highly regarded as one of the best in the country. He is also the founder of one of the biggest national schools’ basketball competitions in Ireland where hundreds of kids compete in Longford every year. Mick is a genuinely passionate sports coach who has always cared for every player both on and off the court. He has been recognised for his contribution by numerous individual sports awards and Longford Person of the Year awards. He was inducted into Longford Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 for his contribution to sport in Longford. The award was presented to him by, Paul McGrath. Mick Murphy, is a living legend!’

Photo by Lalin Swaris
Mick Murphy being inducted into, Longford Sports Hall of Fame in 2012 for his contribution to sport in Longford. The award was presented to him by, Paul McGrath.

So what was Mick Murphy like as a coach and a referee? Well, here are a few fond recollections from people who knew/ know him well.

‘I first met Mick about 1980. I was playing National League with Ballina Basketball Club and Mick was a referee in the league. He was a very good one, always willing to talk to the players and explain his call, unlike some other refs!!

Then when I started coaching, Westaro Castlebar, Mick was still reffing all over the country. I was always willing to dispute a call with him, as a coach now, and him me, without him calling the dreaded technical foul on the coach! We have been friends for years. As well as coaching, Mick has been busy coaching underage basketball in Longford along with his son, another great friend, Mick Junior! He was always available to play friendlies and running tournaments.

His wife, Marian, was also involved in basketball, making tea, making us all welcome.

In my estimation, Mick is one of the nicest people I have ever met in basketball circles, a true gentleman, and someday will be inducted into the Basketball Ireland Hall Of Fame which he more than well deserves, for his hard work and commitment to the game of basketball.’ – Patrick Terence Kennedy

‘I have known Mick through basketball over the years through club basketball and my time as an administrator in Basketball Ireland, I always found him to be a great enthusiast for the game and the players in the club. Now as a taxi driver in Dublin when you get chatting to customers from Longford and basketball gets mentioned, they speak highly of him and his legacy in the community.’ – Jerome Howe

‘I always loved going to referee in the Mall in Longford. There was just something special about that gym was there. I got to referee with this guy for the first time and many many times afterwards all over the country; a fantastic referee, true gentleman and a great friend.’ – John Folan

‘Legend! He coached me as a kid, a teenager and an adult; then I coached with him U14/16/18 senior men, women, national league etc.  It was all voluntary.’ – Alan Moore

So to sum up… who is Mick Murphy the man?

‘Mick is a great basketball man and very much into his community, a great working man for everyone and a family man. He is always doing good for everyone and big into the youth.’ – Bill McIntyre

‘Legend! Two fine sons too.’ – Kevin Rooney

‘What a gent! Always smiling.’ – Patrick Kiely

‘I can tell you Mick is one of the best.’ – Peggy Nolan

An Interview with Ozzie Joe Annan – a design, illustration, animation and branding specialist

Ozzie Joe Annan

1. Where are you from and what has been your career path so far?

From the beautiful south coast of New South Wales in Australia.

2. When did you become interested in art and illustrating?

From the young age of 7. I started copying my mom’s paintings and compared it to her work and thought it looked pretty good, so I kept drawing and illustrating. I filled most of my school books with drawings, (the back pages only of course).

33. What areas of art/ illustrating are you interested in at the moment?

I am interested in all forms of art and illustrations, from the old masters in art to street art, digital art to illustrations. I appreciate the processes and styles of all creatives and draw inspiration from them which then transpires to my own work.

Artwork by Ozzie Joe
Artwork by Ozzie Joe
Artwork by Ozzie Joe

4. Have you other hobbies and interests?

I have many other hobbies and interests outside the creative realm, including sports; golf, cricket, soccer and tennis. I am a spectator as well as a competitor in these sports. Reading, politics and world affairs also occupy my mind. In terms of leisure, walking and exercising also fill in the rest of my time when not pursuing my creative interests.

5. You and I have been involved in a joint project. Tell me how that evolved and about the Hattons.

I stumbled across Eileen when i was scouring the internet for collaborations with writers and creatives to pursue my pet book kid’s collection called THE HATTONS – Folks who wear different hats for different roles. After observing and seeing Eileen’s talent and passion for books and writing them this paved the way to our interesting friendship. Our shared interests naturally put us on a course to co-writing and illustrating the second book of the Hattons called The Missing Crowns, The Princess In Waiting being the first book by Ozzie Joe.

Illustration by Ozzie Joe Annan from the joint book project with me.
Link to the ebook on Amazon.Com
Link to the ebook on

6. How would you like to see this partnership develop?

My hope is to be able to write many more books together with Eileen, as I have many more stories to share and tell.

7. What are your dreams or ambitions for the future?

The dream is to create a series of books for the Hattons collection and gaining enough traction to become a kid’s favourite for generations to come and be picked up for licensing so that eventually toys, books and other merchandises created. There are enough great stories and characters for this to be adapted into short animations and toys that I think in time The Hattons will inevtiably be licensed.

Here are some Facebook links for Ozzie Joe

The Glory of Gardens

A small garden is worth more to its owner than an entire forest.

― Matshona Dhliwayo

Now, I know forests are important and that many gardeners would love forests, but there is no getting away from the fact that there is great personal satisfaction from tending and relaxing in your own garden, no matter how small.

My Garden Is My Sanctuary

As I look out to my garden
I feel a sense of pride
It really is a lovely room
Except it is outside.

Where lovely things mix and match
And greenery fills the walls
The sound of trickling water
Coming from the gold fish pond.

I love the sight of stones and rocks
And driftwood and tree ferns too
The sounds of all my chimes
I know you would like it too.

With pride I walk around my garden
And savour each scent and smell
Colours of yellow, red and gold
Striped cushion on a bench.

The bird bath has its own domain
It’s placed beside a wooden arch
Where all the birds come to bathe
And drink when they are parched.

Ladybirds can hide away
Sometimes they come out to see
What’s happening around them
With caterpillars and the bees.

There’s not much more that I can say
Except if you have your own
It won’t take long to build it up
Seeds will bloom once they are sown.

– Marie Church

A photo of my garden
A photo of my garden

Gardens can be healing places when we are feeling stressed. We can just sit and relax in them or get lost in weeding and planting, which I am convinced is a definite form of ‘mindfulness’.

‘Immersing oneself in nature is good, and the act of gardening goes one step further. The physical activity and sense of accomplishment are huge benefits to human health. In addition, the great thing about plants is that they respond to human care in a non-threatening way and plants don’t discriminate. Cultivating a plant or entire garden can be a huge boost to self-esteem.

Gardening can transcend social problems. No matter your race or social status, a love for plants can bring people together. Several researchers and projects have shown gardening to promote positive social interaction.

Spirituality varies from person to person, but nature often plays a role. Being within a healing garden creates a sense of peace and connectedness to oneself, others, and perhaps things greater than us.’ Christopher Enroth

The healing power of a garden

There is something about putting your hands into earth that is grounding and connects you to nature and gives you a sense of being part of the universe. There is something for the gardener to do all year round; they observe the changing of the seasons and the beauty in each part of the cycle which reflects our own lives upon this earth.

Pulling Onions

A callused palm and dirty fingernails precede a Green Thumb.
Wishes are like seeds, few ever develop into something.
Sitting in a garden and doing nothing is high art everywhere.
Beauty is the Mistress, the gardener Her slave.
Complexity is closer to the truth.
When all the chores are done, the avid gardener will invent some new ones.
Where are the fig blossoms?  Exceptions to every rule.
Only two percent of all insects are harmful.  Why are they all in my garden?
The joyful gardener is evidence of an incarnation.
As with most arts, gardening is an expression of our hands.
To dig is to discover.
The ten thousand things are more enchanting than the Silent One.
To lift the mind, move the body.
Gardening is a slower path to a richer sensuality.
To garden is to open your heart to the sky.
The road to flourishing needs regular maintenance and repairs.
The present is merely a fleeting moment; we actually unearth our essence in our past and create ourselves in the future.
Having a poor memory helps a great deal in finding happiness.
A garden is a feeling.
Absolutes squirm beneath realities.
Your never too old to embrace a stupid idea.
The end of the garden is at the end of a hose.
A gardener loves the rain; also, for the resting time it brings.
In general, be more specific.
The Laws of Gardening are mostly local ordinances.
Sitting in a garden and doing nothing is high art everywhere.
Gardening is but one battle against Chaos.”
–  Michael P. Garofalo

Granny Bonnets in my garden
Cowslips in my garden

Gardens mean different things to different people. Here are some quotes from people I know…

Maggi Mckenna: ‘A riot of colour contrasted by the calming nature of a grey Buddha in a Zen Den.’

Sally Martin: ‘Chirping birds, nature, peace, adventure and play and a place for family gatherings.’

Dan Flynn: ‘I don’t think I believe in nature, but I do seek a compromise of the possible and the desirable. Its definitely not a place that is a projection of my control. I want harmony.’

Ann Gerety Smyth: ‘My garden evolves with me and as my family grows. At first we wanted a large lawn for them to play, now it is ever so slowly changing into a forest garden of food giving trees and plants wildlife, meadow and mystery.’

Angela Bickley: ‘Total absorption! It’s good for body and soul.’

I am going to leave you with some quotes from two of my favourite books as a child. From ‘Tom’s Midnight Garden’ by Phillipa Pearce…

Tom opened the door wide and let in the moonlight. It flooded in, as bright as daylight—the white daylight that comes before the full rising of the sun. The illumination was perfect, but Tom did not at once turn to see what it showed him of the clock-face. Instead he took a step forward onto the doorstep. He was staring, at first in surprise, then with indignation, at what he saw outside. That they should have deceived him—lied to him—like this! They had said, ‘It’s not worth your while going out at the back, Tom.’ So carelessly they had described it: ‘A sort of backyard, very poky, with rubbish bins. Really, there’s nothing to see.’

Nothing…Only this: a great lawn where flower-beds bloomed; a towering fir-tree, and thick, beetle-browed yews that humped their shapes down two sides of the lawn; on the third side, to the right, a greenhouse almost the size of a real house; from each corner of the lawn, a path that twisted away to some other depths of garden, with other trees.

From ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett…

“Sometimes since I’ve been in the garden I’ve looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast. Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden – in all the places.”

Going With The Flow

“The seasons change to teach us the very inevitability of change. Our duty is to adjust our sails and flow with the current of change – adjust and learn, adapt and modify to the newness that life presents from time to time.”
― Sanchita Pandey, Lessons from My Garden

‘Like a river flows surely to the sea
Darling so it goes
Some things are meant to be…….. ‘ Elvis Presley sings in the song, ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love.’

Yes, sometimes we just have to go with the flow. During this time of Covid 19 we have had no option but to go with the flow.

The River Shannon flows through my village of Tarmonbarry / Termonbarry. On my side of the river lies the county of Roscommon and on the other side, the county of Longford. For the first part of the Lockdown I was only able to walk along one side of the river as I was restricted to walking 2 km from home. In the last few weeks we were allowed to go 5 km from home, so I was able to cross the bridge over the river and walk along the other side to the small village of Clondra. So I see the River Shannon in different moods and from different perspectives. But one thing is for sure, it keeps flowing, one way or the other.

Me, standing in front of the River Shannon.

The River Shannon means ‘wise river’. It is named after Sionnan, the granddaughter of Manannán Mac Lir (Son of the Sea), a sea deity in Celtic mythology. Sionnan means ‘possessor of wisdom” and the Irish name for the River Shannon is Abhainn na Sionainne. Sionainn is a combination of the words ‘sion’ (wise) and ‘abhainn’ (river).

Sionnan is the Goddess of the River Shannon. Legend has it that Sionnan went to Connla’s Well – the Well of Wisdom in the Celtic Otherworld (the realm of the dead). As Sionnan lifted the cover off the well, it erupted and the water flowed down the mountain dividing the country in two. Her body was washed down the mountain and she transformed into the goddess of the River Shannon. ‘

Its source is known as the Shannon Pot… Here is a slightly different version of the story above.

‘As the surface rising of Ireland’s longest river, the Shannon Pot’s fame can be traced back to the legendary Finn MacCool and the Fianna, the great warriors of Irish mythology. Legend has it that Síonnan, ,the daughter of Lodan (a son of the Celtic God of the Sea, Lír), came to the Shannon Pot in search of the great Salmon of Wisdom. The great salmon was angered at the sight of Síonnan and caused the pool to overflow and drown the maiden. Thus the Shannon was created and still bears her name today.’

The River Shannon in Tarmonbarry/Termonbarry
Nature blossoming along the banks of the River Shannon
The River Shannon from the bridge that goes from, County Roscommon to County Longford

The natural habitat along the River Shannon. Photo by Aoife Moynihan

Going with the flow doesn’t mean you should just drift along on the current. Yes, things can change in an instant and you may need to change tack but that doesn’t mean you should lose sight of your destination. It is a matter of navigating the waters of life. There might be storms, droughts, deep depths, dangerous currents, oncoming obstacles, weeds that might tangle you and peaceful passages. Enjoy the journey and don’t forget to appreciate the beauty along the way, but remember you might end up at a different destination you were aiming for; but maybe that was the way you were meant to go. Steer your boat, but remember that sometimes some higher power might take the rudder.

Interview with, Mary Smyth: Artist and Animator

Mary Smyth, is another artistic and creative relative. My paternal grandfather was Mary’s maternal great-grandfather. Mary and I have been working on a project which you can read about in this interview.

1. When did you realise you were good at art?

I always enjoyed art as a child and in school. I took part in many workshops and competitions with the, Aisling Children’s Art festival, Longford, when I was very young and did facepainting with Backstage Youth Theatre, Longford.

Mary was chosen to create artwork for the posters and leaflets for the, Aisling Children’s Festival, Longford for 2019.

2. Who encouraged you in your artwork?

My parents and teachers definitely influenced me when I was very young.

3. What influences your art the most?

I follow a lot of traditional and digital artists online which are a continuous inspiration and influence on my work. I especially love figures and characters and the various ways people explore their shape.

4. Why did you decide to study animation?

Studying animation was something which could’ve gone another way. I was very torn when choosing my discipline in college. It wasn’t until final year that I felt progression in my digital work and started to experiment with ways I could enjoy the medium. I often take a multi-media approach, sometimes creating 3D models / sculptures and adding them into my scenes before using traditional animation over it. Every so often I paint!

Setting a animation scene.
Working on animation scenes with local school children.
An animated story based on Mary’s younger sister, Lily May.

5. Tell us about your project for animating my book, ‘The Reckolahesperus’. What processes are involved?

 Eileen approached me a long time ago on animating, ‘The Reckolahesperus’. It involves traditional 2D animation, lip-sync, motion design and effects. We recorded the speakers ourselves and the designs are based off the original illustration work in the book. We are hoping to share it into film festivals soon. 

My book, ‘The Reckolahesperus’.
A scene from Mary’s animation for my book, ‘The Reckolahesperus’.

6. You have been doing a lot of work with various groups in the local community. Tell us a bit about those.

 I work a lot with schools and festivals. Currently I am working with Hannah Carleton on an online scrapbook art and creative writing challenge for children during lockdown called ‘Household Hero: Scrapbook Challenge’ on facebook and youtube ( where we post a weekly challenge and videos to help the children. It is supported by Creative Ireland Longford and Longford County Council. During this year’s Cruinniú na nÓg ( Meeting of youth), animations from school projects I held this year with St. Joseph’s National School, Gaelscoil Longfoirt and St. Mary’s Drumlish National School will be screening for the first time with Still Voices Short Film Festival. I have also worked with Cruthú Arts Festival, Backstage Youth Theatre, Aisling Children’s Art Festival and Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre with various promotional artwork and children’s animation day workshops.

7. What are your dreams and ambitions for your art in the future?

 I am enjoying research in college and would like to continue that for another year. I am open and looking forward to what happens after that. I definitely want to be working in film and animation and to travel with it but who knows what the future will hold!

A portrait by Mary of her younger sister, Lily May.
One of Mary’s art works
Book cover art done by Mary.