Laureate na nÓg Eoin Colfer will launch Once Upon A Place, a nationwide tour of storytelling, on Friday 10 October on the Hook Peninsula, County Wexford. The best-selling author of novels such as the Artemis Fowl series and
Benny and Omar grew up near Hook Head and many of his stories were inspired by the area. 'I'm pleased to be able to start this new initiative on home ground,' Eoin said. 'My priority as Laureate na nÓg is to bring stories to children all over Ireland, particularly those in remote areas that might not normally receive visits from writers, so where better to start than in that magical place, the Hook?'
In the first event, Eoin Colfer, Gráinne Clear and writer-illustrator P.J. Lynch will be telling stories to schoolchildren from three primary schools in County Wexford in the famous landmarks of Hook Head Lighthouse and Loftus Hall, the inspiration for Fowl Manor in the Artemis Fowl books. Participating schools include St. Canice's, New Ross; Coolcotts National School and Poulfur National School. The tour is being organised in cooperation with Wexford County Council Arts Office and Wexford County Libraries.
The Once Upon A Place
programme has three strands: the first brings stories to children all over Ireland, reaching places that might not normally be prioritised e.g. schools that are not part of a writers in schools scheme, remote communities that may not have had a visiting storyteller before, or youth/reading groups that may not have funding to access visiting artists. Eoin's second focus is on fantastic places: extraordinary settings in which to stage very special and memorable storytelling events to spark children's imaginations and bring the magic of story and of books to young people. In a third strand, Eoin is editing an anthology of original short stories written by well-known Irish writers for children as well as other prominent Irish personalities from the worlds of literature, music, comedy, TV and sport.
Once Upon A Place will take place over the next 18 months, during the remainder of Eoin's term as Laureate na nÓg, an initiative of the Arts Council with the support of The Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Children's Books Ireland, Poetry Ireland and The Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The honour was established by the Arts Council to engage young people with high quality literature and to underline the importance of children's literature in our cultural and imaginative lives.
The Arts Council's Director, Orlaith McBride, said of the tour: 'The Arts Council is thrilled with the breadth, reach and quality of this tour, which will engage children and young people from all across the country in a series of inventive and inspiring events. Eoin Colfer has very quickly placed his unique stamp on Laureate na nÓg and his tenure will undoubtedly leave a lasting and real impact on children and adults alike. We couldn't be prouder of this initiative.'
Damian Smyth, Head of Literature, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: 'The importance of introducing children to books and encouraging a love of reading at an early age cannot be overestimated. The Once Upon a Place tour will inspire and delight schools and children throughout the island of Ireland and I've every confidence in saying that the experience of spending time listening to the charismatic and enchanting Laureate na nÓg, Eoin Colfer, will remain with these young people for the rest of their lives.'
'This Once Upon A Place programme previews Wexford's annual Stories from the Hearth Storytelling Season, now in its 16th Year,' said County Librarian, Fionnuala Hanrahan. 'Storytelling and the connection of the written and spoken word is at the heart of communication, literacy and creativity. We are delighted to start a tour that combines fundamental life-skills with the infinite possibilities of imagination.'
Sixteen separate events will take place in sixteen counties, involving groups and venues from all over the island of Ireland. As well as visiting schools and other groups in Clare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Mayo, Waterford and Westmeath, Eoin and a team of top-class storytellers will also be bringing the story tour to:
- The Gothic mansion of Duckett's Grove, Carlow, with Gaelscoil Eoghan Uí Thuarisc as part of Seachtain na Gaeilge 2015
- A steam train which will travel up the North Dublin coast, in partnership with Fingal County Libraries with the support of Iarnród Éireann
- The Mass Rock in Castlemaine, Kerry and the slopes of Knocknashee, Co. Sligo
- The Glucksman Gallery in Cork
For more information, contact Elaina Ryan, Director, Children's Books Ireland, on 01 872 7475
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