Sunday, June 17, 2018

Flash Fiction Armagh 2

The upstairs room in Mulberry Bistro filled quickly and when every seat was taken, people had to line up around the wall, lean against the bar and crowd the door. The following photo doesn't tell the full story as it was taken about ten minutes before we started when the room was still relatively half empty! 

We doubled our audience since the first event and we were thrilled to bits. Nearly everyone who came the last time came back and many brought their friends. There was an air of excited expectation. With the rising hubbub, I worried that Réamonn Ó Ciaráin, whose turn it was to be MC for the evening, would have trouble getting things started but in a flash, he had the crowd tamed and ready to listen to the fantastic readers we had lined up.

First up, Maureen Boyle read an extract of her poem Incunabula from her recently published book, The Work of a Winter.

Click here to read a review of Maureen's Book in Lagan Online.   
Mairead Breen is new to reading her writing in public. When she asked me not to video her reading, I assumed she was nervous, but it turned out that her character was based on a real person, though unnamed and hard enough to identify, Mairead wanted to exercise caution. We respected her wishes. She read her piece,
Cool Customer beautifully and it was evident that the audience enjoyed it. Looking forward to seeing more from this writer

Karen Mooney was back again with a lovely poem about her brother road-racing. You could sense the audience share Karen's emotion as she worried about her brothers' safety in her poem, I Didn’t Feel the Wasp Sting.

Another returnee, Christopher Moore gave us a skilful and delightful peek into the mind of a poetic genius with his piece Yeats.

All the way from Gweedore, County Donegal, Máire Dinny Wren read Scáile Dheirdre, the lilt and rhythm of the Irish language brought me back to my Gaeltacht days as a teen. I wish I'd keep practising the language - perhaps it's not too late.

Then I read Beheaded, a piece inspired by my trip to the Armagh County Musem which I blogged about a few months back.

After the break, Jude Alexzander toyed with our emotions in a brilliantly crafted story called Hope.

Elaine Toal, a new local talent kept us on the edge of our seats with, Revisiting. A lovely reading and I'm hoping to see more from Elaine.

All the way from Hungary, Csilla Toldy told the heartbreaking story, The Joke

Malachi Kelly's story reminded us how far we have come in his heart-stopping reading of One More.

And finally, we had Peter Hollywood's beautifully crafted and emotive After the conflict with it's honest and wry commentary about where we live today.

From the above video footage, I think you'll agree that each and every reader had the audience enthralled. You could hear a pin drop in a room packed to the gills, where every table held cups and saucers, or glasses or plates and cutlery and yet silence fell and held its ground for each reading.

It was simply a special evening and a great gathering of readers and listeners.

Our next event is Flash Fiction in the Orchard, as part of the Armagh Food and Cider Festival. 

20th September 2018 at 7pm at the Armagh Cider Company.
This time there's a small cover charge that includes snacks and cider tasting and tickets are available here.

Submissions are now open for this event until 20th August 2018. Please email your 200 – 750-word submission within the body of your email (no attachments please) to 

If it's anything like that first two events, it promises to be a great night out.

Hopefully see you there.


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Walk Around Seagahan Dam on a Summer's Evening

My heart is full and sure how could it not be? A warm summer's day in Ireland is a magical place.

The sunsets these past few days are like nothing I've ever experienced anywhere in the world. With the long evenings - sunset at 9.45pm - the sun takes a long amble to the horizon in tones of pink gold. Everyone is in great form and each greeting includes, "Lovely day, isn't it?" And a lovely day (or few days) it has been.

The fields are bursting full of flowers...

...and cute baby animals.

And there's the mysterious headless horse of Ballymacnab!

Okay, maybe this is a better angle of him, grazing contentedly under the full moon.

Yes, my heart is full of the joy of being home in Ireland on a warm summer day.

On one such warm evening this week, we took a walk up around Seagahan Dam, a reservoir a few miles south of Armagh City that features in my new book.

A new walkway allows a circuit of the dam. It's so peaceful, as night drops down, and the fishermen try to catch that last elusive big-guy lurking in the shallows. His advice to us - buy a rod! I must say I'm tempted...

 Not only did we have a spectacular sunset but also a stunning moonrise.

 And there was me travelling around the world, crying for the moon when all along it was here in our very own Armagh drinking water. Does moonshine come out of the taps here? I'd say there's the evidence for it!

 Byddi Lee

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Flash Fiction Armagh 14th June 2018

Yes, it's happening again, with an exciting line up that includes a fabulous mix of new straight-out-of-the-wrapper talent alongside award-winning writers.

Flash Fiction Armagh proudly presents the following writers at our Flash Fiction Armagh on Thursday 14th June 2018 at 7pm.

Maureen Boyle - Extract from "The work of a Winter"
Mairead Breen - "Cool customer"
Karen Mooney - "I didn’t feel the wasp sting"
Christopher Moore - "Yeats"
Máire Dinny Wren - "Scáile Dheirdre"

Jude Alexzander - "Hope" 
Byddi Lee - "Beheaded"
Elaine Toal - "Revisiting"
Peter Hollywood - "After the conflict"
Malachi Kelly - "One More"
Csilla Toldy - "The Joke"
Kelly Creighton - Extract from her short story collection "Bank Holiday Hurricane"

So please come along, listen and mingle at our next Flash Fiction Armagh as we spread the seeds of creativity far and wide.

A big thank you again to Mulberry Bistro for generously hosting the event in their gorgeous upstairs room allowing us to keep the event free.

If you'd like to see what it involves you can click here to see what happened the last time we did this or simply come on down. Feel free to have a bite to eat beforehand (or even during the event). The staff of Mulberry cater to our every whim - try a nice relaxing glass of wine while you listen, or a cuppa tea and lovely tray bakes or even a full-on delicious meal! 


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

'Lion Hunting in Armagh

When I was a terrible-two my mother appealed to my abounding sense of adventure by inviting me to go lion hunting with her. Now, I can't remember the actual occasion but like those stories that our parents tell us of our early lives, I'd heard the tale so often, I nearly believe I can remember it!  Picture the scene - My mother brings me, wild with excitement, to hunt lions, only for me to discover with disappointment and disgust that it was dandelion hunting. We were going no further than the front lawn armed only with a weeding tool!

While it was a good introduction to the falsehoods of marketing, it didn't teach me to question other things she told me in me my early life. I grew up believing that she had once had a career riding horses in the circus and that she was good friends with the Harlem Globe Trotters. Yes, it's safe to say I inherited my imagination from my mother.

But back to the 'lion hunting...

The most valuable thing living abroad has gifted me is the ability to see this wonderful place where I grew up with new eyes. I'll admit to being quite evangelical about Armagh - you could say I'm a Born Again Armachian.

I noticed something this year that I've never noticed before - how gorgeous the dandelions are.

They're everywhere in a glorious blaze of yellow as if transporting the sun's rays from beyond the clouds to shine from our lawns, fields and roadsides.

I'm so happy to see they haven't been sprayed with weedkiller and that some councils seem to be encouraging their growth on the grass verges - or is this just a delightful side effect of having no government and no money spent on local infrastructure?

Whatever it is I say let the 'lions roar!

Many folk believe dandelions to be weeds but I promise you they are much more than that. Click here of a great summary of facts about dandelions.

Dandelions  are food for bees.

Dandelions are among the first flowers to blossom after the winter and provide a food source. It's not the richest food for the bees but it breaks their fast and saves them from starving. For more information check out these links:
Dandelions are food for humans.

Dandelions in foreground - rapeseed crop in background. The Irish landscape creating it's own sunshine!
Dandelions are edible and even have health benefits. You can make medicinal teas, pesto, salads and even wine (yay!) Here's a few links to some recipes:

Fried dandelion heads (Imagine telling your two-year-old you're eating 'lion heads for dinner!)
Dandelion ginger wine (For the grown-ups!)
Dandelion pesto

Dandelions are good for your lawn.

This surprised me the most but makes sense - dandelions help the lawn in at least two ways.
  1. The strong and deep taproots break up the solid, aerating it.
  2. The same deep roots pull minerals up to the surface layers thus helping to fertilize it.
Mowing the lawn won't damage your dandelions too much. It may even promote another show of blooms. Just don't use weed killer...that will kill your dandelions.

To think that we travelled for miles last summer to see fields of lavender flowers in Provence and here on our doorstep we have equally beautiful sights that most of us don't even appreciate. Watch too for the gorgeous rapeseed fields. I noticed the delicious fragrance when I hoped out of the car to snap this shot. Gorgeous all round.

Byddi Lee