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Memoir: my first snowman

Our back garden in the snow. Let’s build a snowman, says my father. The winter light is milky, shot through with a tentative sun.

I am wearing a brown pinafore. Its fabric is thick and scratchy. Do I have gloves? I don’t know. I don’t feel the cold.

The snowman is made before I know it. He is a fine creature, as tall as me. Dad fetches pieces of coal from the coal bunker for his eyes.

We have a grooved metal rubbish bin at our back door. The snowman needs a hat. The bin lid will do the job. It clangs as we lift it.

Years later, my daughters sing songs from the hit Disney film ‘Frozen’. The character of the little snowman who longs for summer brings me back to my own first snowman, his stick arms pointing skywards, his wide-brimmed metal hat shielding his eyes from the sun.

Put up your arms like the snowman, says Dad. Click.

Do I really remember the day itself, or have I retrofitted a memory from the photograph? I am sure I can still hear the metallic ring of the bin lid.

It is 1977. I am just gone three.

orla in snow 1977

Blog Awards Ireland 2013: The shortlist!

More excitement in my house this weekend: Wait til I tell you has made the Blog Awards Ireland 2013 shortlist!


I’m also delighted that the following writerly friends join me on the shortlist:

Best of luck to all the other shortlistees for the next stage of the competition: the Finalist List, to be published on September 29th.

Here are the other blogs in the Arts and Culture category. Do check them out and subscribe to any that grab you!

PFO – please fight on

Rejection letters are a funny old thing.

When you start out as a writer, your rejections tend to be from smaller publications and lesser known websites.

After you have been diligently persisting for a few years, the rejections still come, but from loftier sources.

I recently received the following rejection letter from Ciaran Carty, editor of New Irish Writing, which appears monthly in the Irish Independent and has launched the careers of many prominent Irish writers, including Joseph O’ Connor, Dermot Bolger, Vona Groarke and Mary O’Malley.

The New Irish Writing page was started by David Marcus in The Irish Press in 1969 and is the longest-running creative writing feature of its kind in any Irish or British newspaper.

Ciaran Carty is also director of the Hennessy Awards. Work published in New Irish Writing is automatically entered into the prestigious Hennessy Awards.

So, after weeping onto my keyboard for a while, I’m now actually a bit chuffed that Ciaran Carty sent me a personally signed letter, even if it is their standard PFO. He even wrote my name by hand!

I will fight on.

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