Musician Martin Baker performs at the Limerick Pipe Organ Festival


Martin Baker

The Limerick Pipe Organ Festival (LPOF) will conclude with a performance by the highly esteemed organist Martin Baker, at 7:30pm in St John’s Cathedral, September 30.

Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, Martin directs the world renowned Cathedral choir in its daily choral programme and busy schedule of concerts, tours and recordings.

Winner of the Improvisation Competition at the St Albans International Organ Festival in 1997, Martin is also renowned for his skill in organ improvisation, and frequently performs international solo organ concerts.

“One of the things about the festival is the focus on improvisation. The musicians were selected because of their improvisational skills, being a unique aspect of our festival. The highlight of our final concert will surely be the 12 minute improvisation on a theme to be given to Martin Baker on the night,” said LPOF Artistic Director Bernadette Kiely.

As well as the highly anticipated improvisation section, Martin’s programme will include music by Dietrich Buxtehude, César Franck, Max Reger, and Johann Sebastian Bach.

The last week of the LPOF will begin with a free lunchtime recital in St Mary’s Cathedral by organist Peter Barley at 1:15pm on September 28. Followed by an organ improvisation masterclass by Martin Baker from 2pm to 5:15pm in St John’s Cathedral September 29.

To finish the festival on October 1, there will be an organ building and maintenance workshop in Mary Immaculate College, at 2pm by expert organ builder Trevor Crowe.

“Trevor Crowe is currently the most premium organ builder in Ireland. The festival is not just about organ music, or the art of improvisation, but it is also because we recognise the heritage of the unique hand-built instruments that we have in Limerick,” said Bernadette.

All tickets are available on the door at each event.

Tickets for Martin Baker masterclass September 29 are €5

Tickets for Martin Baker concert September 30 €10

Tickets for Trevor Crowe workshop €5

For more information see

Roisin Meany Photograph by Angles Photography Limerick

Author Roisin Meany


I recently chatted with Roisin Meaney, one of Ireland’s most successful authors, who has just seen her latest novel, The Reunion, top the Irish bestsellers list for six weeks in a row.

This prolific author’s career will soon hit an even greater high, when she becomes even more of an international sensation, with offers of translation deals from Russian and Norwegian publishers in the pipeline.

“I already have adult books in the US, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Australia and New Zealand, so it’ll be great to have two more territories to add to the list,” said Roisin.

Author of thirteen adult and two children’s books, Roisin shows no signs of slowing down, as she is currently in the process of writing her fourteenth novel which will be published in June 2017.

Always on the lookout for new storylines, the inspiration for her latest book came from a reunion at the last place she taught, the Limerick School Project.

“I spent the evening talking with parents of children I’d taught over the years, and one of them remarked that a reunion might make a good theme for a book, and so it came to pass,” said Roisin.

Prior to her success as a writer, having qualified as a primary school teacher, Roisin taught in Dublin for a number of years. Then she moved on to teach English in Zimbabwe, after that she worked as an advertising copywriter in London, and then returned to teach in Ireland.

In 2001 she decided to try and write a book, but was unsuccessful with her first attempt, which was a collection of stories for children. At this point she took a writing course given by David Rice at the Killaloe Hedge School in Clare.

It was while on another break from teaching, while staying with one of her brothers who lived in San Francisco, that Roisin wrote, The Daisy Picker, the book which launched her career when it won Tivoli Publishers ‘Write a Bestseller’ competition. The prize was a two book deal, and on the strength of her win she got an agent.

When she returned to Ireland she resumed her teaching career, and wrote her second book, Putting Out the Stars, in her spare time. In 2006 she signed up with Hodder Headline Ireland, now Hachette Books Ireland, and in 2008 Roisin gave up teaching to concentrate on her career as an author.

A disciplined writer, who always meets her deadlines and plans her writing, Roisin prefers to work at the kitchen table. She structures her day as a normal work day and then takes the evenings off. Her first draft would usually take six months then she spends the next four to six months fine-tuning the text.

Roisin conducts research for each of her books, in order to thoroughly know her characters and make them true to life, she interviews people who work at jobs that her characters have.

“I’ve spoken with doctors, nurses, barristers, guards, sheep farmers, social workers and artists. I signed up for a life drawing class when I was writing The Things We Do for Love, and I spoke with the model during the break. I’m currently looking for a musician to chat to about my work in progress.”

Roisin enjoys writing compelling stories with interesting characters and usually starts with a plot, “but some of my plots are pretty sketchy so it’s a case of growing the story as I write it, and this can go in a direction I didn’t expect. My first book in particular, The Daisy Picker, turned out very differently from what I had planned.”

Roisin believes her writing style has evolved since she was first published, and feels she is learning a little more with each book she writes. She becomes emotionally involved with her characters when writing, and recalls crying while writing a scene in her novel One Summer where a character dies, “I love writing that’s unexpected, that you don’t see coming. And also writing that moves you, in any way.”

Roisin enjoys the glitz and glamour of book launches, but equally enjoys an escape away to the sun, or relaxing with a glass of wine or cup of tea, with a book by the fire where she competes for space on the couch with her two cats Fred and Ginger who snuggle up beside her.

She loves to read and write general fiction and mostly enjoys books about ordinary people, “I don’t mind which era the novels I read are set in, as long as the storyline keeps me hooked and the characters are ones I can warm to. If a book doesn’t grab me in 50 pages I toss it aside. Life’s too short.”

Roisin’s top three favourite books are Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Ann Tyler and 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. She has just finished reading, All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan’s, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

Of all the books she has ever read Roisin wishes she had written, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It’s got it all – humour, pathos, heartbreak, joy.”

One of Roisin’s favourite films is Love Actually, “It has its corny moments but on the whole it’s a joy from start to finish. I love all the different stories and the connections that become apparent gradually.”

Not one to suffer from writer’s block, if Roisin is ever stuck in her writing, she will go for a walk or do a bit of gardening. But why does she write?

“That’s easy, because I love it. Even when it’s hard I love it. I pinch myself regularly to make sure I’m not dreaming. Sometimes it seems too good to be true that I’m getting paid to make stuff up,” she smiled.

Roisin Meany by Angles Photography

Roisin Meany by Angles Photography

Chef Neven Maguire and Clare’s Wish Foundation


For cooking enthusiasts and foodies, Thursday October 6, is a date to put in your diary, if you would like to see award winning, Celebrity Chef Neven Maguire in person, in the Radisson Blue Hotel & Spa Limerick.

Organised by the Clare’s Wish Foundation as a fundraising event for the Limerick based charity, it promises to be an exciting event with tickets selling out fast.

“We hope to raise as much funds as possible so we can grant more wishes that are on hold,” said founder of Clare’s Wish, Kevin Clancy.

Named after Kevin’s sister, who was born with Spina Bifida and died at twenty four years of age, Clare’s Wish Foundation was established in 2013, and is the only Irish charity that is dedicated to providing wishes exclusively to adults with terminal illnesses.

“My dad passed in 2011. That changed my outlook on life, I wanted to give back, and I started to do some Volunteer work for two charities in Limerick, which lead on to setting up Clare’s Wish, also in memory of my own sister,” explained Kevin.

If people would like to nominate someone they know for Clare’s Wish they can send an e-mail or fill out the application form on the website, where the charity prioritise emergency requests.

“We are the only Irish charity granting wishes for adults with a Terminal Medical Condition. We try and do some event at least once a month. We have Adare to Survive September 25, National Dance- a-Thon in October, and a Wedding Fair in Killaloe November 6.

“We need Volunteers in all Counties of Ireland. We also have a Text Clare to 50300 campaign for any one who would like to donate €4,” added Kevin.

Doors open at 6.30pm where you can browse the artisan food stands that will be on display, and Neven will commence his cookery demonstration on stage at 8pm.

Tickets are €20, and are available at the Radisson Blue Hotel & Spa reception or online at



Twitter: @clareswish



Musician Bernadette Kiely


Why not start your weekend with an evening of relaxing, ethereal music, by attending A Concert of Favourites, which will be performed by renowned organist Bernadette Kiely, as part of Limerick Culture night, September 16.

The concert which begins at 8.30pm will take place in St John’s Cathedral, Cathedral Place, Limerick, and will be just 30 minutes long.

Bernadette has been organist at the cathedral since 2001, and choir director since 2008, she is also a founding member of the Limerick Pipe Organ Festival.

Established in 2014, the Limerick Pipe Organ Festival was initially formed to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the organ in St. John’s Cathedral. Since then, the festival has gone from strength to strength and aims to raise awareness of the rich heritage of pipe organs in the city of Limerick and surrounding area.





Congratulations to the team of talented writers at for being shortlisted in the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016, the ceremony will take place at Duffy’s Circus in Dun Laoghaire, September 15. were also shortlisted in the Realex Web Awards 2016, the ceremony will take place in Liberty Hall Theatre, Dublin, September 28. (pronounced goosed), should be the first stop for anyone who might be a technophobe, or for anyone who is curious about the latest gadgets on the market. Started in 2014, it was founded on the concept of making technology useful and fun.

The team of four talented and technology minded writers are Jon Harrison (my nephew) and Dean Ahern from Limerick, Gary Cronin from Dublin, and Martin Meany from Kilkenny, who were all educated in the University of Limerick and are past phone shop employees.

“Everyone has this amazing device in their pocket that connects them to the rest of the world in a second, and we found that, in terms of general consumer needs, the market was threadbare.

“Most sites and companies focus on the statistics and specifications of the latest technology, which is not of interest to the general public. The vast majority of sites just wouldn’t appeal to the Irish market as they covered devices or services that were not available here. The Goos3d team attempts to answer the questions people care about,” said Jon. covers anything from the latest technology gadgets to entertainment services. The team have attended many launches such as the Samsung Note7 and have been to two Web Summits.

“Netflix is probably one of our favourite things to cover. It provides this unique bridge for users to overcome barriers to technology adoption. If people want to binge watch House of Cards, they will learn how to install the Netflix app on their phone. Then people start to question their broadband provider’s speeds.

“We have some villages in Ireland getting Gigabit broadband. It’s crazy what a little bit of interest in technology can lead to. And that’s what is all about, getting people interested and excited about technology that’s relevant to them and to get them trying out new technology,” Jon added.

Adoption of technology is one of the reasons has been shortlisted in the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016. Their article on “Why does Windows come with Solitaire”, is up for the “Best blog post” award.

“The article looks at the games the early versions of Microsoft Windows came with. While the games were entertaining, they also eased users into using new technology without even knowing about it. For example, Solitaire showed users how to practice clicking and dragging with the mouse,” said Jon. has also been shortlisted for “Best digital and tech blog” in the Littlewoods Ireland Blog Awards 2016, while also being nominated for “Best science and technology” website and “Best online only publication” in the Realex Web Awards 2016.

“It’s a really exciting time for everyone involved in running, so here’s hoping we can bring home the gold. Regardless, we’ll stick to our mantra of making technology fun and useful for everyone,” added Jon.

Best of luck to all involved. I’m especially proud to have a fellow writer in the family, well done Jon.


Artist Jane Hilliard


I wound my way around the narrow streets of Tralee, getting lost, asking passers-by, do you know Jane Hilliard, the artist? To which they would reply, “Oh, the artist, yes. Walk through the large pedestrian area…” eventually I found the shopping centre, where the numerous empty shop units gave an atmosphere of an Egyptian tomb. I turned a corner and found the treasure, vibrant paintings gave life to empty units. Paintings of Irish countryside, woodlands, the sea, heavenly, calming scenes which, when studied for any length of time, absorb you into their world of nature and beauty.

I followed the paintings and they led me to Jane Hilliard’s Gallery, where numerous framed canvases adorned the walls, some leaning two and three deep on the floor against the wall. At the back of the Gallery, Jane, wearing a multi-colour paint speckled denim shirt over her clothes, sitting with head bowed as if in prayer, was working on a painting.

I first met Jane four years ago in Draíocht Gallery in Adare, Co Limerick. The lasting impression of her paintings, along with her detailed, interesting way of describing her work made an indelible impression on me. Little did I know then what she had endured and overcome while all the time her artistic spirit drove her on through health and economic challenges, to become the stunning, self-taught artist that she is now.

Though well established in Kerry and known throughout the country and indeed internationally, Jane will soon be spreading her wings, with offers to show her work throughout Ireland. However, it hasn’t been an easy path.

Born in Britain, her family moved to Kerry when she was ten. At twelve, she had to leave school to mind her mother who became terminally ill and died when Jane was just 15. Shortly after that her father returned to Britain and the family home broke up. Two years later she married, went on to have three children and now delights in her grandchildren.

Jane’s natural artistic ability was nurtured by her father who taught her how to draw, but it wasn’t until her late thirties, that she took a few art classes in Tralee and at the end of term exhibition, her paintings sold which led to her getting commissions from local businesses.

Jane feels she has developed her style through trial and error. She paints from her own photographs, “When I start a painting, I really don’t know what way it’s going to end up. I have developed skills, ways of throwing in a bit of light or splashing on a bit of sparkle.”

Indeed it is Jane’s magical use of light that makes her paintings utopian scenes, places you would like to be, and stay, serene and calming. This may be a reflection of what painting is to Jane, a type of meditative state, when she tunes into a higher energy. Many times she has felt her work comes from something that has been channelled through her, instead of something she has created.

Jane describes herself as a commercial artist because she was the main bread winner in her house, she has had her gallery in Tralee shopping centre for14 years. During the boom she couldn’t paint fast enough, mainly popular tourist scenes of Ballyheigue and Killarney for which she has received criticism from people who prefer more abstract types of art, “When you have an exhibition, it’s very different from most other jobs because it’s almost like putting your children up for criticism.”

From the time Jane began painting full time, she painted for nine hours a day, only taking Sunday off to do housework. She continued this routine until she got cancer ten years ago, only then did she take another day off in the week.

Painting to Jane is, “a thirst, that need to drink. It’s like a meditation, a therapy, people pay hundreds of Euros to get to that place in their head, where there’s no worry no stress. It relaxes me. Just put me in a corner and let me paint. That to me would be heaven.”

The dream for Jane would be for somebody to walk into her gallery and say she is exactly what they are looking for, take her on as a client, promote her, take over the business side and set up her exhibitions internationally.

“It is a dream. But coming from a very poor background, I never forget where I’m from and that I’m just so lucky. When my mother died I was given my mothers purse, empty, to run the house. I have worked very hard, always. And it’s like, I’ve built this now and I have to keep minding it. So it’s part of me and yet it’s a separate entity that I have to mind and take care of, and I have to see it do well because, I feel I have been given a gift and an opportunity so I owe that the very best I can do,” smiled Jane.        

The Jane Hilliard Gallery, Tralee Shopping Centre, Tralee, Co. Kerry.


Jane in her gallery

Jane in her gallery