Michael Mullan Cancer Fund: Writing Competition Results

For the second year running, it was a honour to judge the Flash Fiction competition on behalf of the Michael Mullan Cancer Fund Writing Awards. I am always keen to congratulate all of the shortlisted writers. It is some achievement to get that far in any writing competition. Indeed, respect to anyone who finishes a piece of writing and submits it to a contest. It’s proof to yourself that you are a real writer!

Flash fiction is a rather particular art form – the telling of a complete story while being very economical with words. As a reader, I need to connect with the heart of the narrative. I need to care about the characters, and while there doesn’t have to be a happy ending, there does need to be a satisfying one – and for this particular competition, all in 500 words or less. Not an easy task for any writer. I read six shortlisted stories, and I liked all of them — each for different reasons. However, I could only pick one winner and one runner-up.

In second place, I chose a story that concerns the heartfelt ending of a relationship, told from the point of view of the rejected character – and there is a hint in the title: A ROUGH BREAKUP, written by Johnathon McLaughlin. The winning story is a concise and descriptive window into a mature relationship – a glimpse of the gentle nature of love in action, the theme evoked wonderfully in its title: MINDING, written by Anna Harrison.

Writer, Martin Malone, judged the Short Story Awards, but as Martin was unable to attend, I had the pleasure of presenting the winners. Placed second is a story that deals with a secret that finally erupts, leaving the reader to ponder its ramifications on the boy, his mother, his sister…and the victims his father has left in his wake: ON THE MOVE, written by Dee Scallon. The winner of the Short Story Award 2019 is a story of murder, intrigue and suspense, about a family who unwittingly walk into a perilous situation: SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY, written by Helen O’Leary.

Writer, John MacKenna, judged the Poetry Awards, and as John was unable to attend, I also had the pleasure of presenting the winner – in this case with First and Second Prize – to Paul O’Brien for his poems, A HAND IN ANSENTIA and THROUGH A LENS IN OMEY.

All entries were judged anonymously.

It was a great night that celebrated the very deserving writers, a lovely audience, and wonderful hosts from Newbridge Library and Kildare Readers Festival. Congratulations again to all the winners and shortlisted writers! You can find out more about the Michael Mullan Cancer Fund HERE

It was indeed a Fright-Ful Friday at Leap Castle

It was a joy to curate the Short Horror Film Programme for Fright-Ful Friday at Leap Castle, an annual event run by the Offline Film Festival in County Offaly. This sold out evening of all things spooky and fantastical took our large group, by bus, from outside the very hospitable Ormond Clubhouse, Emmet Square, Birr, and onward to Giltrap’s Pub in Kinnitty for prosecco and finger food. Then back on the bus for a moonlit journey to Leap Castle for the screening of the short horror films — well received by a lovely, enthusiastic audience.

Horror has very different meanings for fans of the genre – from gothic to grotesque, psychological, visceral and even humour. For this programme, I attempted to include a variety of those emotive experiences, and am also proud to say that all the films are from talented men and women currently working in Irish film. There were 7 films in total.

The Wake

No photo description available.

Written and directed by Rik Gordon. Rik has also written and directed Pigman and most recently, Pure Gold, doing well on the festival circuit.


Written and directed by Jannine Benkhardt. Jannine was also assistant director on The Switch, a short film currently screening at festivals.

Under Growth

Under Growth Poster

Written and directed by Evin O’Neill. Evin has also written and directed the short films, Digs for Pennies, Spooks, A Dry Christmas and Invisible.


Inexorable Poster

Written and directed by Zoe Kavanagh. Zoe also directs music videos and is the writer and director of the short film Tides, and the award-winning feature, Demon Hunter.

Mother Father Monster

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Written and directed by Sean Breathnach, and funded by Offaly County Council Arts Office and filmed in Charleville Castle. Sean has directed several short films and his debut feature film “Beyond the Woods” was released to critical acclaim.

The Trap

Paul Reid in The Trap (2018)

Written and directed by Helen Flanagan. Helen has directed short films including Away with the Fairies and The Drive. She also writes performance pieces and facilitate creative workshops with, as she says herself, a suspiciously witchy vibe.

How Olin Lost His Eye


Written and directed by Damian McCarthy. Damian has directed several short horror films and is currently in post on his first feature, also a horror.

To round off the evening, the owner of this haunting and magical place, Sean Ryan, regaled us with tunes and stories of the spirits that roam the castle corridors. Then, back on the bus to The Chestnut Bar for great chats, and even a complimentary drink! What more could you possible ask for. Frightful and Delightful!



The Librarian’s Cellar Book of the Week: Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession

The core of ‘Leonard and Hungry Paul’ concerns the friendship between two men, both single, one recently bereaved, the other living with his parents as his sister’s upcoming wedding plans unfold. The supporting characters speak from the pages, they are so well developed, and the drama is so quiet and familiar, were it not for the beautiful writing from Hession, this novel might otherwise seem a little mundane in it’s depiction of everyday life. However, this novel is themed on human connection and kindness and is a gorgeous read. Clever, gentle prose concerning clever, gentle characters. No spoilers, but well into the second half, there is a wonderful conversation between Hungry Paul and his sister Grace that should be compulsive reading! It takes place in the bathroom as HP is cleaning his teeth, and his words spill out so gently, and with such wisdom and clarity, it took my breath away. Such a refreshing, unique novel. I loved it!

FRAMED: Screening Updates

October / November is gearing up to be a wonderfully spooky time for my short film FRAMED, still making it’s way on the film festival journey. So far, FRAMED has been officially selected to screen at 22 festivals in Ireland, UK, USA, Japan and Canada!

Here are the latest dates, with more news to follow! As always, I am thrilled for our excellent cast and crew!

Halloweenapalooza: Iowa. USA October 11th


Ottawa Spookshow and Fantastic Film Festival: Ottawa, Canada. October 20th


Halloween Horror Picture Show: Tampa, Florida October 27th


Devil’s Night Gallery Film and Art Event: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. USA November 1st


FRAMED is also nominated for Best Short Horror Film at The Underground Cinema Awards: Dublin. November 2nd

The Librarian’s Cellar Book of The Week: Inside Out by Demi Moore

I have always admired Demi Moore for her achievements, and was aware that her early life had not been easy. However, in ‘Inside Out’, Demi’s honesty is at times shocking and heart breaking. Behind the glamour, the fame and the money, she relates a very human story of vulnerability, strength, struggle, addiction, magnificent ups and devastating downs, but I never got a sense that her writing was coming from a place of bitterness. It is of course, her story, and therefore, her side of the story, and she is candid in her descriptions of her experiences of family relationships, as well as her much publicised marriages. I can only imagine that some parts, particularly those concerning her parents, were not easy to share. Many women, and men, of high achievement start from a rock-bottom place. Demi is a survivor, and a great talent. Fair play to her. A worthy read.


Over the summer, I had the pleasure of visiting Farrell & Nephew Bookshop in Newbridge, County Kildare and to chat with Dermot, Maeve and the lovely staff there. Established on the Main street over 60 years ago, this eclectic store also specialises in local interest and history of the area. Now that the schoolbook buying frenzy has subsided, drop in and browse their shelves – and you might even find a copy of LADY BETH there!


Signed copies of LADY BETH are now in stock.

Farrell and Nephew Books are open from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 6:00pm | Phone 045 431708 | books@farrellandnephew.ie


Caroline E Farrell is a writer and filmmaker from Dublin, and author of the independently published novel, LADY BETH, winner of an Eric Hoffer Award 2019 (Mystery/Thriller Category) and Best Novel at The Carousel Aware Prize Awards 2017. Writer and Director of the short film FRAMED [2018] currently screening at festivals worldwide, Caroline has also written several award-winning feature length and short screenplays including ADAM [2013] and IN RIBBONS [2015].

Book of The Week: I CONFESS by Alex Barclay

On the remote Beara Peninsula in West Cork, Ireland, Edie and Johnny invite a group of old schoolfriends to reunite for a birthday and also to showcase the former convent school they have renovated into a luxury resort. However, as a storm builds outside, and the power goes out, dark events that marred all of their childhoods threaten to resurface… and there is a killer amongst them.

I CONFESS is an intricate whodunnit, layered with flashbacks and disturbing reveals. Because of the ensemble of characters, and the jumping back and forth between past and present, it did take some concentration in the first part of the novel to get a sense of everyone involved, but ultimately, the plot is a good one. An atmospheric thriller.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers, Harper Collins, for the opportunity to read the ARC.