My thoughts have been eastward all day as the transnational One Book One Community Reading Project is officially launched in Derry. Readers in Northern Ireland, Co. Donegal and New England will be reading “Exile”, the first book in my historical-fiction series “The Chronicles of Iona”, at the same time. Donegal County Council and Libraries Northern Ireland set this up as a way to promote a common history—in this case the life and times of Colmcille, their shared 6th-century saint. The fact that the endeavor is cross-border is particularly meaningful to me and, I know, to them.
Colmcille/Columba hails from Co. Donegal, and founded Doire/Derry/Londonderry, amongst other monasteries. So, a true local hero. As they have said, “Colmcille or Columba was born 1500 years ago in Gartan, Co. Donegal and yet his life and legacy is still remembered in both Scotland and Ireland. His story spans the islands, the culture and the language. Such is the influence of Colmcille on Irish, British and European history during his own lifetime and today that he can be singled out as one of the truly great figures of the early Christian church”.
We had the New England launch at the Irish Cultural Centre here in Canton in January. And now, Derry and Donegal.
This week is Columba’s week—his feast day, the day commemorated as the day of his death, is June 9. Both Ireland and Scotland are hosting a number of major events to celebrate the occasion, especially since 2013 is the 1450th anniversary of his founding of the monastery of Iona and probably Derry (although that may have been a bit earlier).
The One Book project runs from now through August. The program of events is below, or visit www.donegallibrary.ie or www.librariesni.org.uk. I’ll be there for the finale during Heritage Week. Wish I could be there for all of it!
If you’d like to join the ongoing conversation, there is an online book group discussion at www.donegalibrary.ie. Look under bookgroups, online, and you’ll see the conversation already started. As I said there, I’m writing Book 3 in the series (in which Columba returns to Ireland in triumph), so your thoughts about Columba, Aedan mac Gabran, et al., would be particularly useful. And more than a little fun.
On this side of the pond, don’t forget to come check out the Boston Irish Festival this weekend in Canton, MA. (June 7-9). For the lineup of musicians and to get tickets, go to www.BostonIrishFestival.info.
I’ll be in the author’s tent all weekend with a number of excellent local authors. We’ll be doing book readings on and off over the course of the festival. I’ll read from “Exile” and its sequal “Prophet” and talk about the medieval world which inspires the series, complete with slides and photos!, on Saturday, June 8, from 1:30-2:30 and then again on Sunday, June 9, from 11:45 to 12:30.