Friday 25 October 2019

Ardagh Fright Fest 2019 video

Here's a snippet from the TY visits during the week. Thanks to Nathan Sheridan for this video and to Shelley Cororan and Longford Arts Office for arranging it.

Restoring the Balance is the theme of Ardagh Fright Fest 2019. This year the popular TY photography exhibition returned and almost 200 students joined us during the week to view the exhibition, hear stories from Scéalta Beo and take part in a clay workshop. Brendan Farrell started off the other events with an informative look at Winter Gardening. Tonight (25/10/19) we are joined by Karina Tynan who will explore the legend of Midir and Etain from Fuamnach's perspective and tomorrow (Saturday 26th) she will join Ruth Long and Scéalta Beo on an author panel looking at the relevance of Irish Mythology to the world today. Ruth continues this theme with a workshop for teens and adults delving into how ancient myth can be used in modern fiction. Family event Ardagh School of Witchcraft and Wizardry Year 9 brings Ardagh Fright Fest 2019 to a close on Sunday and Monday at 12pm. See for more details.

Sunday 13 October 2019

Ardagh Fright Fest 2019 - Restoring the Balance

Literature, Photography, Gardening, Storytelling, Family Fun, Magic - mostly magic, it is all magic.

This year it is all about the message from the myths, in particular the local legend of Midir and Etain, the most magical tale of them all.

"Irish myths and folklore are important because they remind us that the past is still lingering beneath the surface of the present, and reaches out to shape the future."
Ruth Long, Author.

Midir, Prince of the Tuatha De Danann, son of the Dagda was known as a fair judge and the one to advise. He is the being who restores the balance, not always in the way that humans imagine is right but always the right way for all to be restored for nature. The legend of Midir and Etain shows the disastrous effects of things being out of balance in particular within Midir and those around him when he, himself, loses his balance and is mithered by his love for Etain.

The Irish myths are a wonderful learning system as they show that the leaders are as fallible as the followers and quite often much worse, more extreme and with more consequences for all. Scéalta Beo will be exploring this concept in the setting of today and all the challenges we face with climate change, poverty, homelessness and much more. We are thrilled to have Ruth Long and Karina Tynan joining us in this exploration at the author panel on Saturday 26th October at 12pm.

Samhain is a time for preparing for rebirth and the start of the incubation underground of all things so we are delighted to have Brendan Farrell of Ardagh Eco Gardens exploring this aspect with us. Brendan is a most gifted guardian of nature and a lover of the legends so his workshop on winter gardening is the gentle approach much needed in these times on Thursday 24th October at 8.00pm.

Midir is said to be a guardian of the veil so Samhain is his time much like it is the time of all plants working vigorously under the earth.

Etain envokes rebirth, resilience and hope. We will also explore the aspects she brings to the table for these uneasy and unsettling times.

Fuamnach has all the rage and power of a human controlling nature and natural elements behind her. We will be exploring her use or misuse of nature in the modern context. We are looking forward to Karina Tynan of Irish Myths Retold retelling the legend from Fuamnach's perspective on Friday 25th at 7.30pm.

Ruth Long returns for a literature workshop for adults and teens on Irish folklore and Modern Writing on Saturday 26th October at 2.00pm.

Literature events, photography exhibition by the TY students of the area, our annual Ardagh School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, winter gardening workshop and more are coming soon to a place near you.

Midir and Etain is an important lesson for all especially at this time when we need to act and "restore the balance" in the natural world. Samhain is a time of incubation and nurturing for the forceful birth of spring.

Friday 26 October 2018

Ardagh Fright Fest starts tomorrow!!

We are so excited that it's almost time for Ardagh Fright Fest 2018.
Events kick off tomorrow at 4pm with the Flash Fiction Awards.
Jane Gilheaney Barry then facilitates an exciting creative workshop at 5pm which we are really looking forward to. Last year's session with Jane produced lots of new ideas and we can't wait to hear her read from her new book Cailleach~Witch afterwards. She will be joined on the Author Panel at 7.30pm by Kevin McManus who will read from his books including 9 Lives which is due out in November. There is still limited space at these events so get in touch or just come along for a fantastic evening of entertainment.

Monday 24 September 2018

Watch out for full details of Ardagh Fright Fest 2018 coming very soon!!

Photo by Kevin McManus
We are just at the final stages of organising the full line-up for Ardagh Fright Fest which runs from the 27th October to 3rd November this year and promises to be more exciting than ever. Thanks as always to the generous support of Longford County Arts Office we are able to bring you some very talented people from around the country for a host of spooktacular events for all ages.

All of your favourites return, such as Ardagh School of Witchcraft and Wizardry which featured on TV3s Six O'Clock Show last year (see below).

We welcome back Jane Gilheaney Barry who has published her novel Cailleach~Witch since we saw her last year. We look forward to her creative writing workshop. Jane will also feature on our author panel with Kevin McManus whose third book in the Ray Logue Mystery series 9 Lives will be out in November. Both authors will share readings from their work and take part in a questions and answers session.

Internationally renowned poet, Adam Wyeth will present The Mythic Imagination full-day creative writing workshop which promises to leave participants with 'a deepened appreciation and awareness of modern literature, myth, tradition and writing craft' as well as some great new work of their own.

Candlelit Tales offer a contemporary reinterpretation of Ireland's ancient lore accompanied by live music score and perform in small venues and large festivals around the country. We are delighted to welcome them to Ardagh with their Shadows of the Táin show.

Our Frightful Flash Fiction competition returns for the third year and we invite artists of all ages to send us in some Cailleach themed art for display during the week. We look forward to seeing what the TYs of County Longford under the guidance of Shelly Corcoran produce for the Photography Exhibition this year. It is always a highlight of the festival which aims to include work for and from a diverse range of age and experience.

Our popular Spooky Art Camp also returns for one day only on Thursday 1st November from 12pm to 4pm, contact us early to book your place and avoid disappointment.

Click on the page tabs above for more information. Tickets will be available online for all events very soon.

Friday 10 November 2017

Ardagh Tree Fairies Calendar launch

Dear Friends,

You are invited to the launch of our first ever Ardagh Tree Fairies Calendar on Wednesday 15th November at 8pm. We hope you can attend.

This 2018 calendar is packed full of a selection of the wonderful entries to our recent Fairy Photograph Competition which will be on display on the day. We will also be announcing the winning photograph and presenting the prize.

We are also in the process of revamping our Craft Shop and have lots of new stock arriving for the launch so why not do your Christmas Shopping too with us over a leisurely cuppa.

Hope to see you there,

Ann Gerety Smyth and Annette Corkery

Sunday 29 October 2017

Frightful Flash Fiction Winners 2017

Annette Corkery, Adult winner Craig French, author Caroline Busher who presented the prize and Ann Gerety Smyth.
Adult Section - Winner

To sleep amongst the dead by Craig French
I still don’t know his name but he hangs there on the wire in front of me – a scarecrow of tatters and shreds with the wind whistling through the holes where his eyes used to be and a rictus grin splitting his face, his teeth clenched as if he were biting against the agonies that had tormented him. For three days and nights he had slowly died, torn and pierced through by cruel metal and begging to be released. His cries and whimpers were pitiful to hear but they didn’t stop me shooting down any who tried. Their remains litter the ground around him and all is rot and putrefaction.
Now I cannot sleep and he keeps me company through these long hollow nights when I strain my eyes to exhaustion, trying to peel back the surface of the dark to reveal the horrors I know lurk there. I can hear his dried insect rustlings out in the tangle of wire and battlefield wreckage and then the slow slithering as he drags himself through the mud to sit on the edge of the trench. There he squats, a blacker shape against the night, oozing secrets with a voice of congealed blood. Around him stand the other faceless dead, silent and accusing and each marked with a bullet from my gun.
And what does he tell me? He tells me of how I’ll die - of the wound that suppurates, of the thirst that rages through every fibre, of the cold steel in the guts, of the meeting of hot metal and pale flesh and the slow leakage of scarlet into the mud. The others give their mute approval. My death is assured. Here is the rifle and here is the trigger – why delay it? I nod; I understand. Blessed sleep.

Adult Section - Highly Commended

Desmond Howett
Sweet Revenge by Desmond Howett
“It’s nice to see you again, Mr. Patrick. Would you like a pre-dinner drink?”
A leather choker with a snake head clasp circles her neck. I shiver as her blood red lips attempt an anaemic smile.
“A hot Jameson please.” I reply. “The restaurant is very quiet tonight?”
She bows and recedes into the dimly lit room without replying, her jade green dress caging her in.
I check my watch. Just three more hours and twenty minutes, and it will be over for another year. I dread Friday 13th.
“Your drink sir, and a little amuse-bouche with our compliments.”
No cloves I note, but the house treat is a nice touch. They’ve upped their game since last year.
Perhaps they read my review?
There is a curious tang to the drink but it goes down well. It’s been a hectic day, so I’m looking forward to this treat.
I lift the cloche. A long mottled brown sausage nestles in a consommé juice, it’s delicately patterned skin wrapped in concentric circles. The juice begins to shimmer, enticing me to take a closer look. A pair of eyes pop up. The snout of a snake emerges to the surface, its nostrils flaring. It glares at me. I sit paralysed, fork aloft my body defying the shouts in my brain. My pulse quickens as the snake slithers off the plate, its scaly skin trailing silently over the red table cloth. It nudges between my thumb and forefinger, up under the sleeve of my shirt. As it shimmies up my arm, over my shoulder and entwines itself around my neck, I retch uncontrollably.
Her voice whispers from behind.
“Are you enjoying your little treat Sir? ‘Chef’s Revenge’, we call it. You’re finding it hard to
breathe? I’m so sorry.”

Adult Section - Highly Commended

Journey’s end by Andy Jones
Andy Jones
The lorry came to a sudden stop in the pre-dawn twilight with a loud hiss of air brakes. An old-timer, trying to keep his balance on the slippery floor, raised his weary head and inhaled deeply. A particularly unpleasant aroma lingered in the air.
Life amongst their persecutors had been hard. To be taken from familiar surroundings without warning, then loaded onto the transport with kicks and shouts had shocked the group into terrified silence. They hoped that this place would be an improvement on the squalor they had left behind.
Time passed before the doors swung open. Morning sun reflected off concrete, painful to eyes that had been in darkness for too long. Men stood at the rear of the lorry, urging the new arrivals towards a low whitewashed building. The exhausted passengers yearned for sanctuary. A place of rest, and water, perhaps even a little food.
The Gadarene rush for asylum was checked by the noises that began to reach their ears from the killing area. Those that tried to turn back were shown no mercy. The smell detected earlier now revealed its origins. It was the unmistakeable odour of death.
If they could have read, the sign above the gate would have explained everything.
“ This little piggy Ltd”. it said, with a graphic of a smiling piglet. “Best quality Irish Bacon
Products. All animals humanely slaughtered”

Teen Section - Winner

Uncle Kevin by Laura Carroll
‘We can’t go in there!’ Evan tells his older cousin as they come to a halt before the immense oak double doors with intricate carvings. ‘Uncle Kevin said it’s forbidden!’
‘But Uncle Kevin is in town’ Rick says, smiling mischievously, his hand on the brass knob.
‘He’ll never know. Come on, don’t you want to know what’s in there?’ Evan’s silence answers his question.
‘After you then’ Rick says, turning the knob and pushing the door open, creaks filling the empty hall. Evan braces himself, peering around the door into the blackness. Before he can do anything else, two hands shove his back, sending him crashing to the cold, tile floor.
‘Hey let me out!’ he screams, pounding on the door to no avail. Swallowing the lump in his throat, Evan searches the wall for a light switch. His pudgy hands travel along the smooth wall before meeting a string. He tugs it, the lights flicker on.
It takes his eyes a second to adjust to the light as a gurgling noise sends chills down Evan’s spine as the walls part around him. Large glass tubes with objects suspended in an orange liquid appear.
Intrigued, Evan edges closer, then falls to the ground in horror. The ‘objects’ are body parts- arms, legs, torsos. A floating head, eyes still intact, is mere centimetres from Evan’s own. An impressive array of gleaming silver tools decorate the walls Evan hears footsteps, and conceals himself behind the worktop, which he realises holds a semi-dissected body. ‘Rick? Is that you?’ When he gets no answer, Evan looks out from his spot.
‘Hello, Evan’ Uncle Kevin murmurs, a wicked grin on his face as he reveals the saw with two
sets of razor sharp teeth from behind his back. ‘Fancy seeing you here.’

Teen Section - Highly Commended

The Spectre by Philippa Brennan
Only my flickering candle penetrated the darkness. I shuddered. The night air chilled my bones. I lay in bed, moments away from sleep. The house was silent.
Dreams had almost grasped me when I heard the creaking of a floorboard, someone approaching. My heart beat faster. I crept to the door, pressing my ear against it. It was again silent.
Then, my candle was blown out.
The light did not slowly fade and die. The room was plunged abruptly into blackness. Paralyzed by fear, I dared not move. Blood was pounding in my ears.
‘Who’s there?’ I whispered.
In reply, I heard a demonic cackle which froze my blood. I blinked, my eyes adjusting to the darkness, turning slowly.
Out of the shadows loomed a spectre, an image of ghost-white skin and hollow obsidian eyes. I could hear the horrible wheezing of its breath as it approached me.
Terror choked me like a noose about my neck. I could hear a blood-curdling scream which I then realized was my own. I rushed to the opposite side of the room and instantly regretted it; the spirit was now blocking the door; I had no escape.
Surely this was some terrible nightmare! Surely this grotesque spirit was a figment of my imagination! It could not be real, yet still it advanced towards me.
The ghost was inches from me now, I felt my back hit the cool window. My pulse stopped. Overcome with sheer fright, I thrust it open and began climbing down the ivy-covered facade. When I reached the ground, I ran into the night, where no such horror could find me again!

Saturday 21 October 2017

One week to go!

We are getting very excited as Ardagh Fright Fest 2017 is only one week away. Brochures are out, bookings are flowing in, the building is decorated and we are almost ready for off!
Shelley Corcoran has been busy with her photography students for weeks and their exhibition is up in anticipation of the visits of almost 200 TYs whose work is featured. We will be welcoming them from Monday to Friday of this week, but their photos will be on view to the public during all events between the 28th October and 4th November.
Loads of great entries for the Scary Fairy Art exhibition and Frightful Flash Fiction competition have reached us already, but there is still time to send yours in. The deadline is 5pm on Monday 23rd October (we will accept postal entries that are dated before that). Contact us to arrange delivery in person.
There are still limited spaces available for most events, but please book soon to avoid disappointment. Click here to pay online.