Sunday, November 28, 2010


Group 8's poetry night featuring Mary Mullen and Patrick Chapman on Friday was a great success. Both readers were warm and interesting and read fine, thought-provoking work. The audience were appreciative and enjoyed the Q&A and signing with the writers at the end. Audience and writers adjourned to the Library Room bar downstairs afterwards for drinks and chats.

Thanks to all who came and we look forward to bringing more fantastic Irish writers to Ballinasloe. Huge thanks to Gullane's for hosting the event. Photos below!

Poet Mary Mullen

Poet Patrick Chapman

Nuala Ní Chonchúir, introducing the poets

Lily Mullen, deep in thought

 Mary Mullen, answering audience questions

Juno McLoughlin, enjoying the poetry

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Designed by Úna Spain. Click on each image to make it bigger.

And, our event made it into the pages of the Westmeath Independent today too here.

Monday, November 8, 2010


On Friday the 26th of November, Group 8 are hosting a poetry reading with writers Patrick Chapman and Mary Mullen. The reading will take place in Gullane's Hotel, Ballinasloe at 7pm. Admission FREE.

Today we have an interview with Mary to give readers a flavour of the poet before she joins us in Ballinasloe. We ran a similar interview with Patrick last week.

Mary Mullen is a writer who lives in Ballinderreen, Co. Galway, with her daughter Lily. Zephyr, a collection of poems about Mary's childhood in Alaska and mothering Lily, a lively Galway girl who has Down syndrome, is published by Salmon Poetry. Poet Geraldine Mills said about Zephyr, 'I have never read a book with so much love in it.'

Hi Mary. Tell us a little about your new poetry collection Zephyr (Salmon, 2010).

It’s poetry about childhood, motherhood, lifehood, love. It is set in three exotic landscapes: south central Alaska, south Co. Galway, and the real world of a sparkly girl who has Down syndrome, my daughter Lily.

Why do you write?

Because I have to. My head and my heart and my spirit would explode if I didn’t.

What’s your writing process? Morning or night? Longhand or laptop? etc.

I envy and applaud people who have set times for writing. I’m a bit short on organizational skills for myself. I’m always flying by the seat of my pants. I don’t write every day. I give myself a day or two a week, usually the weekends, for reading or walking or scrubbing out the bins or whatever. Writing does not just pour out of me. My best lines come when I am picking blackberries or waiting in a queue. Some ideas simmer in my head for months before they appear on paper. A year or two of chiseling gets the words close to right.
Children with special needs absorb a tremendous amount of time just taking them to all their medical and therapeutic appointments. Lily had a little ‘accident’ with her braces (with the help of a fork and hand-leverage any dentist would admire), so it’s back to the orthodontist early tomorrow morning. I’m not complaining. The subject of ‘writing time’ always gets me going on a journey that usually includes a brief stop-over at a little pity party about the intense alone-ness of being a single parent; then I travel on to my organizational skills which are pretty good in a work setting but not great in a totally personalized way; and then I hike back to congratulating myself and all single parents for all that we accomplish in life. And well.
So I write in the back of a dark pub with a pot of tea. In the car while waiting to collect Lily from school or hip-hop class. On the train between Galway and Heuston station. I write on my kitchen table. Not really on it! My table is laden with writing stuff: lists, a brightly colored scarf, CD’s to set me in the time period of which I’m writing, coloured markers for doodling and mind-mapping, articles about interesting subjects, ear-plugs so I can’t hear the other jobs shouting at me. Not really. No doubt a place outside of the house where I would do nothing but write would be nice. I think it’s called an office.
Longhand and laptop, about equal measures. Often 9 to 11 at night, or if I’m lucky, 9 to 11 in the morning.

Who is the writer that you most admire?

Usually the one I’ve just read.
This week the poems I’ve read are Kay Ryan from California and Marie Gahan from Dublin and a few quick ones by C. K. Williams.
Carson McCullers must be the writer that I most admire because her Heart is a Lonely Hunter is one of the few books that I’ve read again and again. She spent a few weeks at John Heuston’s St. Cleran’s House in Craughwell before she died in her home place of Nyak, New York in the late 1960’s. She did not live very long, suffered many maladies, and was not respected by her male contemporaries of that time. She can spin a story. There has been a resurgence of interest in her recently. At long last. Too many writers are not recognized during their lifetimes. Such a pity.

Which poet/poem would you like to see on the Leaving Cert course?

Lucille Clifton.

What is your favourite bookshop?

River City Books in Soldotna, Alaska. My sister Peggy owns it! It’s a small independent bookshop with the predictable titles, as well as unusual titles and an extensive children’s section.
And Charlie Byrne’s in Galway.

What one piece of advice would you offer to beginner writers?

Be precious with your work; show it to two or three people who know what good writing is and have your best interest at heart. I blush when I think of some of the pieces I have sent out or shown prematurely.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


On Friday the 26th of November, Group 8 are hosting a poetry reading with writers Patrick Chapman and Mary Mullen. The reading will take place in Gullane's Hotel, Ballinasloe at 7pm. Admission FREE.

Today we have an interview with Patrick to give readers a flavour of the poet before he joins us in Galway. We will run a similar interview with Mary next week.
Patrick Chapman's latest poetry collection is The Darwin Vampires (Salmon, 2010), the title poem of which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His earlier collections are Jazztown, The New Pornography, Breaking Hearts and Traffic Lights and A Shopping Mall on Mars. He has also written a book of stories, The Wow Signal; an award-winning film, Burning the Bed; episodes of the children’s TV series Garth & Bev; and an audio play, Doctor Who: Fear of the Daleks. He lives in Dublin

Patrick, tell us a little about your new poetry collection The Darwin Vampires.
The Darwin Vampires is partly a book about growing older – they were the last poems of my thirties and the first of my forties – but it also contains non-sepia snapshots of childhood, fictional-but-true love stories, disturbed reactions to the state of the world, and a romantic notion of drifting in space with only one last breath for company. It wasn’t obvious when I was writing the book but there seems to be a trajectory there, in the progression of the poems, from the beginning of life to the end of it. The book grew organically, without ever quite telling me what it was up to, the work arriving quickly, sometimes when I wasn’t looking. That’s probably a good sign. I think it’s a slightly dark book, maybe even twisted at times, but also quite funny. 
Why do you write?
It’s a compulsion and a pleasure and it’s who I am. Without writing, I’m not quite myself.
What’s your writing process? Morning or night? Longhand or laptop? etc.
My process is simple and complicated at the same time. I write when I have to, and keep going until I can’t. It’s a luxury, of course, to have the time to do this – and one for which I’m very grateful. I don’t have a set routine. Sometimes I stop writing altogether until something nags me enough to write it down. I don’t keep notebooks, I believe in the restorative powers of procrastination, and I sometimes enjoy meeting the dawn with some new words under my belt. I generally write on a Mac, and once composed a poem on an iPod. Sometimes I use a pen and paper.
Who is the writer that you most admire?
J.G. Ballard, probably, but there are so many writers whose work I love. If forced to choose one book for that desert island, it’d most likely be Ballard’s immense Complete Stories, a thousand pages and fifty years of wry genius. Even when he fails, he’s very interesting.
Which poet/poem would you like to see on the Leaving Cert course?
Philip Casey. He’s quietly brilliant. A few years ago, we set up the Irish Literary Revival website together – declaration noted – but I’ve admired his poems for decades. His collection After Thunder is a classic.
What is your favourite bookshop?
Books Upstairs, in College Green, Dublin. It’s a small independent shop that has loads of character and tons of books. In fact, it’s a treasure trove, full of surprises. You get the sense, going in there, that the people who run it are in love with books and reading.
What one piece of advice would you offer to beginner writers?
If you’re having difficulty with a piece of work, don’t kill yourself trying to solve it there and then. Walk away. Let it fester. When you return, your brain will most likely have come up with a solution while you weren’t thinking.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Group 8 Reconvenes

We had our first Group 8 meeting of the new 'term' last night at Tosnú Art Gallery and we enjoyed discussing what we plan to do next. Lots of ideas for venues, events and collaborations were tossed about.

We are hoping to host a poetry reading in the town in late November with guest writers from Galway and Dublin, then in the New Year we will begin our collaborative work for our new, exciting exhibition, which will take place next March.

Watch this space!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Grellan Ganly explains the work

People enjoying Úna Spain's photographs

The crowd - some of Joyce Little's work in background


Juno, Heather, Nuala

John Boland delivers his launch speech

The Mayor and others enjoying John's speech


Nuala Ní Chonchúir reading from her poems

Zara Little-Campbell reading from her poems
Nuala Ní Chonchúir & Úna Spain

Joyce Little & friends

Tommy Campbell & friend

Úna O'Connor selling the exhibition catalogue
The Lunar Jazz Ensemble, featuring Lee Ní Chinnéide

Friday, March 12, 2010







Thursday, February 18, 2010


Brendan Grealy graduated from GMIT in 1998 with a Diploma in Art & Design and from Crawford College of Art & Design in 1999 with a Degree in Fineart. He is a highly versatile painter who engages with a variety of thematics that share a common thread – that of his immediate environment. The artistic treatment of his subject matter is carefully, and consistently considered in his sophisticated methods of paint application.

Grellan Ganly is currently completing his Degree in Art & Design in GMIT. His work is heavily influenced by history, particularly that of Irish folklore and Celtic mythology. He employs the media of both acrylic paint and kiln fired ceramics. Both media possess an underlying fluidity and mystery that combine in a way that constantly challenges the viewer as to the various layers of meaning contained in his work

Joyce Little is a visual artist working in the medium of paint, print and installation. Her area of interest is that of the contemporary woman. Her work is thought provoking, culturally critical and at times irreverently humorous or satirical. She studied in Grafton Academy of Fashion Design, NCAD, GMIT, and most recently completed an MA in Visual Arts Practice at IADT.

Lee Ní Chinnéide is originally from Dublin and now lives near Ahascragh. A homeopath by profession, Lee is a powerful singer and interpreter of songs. She regularly performs with The Lunar Jazz Ensemble in pubs and at events in Galway and beyond.

Nuala Ní Chonchúir is an award winning writer and poet originally from Dublin and currently lives in Ballinasloe. Her third short fiction collection Nude was published by Salt in September 2009. The Irish Times called it ‘a memorable achievement’. She is one of four winners of the 2009 Templar Poetry Pamphlet competition. Her pamphlet Portrait of the Artist with a Red Car was published November 2009. Nuala’s novel You was published by New Island in April 2010. She received an Arts Council Bursary in 2009 and is fiction editor of Horizon Review.

Tommy Campbell is a sculptor working in the medium of Bog Oak. He is inspired by his surroundings and the materials he uses. Mainly a self-taught artist, he has had workshops with Dutch sculptor Peter Kooning and the late Brian Little.

Úna Spain graduated from GMIT in 1997 with a Diploma in Art & Design and was awarded an Honours Degree in Photography from DIT in 2009. Her most recent body of work consisted of photography, Super 8 film and a limited edition artists book collectively entitled Marking Time which looked at three ‘erstwhile’ sites in Ballinasloe and people formerly associated with them. The critic Aidan Dunne described this work as a ‘brilliant, composite insight into the social and psychological reality of change on a local scale in Ireland’ (Irish Times, June 17, 2009).

Zara Little-Campbell is a writer from Ballinasloe. She is currently studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at Swansea University, Wales. Her poetry has been published in Sigla and Crannóg. She co-edited Rewind and a selection of her poetry was published in the same anthology. Zara won the Jonathan Swift Award for poetry in 2008 with her poem ‘Sycamore Trees’ and was shortlisted for the Short Story Award in 2009.

Group 8 Mission Statement

Group 8 is a non-profit, professional arts group, united in the belief that art worthy of exposure can express the vitality of a community, and foster awareness, imagination and co-operative learning between the artist and their community.

Friday, February 5, 2010



Here's a pic of 5 of the 8, hard  at work in Tosnú Art Gallery in Ballinasloe, brainstorming, for the upcoming exhibition. I took the pic - I was hard at work too!!!

From the left: Grellan Ganly, Joyce Little, Tommy Campbell, Úna Spain and Brendan Greally.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


We are currently preparing the catalogue to go with our exhibition - it will contain images of the art work as well as poetry. We are also trying to come up with a name for our exhibition which has the theme of  'a sense of place'. All the art works have taken Ballinasloe as their starting point but we don't want to use the title 'a sense of place' - it's too clichéd. Some of the poems and the paintings have inspired each other. It has been a true collaborative process by and about artists in Ballinasloe.
Anyway, one member came up with a great suggestion for the exhibition's title at today's meeting - we will thrash it out and announce it anon.


Group 8's first exhibiton will take place between the 13th and the 20th of March 2010 in The Regency Room in Hayden's Hotel in Ballinasloe.

The launch night will take place on Saturday the 13th March 2010 at 7pm. Come and see sculpture, photography and paintings; listen to live poetry and music, and enjoy a glass of wine.

The exhibition will be open throughout the week, including Saint Patrick's Day.

Introducing GROUP 8

Group 8 is a professional artists' collective based in Ballinasloe, County Galway, Ireland. We came together last August (2009) with a view to bringing our work to the people of Ballinasloe, in order to add to the cultural interest of the town. We decided the best way to do that was to organise a joint exhibition of our work in Ballinasloe.

We are 5 visual artists, 2 writers and 1 singer. We are:

Joyce Little - visual and multimedia artist

Tommy Campbell - sculptor

Grellan Ganly - visual artist

Úna Spain - visual artist

Brendan Grealy - visual artist

Nuala Ní Chonchúir - writer

Zara Little-Campbell - writer

Lee Ní Chinnéide - singer