Nursing Home Visits by Festival-in-a-Van at the Fingal Poetry Festival 2021

Festival in a Van is visiting two nursing homes as part of the Fingal Poetry Festival!

  • Loughshinny nursing home Festival in a Van: Readings by David Murphy and Barbara Smith, music by Sarah May Rogers
  • Lusk nursing home Festival in a Van: Readings by Maggie O’Dwyer and Michael J. Whelan, music by Sarah May Rogers

About our artists

In order of appearance:

David Murphy. Photo: Claire Cunningham

David Murphy

David Murphy’s most recent book, the poetry collection Drowning in the Desert, was published by Revival Press in 2020. Walking on Ripples – his first book to feature non-fiction – was published by Liffey Press in 2014. Previous work includes three novels published in the USA. His award-winning short fiction has been published and translated worldwide. He has won the Maurice Walsh Award for short stories, and has also been short-listed for the Molly Keane and Aisling Gheal awards.

His poetry is also prize-winning, and it is poetry that now occupies the bulk of his output.

He has given readings, as well as talks, at bookshops, arts festivals and other events including the Frank O’Connor Festival in Cork, Limerick’s ‘On the Nail’, Waterford Writers’ Weekend, Chapter’s Lunchtime Series, West Cork Literary Festival, Irish Writers’ Centre, Imagine, Shorelines, Culture Night, and various other literary events in Ireland (Ballymaloe,  Boyle, Greystones, Trim, Strokestown) and abroad (Bradford, Copenhagen, Montreal).

He has been interviewed in print, online, and on RTE, WLR, LMFM and has also featured on Lyric FM as well as Kerry and Limerick radio.

His Website can be found at

Barbara Smith

Barbara Smith

Barbara Smith grew up just over the North of the border and moved to Dundalk when she was eighteen. Like many in the early ’90s she moved to the UK in search of better opportunities, which she found as a Press Reader with Romeike & Curtice, a press cutting agency in North London.

Prompted by the birth of her first child, she returned to Ireland and took up a position with Droichead Arts Centre, Drogheda. This allowed for more intense involvement with literature and the writing community and led to the publication of her chapbooks, Gnosis (1996) and Poetic Stage (1998). In 2005, she was chosen for Poetry Ireland’s / Eigse Eireann’s Introductions Series.

Barbara holds an MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from Queen’s University, Belfast (2008). Her debut poetry collection, Kairos, was published in 2007 and was followed in 2012 by The Angel’s Share. Awards include the Annie Feeny Prize towards a residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre for Writers and Artists.  She was a prize-winner at Scotland’s Wigtown Poetry Competition and shortlisted for the Poetry Business pamphlet competition and the Basil Bunting Poetry Competition. Barbara’s most recent collection, Anne Askew on the Kafka Machine was published in 2021.

Sarah May Rogers

Sarah May Rogers

Sarah May Rogers is a Dublin based Violin & Music Theory Teacher with over 18 years experience in the music business. She started playing Violin at age 6, performing on stage since 14, and graduated from NUI Maynooth with a B.Mus in Classical Performance & Composition, in 2011. She has played & toured with various groups in many different genres, both as a soloist & group performer at live gigs, weddings, corporate events and as a composer/arranger for studio recordings.

Sarah has been a Wedding Violinist since 1999. She provides Wedding Music for ceremonies, drinks receptions and wedding groups in Ireland and beyond. She loves arranging couples’ favourite songs in their preferred style; Traditional Irish, Contemporary, Folk or Classical, working with their suggestions to produce a duet, trio or quartet tailor-made by picking the best musicians for the job!

Maggie O’Dwyer

Maggie O’Dwyer

Maggie O’Dwyer’s first poetry pamphlet, Yes, I’d Love to Dance 2008 (Templar Poetry) was followed by her first collection, Laughter Heard from the Road (Templar Poetry), shortlistedin 2010 for the Rupert and Eithne Strong award for Best First Collection.

Her second collection, The Wire Heart (Templar Poetry), was published in 2015.

Her poems have also been published in Thornfield – Poems by the Thornfield Poets, 2008 (Salmon Poetry) and in The Lea-Green Down, 2018 (Fiery Arrow Press).

She lives and works in Dublin where she teaches Creative Writing and works as a visual artist.

Michael J. Whelan

Michael J. Whelan

Michael J. Whelan is a historian and soldier-poet living in South Dublin, Ireland. He deployed as a United Nations Peacekeeper with the Irish Defence Forces to the conflicts in Lebanon and Kosovo in the 1990s. He holds a Masters Degree in Modern History from NUI Maynooth and is keeper of the Air Corps Military Museum and collector of oral history for the Military Archives of Ireland Oral History Programme. His poems are published Australia, Paris, Mexico, USA, UK, South Africa and Ireland and included in ‘And Agamemnon Dead: An Anthology of Early Twenty First Century Irish Poetry, (Paris 2015) & ‘The Hundred Years War: Modern War Poems’ (Bloodaxe UK) 2014. He was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions series and was 2nd Place Winner of the Patrick Kavanagh & 3rd in the Jonathan Swift Awards. He has featured on T.V. and radio and at literary festivals and his debut collection ‘Peacekeeper’ was published in 2016 by Doire Press. His second collection ‘Rules of Engagement’ was published in 2019.

For more information visit and

Raven illustrations and brochure design: Matthew Kelly.

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