Committee members 2017 L-R:
Margaret Hickey, Paddy Bushe, Mary Dolan, Shane Lynskey, Pat Compton, Melissa Newman, Padraig Holmes, Noelle Lynskey, Missing Anne O'Leary.
Photo: Mike Byrne
20 Years of Strokestown Poetry
Our Mission Statement
Our mission is to showcase contemporary poetry, local, national and international, foster the development of emerging writers and consolidate poetry in local cultural life bringing it to the widest possible audience.
Pat Compton: Hon. Chairman
Pat Compton is a native of Clooncagh, Strokestown. Together with Merrily Harpur he founded the Strokestown International Poetry Festival in 1999.
He is deeply committed to furthering the social and economic status of the region. He has worked in An Post all his working life and is shortly to enjoy retirement, spending time paddling the length of the nearby Shannon.
Shane Lynskey: Hon. Treasurer
Shane Lynskey is a native of Strokestown. Educated the Convent of Mercy and Marist Brothers’ Primary Schools and Scoil Mhuire Secondary School. Bachelor of Civil Law (B.C.L.) from University College, Dublin (1976). Qualified as Solicitor in 1978. Practised for 24 years in Longford Town and then in Strokestown for 7 years. Retired in 2009. Active in many local organisations –
- Vice-President, County Roscommon Historical & Archaeological Society;
- Chairperson, Board of Management, Scoil Mhuire Secondary School, Strokestown;
- Chairperson, Board of Management, Cloonfour Primary School, Rooskey;
- Hon. Treasurer, Strokestown Community Development Association;
- Hon. Treasurer, Strokestown International Poetry Festival;
- Former Chairperson, Strokestown Dramatic Society.
Padraig Holmes: Hon Vice Chairman
Born in Roscommon Town and a Strokestown resident since 1989 Padraic Holmes joined the committee in 2016. Worked locally as a practicing vet for fifteen years before joining the Department of Agriculture, Food and The Marine as a veterinary inspector in 2004. He is married to Jacqueline with four daughters. Also serves as a committee member of Strokestown Show, Sliabh Ban AC, Longford Beekeepers Association and school Board of Management.
Melissa Newman: Hon. Director
Melissa is a Forester who was brought up in Dublin, and moved to Strokestown with her husband and two daughters seventeen years ago. She lived in New Zealand for six years where she completed a Masters in Women’s Studies. After retiring from forestry several years ago, she now works for the ETB teaching Horticulture and Social Skills. She has been a member of the Strokestown Poetry Committee for the past 14 years.
Noelle now living in Portumna, is originally from Strokestown. She is Director of Shorelines Arts Festival, Portumna for the last 9 years and founder and member of the Maple Poetry Group and Portumna Pen Pushers as well as Ballinasloe Peers.
In the past, Noelle read at Cuirt Literary Festival, Baffle, Inis Cealtra Arts Festival, Terryglass Arts Festival, Clifden Arts Festival and Cos Cos, with poems published in many anthologies and literary magazines including Crannóg, Skylight, Scríobh, Roscommon Anthology and West 47. Awards include Baffle, Scriobh and the Hannah Greally award.
Margaret won the Political Satire prize in the very first Strokestown International Poetry Competition, back in 1999, and has been an occasional judge and a dedicated visitor to the festival ever since. In recent years, the comic verse category has been reshaped as the Percy French competition and if the standard of past years is maintained, this is certain to be a highlight of the festival.
She is a writer who lives beside the Shannon, and she plans to follow her first book, Irish Days, with a history of Ireland seen through the prism of food and drink, with the provisional title Ireland's Green Larder, to be published in 2017.
Anne O'Leary: Committee
Anne O’Leary M.A. was born and grew up in Strokestown and has been attending the poetry festival since the first one in 1999. Anne loves working with words and would describe herself as a literary “odd job” woman who is very active in the Irish arts and cultural community. Her book reviews and opinion pieces appear regularly in Books Ireland magazine as well as online sites: www.writing.ie and www.reviewsgate.com. She works part-time in UCD and also as a freelance copy editor.
Mary Dolan: Committee
Mary is a native of Kildare, having moved to Strokestown nearly forty years ago. She and her husband farm close to Strokestown.
She has been a member of the committee for the past fifteen years.
Louise G Cole
Louise G Cole, who lives in County Roscommon, writes short stories, flash fiction and poetry, and has won or been shortlisted in various literary competitions. She won the Strokestown International Poetry Festival Roscommon Poets’ Prize in 2017, after being placed third in that competition for the previous two years. Louise was nominated for a Hennessy Award in 2015, and has been published in various anthologies and journals.
She reads her poetry at regular sessions of the Word Corner Café in the Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon, and with the Hermit Collective, a group of writers, artists and musicians who put on pop-up shows in the west of Ireland.
As a member of the Creative Frame Professional Development Network, in 2017 Louise was selected for mentoring with a professional poet. ‘On the Green Bridge’, her first collection of poetry, is due for publication in 2018.
She blogs about her life as a writer, and ‘reading, writing and other stuff’ at https://louisegcolewriter.wordpress.com/ where she explains why she insists on the ‘G’ in her moniker. The 'G' stands for Gillian, and its use has a lot to do with her namesake modelling skimpy underwear…
Gemma Flanagan is a native of Strokestown. She was educated in St. Mary's NS Strokestown and Our Lady's Bower, Athlone. She graduated as a primary school teacher from St. Patrick's College Drumcondra in 2002. After 11 years teaching in Dublin Gemma moved back home to Strokestown and she now teaches in Longford. She will always remember meeting the wonderful Seamus Heaney at the festival in 2006 and this is her first year on the festival committee. She is married to David and her dads peacocks can be seen roaming the streets of Strokestown daily!