May 28, 2016

Meet the team

The Strokestown International Poetry Festival Committee

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 – Click here for video



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.

Melissa Newman, Hon. Director, is a Forester who was brought up in Dublin, and moved to Strokestown with her husband and two daughters fifteen 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 12 years. She does not write poetry!

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.

Noelle Lynskey, 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 Hickey 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:   and  She works part-time in UCD and also as a freelance copy editor.

Padraig Holmes: 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.

Advisory Group

Eiléan NíChuilleanáin
Paddy Bushe
Vincent Woods
Eva Bourke
Cathal Ó Searcaigh
James Harpur
Moya Cannon
Pat Boran