We are made up of an entirely voluntary committee, whose interests range from writing to bee keeping to the history of graveyards and much much more......
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.
Top row L-R: Margaret Hickey, Jacinta Glover, Noelle Lynskey, Shane Lynskey, Gemma Flanagan, Anne O'Leary, Pat Compton,
Seated: Louise Cole, Padraig Holmes, Melissa Newman (missing Mary Dolan and Maria Donoghue)
Padraig Holmes: Chairman
Born in Roscommon Town and a Strokestown resident since 1989 Padraic Holmes joined the committee in 2016. He 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.
Shane Lynskey: Treasurer
Shane Lynskey is a native of Strokestown. He was educated at Scoil Mhuire Secondary School, Strokestown. He holds a Bachelor of Civil Law (B.C.L.) from University College, Dublin (1976) and qualified as Solicitor in 1978. He has practised in Longford Town and Strokestown. He is active in many local organisations. He is an active member of Roscommon Historical Society and is one of the founding members of the Poetry Festival.
Pat Compton: Vice 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 has recently retired and is now spending time paddling the length of the nearby Shannon.
Melissa Newman: Director
Melissa is a Forester who was brought up in Dublin, and moved to Strokestown with her husband and two daughters eighteen 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 15 years.
Noelle now living in Portumna, is originally from Strokestown. She is Director of Shorelines Arts Festival, Portumna for the last 11 years and founder and member of the Maple Poetry Group and Portumna Pen Pushers as well as Ballinasloe Peers. Noelle has read at Cuirt Literary Festival, Baffle, Terryglass Arts Festival, Clifden Arts Festival and Cos Cos, with poems published in literary magazines including Crannóg, Skylight, Scríobh, Roscommon Anthology and West 47. Awards include Baffle, Scriobh and the Hannah Greally award.
Mary is a native of Kildare, having moved to Strokestown nearly forty years ago. She and her husband farm close to Strokestown. She works as the secretary in the SCDA Office in Strokestown. She has been a member of the committee for the past sixteen years.
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.
Gemma Flanagan is a native of Strokestown. She was educated in 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 now teaches in Longford. She will always remember meeting the wonderful Seamus Heaney at the festival in 2006 and this is her second year on the committee. She is married to David who is an invaluable volunteer for the festival.
Margaret Hickey won the Political Satire prize in the very first Strokestown International Poetry Competition, back in 1999, and has been a judge and a dedicated visitor to the festival ever since. She is a writer who lives beside the Shannon. She published a history of Ireland seen through the prism of food and drink, with the title Ireland's Green Larder, launched in Strokestown in 2018.
Maria is a native of Galway and moved to Strokestown in 1979. She practices as an accountant in Longford town and joined the committee in 2018.