An inspirational young Balbriggan man has produced a fascinating anthology shining a spotlight on the town’s creative talent. Motivated by a desire to connect with other creative people, illustrator, designer and writer Matthew Kelly, 21, from Clonard Court, received funding from Fingal County Council’s Our Balbriggan Placemaking Fund for the publication ‘Dear Balbriggan.’ The anthology was launched at the Our Balbriggan Hub at Georges Square on Thursday, December 15, and is set to further boost Balbriggan’s growing reputation as a centre for the arts. The launch was attended by many of the artists and creatives featured in the anthology which will be available free to those in attendance. ‘Dear Balbriggan’ is a 144-page love letter to the creative heart of Balbriggan, featuring creative and feature writing, as well as poetry, art and illustration, photography, recipes and crafts. Matthew, who is deeply passionate about his home place and anxious to promote it in the best possible light, works with Thérapie Clinic, one of Europe’s leading medical aesthetic clinics, and has been commissioned for projects by Fingal County Council and the Mansion House. He has seen his work showcased several times in national print and digital publications, as well as at the Fingal Poetry Festival and in Mental Health Ireland’s Thrive campaign. He is currently working on his first book, ‘Porter Loves Cleo.’ Matthew, a past-pupil of Ardgillan College and former student at the National College of Art and Design, set out to create an anthology in the style of one of the world’s great magazines. “I wanted to produce something in the style of the New Yorker magazine with essays, fiction, illustrations, and poetry,” said Matthew. “And I know I am very lucky to do the work I do. So if I can do the right thing for my home place, why would I not do it? “I felt it could be a vehicle to connect with creative people in the area and highlight the artistic side of Balbriggan. “There is a lot of creative talent here, it is important to shine a spotlight on it and ‘Dear Balbriggan’ allowed me connect further with it.”


A Malahide artist who has reimagined still-life from dark, cluttered and old fashioned to bright, vibrant and eye-catching will showcase at Ireland’s top art fair, Art Source, at the RDS. Over 15,000 people are expected to attend the year’s biggest and most exciting art show from November 11-13, featuring 160 of the best contemporary Irish and international artists and galleries. The move by Malahide based Susan Cairns, a former watercolourist, to still life and oils, was a major turning point in her journey as a painter.“Taking old, broken, unwanted and often forgotten everyday objects, my ambition through painting is to capture character and beauty, transforming the usual into something unique and wonderful,” said Susan, who has exhibited across Ireland and the UK. With many years spent drawing and watercolour painting, her current work in oil has evolved and developed into a style that is very identifiable, clear and detailed.“I studied Interior Design in college, but the bit I loved most was the drawing aspect of the course.“I knew at that stage my heart lay in fine art, so I took art lessons just as a hobby like many people do. From there, I just could not see myself doing anything else.“I took art lessons in my 20s. My teacher, Mairead Doyle, was fantastic. She allowed me develop and explore, allowing my style of painting to emerge. The idea of it being dark, cluttered and old fashioned was replaced with it being bright, vibrant and eye-catching. An exhibition of works by Damien Hirst, the English artist who recently burned hundreds of his artworks, will be the centrepiece of Art Source. The fair will also play host to a unique sculpture garden featuring over 40 top Irish and international artists, including works by renowned sculptors such as Patrick O’Reilly, Salvador Dali, Giacinto Bosco, Ian Pollock, Eamonn Ceannt, Bob Quinn, Anthony Scott and Sandra Bell. Irish art lovers also have the unique chance to get their hands on 100 pieces of original artwork for €100 each on a first-come, first-served basis on the opening morning of the show - Friday, November 11.The show will also feature Source Your Own Art, a free children’s pop-up art workshop where youngsters are invited to express themselves creatively in response to the art they see at the fair.

The award winning writer Cecil Allen is the grandson of the famous actor and writer Ir Allen. Cecil is the author of the hugely popular novels ‘The Actor’ and ‘Constructing Alice.’ He is a retired college lecturer from the Dublin Institute of Technology and holds a BA from Indiana University and an MFA from the University of Minnesota. He was a broadcaster with RTE for over twenty years and represented Ireland twice at International Toastmasters Competitions. He is the father of two sons and lives in Malahide with his wife Julie. Cecil writings centres on our common humanity and ability to function in times of stress. His writings explore our vulnerabilities and the often forgotten reserves of strength and intelligence we can marshal when required. One of the short stories from ‘The Avenue,’ Mr Dunnock’s Day was featured in a new anthology of short stories which was published in September 2022. About the book - The Avenue - The year is 1950, World War II is over, food rationing is nearly finished and the word teenager has just been invented. There are nineteen identical yellow-brick terraced houses on one side of the Avenue and twenty on the other yet each house is a world of its own and as different from the next as the people who live in them. The people of the Avenue include a woman who defies convention, a man who confronts a despotic clergyman, an inquisitive woman who never leaves her bed, a long-lost father, a woman with a disturbing secret and a man with an empty box of chocolates. Told with insight and humour these tales of growing up, religion, marriage, emigration, mental health, widowhood and old age reminds us of the small but important moments of everyday living. ‘The Avenue’ will be published and launched in the Malahide Library on the 5th October. Admission is free and open to all.


By Jack Shanley

As we approach the 55th anniversary of ‘Nights Of Cabiria’, I felt it was an opportunity to reflect on the great Federico Fellini’s Italian classic. The 1957 film is a wo-hour long conversation with the heart, soul and spirit of the audience. ‘Nights of Cabiria’ is a deep, heartbreaking and sorrowful, yet eloquent story that follows the main character, Cabiria, a street walker who dreams of a better life. Unfortunately, life isn’t particularly too kind to her but nevertheless, she looks for meaning through romantic love.This happy-go-lucky character, the embodiment of sadness, pain and bad luck, deals with the unfortunate natures of life as she smiles through the tears. The film is the transcendence of the truth of life reflected through the magic of the projector straight onto the splendid screen for our eyes to witness life instead of living it. It is very much character driven and although it’s a sad film, it’s also quite funny, poignant and enjoyable to watch. Not only is the true essence of life represented in the material but it also provides two hours’ entertainment.Fellini, the Italian maestro, left his imprint in all thefilms he directed for us to enjoy forever. ‘Nights OfCabiria’ is one of his best films and stands out because of the character of Cabiria at the helm of the story. Cabiria, an invincible woman with an unbreakable human spirit, is someone we can all identify with.Though she has deflating experiences like being pushed into the Tiber River and being led-on, she repeatedly opens her heart, hoping to find love and stability. ‘Nights Of Cabiria’ has also been a hugely influential Film, going on to influence the musical ‘Sweet Charity’ (1967).It also won many awards including the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1957. Like good wine, it gets better with age and I give it a score of Five Stars.You can buy ‘Nights of Cabiria’ at Tower Records for €16.99. Director: Federico Fellini – Rating: PG - Genre: Drama/Romance - Run Time: 1h 58m Language: Italian. •For more film content please follow @movies4fanatics on Instagram. Nights of Cabiria (1957) – IMDb

“The sea, that blue end of the world”…- Elizabeth Barrett Browning - Now in its third year, the Fingal Poetry Festival weekend will run from the 15-18th September following its launch at the Illumination of Floraville on Thursday, September 1st. The Festival celebrates the light that poetry brings to our lives and the sea, which is precious to all and in peril.The full programme is available on our website www.fingalpoetryfestival.comExpect to find poetry in unexpected places — on shop windows, pavements — and, colourfully illuminated and projected at Floraville, our lovely little park right in the heart of town beside the Library. The Festival weekend will have something for everyone — from an aerial dance spectacle to poetry walks through the High Woods of Ardgillan Castle and Red Island, lunchtime poetry readings, glittering evenings filled with live music and an especially commissioned film poem by Pat Boran. We hope to welcome the next generation of poets through exhibitions of local pupils’ poems in Fingal Libraries, a visit by Laureate na nÓg Áine Ní Ghlinn, a Family Poetry Fest, and other fun family-friendly events. If you would prefer to participate online, come along to our virtual ‘Night Sky’ or ‘An Dán ar Ardán’ poetry workshops! In a unique event on Saturday, the Deaf Poets’ Society will share their work, voiced by an interpreter — have a look at our website programme for a full list of ISL interpreted events. As ever, the Irish language is a pillar of the Festival. We would love to see you at our bilingual poetry readings, Comhrá & Craic, the Clinic Leaghair (Book Clinic),or the Seomra Open Mic on Sunday. Reaching out into the wider Fingal community, we will have three workshops in Fingal schools.Enda Coyle-Greene, Artistic Director, said “At our previous ‘live’ events, I’ve loved the reactions of our audiences, especially perhaps those people who mightn’t normally have considered poetry to be ‘their thing‘ (or could just be nursing a hangover from school and exams!) Our programme this year features a broad range of poets from Ireland and elsewhere, including Leontia Flynn, Michael O’Loughlin, Aifric Mac Aodha, Kate Miller, Dermot Bolger, and many more, so there should be a reading to suit everyone.”Fingal Poetry Festival is supported by the Arts Council Ireland, Foras na Gaeilge, Fingal CountyCouncil, Fingal Libraries, Leabhair Pháistí Éireann, Laureate na nÓg, Poetry Ireland, and RTÉ Supporting the Arts. Our international poetry competitions, The Fingal Poetry Prize and An Fiach Dubh – the Irish language prize, are sponsored by DHL International Forwrding and Progressive Credit Union, respectively. If you would like to volunteer at the Festival, send us an email at!

By Carina Cunningham

Little did she know, this time last year that she would be cast as the leading lady in a vampire film called “Tara Hill”. Director/Writer Bobby Cullen of Ryker Films spotted Becky and took a chance on her, even though she did not have a lot of experience in filming. Becky has been modelling a few years now and is well used to the camera. She has also walked the catwalk on many fashion shows including; Style Warriors fashion and Entertainment Show and other charity events. She has now been granted the opportunity to see herself up on the big screen in this gothic fantasy film set for “Tara Hill”, overlooking the sea at Gorey. Marc Hughes; award winning producer of film “Red Room” has merged with Bobby Cullen under the name of Ryker Films. Together, they plan to enter “Tara Hill” into the Cork Film Festival and The Richard Harris Film Festival this Autumn. Bobby is also an accomplished singer/ songwriter. His songs are featured in the upcoming film “Tara Hill”. “ My Carousel ” is Bobby Cullens’ rock song, which he sang and produced himself. Wardrobe for the entire film has been designed by Carina Cunningham. Make-up is a very important part of a vampire film and none other than the very well-known make-up artist Gillian Stapleton is on set fixing vampire fangs at her best.This will be a super film with amazing scenery; sea, forests, hills, and lakes. The next scene will be shot in Style Warriors Dreamscape room 102 Ardgillan Castle, where the room will be transformed into a smokey vampire local pub. The room, set up with candles and lady vampires will be the perfect setting. Once again costumes will need to be co-ordinated with make-up to set the scene. This fantasy world is my style and needless to say, I will be in my element helping style this. Actress Becky Archbold will look fabulous in Red, plus at least ten
other vampires dressed to taste and kill. Blood is the drug for Becky and her kin! After this film, what’s next for merging Actress Becky Archbold? When one door closes, another one opens, as she has been cast in a new programme which will be filmed in the Autumn. Watch this space as it’s under wraps right now. A perfect second role for Becky, that’s all I can say right now. So, onwards and upwards. Wishing Becky all the best in her new chapter in the film world. Watch out Hollywood, she’s on her way!


By Jack Shanley

With Baz Luhrmann’s blistering biopic of Elvis Presley, ‘The King of Rock n Roll’, hitting cinemas in late June I felt it would be only right to write a review about the much-anticipated biopic.I felt a little unsatisfied with the film overall. It felt at times to be nothing more than a carnival on screen, with it feeling like a long stream of extraordinary editing but no consideration for the story. I found the opening 40 minutes to be quite restless and boring in all honestly, with it being nothing but swirling and wavy editing and shots from scene to scene leaving me quite discombobulated. With that I did find the last hour of the film to be sorrowful but rather entertaining at last. The film is essentially about the rise and fall of Elvis, a man who changed the landscape of music, so with that the thought of a film adaptation of Elvis is rather daring. The performances were fantastic, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Austin Butler picks up an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Elvis. As the film progressed and Elvis got older, the more he looked like Elvis. By the end of the film they both looked so alike it was uncanny. Although I felt a little lacklustre after watching the film, there was a lot of detail from the spectacular cinematography and glamorous costume design to the frenetic but graceful choreography. Although I speak of this film not being as good as I had anticipated, it was still entertaining. I’d recommend everyone to go see it, as it’s still an interesting story that shines a light on the darker side of Elvis Presley, a side that has always been hidden away from the world.Synopsis: With the rise of Elvis Presley to his superstardom, the Rock ‘n’ Roll icon maintains a very complicated relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, throughout his career as a performer. I’d give this film a score of 3½ stars. You can go see Elvis in your local cinema today. Director: Baz Luhrmann – Rating: 12A – Genre: Musical/Drama – Run Time: 2h 39m – Language: English. For more film content please follow @movies4fanatics on Instagram.

The Donabate Portrane Dramatic Society were delighted to enchant the audiences once more following a three year hiatus due to covid. It has been a long time for the drama group to showcase their performances of ‘Melody’ by Deirdre Kinahan directed by Lisa Buckley & ‘Lockdown In Little Grimley’ by David Tristram directed by Noelle Corcoran two one act plays that have been on production since August 2021 and was postponed due to the restrictions that were in effect while the plays were due to be performed.

Each night the cast and crew were rewarded with a full house in the newly refurbished Donabate parish hall and standing ovations. The group, being one of Ireland’s oldest amateur dramatic society’s founded in 1936 was delighted to welcome mayor of Fingal to close the shows on the final performance Cllr Seána Ó Rodaigh who gave a heartfelt speech to the group to congratulate them on their success. Followed by a speech by honorary guests from Ukraine who thanked the society for the invitation to the performance quoting it was “The first time we’ve laughed since February 21st”. If you would like to become a member or a patron of the Donabate Portrane Dramatic Society please feel free to get in touch on

Maria Butterly will launch her new song ‘HERO’ produced by Bill Shanley and recorded in the world famous Windmill Lane Recording Studios in Naul this month. This song touches on an important and hot topic hitting young teens today-bullying. There is an interesting Story behind Maria’s new single ‘HERO’.It is a story of a young teen being called names in school, who dreams up a fictional hero character that represents the inner strength within us all, which allows us to confront and overcome the challenges presented to us whether internal or external. And addresses anti-social behaviour, bullying, and the challenges young students can be faced with in their world! Music has the power to connect with people and this new single from Maria ‘HERO’ is another example of that. A lot of my songs are inspired from true stories, some my own and some of others like this one. It’s radio friendly and the story is a good talking point!…. Not so long ago, I received a handwritten letter from an LMFM listener who was on the verge of taking his own life at 1am in the morning, until he heard my song ‘ANGEL’ being played on LMFM radio, he said the words of the song lifted him and brought him comfort and most of all ‘Hope’ that night and stopped him from doing the unthinkable. He is still with us today!

LAUNCH GIG: Friday 11th February, 2022.
Venue: Seamus Ennis Arts Centre,
Naul, Co Dublin.
Tickets are limited! €16 Available from TSEAC.i or

First Time author Balbriggan Woman Linda Murray recently launched a children’s book called ‘Dragon Fire and Fairy Dust’ with all the proceeds of it going to Temple St Childrens Hospital.
Linda said, ‘I am a Balbriggan local and started writing during the first Lockdown as I was not an essential worker. I found myself very isolated, being alone all day and missing my working life and social outlet. So I started writing poems and moved onto verse stories which are great fun, because you can really let your imagination run. I post my stories on a public Facebook page- Linda Murray Poetry for Life and I got a lot of encouragement so I decided to get a children’s book together. ‘ Well done Linda !