Despite nearly missing the launch altogether when my Aer Lingus flight out of Vienna was cancelled, I did eventually make it to Doolin for the Doolin Writers´ Weekend 8 hours late, only to find the bar still hopping and the clientele singing Disney´s Moana song. I love the west of Ireland. Donal Minihane and the crew put on a great festival every year, and the launch was done upstairs in Hotel Doolin by my longtime partner in rhyme Stephen Murray, battling Aussie Flu, Solpadeine and Guinness. Next up was Levis´ Corner Bar in Ballydehob - a lovely little music venue in West Cork now run by Joe & Caroline. I was joined on the night by Alan Tobin of LOW Mountain who added some sublime tunes. Alan and I used to cut the legs off each other on the GAA pitch so it was a welcome relief for me to see him standing still. Up to Galway after that to hook up with Little John Nee and launch the book at the Black Gate Cultural Centre. I could have chosen a better night with hindsight, but it was still fun and I´m grateful to John for singing some tunes and saying a few charming words. Kevin Higgins gave me a cracking review in the Galway Advertiser too.
Back to mainland Europe and the book was launched in Vienna at the Ruby Marie Hotel, with my brilliant friend Dominik Nostitz adding some words and songs, and Shane O Fearghail joining in with a cameo performance. Vienna really turned up and I´m blown away by the support. It was also great to get up to Prague again, the scene of so many Fringe Festivals down through the years with The Voice & The Verse. On every corner, in every bar, down every cobble stone street I could still see Niall Connolly, Stephen Murray, David Rynhart and Dan Donnelly. Good times. This time, although they were absent, I still spent some quality time with my old friends Ken Nash and Paul Solecki before launching the book at the Alchemy Readings.
Next up was Olomouc - a city I absolutely adore. And for good reason. David Livingstone always looks after me and other traveling artists, as does Zuzana Neubauerova; again, both joining forces to put on a great event in a bar with the cheapest beer this side of any river. Zuzana´s band The Luza were on fire that night!
A short time later and I got to visit Zagreb again for a reading in Booksa - my third time there and always nice to see some familiar faces. I was battling a head cold but earlier in the day Lee Murphy had taken me to a Sri Lankan restaurant where one of the levels of spiciness was "Are you kidding me?". It did the trick.
Marko Lakovič put on a great event in Ljubljana at the Literature House, even talking the supremely talented Noreia into playing a set. The Irish Embassy were again very supportive and Brian Nolan, in particular, was on the ball.
Finally, Budapest! Ahhhh Budapest, stop! What an absolutely delightful way to end a tour! We had a lovely crowd at Massolit Books and again, it was great to catch up with my old friends Treehugger Dan, Mary Murphy, Dora, Danyi... There´s a reason I keep going back to Budapest and I now know it´s the people I´m proud to have in my circles!
Thank you all - and also a big thank you to The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Irish embassies in Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Ljubljana and Zagreb.
"Like a love letter to the world on the eve of its destruction" Stephen Murray
"These dynamic and surprising poems challenge and delight at every turn. No survival kit is complete without a little grace like this." Brendan Constantine