Readers Festival banner

Exploring the Curragh Wrens in Lore and Literature

Saturday 6th of October / 11am / Newbridge Community Library

Join us at the Kildare Readers' Festival as three local writers, Orla McAlinden, Ann Egan and Martin Malone meet to read from three very different works which explore the lives of the Curragh Wrens. Driven by destitution and desperation, the Curragh Wrens eked out a precarious existence as camp-followers of the thousands of soldiers who inhabited the Curragh during the reign of Queen Victoria. As the Famine drew to its close, it left tens of thousands of Irish women and children clinging to life. One hundred and seventy years later, the Wrens continue to intrigue our panel of writers. Malone, Egan and McAlinden will read from their works, discuss the Wrens and the writing process, concluding with a brief Q&A.

Martin Malone is a multi-award winning Irish novelist, short story writer and teacher of creative writing. His novel, The Broken Cedar (2003), was nominated for the IMPAC award. His first novel, Us (2000), won the John B Keane/Sunday Independent Award. As a member of the Irish Army Military Police, Malone served five tours of duty in Lebanon, experiences which greatly influence his writing still. However, many of his books are set in and around his native Kildare and it is no surprise that he also has explored the lives of the Curragh Wrens in his book The Only Glow of the Day and a radio play Rosanna Nightwalker.

Ann Egan is a multi-award winning poet, playwright, dramatist, novelist and community writing facilitator. She has read at all the national literary festivals and facilitated many creative writing workshops. She is well known as a writer who brings her work out into the community, serving populations who might otherwise not experience creative writing firsthand. She organises and hosts ‘Reading Concerts’ for schools and young people based on her residencies in counties Kildare, Offaly, Laois, in arts centres, school halls and libraries. Some of the diverse places she has brought her skills to include hospitals, schools, prisons and secure units. Her poetry collection The Wren Women brings her unique poetic sensibilities to explore the lives, hopes and dreams of the Curragh Wrens.

Orla McAlinden is a multi-award winning short story writer and novelist. Her debut collection The Accidental Wife won the 2014 Eludia Award from Sowilo Press in Philadelphia. The fourth story from the collection ‘The Visit’ was a Pushcart Prize nominee and winner of the BGEIBA Irish Short Story of the Year 2016 award. Orla won the CD Lewis emerging writer bursary from Kildare County Council to help complete the research and editing of her novel The Flight of the Wren, set on the Curragh of Kildare and featuring the infamous Curragh Wrens.

Due to the nature of the subject matter which will be discussed, this event is aimed at an adult audience, aged 16 and above.

Booking required. Contact Newbridge Library on 045 448353 or email