Joseph O'Connor officially opened proceedings with a fantastic speech, which you can read on The Ark's blog (here). But I can't resist giving you the last paragraph of it:
"And I also believe, without his solidarity and courage, that his life, and therefore mine, would have been different indeed. All my life I have been given chances he did not have. The same is true of many of us. It’s hard not to be scared when times change very suddenly, as they have for many of us in what seems only a few months. But to read with a child can never be taxed, to believe there are deeper solidarities than the merely financial. Things were not better in the old days. Nobody sane could say that. But the example of that generation of Irish people has much to offer. It could be a time to remember the story of where we came from. It will help us write the story of where we’re going. For a story, in order to work, needs to have a good ending. And the story of our country and of our city is far from over, despite these times. The story gives us back our dignity, our passion, our pride, our courage, our solidarity, our pleasure, our sense of wonder, and to know there are young readers here in this room tonight is a cause of pride and celebration for all of us. I am honoured to be among them, and blessed, and fortunate. They represent the greatest values we have, the values that will see us through, and the future of the Irish story."Now be quick and book them tickets!
This week-end will see the kick-off of the series of public events, with Derek Landy and Anthony McGowan on Saturday, and Roddy Doyle and Frank Cottrell Boyce on Sunday.