Sunday, 9 February 2014

In support of the Fermoy Internationl Poetry Festival (Ireland)

In support of the Fermoy International Poetry Festival,
Please find a copy and pasted attachment of all the latest news, regarding the Fermoy International Poetry Prize. Please also find  a copy of a letter  I sent to the Fermoy town council and the Fermoy local press.
Below is a link to read in your own time what is going on in Fermoy and an online petition to sign. Please support the Fermoy International poetry festival.

Fermoy poetry news.

At last year's festival there were poets from all over Ireland, the USA, Belgium, Holland, India, Scotland and England. There were poetry readings at a barber's shop, a hairdressing salon, a boutique, 2 banks, a supermarket, a pharmacy, a youth centre, in 8 pubs, a hotel and in 4 restaurants. In 2012, 2013 and again in 2014 the festival will bring in more visitors to the town than any other festival by a long shot.
The 53 poets who joined the Festival Poetry Bus read at the 3,000 year old wedge tomb and the castle in Glanworth and at the Blackwater castle tower in Castletownroche. There were four poetry books launched; Doghouse launched Ten Years in the Doghouse, Unfinished Business by Gene Barry. Rebel Poetry launched the festival anthology, The Blue Max Review which contained poems submited for the festival competition and the student anthology Inclusion which contained poems from 22 US students.
This year the Fermoy International Poetry Festival will be bigger and better. We will increase the venues from 18 to 30, include 11 more high schools, include for the first time 14 primary schools and for the first time have poets from South Africa, Belgium and Australia read at the festival.
The story of the missing letters.
A letter addressed to the chairman of, and clearly marked the Fermoy International Poetry Festival, containing the cheques for last year's winning students at the festival was inadvertently posted to Billy Murphy's pub in Fermoy, the Elbow Lane Inn. In contravention of the Postal and Telecommunications Services Act, 1983 sections Section 84 (a), (b) and (c) this letter was opened by Murphy and the information shared with the mayor of the town Olive Corcoran. Murphy has informed the sender of the letter that he posted it back to him; four months later and this letter has still not arrived.

A letter dated January 10th and containing the application for funding for this year's Fermoy International Poetry Festival was posted to mayor Olive Corcoran. To date this letter has failed to arrive at the mayor's office. Both incidents have been reported to the police and the post office.

New festival and poetry group.

An opposition festival has been set up in Fermoy and the local press made the following comments;
'‘Fermoy is to have a brand new arts festival. The idea is the brainchild of Mayor Olive Corcoran who has gathered a committee round her and is busy laying plans to bring it to fruition. Night time activities will include poetry readings from local poets and sessions from local musicians in the Elbow Lane Bar, home of the ''Market Place Poets''.
"The arts festival planned for Fermoy for the start of February looks set to be even bigger than originally envisaged. That's the view of Mayor Olive Corcoran whose idea the festival is.'’
Were any of the poets involved in the international festival or the other local poets belonging to the oldest poetry group in the town invited to read; no.

Allocation of funding for festivals.

At a Fermoy council meeting on Monday January 24th Mayor Corcoran and another councilor who is on her festival's committee voted to give her festival 50% more than the international festival received last year and the same as the international festival had received to the poetry group she help found. The votes were carried 5 to 4 in favour. Corcoran additionally gave funds to four other organisations WHO HAD NOT APPLIED FOR FUNDING.The Fermoy International Poetry Festival did not receive a cent.

By the way having received permission to erect the festival banner on buildings in the town square from both the council and the building owners, the festival committee were issued with a litter fine when they could not take down the festival banner within the 48 hour period they were instructed to by the council. A committee member explained to the town clerk that a generous contractor working in the town had offered to take it down free of charge but could not do so for two weeks.

Question: Can one sit on a committee and vote to allocate funds to oneself?
Answer: No.

Would this be considered a conflict of interest?
Answer: Yes.

If you wish to email a letter of support you can do so by emailing and directly to the Avondhu newspaper via, the Irish Independent at and please make sure to copy

February 7, 2014

RE: Fermoy International Poetry Festival...

Dear Fermoy Town Council,

The news of the recent events, and activities of the Mayor of Fermoy and the subsequent organization of a rival arts festival in Fermoy, against the Fermoy International poetry festival, is both saddening and distressing. Not only will this cause ramifications to the Fermoy international poetry festival and its organizers, but the reputation of the elected officials and their trust worthiness in the future, will always be tarnished. The basic precept that mail is intended for the person it is addressed to; and the contents of that mail, whether it be a letter, a card, a birthday present or in this case money is for the person that it is addressed to. Both of these precepts are standard legal rights in all civilized and law-abiding communities the world over.

But, I think, what is worse is that the fact that, the aforementioned act created the most erroneous and irresponsible act an elected official could actually do. To propose a new arts festival in Fermoy and then vote on it, is a blatant act of impropriety. I am not a citizen of Fermoy, I am not even an Irish citizen, I am an Australian poet and internet radio broadcaster. I have had an association with the Elbow Lane Poetry group and the Fermoy International Poetry festival, since its inception. I have been short-listed several times in the poetry prize and have been invited twice by the organizers, and Chairperson Gene Barry to attend and promote Australian poetry and literature interests in Fermoy.

From my experience all of the organizers and in particular Gene, cares a lot about poetry; both in Ireland and Internationally. But, what else I have noticed about Gene is that he loves Fermoy, and the entire area so much that he wants to share it with the world. I was quite shocked to discover, that even in 2014, an elected representative of a local community would act in a manner so duplicitous that it would ruin any standing Fermoy has in the local area, and in international literary circles.

What is equally appalling to me is that money that was sent out to competition winners, high school students, at that, should go ‘missing’. I have been involved in many volunteer art organizations in my time, Allans Walk Artist Run Space, and of course Central Victorian Community Broadcasters, Phoenix; what sort of message is this sending to the people of Fermoy? And especially to the young people of the Fermoy area? What example is this showing them? I have been delighted to see the competitions, the open call for submissions and the up and coming attractions, that Gene and Co, have in mind for 2014, Fermoy International Poetry Festival, as someone who will hopefully be attending this year, I am just so appalled that this kind of thing has happened.

And, I do sincerely hope that this entire situation is resolved rather quickly.

Yours Sincerely,
James WF Roberts
Red Wolf Press Australia.
Australian Poet
and broadcaster on

 Please Help support the Fermoy International Poetry Prize.
Please send this around all of your networks.
What has happened in Fermoy over the last few weeks is nothing short of a damnable disgrace. Political corruption, missing money. Mail fraud. A whole gamut of unfortunate and unscrupulous events have unfolded...please sign the petition...
Funding for Fermoy International Poetry Festival

Very sad to hear about the recent events taking over the Fermoy international poetry festival.

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