In June, Laureate na nÓg Eoin Colfer initiated a new programme called ONCE UPON A PLACE. This programme has two strands: the first priority is to bring stories to children all over Ireland, reaching places that might not normally be prioritised e.g. schools that are not part of a writers in schools scheme, remote communities that may not have had a visiting writer or storyteller before, or youth/reading groups that don’t have funding to access visiting artists.
Eoin’s second focus is on fantastic places: extraordinary settings in which to stage very special and memorable storytelling events that will spark children’s imaginations and bring the magic of story and of books to young people in an experiential way. These locations may have become associated with favourite children’s stories or they may be inspiring settings which have the potential to host atmospheric and exciting events for children.
Eoin invited proposals from individuals and organisations interested in working with him on the Once Upon A Place programme, and we were delighted with the large volume of responses. Eoin has now selected 16 individual projects that will take place over the next 18 months, during the remainder of Eoin’s term as Laureate na nÓg. The projects come from all over the island of Ireland; the Laureate team will be working with the local teams to develop these projects over the next few months and we’ll be giving details as and when they occur.
Among those projects already confirmed are:
• A visit in September by Eoin to the On Home Ground Festival at Laurel Villa, Magherafelt, Co. Derry, where he’ll meet local schoolchildren and take part in an interview with Oliver Jeffers to be broadcast live by the BBC
• The official launch of Once Upon A Place in October 2014 with a storytelling tour of Eoin’s homeplace: the Hook, County Wexford, taking in Hook Lighthouse and Loftus Hall
• A storytelling event at Duckett’s Grove in Carlow, with Gaelscoil Eoghan Uí Thuarisc
• A steam train trip up the North Dublin coast in partnership with Fingal County Libraries
Over the next 18 months, Eoin and his team of storytellers will also be bringing the story tour to schools in Waterford, Laois, Westmeath, Kerry, Clare, Leitrim and Mayo. He’ll be visiting islands off the coast of Donegal, telling stories on the slopes of Knocknashee in County Sligo, bringing film and literature together in Belfast as well as visiting a gallery in Cork city and a halting site in County Kilkenny. Reports on each project will be found on www.childrenslaureate.ie and on the Laureate na nÓg Facebook page.