Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Literary Strangford

The Literary Strangford Map and Guide was launched yesterday at Salt Water Brig restaurant on the Ards Peninsula, between Portaferry and Kircubbin.

I wouldn't have expected a launch event at lunchtime on a Tuesday to be very well attended, but both carparks were full and there was standing room only inside - a reflection of the work put in by the Strangford Lough Office in Portaferry, but also presumably of the level of interest in the literary heritage of the lough. Which, it turns out, is even richer than anyone had imagined. There are many well-known names associated with Strangford, among them Joseph Tomelty, Sam Hanna Bell and Michael McLaverty, but with the help of the community a growing bibliography, currently with over a hundred names of writers past and present, has been put together - the bibliography, and individual writers' biographies, will be on the Literary Strangford pages of the website ( from the end of this week.

The Map itself has a selection of thirty-eight numbered literary references which are picked up in the geographically arranged text to the side, and the guide is illustrated with watercolours by local artist Sandra Maze. The Blue Cabin is there, though curiously enough in the 'Kircubbin and Greyabbey' section - that's because it is so hard to get to the water's edge on the mainland in our corner of the lough, so the guide has Islandmore as being visible from across the lough, beside St.Patrick's Church, a key location for the 1990 film December Bride.

It's an exciting project and from the point of view of living writers, what's great about the map is that it will be out there for some time and with luck will be revised and updated - like online bookselling, it's a welcome contribution to the 'long tail' of marketing by which everyone hopes to maintain the currency of their book.
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