There is a hidden wealth of literary talent in the North which deserves greater exposure and the book Shaped by the Sea produced by a team of volunteers in the East Antrim area is an excellent example writes Betty Armstrong
With Peace IV funding, a €270m unique initiative of the European Union designed to support peace and reconciliation, local woman Angeline King energised a group of people living in or connected to Larne and its environs, to produce what is a fascinating anthology described as ‘A sample of Larne’s Literary Heritage. That they did it in just eight weeks is a feat in itself.
Angeline had worked in international business for 20 years and decided to become a freelance writer who it is said: “will turn her hand to anything involving words”. She has managed to encourage this diverse group of participants, some of whom had never written before. to produce this 64-page anthology which throws a light of the rich heritage of a part of the country which many would associate with the ferry port of Larne and start of the world-famous Antrim Coast Road. There are stories about the town of Larne as well as Island Magee, Ballygally and Ballylumford.
Among those involved was author, nautical scribe and sailing enthusiast from East Antrim Boat Club, Tom Jobling, well known as a past Irish President of the GP14 International Association. His contribution is the fictional ‘A Leap of Faith’.
The nautically-themed stories, poems, folk tales, memoirs, and songs are interspersed with paintings by local artists Chris Gilbert and Janet Crymble and they give a fascinating insight into the life of people from Larne, Ballygally, and Island Magee area of East Antrim.
‘The Passing of the Old Order’ by Fear Flatha O Gnimh is a fitting introduction to the literature of Larne. The poet’s family (Agnew) were the chief poets for the Gaelic chieftains, the O’Neills and the MacDonalds. The other content depicts subjects ranging from mythical and real people and happenings.
The programme was part of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s St.Art project funded through Peace IV.