Dispatches from outside my Comfort Zone

August 03, 2014 By: judicurtin Category: General Chat

Last month I wrote about leaving my comfort zone. In case you weren’t paying attention, I reluctantly agreed to do a food demo at the Hay Kells festival. This is what happened:
When I arrived in Kells the night before the event, things got a lot worse before they got better. The food demo had turned into an interactive, hands-on cookery session, and 66 children aged from 6 – 13 had signed up!!!! I confess that I was tempted to sneak back to my car, drive home, jump into bed and hide under the covers for a week – but I didn’t do that.
The lovely people at the festival had set me up with an amazing team. There was a chef, a techie team, and lots of people without job-titles who were BRILLIANT at organising stuff.

 Before the event started, and, no, I have no idea why it looks like I'm about to slide off the stage.

Before the event started, and, no, I have no idea why it looks like I’m about to slide off the stage.

Before the event started, and, no, I have no idea why it looks like I’m about to slide off the stage.

I demonstrated how to make french bread pizza, and tried not to think about the overhead camera that was relaying my every move to huge screens on either side of the stage.
Next I demonstrated how to make eton mess, and when I was finished, an army of volunteers raced out to give every child a supply of ingredients and utensils. There was a lot of laughing, and a lot of mess, but we did it – in less than twenty minutes, 66 children in a tent made dessert.
It was a fantastic day, and now I’m thinking of a new career. Watch your back, Mary Berry!

Spot the wardrobe change. A lovely girl called Roisin lent me her lucky apron.

Spot the wardrobe change. A lovely girl called Roisin lent me her lucky apron.


(This post first appeared on www.girlsheartbooks.com)


March 05, 2014 By: judicurtin Category: General Chat

I celebrated World Book Day a few days early at the big We❤️books event in Thurles. I was sharing the stage with the incredible Derek Landy, and I think it’s fair to say that everyone had a really good time  (Well, Derek and I did anyway!)


Tour organiser, Tom Donegan had arranged everything beautifully, and the staff at The Source arts centre did an amazing job. The nice people from Bookworm in Thurles sold stacks of books, and distributed bookmarks, postcards and posters like they were going out of fashion.































There were 250 lovely and enthusiastic children in the audience. They listened attentively, and laughed in all the right places – i.e. pretty much all through Derek’s talk.

Derek and I told our life stories, including his very interesting take on a parallel universe.  After that there was a Q and A, and the only problem was that there were far more questions than we had time to answer. Best question of the day was directed at me.

‘Judi, do you like the way Derek acts?’

My answer – ‘How long have you got?’

We had delicious pancakes in the on-site restaurant, and Tom presented Derek and me with our very cool limited-edition tour mugs. (One day these will be collectors’  items.)



Finally it was time for me to return to Limerick. I took the slow route, over the mountains. Sometimes only the long and winding road will do.



Rolling Sun Festival

November 15, 2012 By: judicurtin Category: General Chat

Here, (in no particular order) are some of the reasons I loved last week’s Rolling Sun Festival in Westport.

1. Westport is an amazing place. There’s a lovely town for strolling around, and if you feel like travelling, there are all kinds of beautiful places within a few miles. There’s Croagh Patrick, and Westport House and gazillions of stunning beaches.

2. Austin and his wonderful committee organised everything brilliantly, and events went like clockwork. (Once I got used to the fact that Westport Time is  slightly different to that of the rest of the world (!).) All the guests were treated like royalty, and while I’m not a Princess, it’s nice to pretend sometimes.

3. I stayed in the lovely Clew Bay Hotel, where Maria and her team couldn’t do enough to make sure we had everything we needed. The homemade granola at breakfast was delicious, and they even gave me some to bring home with me.

4. We all live busy lives, and it can be hard to organise a crowd. Someone persuaded (begged? bullied?) a huge number of children and parents to come to Westport library to listen to me, which is flattering. Keith and the library staff did a great job of setting up this event.

Thanks to 'a year of festivals in Ireland' for the photo

5. Writers probably spend more time than is healthy, alone in hotel bedrooms. In Westport, the team organised a lovely joint dinner for the committee and guests. It was nice to spend an evening in the company of Maeve Higgins, Cliodhna Ni Anluain, Kate Kerrigan and our charming Westport hosts. (And dinner in An Port Mor was delicious)

6. The Rolling Sun is a ‘quirky, boutique’ festival. (ie it’s small). That, in many ways is a good thing. I managed to go to all the events, and still had time to relax and enjoy the area.

Ireland is a great country for festivals, and I think The Rolling Sun is one to watch.

Cork City

October 26, 2012 By: judicurtin Category: General Chat

Just back from an amazing trip to Cork City Libraries. I stayed with my wonderful parents, who spoiled me rotten, and fed me wonderful food. I caught up with a few old friends from school and college and I celebrated the graduation of my godson, David, from UCC.

I opened an amazing library in the Gaelscoil in Douglas – it made me want to go back in time, and be a pupil there.

The events in Cork City were lovely. I visited the libraries in Blackpool, Holly Hill, Tory Top, Douglas, Mayfield, Grand Parade and Bishopstown. Everywhere I went, I was blown away by the enthusiasm of the children, and how well their teachers had prepared them for my visit.

On every visit I was most flattered by posters and art celebrating my books. Special mention has to go to Tom Mc Carthy in Hollyhill, who made this lovely, and beautifully titled ‘Judi Garland.’

This was a lovely finale to my Childrens Book Festival 2012.

Mountains to Sea

August 29, 2012 By: judicurtin Category: General Chat


If it’s September in Ireland, than it has to be time for the Mountains to Sea Festival in Dun Laoghaire. It’s a highlight of the year for me, and as always, I’m really looking forward to it. There are loads of great events for adults and children. I’m not going to list them here, but you can check them out at www.mountainstosea.ie.

I’ll be at the Monster Book Lunch on Saturday 8th. This is always a great event, if a bit manic – (in a good way!)

I always wanted to be a Princess, and on Sunday 9th, my wish will be coming true. I’m teaming up with the brilliant writers Pauline McLynn and Marita Conlon-McKenna, in an event called Princesses of the Pen. We are going to be interviewed by the super-cool Diana Bunici from elev8. (Let’s hope she’s been practicing her curtseys.)

Now where did I put that tiara??