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"I met merchants and publicans who welcomed me and the other poets from inside and outside Ireland with open arms and enthusiastic support of our poetry readings - another united front.


I met poets from other countries and elsewhere inside my own country, along with a large contingency of Irish poets, who broadened my appreciation, as a poet and poetry editor, of contemporary poetry around the world.


I returned to my Mad Swirl community in Dallas, Texas with accolades and high praise for the Festival and the Town of Fermoy.


We are preparing to return with more participants and plan to film the event as part of a new project we are titling, Swirl-A-Bout: Fermoy, Mad Swirl Seeking the Beat of the Heart of Poetry."

Michael Clay, USA

"I had the pleasure of attending the Blackwater International Poetry Festival August 1 - 5, 2013 as one of the winners of the international poetry competition. I cannot say enough positive things about my experience at the festival. There were readings and workshops at every imaginable type of venue; castles, pubs, hotel conference rooms, retail shops and barber shops. Readings were lively and well attended.
What I appreciated most what the sense of community, I had shopkeepers and customers in line at the post office asking about my poetry and people we'd only met days earlier greeted us on the street with hugs and smiles.
I know from my experience as an arts administrator that the economic impact of such events reaches
far beyond the scheduled dates. Fermoy and County Cork are definetly on my list of places to visit again, and I have already told others to stop in the area whwn they travel to Ireland."
Erin Murphy, Associate Professor of English, PennState University, USA


"It was a great pleasure to be part of the Blackwater Poetry Festival 2013. I reminisce on the events of that week and the friends I made with great fondness. It was well organized, and reception by the whole town was warm and inviting. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of it."

Silva Zanoyan Merjanian, USA.

It was my first ever visit to Ireland and the Blackwater Poetry Festival was an apt occasion. Poetry flowed uninhibited in the little town of Fermoy for the entire duration of festival. The organising committee,
led by Gene Barry played perfect hosts and one felt, yes this is home.
The entire festival was well managed, I got to meet lots of poet friends and locals. What I found most innovative were the public readings in places such as Banks, Barber shops, cafes and pubs. It was
wonderful to read poetry to the locals and I was elated at the response.
I carry lots of fond memories and friendships that continue to blossom. I would love to attend the
festival again.
Shyam Sunder Sharma, India

"The festival was a delight, well run and lots of fun. Gene Barry and

Co. deserve a ton of Kudos!"

Professor (retired) Bradley Strahan, Belgium





"Blackwater International Poetry Festival 2013 was a most enjoyable event, with real and widespread local involvement combined with the participation of a significant number of international poets. An inspirational gathering!"

Michael Farry, Winner of the Irish poetry competition 2013, County Meath, Ireland.





"The Blackwater International Poetry Festival is one of the few festivals that takes the work of both amateur and professional poets equally seriously. It enables both to connect with eachother and with a new audience in the friendly and beautiful surroundings of Fermoy.


The festival has managed to place poetry in the heart of Fermoy, by having poets reading in shops and bars and that's exactly what poetry needs: to be connected to everyday life and everyday people, so they can create and share something rare and extremely extraordinary together."

Tsean Bruinja, Holland




"The Blackater International Poetry Festival is a mix of local, nation and international poets. But once we get to Fermoy, that’s where it stops. We’re no longer Irish, English, American, Dutch ... we’re just poets. 


We read for the people and each other. Share experiences, give advice. Support each other. It’s like a family reunion."

Miceál Kearney, Galway, Ireland.



"I had always heard about the wonderful Irish hospitality; my experience at the Blackwater International Poetry Festival was to realize this in full.


The hosts of the festival, Gene and Margo Barry along with the people of Fermoy itself, down to the barber and shopkeepers were welcoming and each one, memorable. The poetry was simply splendid, poignant and varied.


And for a poet to read their work in this land of bards and enchantment was a dream come true, one that will bring a smile to my lips upon each remembrance..."

Sharon Frye,  USA




"What a wonderful festival. Early mornings in bright sunshine. Bus tours into the countryside. Poets reading in low ceilinged bars and amongst now remembered ruins in the fresh air.


Long nights of poets from all continents. Video link ups with Texan wordsmiths. Late nights of laughter. Much talking. Much soul. Much heart. Many friends found and made. All organised with grace and good humour.


A permanent fixture in my diary from now on."

Brendan McCormack, Dublin, Ireland.



"The Blackwater International Poetry Festival was one of the highlights of my life. It

was my first trip to Ireland, and it will not be my last. I met wonderful people

and heard incredible poetry. It was awe inspiring. I will be reliving this for

many years to come. As we used to say in my youth, What a trip!!!"

Kay Kinghammer, Washington State,  USA





"The Festival offered me a brilliant opportunity to meet up with and hear

readings by many of the fine poets whom I had up to then known only as

Facebook friends.


I particularly enjoyed the work of John Sexton during the Texas link up.

Exchanging ideas with Shyam Sharma round the kitchen table of the lovely

Fermoy lady whose hospitality we enjoyed for four days was another highlight I treasure.


The readings in the town were also a lot of fun."

Janice Windle, England




"The Blaclwater International festival 2013 is simply Magic, with its many delights...the writing, the workshops, the readings in the various venues during the day and evening, meeting people-both

from Ireland and international.


I was so lucky to be here this year! I feel honoured and privileged to have been able to take part.

It was a really special time for me.


Thank you to Gene Barry and his committee for

making the festival a success."

Amy Barry, Athlone,  Ireland








"I returned home from the Blackwater poetry festival with

a bucket of good memories. We were treated to

wonderful hosts, kind and attentive audiences,

enthusiastic shopkeepers who let us perform in their

shops, and a lot of amazing poets and poetry!"

Saskia Stehouwer Holland



"I have so many memorable moments from The Blackwater International Poetry Festival but what

stood out most for me was the bringing together of so many varied nationalities, cultures,

histories, experiences and talents.


I am proud and honoured to be a part of it."

Marie O’Halloran, Charleville,  Ireland






"Great fun and ourselves having it...poetry to get your hair cut by or put in a bank..a real

hands on festival for real people."

Donall Dempsey, England








"I was one of three international winners of the Blackwater International poetry

Competition 2013. I came to the Festival not really knowing what to expect.


What I found was poetry, poetry, poetry and friendship. Fermoy Poetry Festival was

the most fun I have had for years. I made new friends, met up with some old ones

and made memories that will

live with me for years.


Can't wait to go back."

Rachel Davies, England




"We loved our time at the Festival. It was different and the writers were

made feel that little bit special." 

Liam Ryan, County Tipperary, Ireland.




The Blackwater International Poetry Festival is unique in its atmosphere of genuine

democracy and interaction within the community.


As well as headlined readings, all the poets circulate throughout the festival in

impromptu readings in cafés, restaurants, pubs, barber shops, even the local Bank.


Simply put, there’s no poetry festival quite like it anywhere else in Ireland. 

John W. Sexton, Kerry, Ireland






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