Carrick-on-Suir Student awarded at Young Writers Competition at the 17th Immrama Festival

Audiences take a literal journey around the globe & Young Writers awarded at the 17th Immrama Festival

Over the weekend the seventeenth annual Lismore Immrama Festival of Travel Writing celebrated a theme of ‘Extraordinary Adventures’ and visitors from all over the country descended upon the heritage town to enjoy a series of events spanning from last Wednesday to Sunday.

Talks took place with Neil Oliver, author, and the presenter of the TV series Coast; explorer and author Sarah Outen took her audience on an adventure around the globe by boat, by bike and by kayak. And festivalgoers travelled through the depths of Africa with author Lerato Mogoathle as she discussed her book ‘Vagabond’, Dr Robyn Rowland shared personal travel tales from Turkey, the Balkans and Australia and author Rosita Boland told of some daredevil moments from her new travel book Elsewhere; one woman, one rucksack, one lifetime of travel.

Earlier in the week, the festival opened with the screening of the documentary ‘Congo – An Irish Affair’ which was broadcast to a full house which included some of the soldiers from what is now referred to as the siege of Jadotville. Historian Donald Brady spoke of Waterford novelist Regina Maria Roche and traditional musician Charlie Piggott took his audience on a journey of musical travels.

The final day of the festival was ‘Family Fun Sunday’ and crowds enjoyed the activities, and atmosphere at the town’s Millennium Park with lots of entertainment on offer from The Booley House.

The winners of the 2019 Immrama Young Travel Writers competition were also announced and presented with their awards by Neil Oliver. Earlier this year budding young writers were encouraged to submit entries based on the theme of ‘Letters to Home’; Secondary school level students in the form of 500 word short stories and Primary school level students (5th & 6th class) 250-word ‘Postcards to Home’. Close to 500 entries were received from schools across Ireland for this years Immrama School’s Travel Writers Competition. The judges for the competition included Stephen Kavanagh CEO Aer Lingus, Pól O’Conghaile, Award-winning Travel Writer Debbie Byrne, MD of An Post
Vickie Stephenson Director CX EMEA Airbnb, Phil Cottier CEO The CX Collection.

The winner in the secondary school senior cycle category is Jessica Enright, age 16
from Scoil Mhuire Greenhill, Carrick on Suir
who wrote ‘Snails for Dinner!’ Her teacher is Alison Duffy. Jessica won a Chromebook and a €100 Amazon Voucher along with the Immrama Travel Writing trophy and her teacher was awarded a stay at the 5-Star Cliff House Hotel.

The winner in the secondary school junior cycle category is Eadaoin Drumgoole, age 13
from St Louis Secondary School Dundalk who wrote ‘Czech it out!’
her teacher is Deirdre Smith. Eadaoin won a Chromebook and a €100 Amazon Voucher along with the Immrama Travel Writing trophy and her teacher was awarded a stay at the 5-Star Cliff House Hotel.

The winner in the primary school competition is Aisling Brennan, age 12
from St John of Gods National School, Waterford and her teacher is Clare Sheane. Aisling wrote ‘A letter home’ and for this winning entry she won a €100 Amazon Voucher along with the Immrama Travel Writing trophy and her teacher was awarded a stay at the 5-Star Cliff House Hotel.

A special judges award of a €100 Amazon voucher was also presented to teacher Ms Hanley at Athlone Community College.

One of the organiser’s of the competition Phil Cottier says, “The student’s ages ranged from 10 to 18 and the quality and standard of this year’s entries were exceptional. We would like to offer our special thanks to the teachers, the students and our sponsors Aer Lingus and the 5-Star Cliff House Hotel for making this year competitions so special.”

Commenting on the 2019 festival one of the festival’s organiser’s Jan Rotte said, “We are delighted to welcome lots of new faces to Lismore for Immrama this year, the programming this year has been all about adventure, some of the travel journeys we have heard over the weekend have been fascinating. We would like to thank everyone for joining us and making the 2019 festival a great success and indeed to our sponsors and supporters for their ongoing commitment.”


Primary School Winner – St John of Gods National School, Waterford

Teacher Ms Clare Sheane 051 -876 255.


Secondary School Junior Cycle – School Winner – St Louis Secondary School Dundalk

Teacher Deirdre Smith (042) 933 4474


Secondary School Senior Cycle – School Winner – Scoil Mhuire Greenhill, Carrick on Suir

Teacher Alison Duffy 089 940 9545.


The winning entries



AGE: 12

Dearest Grandma,

This postcard is coming to you from Brazil, South America!! Yesterday, my travelling companions and I kayaked along the Amazon river. We passed through deep caves filled with various sizes of bats, their soft wings silently fluttering above our heads and we were thrown down fast flowing rapids and waterfalls. It was so exciting. We marvelled at animals of every size, colour and shape – all the hues of the rainbow!! What an experience! Tomorrow, we plan to travel west and hike towards Guayaquil to experience the incredible wildlife and scenery you have always told me about…when you first landed in Brazil yourself many years ago! We have stayed here 8 days now though it feels like months. What an experience! We will have to say goodbye to this wonderful culture in less than a week, but these priceless memories will never leave me, just as they have never left you. I’ve taken lots of pictures and have kept a diary of our escapades so far just as you said. I wish you were here with us Grandma. Everything here reminds me of stories told late at night, around your blazing fire, of laughter and of all your adventures. I know you have always dreamed of returning to this paradise and I have tried to do this for you. Reliving your adventure makes me feel closer to you every day. Thank you for always encouraging me to follow my dreams and achieve my goals. Thank you for being my inspiration and guide throughout my life. You’re such an amazing Grandma!

Lots of Love, your Granddaughter, Aisling xxx


AGE: 13


Ahoj Celia!

No, I didn’t learn to speak Czech on my trip to Prague. But I did, however (accidentally) learn that it is far too easy to spend 87 Korunas – €3.50 in Captain Candy. What? I love the fudge… Terminal two is the best, with its sleek, modern architecture, the food court which makes you ravenous even if you’ve eaten a Man-Vs-Food worthy breakfast and the shops which just beg you to buy their top-of-the-range comfort memory foam neck pillows. My holiday started as most would. The lead-up thrill, the frenzy of “MAM, TELL ME YOU HAVE MY PASSPORT!” and finally the sibling squabble for the best seat on flight EI0644 – the window seat. I won :D. Immediately I noticed the trams in Prague. Everywhere. Nothing like the fear of being run over to kickstart your holiday. The Airbnb owner, Adriano, led us to Štěpánská, the place we were to stay, down a dark alley with a restaurant called “The Titanic” next door. That comforted me a little. Our apartment was on the top floor, with a heart-stopping view of the concert hall. After a quick dinner of the-cheapest-bread-we-could-find-á-la-water, we slept. Let me just say, chimney cakes are life-changing. I have never tried anything quite like one, and probably never will again. They taste like apple that’s been brewing in cinnamon juice and the sweet tears of Jesus. Then to top it all off, a stream of piping hot chocolate is poured down the centre to form the masterpiece known as a Trdelník. That’s a mouthful. But trust me you want a mouthful of this! We happily (now not hungrily) made our way towards Old Town square to watch the 600-year-old astronomical clock strike on the hour. There are so many additional clocks on the original clock that I honestly couldn’t tell which clock was on the actual time. A raucous ‘BONG’ cleared that up for me. Tiny little apostle figurines danced around the clock face to a little tune of, you guessed it, more bongs. Skeletons rang their bells (don’t question it) and everyone cheered. The next morning, my family and I finally decided to take a tram. Where to? No idea. Why? Just for fun. Hotel? Trivago. I thought I would hate careening around corners at a speed that probably wasn’t legal, but it was thrilling! The people on the tram were pleasant and didn’t look at me strangely with my grubby old hat that I appropriated from Dad. The mystery tram adventure led to Prague Castle, with an insanely beautifully decorated gothic style cathedral in the courtyard – St. Vitus Cathedral. The guards looked like little dolls as they patrolled the grounds. On the way back, we stopped for one last trdleník and a traditional bratwurst, or street meat as I call it – it was incredibly delicious! I really hope you can visit Prague someday because it’s seriously the most fascinating city I’ve ever visited!

Buy a trdleník, Éadaoin

6 Sunshine street Grintown 29 February



AGE: 16

Dear Gemma,

I’m writing to you as I’m sipping a frothy latte on one of the many sun-drenched terraces of Paris. Are you jealous yet? Although, I remember you telling me that you hate coffee. Anyway, I have quite the story to tell you. God, I can feel myself blushing scarlet even thinking about it. Picture this. I’ve stumbled into the first Parisienne restaurant that I’ve caught sight of to satiate the ferocious growling in my stomach. In hindsight, I probably should have realised my mistake as soon as I passed through the gilded doors. Waiters with tiny pointed moustaches waltz around, flutes of champagne balanced precariously on gleaming silver trays. Men wearing too much hair oil and thousand dollar suits laugh raucously and puff on big cigars. I’m instantly overwhelmed by the stench of perfume, so strong it stings my nostrils when I take a breath. I hear the sharp tapping sound of stiletto heels attached to long, slender legs as ladies who belong on the front pages of magazines drift by. Rail thin women, all clad from head to toe in designer clothing and diamonds, sport perfectly manicured nails and glossy blow-dried locks that rests in smooth waves just above their shoulders. I shove my faux-leather purse inside my coat as the Maître D’ directs me to a table. He looks me briefly up and down, taking in my cheap and cheerful clothing before smirking to himself and sashaying away. I’m feeling fairly embarrassed at this stage, as I see people at the tables beside me giggle behind their hands as they appraise my ancient sneakers. But this is nothing in comparison to what’s to come. By now I’ve been handed a menu and a bead of perspiration is beginning to bead on the nape of my neck as I catch a glimpse of the extortionate prices. A petite woman wearing eyeliner that probably cost more than my entire outfit watches me speculatively, her lips pursed in a mocking smile as she appraises the panicked look on my face. Another waiter appears out of thin air beside me, nattering away to me in heavily accented English about his recommendations, all costing three figures. My panic doubles when I peer more closely at the menu and notice that there are no English translations. Gemma, you know how hopeless I am at French. So, I just order the first thing that pops into my head- Escargots. Stop. I can just see you giggling right now. Remember my face when Tom spilt ketchup on my brand new white blouse? Well, that’s what I looked like when I was served a huge plate of snails. You know how fussy I am, I couldn’t face even trying one. I had to leave the restaurant a hundred euro poorer and just as hungry as I’d been walking in! Anyway, I don’t want to keep you. I’m sure you’ve got better things to do than read about me being my usual silly self.

Say hello to Mam for me! Lots of love, Jessica

DELTA, 48 Boulevard Jourdan, 75014 Paris, France

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