The Leitrim Guardian, an annual voluntary community magazine, has just celebrated 51 years. The launch was in Manorhamilton.
As in the past 20 years or so, the Editor asked me to select the winners among the best prose and poetry pieces accepted for publication. There were 60+ submissions so choosing 2 prose and 2 poetry winners was not easy. The winners are announced on the night at the launch. The cash prizes are modest but the boost to a novice writer or a poet’s confidence is immeasurable.
A recent chance encounter at a lunch party confirmed this. Having established a Leitrim connection one guest asked about my role in the magazine. When I explained, she seemed slightly stunned, which I found disconcerting. Then she added: "You don't realise it but you changed my daughter's life!" I'd never met either of them before so this startled me.
It turned out that a few years ago I gave one of the literary prizes to her daughter and she was so delighted that after accepting the award at the launch she changed her chosen university course to English literature, was about to begin a postgrad in creative writing and hoped eventually to work in publishing.
This was great to hear and just shows you never know the full impact of your actions.
Have a look at www.leitrimguardian.ie.