The weather was mild and balmy, and we were thrilled to have 7 of the 11 authors featured in the anthology present, to celebrate this spectacular occasion with us. Guests began arriving before 6 p.m. and the menu of canapes created by chef Anthony O'Grady was not only superb but beautifully presented and included such delights as mini baked potatoes stuffed with cheddar and chive, curried shrimp bouche, and smoked salmon and dill wrap.
The crowd mingled and we had the opportunity to catch up with people we haven't seen in a while as well getting to know some new faces.
Long List finalists Brian Kirk and Dawn Lowe were in attendence and we greatly appreciate their support.
Best-selling author, ebullient and lovely Linda Kavanagh, a wonderful friend through it all offering advice and moral support, came along with her daughter Susan.
We thank actors Una Crawford, Sheila Flitton, Aisling Flitton and our guest judge Bryan Murray, who all took time out from their busy schedules in warm support of the launch and Labello Press.
After an eloquent introduction by teacher and author Brian McMenamy, Dublin author Steve Wade read from his poignant, timely and intense story of one woman's efforts to protect her children, "For the Children"...
...while Carol Brick-Stock gave the audience a glimpse into thoughts of infidelity in her cynical story, "The Woman in Her Head".
Tralee native Noel O'Regan's "As Grey Sky and Sea Blend" depicts a young man's obsession with and ultimate test by the sea...
...and Helen Kampfner travelled from the Basque Country to intrigue with her tale of tense family dynamics, "The Locust Years".
Hailing from Canada, Third Place prizewinner, P.W. Bridgman read from his slightly surreal and enormously entertaining story "Cake, Bang and Elm"...
While Londoner Zoe Gilbert enchanted us with her charming and stylish story of a foul-smelling and odd family tradition, the Second Place prizewinning, "The Trotternish Ox-men".
And last but not least to read was our First Place prizewinner Paul Burns who joined us from London to read from his dark and sinister story of a delusion shared, "Folie a' Deux".
Afterwards guests availed of more refreshments while the authors signed copies of "Gem Street".
What touched us most was not only the generous support of our new venture, but the warmth and caring present in the room. Everyone was in high spirits and relaxed in each others' company. The United Arts Club proved to be the perfect venue, steeped in literary history, elegant in its surroundings, and spacious enough to accomodate the 50 plus guests attending.
We missed the presence of the four authors unable to attend, Michael Madigan from Coloroda whose quirky and touching story about the Christmas Toy of the Year, "The GyPSy Line", enchanted us from our first reading of it, Evan Guilford-Blake from Georgia and his story of a man battling against his nature in "Animation", Somerset resident Christian Cook's humourous tale of a fleshy nought and crosses game, " OX" and Londoner Wynn Wheldon's quiet, gentle and magnificently appropriate end to the book, "Apples".
From the bottom of our hearts and with great appreciation, we thank everyone who came out on the night for their good wishes, wonderful company and genuine friendship. We could not have done it without you!