Such was the success of the Liam Nolan edited collection of stories Razzle Dazzle for the Loughrea Creative Writing Group that they have brought out another collection but with the same title.

This time it is more of a mixed bag and a few times I felt that some stories lacked focus or an end with impact. I might have surmised that too much good wine had been dispensed the first time. Then I read Liam Nolan’s introduction to this collection, where he quoted Belloc – “Of all the fatiguing, futile, empty trades, the worst I suppose, is writing about writing.” Ouch and double ouch.

Then, I read the Joe Conmy story, The Dead Are Always With Us and I was immediately impressed by a story of such style and depth. On one level it is about visiting a family grave to trace ancestors, then, it is a coming to terms with the loss of a treasured son and of the small coincidences often called poetic fallacy where nature seems to mimic or have sympathy with humans.

This was a human story, a spiritual journey and if you think coincidences are strange, in the last few paragraphs of this story it mentioned the Harry Clarke stained glass windows in the church in Ballinrobe. I will be in Ballinrobe later this month.

Eamonn McNally had a nice twist of ghost stories in The Black Door, Ray Gately had a nice take on our national festival in Fétile Pádraig.

Not all stories are about memories of a rose-tinted past and Joe Conmy in A Brief Encounter looks at last year’s Volvo Round the World Yacht Race and hints at a new fresh future.

Liam Nolan closes the collection with a great memory of the Goon Show and Spike Milligan but in Sugar Ray and My Conversation he connects Bernard Dunne with an almost rant against boxing.