Orkney Book Festival

The 2017 Orkney Book Festival takes place between the 9th and 12th November. I will be reading a selection of new material after the George Mackay Brown Memorial Lecture, Warehouse Buildings Stromness at 8pm on Friday 10th November. More information on this session is available on the George Mackay Brown Fellowship website.

Events are many and varied with workshops on screenwriting from Sara Bailey to Renga Poetry with Yvonne Gray.

There is a chance to hear the many voices of Orkney writers with authors such as Amy Liptrot, Tim Morrison and Morag MacInnes reading at venues around the islands. Tickets are £5 each on the door except where indicated on the programme, concessions £4 (companion carers free).

The Orkney Book Festival is run by the GMB Fellowship and Wirdsmit. It is funded by Creative Scotland and supported by Orkney Library and Archive, OIC Culture fund and West Side Cinema.

Orkney, book, festival programme, Gabrielle Barnby, romance, mystery,
Gabrielle Barnby, Sara Bailey, Orkney, book, festival, scottish, islands, thriller, mystery, romance.

Gabrielle Barnby and Sara Bailey appearing at the The Orkney Book Festival.

Stromness Per Mare: Street name Acrostics + Haiku

Stromness Writing Group is celebrating the 200 Per Mare year with an exhibition acrostic poems based on Stromness street names. The poems have all been written by group members over the past few months and will be on display with a map of Stromness in the Northlight Gallery, Stromness. The exhibition is back for a second showing run from Saturday 7th -16th October. Entry is free to all and there will be a chance to meet the writers on Saturday 7th from 2-4pm. A limited edition publication of the poems will be available to purchase at the gallery and at Stromness Books and Prints.

Northlight-gallery, Stromness, Per Mare, 200, Stromness Writing Group, Orkney, Gabrielle Barnby, Acrostics, poems

Stromness Per Mare: Foy

Stromness Writing Group is celebrating the 200 Per Mare year by hosting a Foy of totally new poetry and prose based on and around Stromness. The evening will include readings from over a dozen writers as well as music and refreshments. The winners of the Flash Fiction 200 words competition will also be announced and invited to read their work. The Foy will be taking place at the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness on Friday 8th September, 7.00pm for 7.30pm.

Tickets only £3 from Stromness Books and Prints and Orkney Archives as well as on the door. All welcome.

Stromness, acrostic, Gabrielle Barnby, Orkney, Scottish, Islands, Northlight Gallery, 200
Stromness, Per Mare, Writing Group, Gabrielle Barnby, 8th September, Pier Arts Centre.

The Inspiration of St Magnus

These poems were written as part of a celebration of music, visual arts and literature on the 900th anniversary of the martyrdom of Magnus Erlendsson.  Between 28th-30th July a number of events organised by the Catholic Church will be held on Orkney, including pilgrimages to Birsay and Egilsay. More information is available on the Diocese of Aberdeen website.

Go to your knees


Magnus and the Crow



Egilsay, Magnus 900, martyrdom, Orkney, poems, Gabrielle Barnby, 2017

Booked with Shirley Whiteside

Pulse 98.4 fm, Sunday 15.00-16.00

Gabrielle Barnby, The Oystercatcher Girl, Orkney, writer, debut, novel, Shirley Whiteside, Booked, Pulse

Gabrielle Barnby talks about her new novel The Oystercatcher Girl to writer, reviewer and radio presenter Shirley Whiteside this Sunday afternoon on BookedPulse 98.4 fm. Find out more about the ideas behind the novel and how the characters came to life. Hear about the myth of the oystercatcher and being a writer in Orkney.

Listen again on mixcloud.

 The book is a mystery, a romance and a literary work – and running through its pages, the trilling of Oystercatchers.’ 
Romance, mystery, Scotland, Islands, Gabrielle Barnby, The Oystercatcher Girl, Orkney, writer, debut, novel, Shirley Whiteside, Booked, Pulse
Romance, mystery, Scotland, Islands, The Oystercatcher Girl, The House with the Lilac Shutters, Gabrielle Barnby, Booked, Shirley Whiteside, Deborah Martin, You are Still Here.

Living Diaries

Stomness Writing Group – Diary Extracts and the Stories we Created.

Saturday 8th July from 2pm

Orkney Library & Archive, Kirkwall

A chance to hear diary extracts from 200 Years of Diaries, Life’s Documents Chronicled from 1800-2000 curated by Dylan Jonas Stone followed by a range of creative responses from Stromness Writing Group.

The diary extracts are taken from between 1909 and 1975 and have prompted a variety of writing including diary continuations, short fiction and letters. Each piece uses a diary as a starting point and takes the ideas to form a creative response that will be read out by members of the writing group.

Orkney Archive 200 years of Diaries.

Diary Entry Feb-March 1909

Diary continuation

Thoughts on Bert and V. and Fluffy

Thoughts on Miss Burke

200 Years of Diaries, Dylan Stone, Gabrielle Barnby, Stromness Writers Group, Creative response, Orkney

Book Launch


The launch was hosted by Scottish poet Yvonne Gray on Thursday, April 20th , Kirkwall library. There was a full house for the book launch made up of friends, family, writers and visitors. Yvonne Gray steered questions on the new novel and there was an opportunity to talk about the way I worked and what inspired me to write The Oystercatcher Girl.  There was also a chance to hear some readings from the new book and a discussion of the myth from South Uist of how the oystercatcher received its markings.

‘The oystercatcher, a black and white shore bird with an orange beak, was known as Gille Brighde, or the servant of Brighde, foster-mother of Christ. It was said that an oystercatcher had hidden the baby Jesus from enemies beneath a covering of seaweed; ever since that time the bird has worn a cross on its back.’ From Archaeology and Folklore, Ed Amy Gazin-Schwartz, Cornelius J. Holtorf. 2000, Routledge.

 Set amidst the spectacular scenery of the Orkney Islands, Gabrielle Barnby’s skilfully plotted first novel is a beautifully understated story of deception and forgiveness, love and redemption.
Romance, mystery, Scotland, The Oystercatcher Girl, Gabrielle Barnby, Orkney, love, forgiveness, redemption, ThunderPoint, debut novel

Read my review of the Two Hundred Years of Diaries exhibition organised by the artist Dylan Jonas Stone.

200 years of diaries, Dylan Stone, Gabrielle Barnby, Orkney

The diaries are from all over the UK, including Orkney, and span the years 1800-2000. They will be exhibited in the Kirkwall Library and Stromness Library until 11th July 2017.

Stromness 200

This year Stromness celebrates 200 years of being officially decreed a Burgh of Barony, meaning that the town had the right to manage and run its own affairs separate from Kirkwall. There are a host of Stromness 200 – Per Mare celebrations during the year including homecoming events, drama activities, tea dances, displays of vintage clothing and events on the water organised by the Nav School.

Stromness Writing Group

The Stromness Writing Group is joining in the celebrations with a writing competition with a difference – everyone’s a judge. There are 200 days to submit pieces up to 200 words in length that have the theme of Stromness Per Mare. These will then be displayed on the writing group facebook page for people to ‘like.’ We’re hoping the competition will be fun.

Other plans include

Saturday 18th February – Stromness 200 Per Mare Bicentennial celebration launch,  Royal Hotel, Stromness

More information about Stromness 200 events.

Stromness 200, writing group competition, 200 words, flash fiction, Gabrielle Barnby

Magnus 900


Monday April 17th – The Inspiration of St Magnus

2017 marks the 900th anniversary of the martyrdom of Magnus Erlendsson. His death took place on the island of Egilsay but his body was later brought to Orkney mainland and rested in St Magnus Church Birsay. At a later time his bones were removed to St Magnus Cathedral.

There will be many celebrations during the year. I prepared a number of poems to perform at The Inspiration of Saint Magnus, an evening of music, visual arts and literature. The evening at St Magnus Church, Birsay included readings and reflections on work by Robert Rendall, Gilbert Marcus and George Mackay Brown, music from the Orkney Schola and readings from the Orkneyinga Saga. The church is also the location of a new an art installation by Erland Brown and Dave Jackson.

More information about other Magnus 900 events in Orkney.

St Magnus church Birsay, Magnus 900, Gabrielle Barnby, Orkney, poetry
Magnus 900, Gabrielle Barnby, poetry, Birsay, April 17th, inspiration

George Mackay Brown 20th anniversary

April 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of Orcadian writer George Mackay Brown.  A programme of local events was organised by parishoners of Our Lady and St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Kirkwall where he attended mass took place to mark the occasion.

The events included an Anniversary Mass and on Friday 15th April the eve of St Magnus’ Day. Later, there was an evening of ‘Reflection and Celebration’ at the St Magnus Centre, Kirkwall during which Alison Gray launched her book George Mackay Brown. No Separation. The Orkney Schola, a Gregorian chant group base in Orkney, also sung parts of the reconstructed office of St Magnus.


My impressions and ideas occasionally manifest themselves as poems. I find joy in everyday happenings, give reverence to small moments that touch deeply and might otherwise pass by unremarked. It’s hard work, exploiting any idea to its full potential, critically questioning its value and the effect of a particular phrase, yet retaining the freedom of imagination. 

The happenstance of person, place and faith interacts in subtle and beautiful ways in George Mackay Brown’s poetry. Faith and environment act as a lens through which a new perspective is found. As a writer and a Catholic living in Orkney this is something I share.

Poem, Gabrielle Barnby, George Mackay Brown 20th, Gabrielle Barnby, book launch, No separation, Alison Gray
George Mackay Brown 20th Anniversary events, Gabrielle Barnby, Orkney, Kirkwall, Stromness

Gold Diggers, poem, Gabrielle Barnby, George Mackay Brown 20th anniversary.

Additional events included an open mic poetry reading night in St Mary’s Episcopal church, Stromness organised by the George Mackay Brown Fellowship and supported by the Stromness Writing Group.

There was also a service at St Magnus Church, Birsay to celebrate the feast of St Magnus. 2017 represents the 900th anniversary of the saint and will be widely celebrated in Orkney.

George Mackay Brown. No Separation. Alison Gray. Barnby

George Mackay Brown. No Separation by Alison Gray.