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.
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.