On-line Open Mic

March 13th  2024 7-9pm

The Scottish Highlands and Islands Poetry Society will be having another on-line open mic poetry reading evening. Folk are welcome to join us on-line to hear this wonderful gathering of poets from across the highlands and islands.

For more details and to sign up for an on-line link check out the SHIPS facebook page.

The event is free to attend.

Scottish Highlands and Islands Poetry Society - SHIPS

World Book Day

Getting creative at Papdale School, Kirkwall

March 5th  2024

Join me in celebrating World Book Day as I get creative with P5-P7 at Papdale Primary School, Kirkwall from 3.15-4.45 on Tuesday 5th March.

Football & Aliens

World Book Day - Papdale School, Orkney, Gabrielle Barnby

Salt Songs

On-line Book Launch

February 15th  2024

Along with many contributors to Salt Songs I will be reading during the on-line launch for this collection celebrating the centenary of George Mackay Brown.

February 15th 7.00pm-8.00pm
Salt Songs, George Mackay Brown fellowship, Gabrielle Barnby contributor

Merry with Flame

And song

Creative workshops

January 2024

I’m putting together a series of four creative workshops for January. These sessions aim to be gentle and reflective and will encourage seeds of creativity to grow.
I’ve two options for times:
Monday 7.30-9.00 (Zoom)
Wednesday 1.00-2.30 (King Street Halls, Kirkwall)
If you are interested pop me a message and I’ll send payment instructions. No writing experience necessary.
The sessions would make a fabulous Christmas gift 🙂 Please get in touch if you would like to treat a friend.
Creative workshops, Gabrielle Barnby, Orkney, January 2024

Across the Silent Sea – Sparsile Books

Christmas 2023 event


Wednesday, December 13 · 7 – 8pm GMT
Book your free ticket through Eventbrite and receive an on-line link.

19:00 – 19:20 – Author Interview

19:20 – 19:30 – Q&A

19:30 – 20:00 – Workshop

Workshop theme – ‘Hearing new voices, imagining different lives’ – Creating a space where it’s possible to freely explore a different aspect of self, to be gorgeous, to be different, to inhabit a new voice.
Gabrielle Barnby, Christmas event, Across the Silent Sea, Orkney, Workshop, on-line, Eventbrite
Across the Silent Sea, Gabrielle Barnby, book launch, Kirkwall, Orkney,

Scottish Highlands and Islands Poetry Society – Launch

18th November

10-12.00am ON-LINE

2.30-4.30pm LIVE

Waterstones, Inverness

SHIPS ON LINE Launch – a society for poets of every level of experience writing in the Highlands and Islands.
The online event will begin with a short poetry reading, offered by poets who reflect some of the geographical spread of the Society, and in languages and dialects that reflect our cultural diversity across this expanse of Northern Scotland.
SHIPS co-founders, which includes Assynt-based poet Mandy Haggith, will share some reflections on plans for SHIPS and Lydia Harris, a poet at home in Westray, Orkney, will share about SHIPS online silent writing sessions. Nairn-based poet, James Andrew will then lead a 15-minute poetry writing workshop. Cáit O’Neill McCullagh will speak about the planned series of online winter events. Ardnamurchan and Cévannes based poet Sharon Black will lead us in another short poetry writing workshop.

Register for this event and read more details on the SHIPS facebook page.

A Strupag of Poets: SHIPS LIVE Launch
The newly forming SHIPS, founded with support from UHI Inverness College, brings together freshly emerging and more established poets from all airts and pairts of Northern Scotland. Poets penning pages from Shetland to Nairn; Assynt to Ardnamurchan; Easter Ross to Lewis are being invited to participate in online and in-person activities including open mic readings, workshops, shared writing sessions, and simply gathering to get to know their peers and enjoy contemporary poetry that draws on the lives, livings, languages, and interests of fellow poets across these straths, shores, islands, counties, firths and geos.

There is no need to book for this event. All age audiences are invited to simply turn up at any time during the reading to enjoy fine words from poets gathered from Shetland, Lewis, Assynt, Nairn, Forres, and the Cromarty Firth.

Both events are free to attend
Scottish Highlands and Islands Poetry Society - SHIPS
Scottish Highlands and Islands Poetry Society SHIPS
Scottish Highlands and Islands Poetry Society

Across the Silent Sea – Book Launch

2nd September, 2-4pm, Kirkwall Library

Join me and host Sara Bailey to celebrate the release of Across the Silent Sea with Sparsile Books.

There will be an opportunity for questions about the new novel and my creative process as well as a chance to hear excerpts of new writing.

There will also be refreshments and plenty of time for informal discussion and socialising.

Books available to buy provided by The Orcadian Bookshop

Free to attend – everyone welcome
Gabrielle Barnby, Across the Silent Sea, new novel set in Orkney, book launch celebration

Scotland’s Indie Book Festival

Come to Scotland’s Indie Book Festival set in the middle of picturesque Helmsdale. A celebration of 16 authors, their books and readings.

Top authors and new authors come together over a glorious 3 day event. This book festival brings you a mix of excitement from across the genres and allows you to meet and chat with the authors.

I will be discussing experiences on the road to publication for my new novel Across the Silent Sea with Sparsile Books.

There will be readings and an opportunity for questions as I describe the processes I follow to produce a completed manuscript along with practical advice and strategies for caring for the creative self.

Scotland's Indie Book Festival, 2023, Gabrielle Barnby

Bessie Skea – 100

Free creative sessions – illustration and writing

Wirdsmit is celebrating the centenary of Orkney writer Bessie Skea at the end of May. A prolific newspaper columnist, nature writer and creative she was born on Shapinsay and spent 40 years writing for The Orcadian newspaper.

Session 1 – Island Journeys with Britt Harcus

Stories and illustrations inspired by travelling between the isles

Session 2 – Waves and Tangles with Amber Connolly

Exploring Shapinsay’s natural world with description and imagination

Session 3 – Melons and Icicles with Gabrielle Barnby

Memories of Orkney life through the year

Celebrating Bessie Skea, Shapinsay, Gabrielle Barnby, Wirdsmit, May 2023

Merry Dancers

Free online creative session
Thursday May 18th, 10.15 am

This year the Spring School will focus on culture as a binding factor in society. The curated a programme explores meeting, greeting, sharing, and other cultural practices that are centred around communal experiences. Join me for this fun creative session exploring stories and explanations for the aurora borealis.

UNESCO RILA Spring School 2023: The Arts of Integrating - CULTURE CEILIDH, Gabrielle Barnby
UNESCO RILA Spring School 2023: The Arts of Integrating - CULTURE CEILIDH, Gabrielle Barnby

Spring Foy

Celebrating memories, conversations and creativity

Friday March 31st, Age Scotland, Victoria Street, Kirkwall – 12.30-2.30

Join us for music, readings and refreshments to celebrate our Pen Pals creative sessions.

Age Scotland Orkney community and friends all welcome.

Spring Foy, Age Scotland Orkney, Gabrielle Barnby

Scotland’s Indie Book Festival, 7th-9th Oct

Write at the Heart of the Community

Friday October 7th, Norseman Hotel, Wick – 12.00

Please come and hear about some of my experiences being a writer in the community and the benefits of following the simple belief that creativity is for all. There’s also a chance to try a short, easy writing exercise as well.

Join me and a host of local authors at Scotland’s Indie Book Festival. I will be speaking about my creative processes and exploring how a writer fits into the wider jigsaw of community life and how local events are and anniversaries are marked by creativity and writing in particular, my poem commemorating the scuttling of the German Fleet in Scapa Flow, and my recent collaboration celebrating of the centenary of George Mackay Brown. I will also talk about facilitating creative experiences with younger and older members of the Orkney community.

Tickets on the door or in advance at:

Science Fiction – Science Fact – Science Future

Celebrating Scotland’s year of stories
with OISF and EMEC

Saturday September 3rd, KGS – workshop times: 10.30, 11.30, 13.30 & 14.30
Wirdsmit, is celebrating Scotland’s year of stories by collaborating with Orkney International Science Festival and EMEC to launch a science fiction writing competition.
I will be running four mini-workshops during the OISF family day at Kirkwall Grammar School to support and encourage creative responses to the latest in renewable technology from EMEC.

Tickets for OISF family day (£5/3)

More info about entering writing competition here.
GMB centenary artwork launch, Gabrielle Barnby, Orla Stevens, Stromness, Orkney


Celebrating the Centenary of George Mackay Brown 1921-2021
and International Refugee Week

Saturday, 25th June 2-3pm, George Mackay Brown Memorial Garden, Stromness
Poetry readings and discussion of the new artwork Travellers with Gabrielle Barnby, Orla Stevens and friends.
Free to attend.
However Far you have journeyed, may you find peace and friendship here
Donations to Ukraine Crisis Appeal – The British Red Cross
Travellers, Gabrielle Barnby, Orla Stevens, Orkney. Centenary of George Mackay Brown

Raindrops in the Fire

Links House, Tuesday 1st June, 10-12pm

This will be a gathering of the Dementia Hub groups I have been working with during the spring to celebrate the publication of their creative conversations, poems and memories. There will be refreshments and a chance to hear readings from each other.

This work has been supported by Culture Collective through The Pier Arts Centre in collaboration with Age Scotland Orkney.

Still Under Brinkie’s Brae

Stromness Town Hall, Saturday 27th November, 7.30pm

This foy from Stromness Writing Group is both a remembrance of the great creativity of George Mackay Brown and a renewal of the habit of gathering together to listen, feast and celebrate.

The popular newspaper column Under Brinkie’s Brae ran for twenty years in the pages of The Orcadian newspaper simply signed with the initials GMB. The short pieces of prose varied in tone from reflections on the passing of the seasons, to domestic observations, to political and creative commentary. Inspired by these pieces, and the Orcadian rhythm of life that runs through so much of GMB’s writing, the Stromness Writing Group and friends are pleased to present their celebration of this centenary year.

All profits from this performance will be donated to The Blide Trust to support mental health in Orkney. The foy is also part of the Fair Saturday network of events devoted to culture and social causes.

Tickets available on the door from 7.00pm £5/£3

George Mackay Brown, Stromness, centenary

The Wondrous Scarf

Free Community workshop for Scottish Book Week celebrating the George Mackay Brown Centenary
On-line Monday 15th November – The Wondrous Scarf
Register here:
Recycled words & new ideas.
Be reverent.
Be kind to yourself – and to the planet.
Be blessed.
The Wondrous Scarf, George Mackay Brown, Gabrielle Barnby, The National. Scotland's independence newspaper

WayWORD Festival

Writers showcase with Pushing out the Boat & Leopard Arts, Thursday 23rd September, 7.30-9pm

I have been invited to read at the WayWORD literary arts festival – the festival is a student and youth-led literary arts festival brought to you by the WORD Centre for Creative Writing, University of Aberdeen and takes place from the 19th – 26th September 2021.

All workshops, author events, panel discussions and performance nights are FREE and live online and include BSL interpretation.

Join the event for FREE by registering here.

WayWORD literary festival, Gabrielle Barnby, Orkney, Aberdeen,

Bragi’s Space – Outdoor live performance

Launch and Recover, Thursday 12 August, 7-8pm

Stromness Writing Group will be sharing new work at Bragi’s Open Circle, at the Kristin Linklater Voice Centre, Quoyloo.

Join the event for FREE by registering here.

Readings will include Haiku from our lockdown publication again to get up and a variety of responses to the changes experienced during the past year.

Please note that Bragi’s Open Circle is an outside venue. Warm clothing is recommended. The event will be cancelled if weather conditions are poor.

Bragi's space, Kristin Linklater VOice Centre, Orkney. Gabrielle Barnby, Stromness Writing Group

Pushing Out the Boat

On Sunday 16th May, I will be reading a short piece at the launch of Pushing Out the Boat, North East Scotland’s Magazine of New Writing and Visual Art, issue 16.


Join the launch event for free by registering here.

Pre-order your copy here.

Pushing Out The Boat

5th International St Magnus Conference

I will be speaking about the Orcadian writer ‘Countrywoman’ Bessie Skea on the second day of the conference, Thursday April 15th, 12.10pm.

For information on how to find out more and register to attend and how to join visit or email to sign up.

Bessie Skea (1922-1996) published poems, prose and memoir and contributed columns to The Orcadian newspaper for nearly forty years.

She wrote during a period of significant change for agriculture, tourism and communication that transformed Orkney in the twentieth century. Her voice is direct and personal and describes life in the community, enriched with a love for the environment.

More information about my research can be found on ‘Bessie Skea – memories and more’

5th St Magnus Conference, Gabrielle Barnby, Bessie Skea
A Countrywoman's Diary, Bessie Skea, Book review, Gabrielle Barnby, Orkney, island life, Scottish.


Launch Party and Open Mic,  6th March, 2020 at 8pm

Just signed up to read at this brilliant opening event.

Free Zoom link on the Stanza events webpage.

Stanza poetry festival, 2021, Scotland

Bright Horizons Foy

28th November, 2020 at 7pm

Now available to watch on Youtube

Enjoy some Orcadian creative writing and music from Stromness Town Hall.

Bright Horizons Foy, poster, Orkney, writing, music, Orkney Arts Society, Stromness Writing Group event.

UHI Literature Society

Interactive talk – 30th November, 2020 at 7pm

To register interest please contact

I will be speaking to the University of the Highlands and Islands Literature Society about my writing processes and how they have changed over time. I’ll be sharing what works for me at different stages of the creative writing process and some suggestions for getting started and building skills. I’ll also speak about the importance of input and how to nurture the creative garden, the importance of support and preparing for, receiving and recovering from feedback.

University of the Highlands and Islands, UHI Literature Society, Gabrielle Barnby, workshop, Orkney

Fair Saturday – HMS Pheasant

Fair Saturday exhibition, HMS Pheasant 1917, 30th November, 2019

Northlight Gallery, Stromness, Orkney

The story of the sinking of the HMS Pheasant is little known, even less known are the lives of its crew, all of whom where lost when it collided with a mine on 1st March, 1917 just off Rora Head, Orkney. This exhibition will share research carried out by Fiona Grahame editor of The Orkney News. Stromness Writing Group has been working on creative pieces inspired by her findings and these will also be on show.

Fair Saturday is an antidote to the consumerist bonanza of Black Friday. Fair Saturday is a global movement of artists and cultural organisations to support social causes. Donations for the event at Northlight will go to the Orkney Rape and Sexual Assault service.

An illustrated talk on the HMS Pheasant is also taking place on 25th November, Orkney Library and Archive.

A crowd funding campaign has been launched to support the exhibition.

Northlight-gallery, Stromness, Fair Saturday, HMS Pheasant, Fiona Grahame, Gabrielle Barnby, poem
HMS Pheasant, Orkney, 1917, event

Horror on Hoy

Book Launch: Thursday, 19th September, 4.30pm, Carnegie Room, Kirkwall Library

Book launch for Horror on Hoy, by B.K.Bryce (Barbara and Kathleen Stevenson). Horror on Hoy is the third book in a neolithic whodunit series set in the Orkney Islands. I was asking questions about the experience of sisters writing and working together on the stone age series.

Horror on Hoy, B.K.Bryce, Gabrielle Barnby, Orkney, Book Launch, crime, fiction, ancient


Peace-Land: Reflection – Remembrance – Response: Saturday, 7th September, 2pm, Stromness Town Hall

This performance of commemorative poem Peace-Land will be accompanied by slides of artwork from Ralph Robinson inspired by the piece as well as short musical interludes. Tickets are available from Orkney International Science Festival

Peace-Land accompanies The Day the Fleet Went Down, directed by Liz Coward. This dramatisation of the scuttling of the German Fleet on Scapa Flow used the words of eyewitnesses to the event including school children on the Flying Kestrel. 

There will be an opportunity to purchase copies of Peace-Land before after the performance.

Peace-Land, Gabrielle Barnby, Scapa100, Flying Kestrel, Stromness, Town Hall, Orkney International Science Festival, Conference


Peace-Land: Reflection – Remembrance – Response: Thursday 20th June, 6.30pm, St Nicholas Church, Holm.

The performance of the Scapa100 commemorative poem Peace-Land was accompanied by inspired artwork from Ralph Robinson, musical interludes and refreshments. Ticket details to follow. Proceeds to The Friends of St Nicholas.

Peace-Land began as a response to the centenary events held in Orkney to mark the end of the First World War in November, 2018. It grew out of my experience as a witness to how society remembers war while conflict still continues daily. It grew out of my wish to remember the uncommemorated who died as a result of conflict, but who never fought. Finally, it grew out of a wish to make a statement of peace.

Written over the course of six months these verses are a small testament to the passing of time and season and the fleeting moments that seem to make life matter.

Scapa100, Gabrielle Barnby, poetry, Ralph Robinson, art, music, Peace-Land, peace, land, Scapa, 100, scuttling, German Fleet, 1919, 2019
Gabrielle Barnby, Peace-Land, Scapa100, St Nicholas Church, Holm, Orkney, 2019, 1919, scuttling, German fleet, peace, war.

One Day To Play

National Theatre Scotland teamed up with the Orkney Folk Festival to bring together different artists and give them a chance to work together. It was a privilege to be partnered with dance artist Julia McGhee who transformed my words into movement and gave a brilliant performance inspired by the birds around the Peedie Sea.  The Girnell was a great venue for everything from poems to dance, to music and storytelling.

Read and hear the poem – The Tern

The Tern, Gabrielle Barnby, Julia McGhee, poetry, dance, National Theatre Scotland, Orkney Folk Festival, One Day To Play

Orkney Free Fringe Festival

The first Orkney Free fringe Festival was be held on March 23rd.

I read something inspired by the witch craft trials memorial day – a classroom video that shows it’s not quite your ordinary afternoon at school….

2.00-2.30, Sunbeam Coffee House a peedie place on Victoria Street that sells coffee and cakes just a stones throw from the centre of town

3.30-4.00, Kirkwall Hotel 

6.00-6.30, Helgi’s everyone’s favourite bar

Spend your money on coffee and books rather than on tickets.

More information on other activities that happened throughout the day on the Orkney Free Fringe Facebook page.

Orkney Free Fringe Festival, Gabrielle Barnby, Writer. Readings, Sunbeam Cafe, Kirkwall,

Seasonal Readings

There will be an opportunity to hear a selection of my recent poetry as well as short stories with a seasonal theme on Sunday 16th December at the Deerness Distillery. It will be an informal event with light refreshments. I will be available afterwards to sign copies of my books and speak about my work and current projects.

Admission is free and everyone is warmly invited.

More information and directions are available on the Deerness Distillery website.

Seasonal readings, Deerness Distillery, poems, short stories. Gabrielle Barnby, Orkney

Scapa 100

On Saturday 24th November Deerness Distillery opened their doors to a group of divers and experts from the Scapa 100 initiative to share a first tasting of their new Scuttled Gin. During the evening I shared some verses inspired by the commemoration events in Orkney on November 11th. The aim of my creative response is to complete a 100 verse reflection on both remembrance and contemporary experience of conflict culminating in a completed poem for the anniversary of the scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet next June.

More information about anniversary events and opportunities to learn about Orkney’s wartime heritage are available from Scapa 100. Regular updates are also posted on their facebook page.

Scapa 100, epic poem, Gabrielle Barnby, Deerness Gin, Orkney, German Fleet, 1918. 1919

The Heart and Soul of Orkney

The Heart and Soul of Orkney brought together artists and writers to perform a Foy at St Mary’s Episcopal Church, Stromness, Friday 14th September, 7.30pm-9.30pm. A varied programme of poems, prose and music was performed. I read some pieces from Bessie Skea and my own ‘Countrywoman’s Diary‘ from this summer.

The Heart and Soul of Orkney, Foy, St Marys Episcopal Church, Stromness, Orkney, Gabrielle Barnby

ASLE – Orkney a Place on the Edge?

The Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (ASLE-UKI) Postgraduate Conference will be held in Orkney in September 2018 in conjunction with the Orkney International Science Festival.

The Conference will run from Wednesday 5 to Friday 7 September. It encourages dialogue between disciplines that have an interest in creative responses to the environment and examines in particular how this exists in communities at the edge of society, who might be at the  forefront of change.

I will present, ‘People, poems and place: Stromness an acrostic town.’ a description of Stromness Writing Group’s experience of place based writing and an analysis of the place of their work within the context of the environment. Session 5. Orkney: People and Place. 14.00-15.30pm, Wednesday 5th September, Kirkwall Town Hall. 

More information about conference registration and the full programme can be found at ASLE-UK.

ASLE-uki, Orkney, A Place on the Edge?, Conference, interdisciplinary, Gabrielle Barnby, writing, acrostic poems, Stromness

Sail Britain Coastline

Sail Britain Coastline project brings together scientists and artists at sea.  Writer Harriet Fraser is a sailing to Orkney with a crew of geologists. She will be meeting with Orkney writers including members of the Stromness Writing Group and sharing her work created on the voyage – inspired by the sea and island life along the coastlines of Orkney and Northwest Scotland. This will be an informal event held at the Episcopal Church, Church Road, Stromness at 7pm on Wednesday 29 August. Writers are invited to bring along their own work to share.

More about Harriet’s work with Rob Fraser:

Somewherenowhere, Sail Britain, writing, Orkney, Pier Arts, Gabrielle Barnby

J. Storer Clouston

The Fiction of J. Storer Clouston and Beyond  – The Stromness Writing Group hosted an afternoon of writing inspired by J. Storer Clouston on Saturday afternoon May 12th at the Orkney Library and Archive.

J. Storer Clouston moved to Orphir in Orkney in 1903. He wrote a prestigious number of novels and had a popular entertaining style admired by many including P.G. Wodehouse. The Spy in Black was adapted into a film and his plays were performed in West End theatres. He also wrote and edited history books about the islands where he made his home.

For more information about J. Storer Clouston visit the Orkney Archive blogspot. A review of the event appeared in the Orcadian newspaper and is also available here.

The Making of the Man was inspired by the title A Lunatic at Large and the cover illustration for Carrington’s Cases.

J Storer Clouston, 2018, events, Gabrielle Barnby

Orkney Book Festival

The 2017 Orkney Book Festival took place between the 9th and 12th November. I read a new short story after the George Mackay Brown Memorial Lecture as well as participating in events with the Stromness Writing Group.

Events were many and varied with workshops on screenwriting from Sara Bailey to Renga Poetry with Yvonne Gray. A review of the festival can be found here.

There was 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.

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 celebrated the 2017 200 Per Mare year with an exhibition acrostic poems based on Stromness street names. The poems were written by group members displayed with a map of Stromness in the Northlight Gallery, Stromness. The exhibition came back for a second showing from Saturday 7th -16th October. Entry was free to all and there was a chance to meet the writers on Saturday 7th from 2-4pm. A limited edition publication of the poems was available to purchase at the gallery and at Stromness Books and Prints. Copies have been deposited at the Scottish Poetry Library and several of the poems were selected for the Best Scottish Poems 2017.

Northlight-gallery, Stromness, Fair Saturday, HMS Pheasant, Fiona Grahame, Gabrielle Barnby, poem

Stromness Per Mare: Foy

Stromness Writing Group celebrated the 200 Per Mare year by hosting a Foy of new poetry and prose based on and around Stromness. The evening included readings from over a dozen writers as well as music and refreshments. The winners of the Flash Fiction 200 words competition were announced and invited to read their work. The Foy took place at the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness on Friday 8th September.

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.

Gabrielle Barnby