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April 2023

Here at The Harvest Press we are delighted to announce the publication of Absent Friend, John MacKenna's meditation on his thirty-year friendship with the poet, novelist, singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen. 

The book was launched on April 3rd by actor and writer Gabriel Byrne at the beautiful and packed Athy library.

Speaking on the night, Gabriel said he was a long time admirer of the work of John MacKenna and of the beautiful simplicity of his prose which is evident, again, in Absent Friend. 

          Leonard's manager, Robert Kory, speaks of the great importance of the book to anyone wishing to understand the unique artistry of Leonard Cohen. He goes on to say, few journalists or writers enjoyed Leonard's respect and trust as much as did John MacKenna. 

          We are delighted the book has already been reviewed in the Irish Times where Tony Clayton-Lee writes

MacKenna has good cause to use the word friendship in the title, as he and Cohen enjoyed a relaxed but important relationship throughout the years...the memoir is a compact but engaging read, with correspondence going back and forth between the two friends ...wry, full of comradeship, intuitive understanding. The result is a heart warming and realistic encomium for a man MacKenna describes as a genius, yet someone whose humility was deep and real.

Athy library and Kildare Arts Service went above and beyond the call of duty in hosting this wonderful event.

Our thanks to Mario Corrigan, Aideen McDonald, Anne Kearney and all the staff of Kildare libraries. Thanks, too Kildare Arts Officer Lucina Russell. 

Thanks to musicians Katie Jacques and Shane Sullivan who performed brilliantly on the night.    

Finally thanks to Dawn and Aidan Behan of Woodbine Books for their Trojan work on the night.



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