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Literary listings: Cúirt; Franco-Irish Literary Festival; Howth; Kells; West Cork; Wilde weekend

Upcoming events in the books world

Sarah Gilmartin

Off to Cúirt
The Cúirt Festival of Literature is well under way in Galway, with five full days of over 100 events ensuring plenty of choice for literary lovers. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the festival hosts a number of Irish authors, including Sara Baume, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Paul Muldoon, John Montague, Mary Costello and Christine Dyer Hickey. Cúirt has a reputation for drawing big-name authors from abroad and the 2015 programme doesn’t disappoint, with Catherine Lacey, Jon McGregor, DW Wilson, Donald Antrim, Rivka Galchen, Irvine Welsh, Jenny Offill, Evie Wyld and Joseph O’Neill among those taking part. Another highlight is a collaborative event between Cúirt and the International Festival of Authors Toronto. ‘Identity, Home & Place in Canada’ is a panel discussion chaired by the CBC broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel with Canadian authors Vincent Lam, Marjorie Celona and Dionne Brand. Other events include a Yeats celebration, as part of the Yeats2015 initiative marking the 150th birth of the poet, poetry slams, live theatre, exhibitions and a number of creative writing courses with recognisable faces at the helm.
Allez les books
Crime fiction is the theme of this year’s Franco-Irish Literary Festival, which takes place this weekend at Dublin Castle and the Alliance Française on Kildare Street, Dublin 2. One of the main attractions is an event on Saturday afternoon at Castle Hall with the French crime writer Didier Daeninckx and John Banville, who will be donning the Benjamin Black mantle to discuss his 1950s Dublin noir series.
French writers taking part in the festival include Didier Daeninckx, Hervé Le Corre, Jérôme Leroy, Chantal Pelletier, Jean-Bernard Pouy and Patrick Raynal. Irish crime writing will be represented by Banville, the RTÉ journalist and author Sinéad Crowley, Irish language author Anna Heussaff, Maighread Medbh, Cormac Millar, Sam Millar, Stuart Neville and Brendan McLoughlin. Now in its sixteenth year, the festival aims to strengthen links between Ireland and France and to showcase literary talent from both countries. An education day for younger readers will take place this Friday, April 24th, where students will be invited to meet with Daeninckx and Anna Heussaff at the National Library of Ireland and the Lycée Français of Ireland.
A Wilde weekend
A new festival celebrating the life and times of Oscar Wilde will take place in Enniskillen and Fermanagh on the May bank holiday weekend, May 1st - 4th. A first of its kind, A Wilde Weekend by Lough Ernest is solely dedicated to celebrating the playwright, poet and novelist through a range of Wildean related art forms.
A programme of Wilde Talks will be given by leading authors, thinkers and academics, including Booker Prize winner Alan Hollinghurst, Eibhear Walshe, Owen Dudley Edwards and Toby Carson. A specially commissioned lecture by Will Self responds to Wilde’s The Soul of Man under Socialism. The British writer Franny Moyle will give an illustrated talk on the life of Constance Wilde. A live video link-up with cartoonist Ralph Steadman features a studio tour and a discussion on how he came to create the illustrations for Alice in Wonderland and other works.
More highlights include the gilding of Coles monument as The Happy Prince, a story inspired by Enniskillen and its lakes; Oscar Wilde at Home at Florence Court House, where actors will perform extracts from Wilde’s most popular texts Lady Windermere’s Fan and The Importance of Being Ernest; Kabosh Theatre Company’s performance of the Ballad of Reading Gaol, at the Old Gaol in South West College; and Adrian Dunbar directing The Decay of Lying in the Morning Room at Castle Coole. Other actors taking part in the festival are Ciaran McMenamin and Stanley Townsend, former Lyric Director David Grant, Paula McFertridge from Kabosh Theatre Company and Festival Associate sculptor Alan Milligan.
Literary arts in Howth
The historic Lutyens Library in Howth Castle is the venue for the inagurual Howth Midsummer Literary Arts Festival from June 5th - 7th. A celebration of contemporary literature, the festival aims to highlight Howth’s literary, historic and architectural heritages. A great line-up for the literary programme includes Pulitzer Prize winners Richard Ford and Michael Cunningham. Irish literature will be represented by the Booker Prize winners John Banville, Roddy Doyle and Anne Enright.
The festival pays homage to Sir Edward Lutyens and his contribution to Howth and its environs with a series of talks. Other events will discuss historical figures with links to Howth, including Granuaile and the writer James Joyce. Burrow National School will host the children’s literature programme, which includes workshops with Fighting Words, Nicola Pearce, Dr Doodle, a series of events for children from Children’s Book Ireland and storytelling with Niall de Burca. Dr Anne Markey of TCD will chair a discussion on the genre.
Shortest way to Tara
James Joyce famously wrote that “the shortest way to Tara is by Holyhead”, meaning that for Irish people to fully understand themselves and Ireland, they had to leave their homeland. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the Irish Writers in London Summer School runs from June 11th - July 17th. Guest writers this year include Antrim author Maurice Leitch, the Irish poet and novelist Martina Evans, biographer Roy Foster, Dublin film-maker Sarah Strong and the short story writer Lane Ashfield. First established in 1996, the summer school offers the opportunity to explore the reasons why Irish writers still come to London. The school provides an informal setting for participants to read and discuss the work of five of Ireland’s leading writers across a variety of fields, in addition to meeting the writers themselves. Further details on enrolling can be found here.
West Cork Literary line-up
Michel Faber, David Nicholls, Rachel Cusk, Neel Mukherjee, Louise O’Neill and Graham Norton are among the guests announced for this year’s West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry. The programme, which runs from July 12th - 18th, also features Nick Davies, who exposed the phone-hacking scandal in Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper empire, in conversation with Alison O’Connor. A literary brunch will be hosted by the travel writer Dervla Murphy; readings will take place on Whiddy Island in Bantry Bay. Literary agent Lucy Luck will share her expertise on the publishing industry, while children’s literature agent Julia Churchill will talk on aspects of the genre. Anna Kelly, commissioning editor at 4th Estate, will be Editor in Residence at the Festival. John Boyne, Tessa Hadley, Carlo Gébler, Anthony Sattin and Deirdre Kinahan are amongst those facilitating workshops on novel writing, investigative reporting, playwriting and poetry.
Other highlights include author Sara Baume and her publishers from Tramp Press, Sarah Davis-Goff and Lisa Coen, for a discussion on “The Myth of Overnight Success”; Declan Meade of Stinging Fly Press on his experiences working as an editor and publisher; Irish Times cartoonist Martyn Turner on the life and work of a political cartoonist in today’s world. John Fitzgerald and Thomas McCarthy present an afternoon of poetry, while Irene O’Mara will help writers learn to be better public readers of their work. The Children’s Festival remains as popular as ever with events this year featuring Shane Hegarty, Judi Curtin, Sarah Webb, Yasmeen Ismail and the return of the Book Clinic.
Poetry competition deadline
The closing date to enter the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award 2015 is Friday, July 24th. The annual award is for a first unpublished collection of poems in English. Now in its 45th year, the award is open to poets born in the island of Ireland, of Irish nationality, or long term resident in Ireland. Previous winners include Eileán Ni Chuilleanáin, Paul Durcan, Thomas McCarthy, Peter Sirr, Sinead Morrissey, Conor O’Callaghan, Celia de Freine and Joseph Woods. This year’s winner will receive €1,000, which will be presented on Friday, September 25th at the opening of the annual Patrick Kavanagh Weekend in Inniskeen.
Hay Festival Kells
An exciting line-up for this year’s Hay Festival Kells, an offshoot of the renowned UK festival, includes the musician Brian Eno and the Booker prize winning authors Ben Okri, Anne Enright and Roddy Doyle. Eno, a singer, visual artist and an innovator in the ambient music genre, will participate in two events. One will focus on his music, while the other looks at environmental concerns. Lots of recognisable Irish authors are also on the billing, including Sara Baume, Michael Harding, Colin Barrett and Paul Murray, who releases his new novel The Mark and the Void in July.
Other events to watch out for include an evening with the poet Paul Durcan; author and journalist Martina Devlin discussing the history of witch hunts in Belfast, which informed her latest novel The House Where it Happened; and journalists Natasha Fennell and Róisín Ingle talking about their recent book The Daughterhood. Elsewhere Derek Landy will discuss his popular Skulduggery Pleasant series of children’s books, while children’s writer Erika McGann, author of the ‘Grace’ series (The Demon Notebook) will conduct a workshop for 8-10 year old readers. The festival runs from June 25th - 28th. More events will be announced in the coming weeks on the festival’s Facebook page.

Contact sarah.gilmartin@gmail.com with your literary listings