There are two festivals on this week in the mid-west and the west respectively—Éigse Michael Hartnett and the Cúirt International Festival Of Literature.
Éigse is about Munster’s “de facto poet laureate”, Michael Hartnett. It runs from April 14 to 16 in venues around Newcastle West in County Limerick. The poet was a prolific writer in both Irish and English. The theme this year is spirit and imagination and the event has everything from lectures to book launches, readings to music/drama performances.
There are many prestigious guest speakers and participants, including Fintan O’Toole, David Whyte and Peter Sirr (winner of the 2011 Michael Hartnett Annual Poetry Award) among others. Juliet Turner, Brian Kennedy and Size2shoes will make musical contributions, as will local schools and choirs. There is actually an open mic competition, the Hartnett Viva Voce, for “poetry, song and story”. Several prominent poets will do readings including Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Jo Slade and Fanny Howe. If you can catch the Theo Dorgan reading (8pm on Saturday 16), I’d advise you to go. I heard him read at the Cuisle International Poetry Festival in Limerick about three years back. The quality of his poetry speaks for itself but I thought he had a lovely voice and way of reading. If poets had groupies…
Fergus Finlay (CEO of Barnardos) will give the keynote speech, ‘Reimagining and Reinventing Ireland’ (8pm on Thursday 14). This is a special year because the poet, Paul Durcan, will officially unveil a sculpture of Michael Hartnett in Newcastle West (2pm on Saturday 16). There’s a lot on. Great work from the organising committee and Limerick county arts officer, Joan McKernan.
The full programme is available here.
Cúirt International Festival Of Literature
Cúirt runs in venues around Galway City (and county in a few cases) from April 12 to 17. Although, it’s a young festival, it attracts esteemed writers from home and abroad. Events include readings, book launches, plays, panel discussions, a poetry slam and more.
Authors visiting the City of the Tribes for the event include: Paul Murray, Dermot Healy, Carmel Winters, Anne Enright, Simon Armitage, Claire Kilroy…the list goes on! There’s a lot on but a few events stand out.
Bloodaxe Books will launch a new anthology, Being Human—a poetry anthology with “hundreds of thoughtful and passionate poems about living in the modern world” with readings by the poets, Penelope Shuttle and Denis O’Driscoll (6pm on Thursday 14). Penelope Shuttle is doing another reading (1pm on Friday 15). I heard her read at Cuisle two years ago and she was excellent.
Limerick author, Kevin Barry, will launch his debut novel City of Bohane, which has received sparkling reviews so far (5pm on Friday 15). Valerie Hemingway will do a public interview with Vincent Woods (8.30pm at April 16). An Irish native, she met Ernest Hemingway and his wife in Spain and travelled with them around Spain, France and Cuba—typing and proofing books like A Moveable Feast. She married Hemingway’s youngest son and had a very successful career in publishing and PR in New York.
I’m hoping to go up and maybe go to a few things but I really want to see two of the theatrical offerings in the course of the week—namely Autobahn by Neil LaBute and Grenades by Tara McKevitt. Autobahn takes place in an actual car and features different vignettes. I love the concept and LaBute’s work, particularly his knack for themes encapsulating human nature and punchy dialogue. Mephisto Theatre Company has gotten fantastic reviews so far for Grenades, a compelling one-woman show that won the RTÉ PJ O’Connor Award. Mephisto have gone from strength to strength since their formation around three and a half years ago. Both run throughout the festival.
The Cúirt programme is here.