Castlebar’s literary festival, Wild Atlantic Words, starts tomorrow (Wednesday) and runs until Sunday, October 8. Now in its second year, the festival celebrate literary heritage and innovation over a weekend of readings, recitals, debates and reflection.
This year’s festival includes three new book launches, panel discussions, creative workshops, poetry and prose readings, children’s events, young adults’ writing, history debates, sporting memoirs, culinary arts, hometown reminisce and more, with something on the agenda to suit all tastes.
The literati line-up will see Sally Rooney, Billy Keane, Donal Ryan, Senator Marie Louis O’Donnell, JP McMahon, Cormac O’Malley, Marty Morrissey and Mike McCormack join with a host of other authors and book lovers to delve into, wonder at and fete the written word.
The first event of the festival takes place in the Castle Bookshop tomorrow evening at 6.30pm, with the launch of Anthony Broderick’s ‘The Blaze’, the third book in his childrens’ series The Adventures of Jack and Adam.
The next day, former Taoiseach Enda Kenny will launch Christy Loftus’s ‘Mayo County Council, Years of Transition’ at Áras an Chontae, at 6pm, while food lovers will flock to Rua at Spencer Street at 7.30pm, when Aron McMahon will introduce chef, restauranteur, author, columnist and Food on the Edge founder JP McMahon.
Later, at Gnó Mhaigh Eo on Main Street, composer and singer Padraig Jack will present an oiche cheoil during which he will discuss the challenges of songwriting as Gaeilge and of translating the work of other performers.
Friday morning starts with former Irish Times arts editor Shane Hegarty, author of the Darkmouth series of novels for children, discussing his writings at the County Library at 11am. At the Linenhall at 2pm, Martin Carney will be joined by Transition Year students who will read from their ‘Letter to My Hero’, a Wild Atlantic Words school project.
Friday’s busy schedule then moves to Bridge Street Bar at 6pm, when Cormac O’Malley will read from and discuss excerpts from the works of his father, War of Independence hero Ernie O’Malley, a native of Castlebar.
At the same venue at 8pm, Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh will launch ‘At the End of the Day’, by Oranmore man Paul Byrnes, executive editor of RTÉ Sport. The book focuses on the stories of 14 Irish sports heroes who retired in recent years. MC for the night Marty Morrissey will also be joined by former Kerry All-Ireland winner Tomás Ó Sé and Tipperary All-Ireland-winning hurling captain Eoin Kelly.
On Saturday morning, the Bridge Street Bar will host a panel of historians who will discuss the various aspects of Ernie O’Malley’s cultural and military life.
Later that day, at 1.30pm, writer Alice Kinsella will host a poetry writing workshop at the Linenhall (already booked out), while at 4pm, celebrated new author Sally Rooney, whose debut novel ‘Conversations with Friends’ has been widely acclaimed, will be in conversation in the same venue with fellow writers, John Patrick McHugh, Nicole Flattery and Thomas Morris.
Enda Kenny will then be on hand again to present the Wild Atlantic Words Hall of Fame award to Mike McCormack, whose ‘Solar Bones’ has been hailed as one of the breakthrough books of 2017. Long-listed for this year’s Man Booker Prize, ‘Solar Bones’ was awarded the Goldsmith Prize and named Irish Book of the Year in 2016. The action will then return to the County Library for 8pm and an evening with the inimitable Billy Keane and award-winning author Donal Ryan, hosted by Senator Marie Louise O’Donnell. Saturday’s events will conclude with a lighthearted ‘A Poem and a Pint’ at Tolster’s in Spencer Street.The final event, to be held in the Bridge Street Bar will see John Healy host Sunday Morning Coming Down – a panel of local scribes in a relaxed informal setting. Tom Murphy, Paddy McGuinness, Magdalen O’Connell, James Laffey and Noel Campbell will each give short presentations, followed no doubt by some lively banter and free-flowing audience input.
All events in the Wild Atlantic Words programme are free of charge, but booking for some events, such as the JP McMahon talk, will be required due to limitations of space.