Young writers, sport, history, poetry, long-due recognition and song are all part of Castlebar’s first literary festival which takes place this weekend.
‘Wild Atlantic Words’ will be a tapestry of all that is best in west of Ireland writing, with a special emphasis on young writers and up and coming talent.
RTÉ broadcaster Seán O’Rourke, sports presenter Michael Lyster, historians Dr Maurice Manning and Dominic Price, Senator Marie Louise O’Donnell, photographer Ray McManus, and footballer Andy Moran will be among the many big names to grace the series of events which go to make up ‘Wild Atlantic Words’.
The festival will also include a special tribute to celebrated local writer, Michael Mullen, who will be the recipient of the festival’s first ever Appreciation Award, which will be presented to the acclaimed writer by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, at the Linen Hall.
The programme kicks off with a musical cum literary presentation at Gno Maigheo on Friday, following which Michael Lyster hosting ‘A Season of Sundays’ at the Mayo County Library.
In this landmark week, there is sure to be a capacity attendance to hear his views, and that of a panel of distinguished guests, on all that has made the GAA year what it is in the life of the nation and in the affections of Irish people at home and all over the world.
Thirsts will be slaked at Tolsters Bar when ‘A Poem and a Pint’ will round off the evening.
Saturday kicks off with an unique and innovative project at the Linen Hall, where 400 primary school children will present ‘Sea of Words’, a visual exhibition of their favourite pieces of literature and poetry. This event, sponsored by Baxter Healthcare, is the culmination of ten weeks of workshops at the Linen Hall, where the young readers were encouraged to present and reflect on what reading and literature means to them.
Senator Marie Louise O’Donnell will chair the discussion titled ‘Young Mayo Skins’, an opportunity to hear and exchange with three of Mayo’s newest and edgiest young writers.
Colin Barrett, E M Reapy and Sally Rooney will read from their current works. This is sure to be a lively, sparkling, spirited discussion with plenty of audience interchange .
Castlebar’s historic Courthouse will be the setting for the final event of the festival. ‘Was It for This?’, the history/literary seminar, which will be hosted by RTE’s Seán O’Rourke. The panellists are Dr Maurice Manning, Sinead McCoole and Dominic Price, and a free flowing discussion will focus on the literary input into the events of a century ago, with particular emphasis on Mayo’s contribution to the written record of those momentous years which shaped the future of our country.
The programme for ‘Wild Atlantic Words’ has something for everyone. Audience participation is very much part of the tapestry of the weekend, and the organisers promise that contrarian views will be specially welcomed.
It promises to be a weekend to remember.