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Words for everyone at Castlebar’s Literary Festival

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CASTLEBAR LAUNCH Kevin McStay, pictured at the launch of his book ‘The Pressure Game in the Great National Hotel, Ballina, last Thursday, will launch the book at the Castlebar’s Wild Atlantic Words festival on this Friday evening in An Sportlann.  Pic: John O’Grady.

Castlebar’s annual feast of literature and writing, Wild Atlantic Words, takes centre stage in the county town this week with a programme to suit every taste.
Whether you are a dedicated foodie, an avid follower of Gaelic football, have a passion for history, enjoy a poetic fling, or simply like to listen to celebrated writers read from their works, Wild Atlantic Words is the place to be.
The six day event gets under way today (Tuesday), when Irish Times food columnist, Jess Murphy, is the invited speaker at Rua in Spencer Street. The award winning chef enjoys a huge readership for her weekly food column, and the event the Rua is sure to be a full house affair, so pre-booking for the talk is essential.
Later that evening, all book club members in the county are invited to the County Library to talk about their favourite books and authors, and to discuss the new novel, ‘Fever’, by Mary Beth Keane. ‘Fever’ is available at the moment from Mayo County Library.
Thursday afternoon will be the turn of young readers from primary schools in the locality ( 4pm at the Library), where the first survey of the reading habits of young people will be launched, with the students invited to give short extracts from their favourite books.
Later on, at the Castle Bookshop, all interest will focus on the Mayo launch of ‘Skin’, the new book by Claremorris writer EM Reapy.
Already an award winning author for her book ‘Red Dirt’, EM Reapy is among the most celebrated of the new crop of emerging writers from Mayo who are making a major impact on the literary world.
On Thursday night, it’s time for the informal and humorous ‘A Poem and a Pint’, at Bridge Street. One of the favourite events of the week, this is an occasion when anybody who feels like reciting their favourite piece of verse is given the floor. Hosted by Ken Armstrong, the selected pieces range from the standard to the classical to the newly composed to the plain quirky, in a laidback, fun atmosphere.
Friday sees the Castlebar debut of Colm Keane and his wife, Una O’Hagan, at the County Library at 6pm. The popular couple will speak about their work, including Colm’s latest book, ‘The Village of Bernadette’. Colm Keane has published eight best sellers, including three highly regarded and insightful books on Padre Pio.
From the spiritual to the sporting, and An Sportlann will be the host venue for all GAA enthusiasts when Kevin McStay will be guest speaker for the launch of his book, ‘The Pressure Game’. Controversial, uncompromising , and nothing if not frank, McStay will pull no punches when it comes to discussing his career as one of the best known GAA managers in the country.
The book will be formally launched by Eileen Dunne of RTÉ, while Martin Carney will host an evening which promises to be one of the highlights of the Wild Atlantic Words festival.
Saturday afternoon will see two events at the Linenhall. ‘Minor Monuments’ will feature a live audio/visual documentary by Ian Maleney and Jamie Goldrick  based on the text of that name. This is followed by the reading and presentation of prizes to the winners of the first ever Wild Atlantic Words short story competition, judged by writers Thomas Morris and Wendy Erskine.
Saturday’s events conclude with the flagship ‘100 Years On’, at the Courthouse. This War of Independence centenary event features a talk by historian, Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, titled ‘Always in danger of finding myself with nothing at all’, followed by a contribution from Dominic Price ‘Caught in the Whirlwind’, dealing with the defining moments of the War of Independence in Mayo.
The festival closes with the traditional ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’, at Bridge Street, where John Healy hosts a panel of hometown writers in a relaxed, informal setting. This year’s contributors are Micheline Egan, Seán Lyons, Des MacHale and Johnny Mee, and audience participation is encouraged to the general discussion and reminiscences of all things relating to Castlebar and its people.

MPU Mayo