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Castlebar prepares for Wild Atlantic Words


BOOK LAUNCH Noel Campbell and John Healy, co-authors of ‘The History of Castlebar’, will launch their eagerly-awaited book at the Wild Atlantic Words festival on Thursday, October 6. Pic: John Mee Photography

The opening of the Wild Atlantic Words Festival in Castlebar on Monday evening, October 3 next, will mark the unfolding of a spectacular programme of book launches, presentations, poetry, seminars, discussion and literary events of multiple descriptions.
Now in its sixth year, Wild Atlantic Words has earned a reputation as one of the country’s leading celebrations of literature, and this year’s programme promises to be better than ever.
Dr Michael O’Connor’s opening lecture, ‘Criminal Conversations with My Wife’, with its actual case studies of the treatment of women by the legal system, will shed light on an aspect of judicial history which has long been overlooked. This will be followed by a talk by Michael Smith, biographer of the legendary Polar explorer, Tom Crean, which is certain to attract an avid following to hear again of the exploits of ‘Ireland’s unsung hero’.
Book launches have always been central to the Wild Atlantic Words festival, and this year’s programme provides a treasure chest of new works from the pens of a range of distinguished writers. There is the inspiring story of Geraldine Lavelle, whose life was turned upside down nine years ago when an horrific road accident left three-quarters of her body paralysed. Her courageous fight back from those bleak days to her emergence as a powerful advocate for people with disabilities is told in her book, ‘Weathering the Storm’, to be launched on Tuesday.
On Wednesday evening, in a change from the initial schedule, Tommie Gorman launches his autobiography, ‘Never Better’, tracing a career which brought him from local news reporting to RTÉ. In between came the struggle with a cancer diagnosis, and his search for the lifesaving treatments which would give him another chance. It gets underway at the apt time of 6.01pm – Six One.
Noel Campbell and John Healy will share the spotlight on Thursday night when their ‘The History of Castlebar’ will be officially launched. A detailed account of the administrative, industrial, cultural and sporting life of Castlebar, the book tells the story of the county capital and its people, through a series of chapters charting the course of history from earliest times.
On Friday, it’s the turn of Paul Brady, one of Ireland’s greatest living songwriters, to launch his ‘Crazy Dreams’, and then on Saturday evening, Liam Horan will introduce his collection of short stories in ‘Second Chance’. An accomplished writer and broadcaster, the Ballinrobe native is a skilled wordsmith and an astute observer of the human condition. This collection of stories will be eagerly awaited.

Civil War seminar
But book launches are only part of the Wild Atlantic Words story, and there are plenty of other events to whet the appetite and stimulate discussion, debate and argument. A major highlight will be the Civil War seminar on Saturday, hosted by Mayo County Council at the Courthouse, where the panel of expert guests includes Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, Professor Linda Connolly, historian and author Dominic Price, Eamon Ó Cuív TD, and former Minister for Justice Nora Owen.
Elsewhere, the programme is replete with performances, poetry, young peoples’ writing and literary banter.
A major highlight, as always, will be the readings and prize-giving for the Wild Atlantic Words short story competition, sponsored by Bridge St and Mayo Books Press.
‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ will see John Healy introduce his panel of Ursula Kilkelly, Mark Mellett, James Laffey and Seán Lyons, who will talk on topics wide and varied.
All events are free of charge but spaces are on a first come, first served basis. For the full festival programme, latest updates and details of event times and venues, visit www.wildatlanticwords.ie.

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