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Castlebar’s literary festival a huge success


ROUND OF APPLAUSE A special tribute and presentation was made to Sunday Morning Coming Down host and Mayo News columnist John Healy (centre) in the Festival Dome, in recognition of his contribution to cultural life in Mayo, at the Wild Atlantic Words in Castlebar on October 9. John received a standing ovation from the full house, including his special guests (from left), Mark Mellett, Ursula Kilkelly, Seán Lyons and Ken Armstrong. Pic: John Mee

Crowds flock to Castlebar’s ambitious literary festival

Wild Atlantic Words, Castlebar’s week long celebration of books, poetry, symposiums, lectures and discussion came to an end on Sunday with ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’, hosted by John Healy, at the Festival Dome.
There were capacity houses for the launch of five new titles, while the Civil War seminar, the Ulysses performance, the short story prizegiving, poetry recitals and schools’ writing seminars, together with Sarah Butler’s unique take on cookery cum media attracted recordcrowds.
Among the special highlights were the launch of Tommy Gorman’s ‘Never Better’, and his conversational interview with Christy Loftus, and Liamy McNally’s interview with the legendary Paul Brady on his book, ‘Crazy Dreams’.
Liam Horan’s new book of short stories ‘Second Chance’, for which he was interviewed by Pat Conway, was another major draw with fans and friends from near and far, while the launch of ‘The History of Castlebar’, by Noel Campbell and John Healy, was performed in sparkling fashion by Seán Rice. The launch of this landmark title marks a long awaited addition to the recorded history of the town from earliest times.
There was also a great reaction from the capacity attendance for the launch of Geraldine Lavelle’s book, ‘Weathering the Storm’, on Tuesday night.
The overflow audience at the Festival Dome, which spilled over into the courtyard,  acclaimed the book which traces the story of the author’s coming to terms with the life changing injuries sustained in an horrific road accident nine years ago.
In the event hosted by broadcaster, Michael D McAndrew, readers gathered from all over the county to pay tribute to the courage and resilience of a remarkable young woman.
At the County Library, Michael Smith, biographer of the legendary Antarctic explorer, Tom Crean, held the capacity attendance spellbound with his illustrated talk, while historian Dr Michael O’Connor brilliantly outlined the legal plight of women caught under the laws of men in his detailed review of Mayo Case Studies from 1800 to 1919.
A major highlight of the week was the Civil War Seminar at the Courthouse, hosted by Mayo County Council as part of the Decade of Centenaries Programme.
The panel included historians, Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, Professor Linda Connolly, and Dominic Price, with input from Eamon Ó Cuív, grandson of Eamon de Valera, and Nora Owen, grandniece of Michael Collins. The event was opened by former Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Mark Mellett, and moderated by Senator Marie Louise O’Donnell.
The Festival closed with ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ in which a panel of home town writers share their thoughts and experiences under facilitator, John Healy. This year’s panel featured writer Ken Armstrong, former Vice Admiral, Mark Mellett; Professor of Law at UCC, Ursula Kilkelly, and columnist and broadcaster, Seán Lyons.