Cúirt: Galway’s week-long celebration of writers

Festival director Manuela Moser introduces this year’s programme

The 39th Cúirt International Festival of Literature is just around the corner, and here in Galway we can’t wait to host a week-long celebration of esteemed Irish and international novelists, poets, memoirists and non-fiction writers, as well as many new writers and emerging talent.

We’re delighted to celebrate so many Irish novelists and fiction writers on our stages this year. Paul Lynch will be joining RTÉ's Paula Shields on Saturday to discuss his Booker Prize winning novel Prophet Song, and later that evening, Sinéad Gleeson will discuss her beautifully written and eerily haunting debut novel Hagstone with Elaine Feeney. And acclaimed writers John Banville and Mike McCormack will join Edel Coffey in the Town Hall Theatre to discuss their extraordinary writing. On Friday evening, Una Mannion and Paul Murray (whose novel The Bee Sting won the An Post Irish Book of the Year and the Nero Book Award for Fiction) will discuss their ambitious novels that examine family secrets and complicated characters.

On Sunday afternoon in the Town Hall Theatre Nicole Flattery will host a live edition of The Stinging Fly Podcast with Caoilinn Hughes to talk about Irish literature, the intricacies of writing, and Hughes’ new novel The Alternatives. That same afternoon, Edel Coffey will discuss her bestselling new novel In Her Place, a captivating thriller about what it means to love, to lose and to deceive, and Mary Costello and Thomas Morris will discuss the Irish short story and their latest collections.

American author Bryan Washington will be in conversation with Michael Magee to discuss his latest book Family Meal, an intimate novel that negotiates themes of food, sex, love, addiction and grief. Bryan will also be in conversation with Louise Kennedy, Jennie Moran and Kai’s Jess Murphy on Saturday afternoon to discuss the relationship between food, art and writing.


Cúirt continues to support and promote emerging writers this year through bringing many exciting new writers to our stages. We have two panels of debuts - K Patrick and Nicola Dinan will discuss queer love and relationships with Tara McEvoy, and Colin Walsh and Ferdia Lennon will talk about their atmospheric novels with Padraig Regan. Noel O’Regan joins Swedish writer Balsam Karam to talk about their novels Though the Bodies Fall and The Singularity, and Katherine O’Donnell, activist and academic, will discuss her debut Slant, an Irish lesbian love story, that journeys from the 1980s Aids crisis in America to the 2015 marriage referendum in Ireland.

We’ve also got many events for budding writers, including a whole week of Faber Academy workshops, where you can explore your writing and learn from world-class authors, from a three-day long intensive fiction course with Una Mannion, to short story workshops with Lucy Caldwell and Thomas Morris, to poetry with Rafeef Ziadah and Brenda Shaughnessy and memoir writing with Molly Hennigan and Richard Skinner. And each morning at 10.30 from Wednesday to Saturday we have panels exploring the publishing industry, from the Irish literary magazine with The Stinging Fly and The Pig’s Back, to translation and editing with Fitzcarraldo Press, to writing and publishing poetry, these writers and publishing experts will discuss all they know and answer all your questions.

This year, we’re also hosting a series of panels that delve into current events. On Thursday Clair Wills and Molly Hennigan will discuss their most recent books about generational and family trauma, mother and baby homes and the Irish State’s treatment of women. On Friday Máiría Cahill and Martin Doyle will be in conversation with Glenn Patterson to discuss their latest books. Máiría’s Rough Beast tells her story of unimaginable trauma and paramilitary corruption, from a world of IRA secrecy and parallel laws, ruthless power and of ex-gunmen inspiring fear and silence. Martin’s Dirty Linen similarly explores paramilitary violence, the horrors of the past and the trauma it left behind. On Saturday Leon Diop and Briana Fitzsimons will join Galway poet Nithy Kasa to celebrate their landmark book Black & Irish that delves into the incredible profiles of Black Irish public figures. From an organisation that advocates for the Black community in Ireland and educates everyone to adopt an anti-racist mindset, this conversation will be illuminating and is one not to be missed!

On Sunday Katriona O’Sullivan (whose bestselling memoir Poor won the Biography of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2023) and Kieran Yates, journalist and author of All the Houses I’ve Ever Lived In, will be joined by Sarah Clancy to discuss what home means to them, how they approach writing social commentary, and how we should approach the current housing crisis with compassion, practicality and resources.

Non-fiction lovers can also join Jackie Uí Chionna in conversation with Vinny Brown to talk about the Galway native Emily Anderson, one of the top three women codebreakers in the world. Mark O’Connell and Susannah Dickey will explore our cultural obsession with violence and true crime through their books that examine notorious cases of murder and intrigue.

Cúirt began as a poetry festival, and we’re once again hosting a wonderful array of poets and readings. The Mick Lally Theatre will host three intimate poetry readings: on Wednesday Nick Laird, Miriam Gamble and Brenda Shaughnessy, on Friday Leontia Flynn, Erika Meitner and Scott McKendry, and on Saturday Joey Connolly, Abigail Parry and K Patrick. In the Town Hall Theatre we’ll have a performance from Lemn Sissay on Friday night, and on Sunday we’ll hear from four poets, Rita Ann Higgins, Elaine Feeney, Susannah Dickey and Jackie Kay, in what is sure to be a thrilling finale to the festival.

So come along and enjoy all that Cúirt has to offer, for what is sure to be a memorable week of literature in the beautiful city of Galway.

Cúirt International Festival of Literature (cuirt.ie)