A literary festival calendar

With Mountains to Sea getting under way this week, the festival season is up and running so here's a handy guide to some dates for your diary

Mountains to Sea (March 18th - 22nd)

Having moved from its autumn slot, the Mountains to Sea festival in Dún Laoghaire has plenty of distractions for those nursing Paddy’s Day hangovers. The fiction line-up this year includes thriller writers SJ Watson and Paula Hawkins, reading from their recent releases Second Life and The Girl on the Train. Other highlights for fiction lovers are readings from Andrew O’Hagan, Polly Samson and Sarah Bannan, and a panel discussion with up-and-coming Irish authors Rob Doyle, Colin Barrett and Sara Baume. Paul Howard, aka Ross O’Carroll Kelly, will be in conversation with Róisín Ingle. Non-fiction is well catered for, with the poet Paul Durcan, LA Times crime reporter Jill Leovy, critic David Lodge and Rory O’Neill, as Panti Bliss, on the billing. The Poetry Now programme celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with international poets Maureen McLane and David Ferry (USA), and Irish poets Peter Fallon, Peter Sirr and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill.

Doolin Writers’ Weekend (March 27th - 29th)

If the hangover is so bad you need to leave the city, the third Doolin Writers’ Festival is aiming for “an eclectic mix” of workshops, readings, theatre, music and food. The 2015 programme features readings from Donal Ryan, Christine Dwyer Hickey and Dave Lordan, in addition to workshops from Catherine Dunne, Madeleine D’Arcy, and Anthony Glavin. There is songwriting with John Spillane, theatre with Peter Sheridan, and an intriguing-sounding workshop with Tramp Press offering submission advice for aspiring writers from the perspective of an independent Irish publisher. Add to the mix a Cliffs of Moher backdrop, local trad sessions, Doolin Beer and award-winning food options. Hangover sorted.


Cúirt International Festival of Literature (April 21st - 27th)

Five full days with over 100 events ensure there is plenty of choice for literary lovers at this year’s Cúirt festival in Galway. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the festival will host a number of Irish authors, including Sara Baume, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Paul Muldoon, John Montague, Mary Costello and Christine Dwyer Hickey. Cúirt has a reputation for drawing big-name authors from abroad and the 2015 programme doesn’t disappoint, with Catherine Lacey, Jon McGregor, DW Wilson, Donald Antrim, Rivka Galchen, Irvine Welsh, Jenny Offill, Evie Wyld and Joseph O’Neill among those taking part in the festival. Another highlight is a collaborative event between Cúirt and the International Festival of Authors Toronto. Identity, Home & Place in Canada is a panel discussion chaired by CBC broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel with Canadian authors Vincent Lam, Marjorie Celona and Dionne Brand. Other events include a Yeats celebration, as part of the Yeats2015 initiative marking the 150th birth of the poet, poetry slams, live theatre, exhibitions and a number of creative writing courses with recognisable faces at the helm.

Ballymaloe Lit Fest (May 15th - 17th)

Artisan food and great literature draws the crowds for the Ballymaloe Lit Fest, which takes place on the grounds of Ballymaloe House and Cookery School in east Cork. The inaugural festival in 2013 brought 8,000 visitors to the grounds for a range of events and workshops. The 2015 programme features, among others, the chefs Allegra McEvedy, Alice Waters, David Lebovitz, Arun Kapil, Kevin Thornton, and JP McMahon, whose new weekly column started last Saturday in the Irish Times Magazine.

International Festival Literature Dublin (May 16th - 24th)

A new name and a new director for the Dublin Writers Festival this year, which promises to continue celebrating local and global literature, “and the power of words to change the world”. New programme director Martin Colthorpe, a former senior programmer at the SouthBank Centre in London, aims to build on the festival’s reputation. The line-up has yet to be announced, but previous years have pulled in the crowds with authors such as Colm Tóibín, Jeanette Winterson and Jon Ronson. The festival’s Date With An Agent initiative, in collaboration with The Inkwell Group and writing.ie, will also return this year. The deadline for submissions is March 27th.

Listowel Writers’ Week (May 27th - 31st)

Since its first festival in 1971, Listowel Writers’ Week has brought international heavyweights such as JM Coetzee, Kazuo Ishiguro, Lionel Shriver and Germaine Greer to the southwest of Ireland for what many consider a highlight of the literary festival calendar. This year’s line-up sees celebrities in other fields top the bill, with presenter Graham Norton and the actor Alan Cummings star attractions as they discuss their respective memoirs The Life and Loves of a He-Devil and Not My Father’s Son. Other headlining names include Dennis Lehane, Colm Tóibín, Andrew O’ Hagan, Neel Mukherjee, Sara Baume, Colin Barrett, Paul Durcan, Patrick Cockburn, Christine Dwyer Hickey and Nick Laird. Laureate for Fiction Anne Enright will open the festival at an evening event on Wednesday, May 27th, where the winners of this year’s Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award and the Pigott Poetry Prize will be announced.

Dalkey Book Festival (June 11th - 14th)

Established in 2010 to “to celebrate and foster the wealth of literary talent in and around the town,” the Dalkey Book Festival has hosted Nobel Prize winners, Booker Prize winners and Oscar winners alike. With a programme that mixes literary discussion with music and stand-up comedy, last year’s line-up included Donal Ryan, Alison Jameson, Joseph O’Connor, Salman Rushdie and David O’Doherty. Tickets sold out fast last year so keep an eye on the Irish Times’ literary listings page for news of the 2015 billing in the coming months. dalkeybookfestival.org

Hay Festival Kells (June 26th - 28th)

An Irish offshoot of the renowned UK literary festival was established in 2013 and has brought writers such as Jeanette Winterson, Germaine Greer, Jung Chang and Louis de Bernières to the Meath town. This year’s line-up has yet to be announced, but with a theme of ‘imagine the world’ for the festival’s third incarnation, expectations are high.

West Cork Literary Festival (July 12th - 18th)

Nigerian Booker Prize winner Ben Okri, American author Karen Joy Fowler, Jennifer Johnston, Blake Morrison and Baileys Prize winner Eimear McBride are among the authors appearing at this year’s festival in Bantry. Other names to watch out for include Alice Taylor, Nick Laird, Frank Skinner, Louise O’Neill, Audrey Magee and the British director Jonathan Miller. Tessa Hadley, John Boyne and Dave Lordan are among the writers hosting workshops. One of the big draws is a workshop on investigative reporting by journalist Nick Davies, who uncovered the News International phone-hacking scandal. John Boyne will look at the novel, Carlo Gébler takes on the memoir, with poetry and playwriting by Leanne O’Sullivan and Deirdre Kinavan respectively.

Dublin Book Festival (November 2015)

One of the last festivals in the Irish literary calendar, there are as yet no dates or line-up for the 2015 Dublin Book Festival. Always a popular event with readers and writers alike, the programme takes place in or around the Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin’s Temple Bar district. Mixing discussions on the publishing world with a range of author events, the 2014 programme saw Faber CEO Stephen Page fly in for a panel discussion with Irish publishers on the state of the industry. Authors taking part included Éilís NÍ Dhuibhne, John Boyne, Alice Taylor and Kevin Barry.