An Irish literary festival calendar

Irish and international authors are all set to read from and discuss their work at a host of events over the next few weeks. Here are some of the highlights for your diary


Among the highlights of this year’s festival are a public interview with legendary Ireland goalkeeper Packie Bonner and an all-star discussion of Seamus Heaney’s Aeneid Book VI. No doubt, there will be much discussion of that transcendent moment of aesthetic magnificence - but enough about Packie’s Italia ‘90 penalty save against Romania. Other events of note include a public interview with AL Kennedy, Margaretta D’Arcy in conversation with Jim Sheridan, a songwriting workshop with Luan Parle, and Innocence of Memories, a screening of Grant Gee’s film about Turkish author Orhan Pamuk, followed by an interview with the director.


This weekend-long event in the southeast has a busy schedule of author talks and panel discussions, with Madeleine Keane, Jax Miller, Hazel Gaynor, Carmel Harrington and ER Murray among those who’ll be appearing. There are also several literary gongs being handed out, including the 1916 Poem Award, the Book Trailer Award and the Colm Toibin Short Story Award.


One of Ireland’s longest running and most renowned literary festivals, Listowel Writers’ Week is back this June bank holiday weekend for its 45th outing. With the European Championships just around the corner, the themes this year include “fiction, philosophy and football”. The festival will be opened by Pulitzer-winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon, and there will be public interviews with literary heavyweights such as AL Kennedy, Louis de Bernieres, and Patrick deWitt and Anakana Schofield. Other highlights, meanwhile, include appearances from the likes of AC Grayling, Joanne Harris, Paula Byrne, and Gregory Pardlo and Moya Cannon. There are also a series of workshops over the weekend, including Writing Comedy For TV with Republic Of Telly’s James Cotter, and Short Fiction with Patricia O’Reilly.


Those looking for some serious insights into the severe economic turbulence of the early 21st century could do worse than check out the Belfast Book Festival’s June 12th interview with Paul Mason, the Channel 4 News Economics Editor who has enjoyed considerable acclaim for his book Postcapitalism. Another highlight is the appearance by Alex Cox, the filmmaker responsible for the cult classics Repo Man, Straight To Hell and Sid & Nancy, who will be discussing his book An Introduction To Film. Other events well worth checking out include a conversation between authors Rob Doyle and Frankie Gaffney, the Irish Women Short Story Writers Panel, and an interview with Only Fools & Horses star John Challis, who will discuss his memoir Being Boycie.


Taking place in Carlow’s picturesque Borris House, this event has established itself as one of the country’s leading literary festivals and boasts another exciting line-up this year. Leading the way is one of Britain’s foremost contemporary authors, Martin Amis, making a return visit having previously appeared in 2013. Other big names include Pretenders singer Chrissie Hynde - who last year published her acclaimed memoirs - Pulitzer-winning author Michael Chabon, and actor Simon Callow, who will be reading the poetry of Seamus Heaney. Also appearing will be Wire star Dominic West, Withnail & I creator Bruce Robinson, and Suspicions Of Mr Whicher author Kate Summerscale, along with the likes of John Banville, Rob Doyle, Sara Baume and Lia Mills.


Held in the atmospheric surrounds of Lutyens Library in Howth Castle, highlights of this event include a children’s literature talk by John Boyne, Joe Duffy in conversation with Catriona Crowe, and a comic book workshop with author Alan Nolan.

BLOOMSDAY FESTIVAL (June 11th - 16th)

The headlining event for this year’s celebration of Joyce’s immortal Ulysses is a conversation between Pulitzer winner Michael Chabon and New York Times bestselling author Ayelet Waldman, which takes place in Joyce’s alma mater, Belvedere College. Other highlights of the packed schedule include the Bloomsday Breakfast, a guided tour of sites featured in the novel, and a Joycean Pub Crawl, in which you can debate the aesthetics of the author’s canon over a few pints.


Founded in 2010 by Sian Smyth and David McWilliams, the Dalkey Book Festival each June attracts an impressive mix of personalities from the worlds of literature, film, entertainment and politics. This year is no exception, and among those appearing at the event - which kicks off on Bloomsday - will be author Malcolm Gladwell, actor Michael Gambon, ex-Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, and musician and activist Bob Geldof. Other speakers to look out for, meanwhile, include Turkish writer Elif Safak and economist Dambisa Moyo.

HAY FESTIVAL KELLS (June 23rd - June 26th)

Since being established in 2013, this offshoot of the UK Hay Festival has grown in stature and boasts another strong bill this year. Among the literary big-hitters appearing will be Hanif Kureishi, Patrick McCabe, Oona Frawley, Kevin Barry and Lisa McInerney. Elsewhere, ex-Labour leader Eamon Gilmore and former Taoiseach - and Meath native - John Bruton will be on hand to discuss the burning political issues of the moment. One of the most fascinating additions is new strand The Image, which will focus on graphic novels and game design, and features appearances from Rhianna Pratchett (Tomb Raider) and Michael Carroll (Judge Dredd), amongst numerous others. There will also be a series of musical performances, with highlights including The Lost Brothers, Mary Black, and Michael Brunnock and Colm Mac Con Iomaire.


Among the major names appearing at this year’s event in Bantry are John Banville, Louis de Bernieres, Kevin Barry, and Nick Laird and Zadie Smith. Other highlights include a coffee and chat with Carol Drinkwater, author of the million-selling Olive Farm series, Lisa McInerney in conversation with fellow novelist Danielle McLaughlin, and The Big Swim, which finds At Swim authors Brendan MacEvilly and Michael O’Reilly being joined by an intrepid group of maritime adventurers for a dip in Bantry Bay. Also worth checking out will be the evening with poets Theo Dorgan, Sarah Howe and Jo Shapcott, the Faber Firsts event with debut authors Thomas Morris and Max Porter, and That Killer First Page, a guide to literary submissions with Paul McVeigh.

TREAD SOFTLY (July 24th - August 5th)

Now in its fifth year, this ten-day festival takes place in County Sligo and celebrates the life and work of WB Yeats. With it being the 150th anniversary of Yeats’ birth, there is a suitably special programme this summer, including theatre shows, exhibitions, readings, music performances, guided walks and family events.


This Kilkenny event is manna from heaven for lovers of rare and second-hand books, as it draws rare and specialist booksellers from all over Ireland and the UK. For good measure, there is also a lively programme of music, talks, events, crafts and food.

DUBLIN BOOK FESTIVAL (November 10th - 13th)

Details of this year’s festival have yet to be announced, but it is always one of the biggest events on the Irish literary calendar. Among the highlights last year were appearances by Anne Enright, Kevin Barry, Donal Ryan, John Connolly and the Waterford Whispers team. Keep an eye on the website for updates and announcements.

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