Border Literatures; Red Line Book Festival; Novel Fair 2022; Eigse Michael Hartnett

A preview of Saturday’s pages and a roundup of the latest literary news

The Red Line Book Festival runs from October 11th to 17th with many leading writers taking part

The Red Line Book Festival runs from October 11th to 17th with many leading writers taking part


Alongside an extract from an extract from Aisling And The City by Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght, and an interview with Ann Ingle about her memoir, Openhearted, Saturday’s reviews are Catriona Crowe on Belonging: A Memoir by Catherine Corless; Sarah Moss on Dinner Party A Tragedy by Sarah Gilmartin; Catherine Taylor on the best new fiction in translation; Barry Pierce on A Calling for Charlie Barnes by Joshua Ferris; John Banville on Life is Simple by Johnjoe McFadden; Derek Scally on The Rise and Fall of Christian Ireland by Crawford Gribben; Rachel Andrews on Charles Foster’s Being a Human: Adventures in 40,000 years of Consciousness; and Sarah Gilmartin on Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead.

The National Library of Ireland has announced details of a new online reading and conversation programme exploring borders in literature. Border Literatures will examine how writers from different backgrounds and perspectives represent ideas of partition in their art and will reflect on the century since Partition.

Border Literatures: A Conversation, the first event, will take place on September 22nd at 7pm. Contributors will include director of the NLI, Dr Sandra Collins; Prof Nicholas Allen; Kapka Kassabova; Garret Carr; Dónal Hassett; and Suchitra Vijayan. It will continue with events focused on readings of four authors: Eugene McCabe, Andrea Carter, Sue Divin, and Seamus Heaney. The series will close on March 23rd with New Horizons: A Conversation, moderated by myself with writers James Patterson; Jill Crawford; Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe; and Luke Cassidy.

The programme has been co-curated by Prof Nicholas Allen and the National Library of Ireland, in association with the Willson Centre for Humanities and Arts at the University of Georgia. Director of the NLI, Dr Sandra Collins said: “As we continue to commemorate the Decade of Centenaries, the National Library sees Border Literatures as an opportunity to add literary perspectives to conversations about the centenary of partition. The programme has been curated to facilitate experience of a range of literary representations of the border, from the historical to the contemporary.”

Prof Allen said: “Literature, performance and the visual and sonic arts, were a deep part of the imaginative transformation that drove political change in Ireland a century ago. They remain a place where other ways of seeing each other can emerge, and in this spirit Border Literatures is an opportunity to explore how writers from different backgrounds and perspectives represent experiences of living by borders, in landscape and community, in their art.”

For more information, visit the website.

Breda Wall, Mark Granier and Carmen Cullen, all from Bray, at the announcement of Poetry Town events and activities taking place in the town.
Breda Wall, Mark Granier and Carmen Cullen, all from Bray, at the announcement of Poetry Town events and activities taking place in the town.

On Friday, September 17th at 7.30pm at the Bandstand on Bray seafront, there is an outdoor hour-long performance of poetry and music on the Culture Night Stage as part of Poetry Town. The Town Poem written for Bray by Poetry Town Laureate Kayssie K will be unveiled at this event. The night will also feature performances by strong female voices in poetry and spoken word, including poets Jane Clarke, Nell Regan and music by singer-songwriter Amy Barrett. Tickets are free but please register on Eventbrite using this link.


Transport author Jonathan Beaumont will be launching his latest book, Rails Through Connemara, on Saturday, September 18th. The book charts the history of the long-closed Galway to Clifden railway line – its glory days, closure and 21st-century revival.

The launch event will take place at Maam Cross, Connemara, where volunteers are restoring the former station site as a modern day heritage and family attraction with the intention of running steam trains there again in the near future. Those wishing to attend the launch can do so through Railtours Ireland.


This year marks the 10th anniversary of Novel Fair, the annual Irish Writers Centre novel writing competition. Novel Fair introduces upcoming and previously unpublished writers to top publishers and agents across Ireland and the UK. Novel Fair 2022 submissions will be judged by writers Cauvery Madhavan, Neil Hegarty and Gavin Corbett.

All writers entering Novel Fair 2022 will be invited to submit the first 10,000 words of their manuscript online. There are 20 free submission places to Novel Fair 2022 for underrepresented writers. The usual fee of €55 will be waived for these writers. For full details on how to enter Novel Fair 2022, please check out the website.

The Irish Writers Centre has also appointed Breda Brown as the new chairperson of its board of directors. Brown is co-founder and communications director of Unique Media, a strategic communications advisory firm, and she will engage in her new voluntary position with the Irish Writers Centre in conjunction with her professional role.

Unique Media’s clients include the An Post Irish Book Awards. Brown also presents and produces the Inside Books podcast in which she interviews Irish and international authors and she reviews crime novels for the Sunday Independent.

With the Irish Writers Centre celebrating its 30th anniversary, Brown said she was honoured to take up this role at such a pivotal time in its history: “As we enter our fourth decade as the home of writers in Ireland, we will be focusing on further strengthening our role and relevance for writers in what is currently a truly flourishing literary landscape.”

The Irish Writers Centre has also delighted four new directors: Áine Denn, Keelin Kissane, Jess Majekodunmi and Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan. They join Susanne Dirks, Lissa Oliver, Dermot Davis, Emma Gorman, Luán Ó Braonáin and Cathal Póirtéir.


Red Line Book Festival is back for its 10th year with a programme of more than 80 live and online events. From the Irish Civil War to eco writing, daring debuts, obsessions, literary motherhood and Gatsby-themed gatherings, this programme is suitable for literature lovers, history fans, families and the culturally curious.

Some participants this year include Diarmuid Ferriter, Colm Tóibín, Louise Nealon, Julia Quinn, Torrey Peters, Abigail Thorn, Sheila O’Flanagan, Megan Nolan, Jessica Traynor, Sarah Gilmartin, Seán Hewitt, festival writer in residence, poet and biologist Jane Robinson and more. Visit


‘Bring me into the spotlight of a London conference’: Michael Collins from Truce to Treaty’ with speakers Dr Anne Dolan (Associate Professor in Modern Irish History, Trinity College Dublin) and Dr William Murphy (Associate Professor, School of History and Geography, Dublin City University), moderated by RTÉ’s David McCullagh, takes place on Thursday, September 23rd, at 8pm, in the Main Reading Room, National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. An online event, admission is free. Booking information.


The Kerry-based poet, Ceaití Ní Bheildiúin, is this year’s winner of the Michael Hartnett Poetry Award for her collection in Irish, Agallamh Sa Cheo, Cnoc Bhréanainn (Coiscéim, 2019).

She will travel to Newcastle West to accept the award on September 30th, which is the opening night of the annual Éigse Michael Hartnett Literary and Arts Festival.

“I am nothing less than stunned,” Ní Bheildiúin said in response to her success in winning this year’s award which was for a second or further collection of poems in Irish.

A long-time admirer of Hartnett’s own poetry, she said: “I always get a great hit out of reading Michael Hartnett’s poetry. I became aware of him, his poems and his life story shortly after I started to compose pieces of Irish language verse. I felt an immediate affinity to him that he had toiled in the same mistiness of Gaeilge as a second language as I was doing. I find his poetry in both Irish and English powerful.”

“It is staggering to have a book of my own awarded the Michael Hartnett Prize. It is an honour beyond belief.”

The award was established in 1999 following the death of the Newcastle West-born poet. Jointly funded by Limerick City and County Council Arts Office and the Arts Council, it carries a prize of €4,000.

Judges Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhaigh and Seosamh Ó Murchú described Agallamh Sa Cheo, Cnoc Bhréanainn as a “collection which is striking in its ambition and craft” and “reveals the poet’s aesthetic gifts”. With Mount Brandon providing the imaginative terrain, they characterise the book as “an emotional cartography of the mountain, as told in a chorus of voices that illuminate the human drama of life.”

“In this homage to the mountain, Ní Bheildiúin demonstrates her own deep appreciation of Mount Brandon. Nature poetry and a sense of place are central to the Gaelic tradition and Agallamh sa Cheo should be considered among the most significant works of this era that contemplates our relationship with the natural world.”

“Contemporary poetry in Irish is in rude health, based on the 23 entries for this year’s Michael Hartnett Award. Agallamh sa Cheo stood out due to its ambition and breadth as well as the artistry of the work,” the judges concluded.

John Cussen, of the Eigse Michael Hartnett Committee said, “Michael Hartnett would be delighted that Irish poetry is, in the words of the judges, in such rude health. We are truly delighted with the response to this year’s Poetry Award and are looking forward to welcoming Ceaití to Newcastle West.”

Éigse Michael Hartnett takes place from September 30th to October 2nd in Newcastle West, Co Limerick.With a blended format this year, live events will be intermingled with online events with all relevant Covid regulations in effective at that time followed.

This year’s programme includes Patricia Scanlan, Kathleen MacMahon and Louise Nealon along with John Creedon and Irish Ambassador to Washington, Dan Mulhall. There will also be a strong line-up of poets including Moya Cannon, Séan Lysaght, Colm Keegan, Rafael Mendes and Natasha Remoundou.

For full details visit

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