Literary greats gather in Galway city for literature festival

Laureate for Irish Fiction Sebastian Barry and author Paul Lynch among participants

Sebastian Barry and Paul Lynch will take part at the Cúirt festival in Galway. Photograph: The Irish Times

Sebastian Barry and Paul Lynch will take part at the Cúirt festival in Galway. Photograph: The Irish Times


A slew of award-winning writers and poets will take part in Galway’s Cúirt International Literature Festival which begins on Monday and runs until Sunday.

Founded in 1985, it is already is one of the oldest and most recognised literature festivals in Europe.

Among participants this year will be Laureate for Irish Fiction 2018-2021 Sebastian Barry whose novel Days Without End won the Costa Book of the Year Award and The Walter Scott Prize in 2017.

Also taking part will be Bernard MacLaverty whose novel Midwinter Break won the Irish Novel of the Year Award at the 2017 Bord Gáis Irish Book Awards. Paul Lynch, whose Grace has been nominated for the 2018 Walter Scott Prize, and Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, who was honoured with the Hennessy Hall of Fame Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2016, will also feature.

Sally Rooney, winner of the Sunday Times PFD Young Writer of the Year award last year and shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award, will give a reading from her acclaimed Conversations with Friends on Thursday.

Poet Jane Clarke, winner of the 2016 Listowel Writers’ Week Poem of the Year Award and the Hennessy Literary Award for Poetry, will give a reading on Tuesday with fellow poet and Aosdána member Michael Coady.

International participants

Dr Declan Kiberd, professor of Irish studies at Notre Dame in the US, will deliver a public talk on his more recent book After Ireland: Writing the Nation from Beckett to the Present (published last year 2017) on Wednesday afternoon.

International participants this year will include Catalan poet Eduard Márquez, Austrian-born writer Norbert Gstrein and French novelist Hédi Kaddour.

Mike McCormack,whose Solar Bones won the 2016 Goldsmiths Prize and the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award, will chair a session on young Irish writing next Friday afternoon while that evening Pat McCabe, whose latest novel Heartlands is due to be published this month, will take part in an event with Mexican author Juan Pablo Villalobos.

In an unusual event at the festival, next Saturday evening former Guardian editor in chief Alan Rusbridger and Irish international pianist Finghin Collins will present Conversation in Concert.

Rusbridger gave himself a year to master Chopin’s First Ballade Op 23 on piano resulting in his book, Play It Again, published in 2014.