Literary line-ups in place for festival season


LOOSE LEAVES:The all-Ireland battle of the literary line-ups is beginning in earnest as the festival season warms up, starting next week in Galway at Cúirt International Festival of Literature. This will be followed by Listowel Writers’ Week, in Co Kerry (May 30th to June 3rd), Dublin Writers Festival (June 4th to 10th) and West Cork Literary Festival (July 8th to 14th).

The Co Cork event, which takes place in Bantry, will this year have a maritime theme, with readings and talks on matters nautical, from Brendan the Navigator and longboats to the present day. Another strand will be Writers in Peril, which will include an interview with the journalist John McCarthy (pictured), who was kidnapped and held for five and a half years on his first foreign assignment, to Beirut, in 1986.

Other headline contributors are Michael Parkinson, Paul Muldoon, Kevin Barry and Anita Desai. There will also be Writer Idol, described as a fun event where aspiring writers can submit their work for an on-the-spot assessment by a panel featuring the author Anita Shreve, the agent Marianne Gunn O’Connor and Suzanne Baboneau of the publisher Simon Schuster

Claire Kilroy, Glenn Patterson, Dermot Healy and Lorna Siggins will be among the writers giving classes and workshops on forms that range from flash fiction to novel-writing and journalism. For details and bookings, see

Dublin Writers Festival, meanwhile, will launch its full programme in early May but has already announced some big-name participants, including the renowned atheist Richard Dawkins and the 2010 Nobel literature laureate, Mario Vargas Llosa.

The visit of the Peruvian writer, who will be in conversation at the Gate Theatre on Sunday, June 10th, will coincide with the Irish publication of his latest novel, The Dream of the Celt, which explores the life of Roger Casement, executed in 1916 for his involvement in the Easter Rising. Vargas Llosa (pictured) has described Casement as “a peculiarly modern figure for the late Victorian landscape”, with his humanitarian concerns about colonial atrocities in the Congo and Peru and the controversy about the “black diaries”, recording his homosexual experiences, that were used against him at his trial.

The festival will also feature two musicians turned authors, in the Pogues founder member James Fearnley and the American folk-rocker Josh Ritter, who have written, respectively, a memoir and a debut novel. Fearnley will discuss his memoir, Here Comes Everybody, on Friday, June 8th, at Liberty Hall, interspersed with music from guests. Ritter will play songs and read from his critically praised book, Bright’s Passage, at the same venue on Monday, June 4th. For details and booking, see

Before all that, though, comes Cúirt International Festival of Literature, which continues through the week after its official opening, on Tuesday evening, and will count among its participants a strong hand of poets, including Paul Durcan, Rita Ann Higgins, Billy Collins and Tess Gallagher, along with the novelists John Banville and David Mitchell, and a debate about the ebook versus the paper book. Most of the festival’s events take place at Galway’s Town Hall Theatre (091-569777); you’ll find a full programme at