Niall MacMonagle honoured; Maeve Binchy festival; Belfast crime fiction event

Irish literary news: Culture Night; Sounds from a Safe Harbour; Dromineer Literary Festival; Patrick Kavanagh weekend; HomePlace events; Dublin Festival of History

UCD President Prof Andrew Deeks has conferred Niall MacMonagle with an honorary doctorate of literature in recognition of his outstanding work and influence in the arts and his tireless support of Irish culture.

MacMonagle said: “This honorary doctorate of literature is unexpected and a great honour. It is a great pleasure to be among the UCD graduates as they get their well-earned degrees today. The world is all before them and I wish them well as they make their way in the world. Being awarded this doctorate by UCD, with literary associations that include Hopkins, Joyce, Kate O’Brien, Mary Lavin, Colm Tóibín and Marina Carr, makes this degree even more special.

“In my working life, being in the classroom has meant most to me and I believe, with Harold Bloom, that ‘the purpose of teaching is to extend the blessing of more life’, and that life includes all of literature, especially poetry, my favourite art form”

In her citation, Margaret Kelleher, Professor of Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama at UCD, said: “We salute in esteem and with gratitude the work of Niall MacMonagle as advocate for the arts and champion for poetry. We honour his exemplary teaching legacy, his continuing work as teacher and the inspiration he brings to legions of readers.


MacMonagle spent more than 30 years teaching at Wesley College in Dublin, where he founded the poetry-speaking initiative Poetry Aloud, now a nationwide competition. His credits include the recent Irish poetry anthology, Windhar, bestselling Lifelines anthologies as well as Poetry Now textbooks, Real Cool, Outside In, Slow Time and Off the Wall. From Kerry, he lives in Dublin and is married to Mary Clayton and has one daughter Catherine.

Celebrating Maeve Binchy
Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre hosts Echoes, an inaugural event celebrating the work of Maeve Binchy and other renowned Irish writers, on September 29th and 30th.

Maeve’s Aches and Pains, adapted by Shay Linehan, will launch the weekend on Friday 29th at 7.30pm. On September 30th, Maeve’s husband, Gordon Snell, Martina Devlin, Joseph O’Connor, Róisín Ingle and Bernard Farrell will speak between readings and recordings. Prof Margaret Kelleher of UCD will open the day with a talk entitled Maeve Binchy, her lasting appeal. Actor Barry McGovern will explore the Beckett connection in When Beckett met Binchy. Playwright Bernard Farrell, a personal friend of Maeve, will close the day with Maeve – A Legacy in Laughter.

On Sunday, October 1st, the Maeve Binchy and Irish Writers Guided Walk begins at Dalkey Castle at 11am.

Major crime fiction festival in Belfast
A major new crime fiction festival takes place in Belfast's Europa Hotel from Friday to Sunday, October 27th to 29th. Featuring the team behind top BBC crime drama, Line of Duty, as well as Robert Crais, Benjamin Black, Graeme Macrae Burnet, Adrian McKinty, Arne Dahl, Liz Nugent and Sophie Hannah, NOIRELAND International Crime Fiction Festival is the brainchild of David Torrans, who established the No Alibis Book Store 20 years ago and has been at the forefront of promoting Irish crime fiction.

NOIRELAND is billed as a celebration of Ireland’s love of crime fiction with the best in local talent, guest appearances by international crime-writing stars, and in-depth conversations with some of the greatest screenwriters to put crime dramas on the screen. It will have have panels discussing how crime fiction can be used to address issues around identity, gender, religion and race.

Culture Night 2017 literary highlights
Culture Night 2017 takes place on Friday, September 22nd. Here are some of the highlights in Dublin.

Buswells Hotel, Dublin
A literary cabaret inspired by the life and works of James Joyce. Bethencourt Production's monthly event unites the best acts of the season on Culture Night. Enjoy Molly Bloom's soliloquy, Gretta from The Dead and Lucia Joyce's dance style, while Dublin is celebrated in folk songs and John McCormack and James Joyce compete for the microphone in a time warp.

Central Catholic Library, Dublin
Writers to Remember in the Decade of Centenaries: Stephen Brown SJ and the Irish Literary Revival. An exhibition of works by some of the poets, dramatists, critics and novelists of the Irish Literary Revival, collected by the library's founder Fr Stephen Brown.

Dublin Writers Museum, Dublin
Actors and singers Mary Ryan (Ros na Rún) and Ciaran McMahon (Game of Thrones) perform a selection of comic scenes and songs by James Joyce, Sean O'Casey, Samuel Beckett, Brendan Behan and Mary Lavin. Places are limited so please arrive in good time to ensure a seat. Visitors can also explore the museum with its wonderful collection of literary memorabilia, or browse in the bookshop, which stays open until 8pm.

Irish Writers Centre, Dublin
The Irish Writers Centre opens its doors with the usual warm welcome to visitors for a celebration of contemporary Irish writing. Writers will take to the stage with newly commissioned work on the pros and cons of writing in the wake of Irish literary giants. The centre will champion the new voices in Irish publishing with its Independent Publishers Showcase while the brave among you can join the in-house writing group, the Inkslingers, to create and share your own original work. Finally, Frank Buckley will lead a tour exploring one of the great collections of contemporary Irish art.

Sounds from a Safe Harbour
Sounds from a Safe Harbour has announced its Conversations & Words programme, in association with Creative Ireland, in venues across Cork City, from Friday to Sunday, September 15th to 17th. Donal Dineen and Kevin Barry host Last Night a DJ Saved My Life at the River Lee Hotel, swapping notes on inventing ways and means of making sure that music remains, for them, a central part of everything they do. Kevin will also do a reading of his own work in the Oval Bar on Saturday afternoon. Loose Joints, a popular podcast created by Nialler9 and Sally Cinnamon, will talk to special guests about the music that they love, old and new, and will feature a loose collection of songs, tied together by very little logic, and weaved with discussions hosted by Phil Udell ( Join Cillian Murphy in the intimate surroundings of The Roundy 'In Conversation' with Fionn Regan, and in the Crane Lane 'In Converation' with Bryce Dessner. Admission free.

Beyond the Book of Kells
To more than 600,000 visitors a year, Trinity is synonymous with the Book of Kells. But that ninth-century manuscript is only part of the story. Ranging in date from the fifth century to the sixteenth, and with origins from across western Europe, Trinity's 600 medieval manuscripts contain languages from Latin and Greek to Old Irish, Old English, Welsh, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Provencal, and Vaudois. They embody in microcosm the entire gamut of medieval thought. A new series of lectures from manuscript experts – Irish and international – will offer the public an opportunity to encounter eight other extraordinary books from Trinity's collections, from the ninth-century Book of Armagh to a key manuscript of one of the great medieval English poets, William Langland.

Beyond the Book of Kells: The stories of eight other medieval manuscripts from the library of Trinity College Dublin is led by Dr Mark Faulkner of Trinity College’s School of English. It is held as part of the Manuscript, Print, and Book Cultures research theme, in the Trinity Long Room Hub. It begins on Tuesday, October 3rd, at 6.30pm, when Dr Laura Cleaver, Ussher lecturer in medieval art, will discuss An Illuminated Psalter and Hours.

Dublin Festival of History
Martin Bell, Robert Harris, Clair Wills, Chris Patten, Robert Service and Ian Kershaw are just some of the big names taking part in the Dublin Festival of History, which takes place in Dublin Castle and throughout the city from Friday to Sunday, September 29th to October 1st. All events are free, no booking is required and admission is on a first come, first served basis.

Patrick Kavanagh weekend
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Patrick Kavanagh's death. The poet's memory is kept alive by the annual Patrick Kavanagh weekend, which takes place in his nastive Inniskeen, Co Monaghan from September 29th to October 1st. The opening address will be by Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts as well as being a local TD, followed by the keynote address by Prof Diarmaid Ferriter: "Irishmen, as a rule make poor lovers" – Sex and Society in Patrick Kavanagh's Ireland. Other highlights include Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967) & Seamus Heaney (1939-2013): From "Shancoduff" to "Mossbawn" – Lines of Convergence and Divergence by Dr Una Agnew; a poetry workshop with Noel Monahan; and Two Satirical Paddys by Paddy Cullivan, of The Late Late Show house band The Camembert Quartet, who sings and chats the social commentary of Kavanagh.

Seamus Heaney HomePlace programme
Two of Seamus Heaney's greatest literary influences – poet Patrick Kavanagh and writer Michael McLaverty – are being celebrated with a number of events taking place as part of the newly unveiled autumn programme at Seamus Heaney HomePlace. Autumn guests include Jennifer Johnston, Colin Davidson, Ardal O'Hanlon, Ciaran McMenamin, Fintan O'Toole and Robert McCrum.

In a cross-border collaboration funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, HomePlace will be working with the Patrick Kavanagh Centre in Monaghan to explore the works of Kavanagh, Heaney and the shared links in their writing.

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Patrick Kavanagh – whose poetry Heaney described as combining “bag-apron realism and far-horizon vision” – and events will take place in their respective literary centres in Monaghan and Bellaghy.

The HomePlace events on Saturday, October 7th will include a children’s writing workshop on the theme of home, a lecture by Dr Una Agnew evaluating Kavanagh’s influence on Heaney and their respective literary legacies and a performance of Kavanagh’s The Great Hunger by the Lyric Theatre, which will meld spoken word, film, and sound to evoke the poet’s exploration of country life.

One of Ireland’s greatest short story writers, Michael McLaverty, died 25 years ago and on Saturday, October 28 th, family members and literary experts will come together to discuss his life, work and relationship with Heaney. The event will feature a reading of Heaney’s Tribute to Michael McLaverty by actor Vincent Higgins and will be preceded from Saturday, October 21st by Fosterage, an exhibition exploring McLaverty’s life and work, presented in association with Linen Hall Library.

In Capturing Seamus: The Art of the Portrait on Sunday, October 8th, three artists who have created a portrait of Heaney – artist Colin Davidson and photographers Eamonn McCabe and Geray Sweeney – will discuss the context and experience of working with him and the process of capturing his essence in just one image, in an event chaired by Declan Long.

Often described as the definitive documentary of the life and work of Seamus Heaney, Out of the Marvellous was created in 2009 to mark the poet’s 70th birthday. Filmmaker Charlie McCarthy will discuss the film with BBC Northern Ireland’s Mark Carruthers following a special screening on Saturday, November 25th.

Poet and professional glasses-wearer John Hegley makes his HomePlace debut on Friday, October 20th with two shows – Peace, Love and Potatoes, with poems and songs inspired by memories of his childhood, and I am a Poetato, featuring songs, jokes and rhymes, for children aged 8-12 years.

The fun continues on Thursday, November 23rd, with actor, comedian and writer Ardal O’Hanlon, who will be in conversation with BBC Northern Ireland’s William Crawley about his wide-ranging career, love of literature and famous acting creations.

Looking back at her career of almost 50 years, her reputation and her legacy, one of Ireland’s most important contemporary novelists Jennifer Johnston will be in conversation with fellow author Martina Devlin on Saturday, October 14th.

The explosion of new Irish writing talent comes under the spotlight in two events in the HomePlace this autumn. On Sunday, October 15th, Young Blood sees three debut authors – Ciaran McMenamin, Sally Rooney and June Caldwell – share their fresh and irreverent takes on life in Ireland today. A Constable Calls on Saturday, November 11th looks at the rise of crime writing following political changes in Northern Ireland and includes contributions from authors Eoin McNamee, Liz Nugent and Declan Burke.

Fintan O’Toole returns to HomePlace on December 7th to discuss the issues that have dominated the news over the past 12 months, from President Trump to the UK general election and the consequences for the UK and Ireland of triggering Article 50.

The prospect of death and its aftermath for those left behind are explored in two events. On Sunday, November 5th, author and journalist Robert McCrum discusses his new book, Every Third Thought, his literary and personal response to his own mortality, and his friendship with and memories of Heaney. In Who Am I Now? on Saturday, October 21st, actress and comedian Nuala McKeever leads an expressive and creative writing session for anyone living with life-changing loss.

Shorelines Arts Festival Portumna
There is a strong literary element to this year's Shorelines Arts Festival in Portumna, which runs from September 14th-17th.

Stories, Songs and Poetry with Helena Mulkerns, Martin Malone & Simon O’Faoláin take splacde in Hayes’ Bar, Portumna at 1.30pm on September 15th. There is a literary lunch with Fergus Finlay, Eithne Hand & Mike McCormack at 1pm at Modena Restaurant on Saturday, September 16th. Katie Donovan and Leanne O’Sullivan will be giving poetry readings later that day.

Dromineer Literary Festival
The 14th annual Dromineer Literary Festival takes place from October 6th-8th. Daytime events will be held in Lough Derg Yacht Club in Dromineer, afloat on Lough Derg, and in Nenagh Castle. The evening programme will be held in Nenagh Arts Centre. Those taking part include poets Martina Evans, Martin Malone and Geraldine Mitchell, Dani Gill, the war photographer, journalist and short story writer Sándor Jászberényi and authors Alan McMonagle., Lisa Harding, Andrew Tierney and Sara Baume.

James Joyce talk
Joyce Tower Society hosts a talk by society member and author of James Joyce Unplugged Anthony J Jordan on Thursday, September 21st at 6pm at the James Joyce Tower in Sandycove, Co Dublin.

Linen Hall Library fundraiser
In a fundraising first, TV's most dysfunctional family from BBC NI's popular comedy Give My Head Peace will gather at the Great Hall, Stormont, on Wednesday, October 11th at 7.30pm to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the show's first filming and to raise money for the Linen Hall Library.

Actor and writer Tim McGarry will open the evening with his inimitable banter before members of the ‘Gang’ read from two broadcast episodes of the popular comedy show. There will also be an open mic Q&A session. McGarry says: “Stormont is well known for making us all laugh and cry, so it’s a great place to bring Give My Head Peace. Our politicians have provided us with years of material, so this is a thank you to them – and it’s a great opportunity to help the Linen Hall Library, NI’s most distinguished library.”