SEVEN distinguished writers will be examining the best and worst aspects of the times we live in during the 29th Kate O’Brien weekend next weekend.
The three day literary festival, in honour of one of Limerick’s most famous and controversial writers, will focus on the Dickensian theme, ‘The best of times, the worst of times’, specifically focusing on the Irish context.
Among those launching the festival in O’Mahony’s bookstore in the city this week were Pat Cox, chairman of Limerick City of Culture, and Bill Whelan, board member of same.
Sheila Deegan, arts officer with Limerick City Council, said the committee chose this theme as they felt “it reflected Irish society over the past ten years – the excesses of the Celtic Tiger followed by economic and societal wilderness and confusion”.
The weekend will be officially opened on Friday next by Ireland’s Ambassador to Uganda, Anne Webster followed by a concert recital accompanied by Mairead Hurley.
Among this year’s speakers will be Conor Brady, former editor of ‘The Irish Times’, who published his first novel, A June of Ordinary Murders, last year. He will also focus on the journalism of Kate O’Brien, especially her series for the newspaper from 1967 to 1972. Other guests are Tipperary native Donal Ryan, whose debut novel The Spinning Heart has won critical acclaim; and the New York based writer Colum McCann, whose most recent work, Let the Great World Spin, won the 2009 National Book Award in the US, amongst others.
Jennifer Johnston will deliver the annual Kate O’Brien lecture, and discussions will be held on her work.
This year the readings will be held in the Daghdha arts centre, on Friday, February 22, in Limerick courthouse on February 23, and in the Lime Tree Theatre in Mary Immaculate College on the final day, from 10am to 1pm.
A full weekend ticket is priced at €100.
For full listings of all talks see www.kateobrienweekend.com. The weekend is funded by The Arts Council, Limerick City Council, O’Mahony’s Bookstore, The University of Limerick, and Kleiser Pianos.