Host of attractions at Limerick Literary Festival

 Weekend in honour of Kate O'Brien returns with another strong offering

Anne Sheridan


Anne Sheridan

Host of attractions at Limerick Literary Festival

Limerick Leader editor Alan English launching the Limerick Literary Festival Picture: Sean Curtin

A STELLAR line-up of authors, journalists, poets and travel writers will take part in the upcoming Limerick Literary Weekend, which is held annually in honour of one of Limerick’s most famous writers, Kate O’Brien.

Running for two and a half days at the end of February, among those confirmed to take part include the novelist Louis de Bernieres, journalist Kevin Myers, novelist Sara Baume, novelist Donal Ryan, poet and travel writer Theo Dorgan, historian Tim Pat Coogan, poet Thomas Lynch, amongst many others.

The theme of the literary weekend will be rebellion, in honour of the centenary celebrations, and not by design, it will be held during the same weekend as the general election, which was just announced this Wednesday.

Launched in O’Mahony’s bookstore in the city this Monday night, the all-woman committee who have promoted the weekend in O’Brien’s name since 1984, said this event “continues to celebrate the life and work of the Limerick author, while attracting prominent participants from all over the world”.

Speaking at the event, committee member Marie Hackett said it is “disappointing” that the event has received no funding from the Arts Council for a second year running, though it is partly supported by Limerick City and County Council.

She said their wish is to discourage the view that literary festivals are “high-brow and elitist” and they also want to attract a younger audience.

“We would also like to get more businesses and events involved, because this is a great attraction not just for Limerick, but the Mid-West and Munster,” she said.

Sheila Deegan, of the council’s arts office and a committee member for some 26 years, said this is a “weekend created by readers for readers”.

Editor of the Limerick Leader, Alan English, who launched the event, delighted in producing a newspaper cutting featuring an article he wrote for this newspaper in 1989 – and said that weekend still lives on in his memory.

“Kate O’Brien was arguably the finest fiction writer ever produced by Limerick, but that status is now being challenged by a legion of emerging writers. The weekend has gone from strength to strength. Limerick can be very proud of this festival, and long may it flourish,” said Mr English.

The precursor to the festival will be a Kaleidoscope concert on Thursday, February 25 at 8pm in the Belltable, 69 O'Connell Street.

This salon concert series has been described by The Irish Times as “a genre-blind mini festival”, capturing audiences’ imaginations for the last seven years with carefully curated programmes of classical, contemporary and non-classical music.

The festival will be officially opened on Friday, February 26 at 6pm in City Gallery, Pery Square, by journalist Kevin Myers.

It will be followed by a music and splendour recital, which this year will feature internationally-renowned soprano Claudia Boyle, accompanied by pianist Mairead Hurley.

Saturday’s line-up includes Thomas Lynch; acclaimed short story writer Claire Keegan; Tim Pat Coogan; Louis de Bernieres; Theo Dorgan; and debut novelist Caitriona Lally. First up on Sunday morning in the Lime Tree theatre will be journalist and novelist Tom Clonan.

This will be followed by a special event entitled Desert Island Books, where the multi award-winning author Donal Ryan, of The Spinning Heart and The Thing about December, and accomplished new Irish writer Sara Baume, of Spill Simmer Falter Wither, will reveal their choice of books for a desert island, under the banner ‘The book I would never lend’. 

And for the finale, the illustrious Pauline Bewick will be in conversation with the popular critic and editor Niall MacMonagle. The Granary library will welcome novelist Judi Curtin and short story writer Mike Mac Domhnaill on Friday.

For full details see their newly updated website A weekend pass for the festival is €125, with many of the individual events priced from €12-€15

See Leader2 page 8 for more pictures from the launch