THERE is a little over a week to go before the West Cork Literary Festival, which runs from Sunday 17th to Saturday, July 23rd, and the good news is that it is still possible to buy tickets for most events.
Readings, workshops, children’s events, panel discussions, art exhibitions and open mic events take place throughout Bantry.
Novelist and actress Carol Drinkwater, known for her award-winning portrayal of Helen Herriot in the much-loved BBC series All Creatures Great and Small, will be reading from her latest novel, The Forgotten Summer, in Bantry House on Sunday 17th at 3pm. This is the first event of this year’s Festival and, shortly afterwards, the Festival will be officially opened in Bantry Library.
The line-up of writers appearing in the main evening readings at the Maritime Hotel include John Banville, who will be reading from his latest novel, The Blue Guitar. Kevin Barry, whose novel The City of Bohane won the IMPAC Prize and the European Prize for Literature, joins short story writer Carys Davies on Tuesday evening.
The following night is the turn of journalist Fintan O’Toole before the Festival welcomes writers Eoin McNamee, Glenn Patterson and Paul McVeigh for the Northern Lights reading on Thursday evening.
One of the highlights of this year’s festival is the appearance of Gloria Steinem in the Maritime Hotel on Saturday. The feminist activist is making her only visit to Ireland and the event has been sold out for a number of months.
Elsewhere in the packed six-day programme, there’s the chance to celebrate the disappearing art of letter writing in the Letter Café, as well as a series of maritime-themed events include a Big Swim in Bantry Bay, At Swim in Bantry Library and a special island reading on Whiddy Island.
In recent years, the series of early evening readings has become popular and, this year, the festival welcomes poets Theo Dorgan, TS Eliot Prize winner Sarah Howe and the winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, Jo Shapcott; the renowned traditional singer Seán Ó Sé; bestselling writer, actor and playwright Michael Harding; winner of the Crime Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards, Liz Nugent, and stand-up comedian Owen O’Neill.
At the heart of this celebration of the written word is the programme of five-day writing workshops.A number are now sold out but there are still spaces on Songwriting with Jack L, Travel Writing on Whiddy Island with Horatio Clare, Playwriting with Carmel Winters, Wild Women Writing with Magi Gibson , Writing for Beginners with Danielle McLaughlin and Journalism with Fintan O’Toole.
Aspiring writers also have the chance to attend a number of special industry events, including a session with literary agent Carole Blake, who will guide them through the process of researching, approaching and working with an agent. Catherine Ryan Howard talks about the business of self-publishing, while Andy Miller will show his audience how they can ‘read themselves fitter’. Paul McVeigh will explain how to write ‘That Killer First Page.’
Over the years, visitors have remarked on the number of free events that they can attend throughout the week. Each morning Bantry Bookshop hosts a free reading and this year, these include appearances by David Murphy, Aiden O’Reilly, Simon Lewis, Catherine Ryan-Howard and Shirley McClure.
Amongst those reading at the free events in Bantry Library are Caitriona Lally, Gavin McCrea and Andrew Michael Loney, whose debut novel The Loney has gathered such acclaim in recent months.
For more details and to book, go to www.westcorkliteraryfestival.ie telephone: 027-52788/9 or LoCall 1850 788 789.
The West Cork Literary Festival is generously supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, Cork County Council Library and Arts Services, Failte Ireland, SuperValu, Bantry Bay Port Company Ltd, Irish Examiner, UCC and RTÉ lyric fm.