With such a superb and varied programme of events to choose from this year it’s difficult to pick any favourites, so I’ve included here a number of events that you may not see advertised, but which are proven to be firm favourites with our visitors over the years.
Many of these events are FREE and are part of what makes Listowel Writers’ Week the unique and much loved literary festival that it is. The late, great Bryan MacMahon had it right when he lovingly characterised the festival as “the centre of the imagination.”
So, with that in mind, here’s a small selection of some events from this year’s offering that you might want to keep in mind:
Morning Walk: ‘Listowel & its People’ DEPARTS FROM THE ARMS HOTEL 11.AM FREE
From Bell-ringer to blacksmith, printer to publican, weaver to writer… traverse the streets and laneways of Listowel in the footsteps of past generations. Led by local historian Vincent Carmody, this hugely popular event is a must-do for first-time visitors and returning patrons.
Lunchtime Theatre: ‘James Joyce and the Three Cities – Dublin, New York, Paris’ ST JOHN’S THEATRE 1PM €10/€8
The story of the publication of Joyce’s works in these three cities is celebrated with music, songs and readings from Dubliners, Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake. Colm ‘Stride’ O’Brien, who is a regular performer in the National Concert Hall, Canada and the USA will be joined by Michael and Eithne Shanley who are thespians and lovers of all things Joycean. The show is light-hearted and slightly ironic rather than overly academic.
Paul Durcan: A Reading THE ARMS HOTEL 6.PM €15/€12
Famous for his electrifying poetry readings, which include funny, subversive and self-mocking narratives, Durcan continues to create passionate and moving poetry out of his own and his country’s misfortunes. He is in turn a surrealist, mystic, comedian and an angry champion of the oppressed.
Literary Pub Trail DEPARTS FROM THE ARMS HOTEL 8PM FREE
It’s time to join in the revelry and soak up the culture on the ever-popular Listowel Writers’ Week Pub Trail. The irrespessible Abbeyfeale Drama Group will enchant with top-notch entertainment as they lead you to and from many of the colourful, charming local hostelries which make Listowel so wonderful!
Living Literature THE SEANCHAÍ CENTRE 12 NOON €5
Brought to life by costumed characters, the Living Literature tour of the Kerry Writers’ Museum in the Seanchaí Centre will take you on a stimulating journey of discovery through the songs and stories of our celebrated North Kerry writers. Immerse yourselves in the words of John B Keane, Bryan MacMahon, Brendan Kenelly, Maurice Walsh and George Fitzmaurice in a live performance.
Evening Theatre: Underneath ST JOHN’S THEATRE 8.30PM €15
The hugely talented Pat Kinevane returns this year with the third of his captivating solo performances, Underneath. Sticks and stones don’t break her bones, but words and pointing crushed her. Is Beauty really only skin deep? Does Ugliness hide somewhere deeper? Early booking advisable!
New Writers’ Salon: Ireland’s most exciting emerging writers in one venue SCRIBES COFFEE HOUSE 9PM FREE
The New Writers’ Salon returns to Scribes Coffee House. Over two nights, these up-and-coming writers, who are currently making waves on the Irish literary scene, will share from their work. There is also an open mic session where budding writers will have the chance to read in front of a large and appreciative audience, perhaps for the first time.
Poets Corner THE NEW KINGDOM BAR 9PM FREE
The New Kingdom Bar is the venue for the friendliest, finest and funniest open mic session in the European Union. Chancers, charmers and chanters are welcome. Bring out your read and unread poems. First-time readers and seasoned veterans of the spoken word are welcome to inspire and entertain.
Celebrating Yeats 150: I hear it in the deep heart’s core ST JOHN’S THEATRE 11AM €10/€8
In collaboration with Poetry Ireland and the National Library of Ireland, Listowel Writers’ Week will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the legendary WB Yeats. Finalists and participants from the Poetry Aloud Children’s Competition will beguile the audience with their eloquent renditions of some of Yeats’ most iconic verse. An added treat will be an interpretation of Yeats’ work by Listowel poet and rapper, Seamus Barra Ó Súilleabháin.
Bus Tour: The Sheila Barry Memorial Literary & Historical Bus Tour DEPARTS THE ARMS HOTEL 2PM €15
All aboard for our 2015 bus tour which will bring us first to the ‘Crooked Cross’ of Ballylongford, birthplace of poet Brendan Kennelly. A stop at the Church of Michael the Archangel, then onwards to Carrigafoyle Castle, ancestral seat of the O’Connor Kerry chieftans. Continue to Tarbert and visit the newly developed ‘Forge’ garden and the Tarbert Bridewell Courthouse & Jail. The tour will finish in Coolahan’s Bar, where light refreshments will be served with entertainment by our musicians and dancers.
In Conversation: Jesse Armstrong THE ARMS HOTEL 7PM €15/€12
Jesse Armstrong is one of Britain’s hottest and most prolific comedy writers. He is best known for creating the hugely successful Channel 4 sitcoms Peepshow and Fresh Meat. He also co-wrote political satire The Thick of It and Oscar-nominated In the Loop. With Chris Morris, he wrote the 2010 terrorism satire Four Lions. Among other things he will be discussing his debut novel Love, Sex and other Foreign Policy Goals.
Film Club: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel THE CLASSIC CINEMA 8.30pm €7.50
A sequel to the hit film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. As the hotel has only a single vacancy leaving a rooming predicament for two fresh arrivals, Sony pursues his expansionist dream of opening a second hotel. With Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighty and Richard Gere.
Lunchtime Theatre: ‘Dúchas’ ST JOHN’S THEATRE 12 Noon €10/€8
A celebration of North Kerry’s Poetry & Traditional Music. Celebrated poet and raconteur Gabriel Fitzmaurice joins acclaimed musician and broadcaster Danny O’Mahony in this unique project.
Diarmaid Ferriter: Lecture THE ARMS HOTEL 3PM €12/€10
Diarmaid Ferriter is one of Ireland’s best-known historians and is Professor of Modern Irish History at UCD. His lecture deals with the Ireland of 1913-23 and draws on an abundance of newly-released archival material on the Ulster Volunteer Force, the Irish Volunteers, World War One, the rise of Sinn Féin, Ulster Unionism, the Irish War of Independence, the Treaty with Britain and the tragic drama of the Irish Civil War.
Film Club: Cake THE CLASSIC CINEMA 8.30pm €7.50
The acerbic, hilarious Claire Simmons becomes fascinated by the suicide of a woman in her chronic pain management support group. As she uncovers the details of Nina’s suicide and develop a poignant relationship with Nina’s husband, she also grapples with her own, very raw personal tragedy. Directed by Daniel Barnz and starring Jennifer Aniston and Anna Kendrick.
For full details of our programme and to book, please visit http://writersweek.ie/ww2017/festival-programme
Meanwhile, we look forward to welcoming you to Listowel, whether you’re an old friend or on a first visit. And remember the words of WB Yeats: “There are no strangers here, only friends who haven’t yet met.”