The ultimate goal of the 47 year old unique Listowel Writers’ Week Literary Festival is to engage the world-wide community in a celebration of the written word and to encourage discussion, at all age levels, of literature in its many forms. It serves to foster the professional development of writers, to promote communication throughout the literary community, and to help create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible audience.
Our Logo is a Celtic Triskele symbol that signifies spirit, mind and body and also depicts power, intellect and love. It was originally designed by local artist and teacher the late Tony O’Callaghan
Listowel Writers’ Week was founded in 1970 and is recognised as the primary event in Ireland’s literary calendar. The annual event is located in the North Kerry town of Listowel which is the birthplace of many of Ireland’s most prominent writers past and present including Dr. John B. Keane, Dr. Bryan MacMahon, Professor Brendan Kennelly, George Fitzmaurice, Maurice Walsh and Robert Leslie Boland.
The Listowel Writers’ Week Festival was established to celebrate these writers and to provide an opportunity for writers in general to develop their talents and meet new audiences.
The concept of the Creative Writing Workshop was first introduced at Listowel Writers’ Week in 1971 by Dr. Bryan MacMahon. Since then our Creative Writing Workshops continue to be the most popular in the country. Prominent International authors have shared their skills in poetry, fiction, non-fiction, theatre, screen, travel, song, comic and crime over the years.
Competitions were introduced, together with a series of literary awards, which have given valuable recognition to new writers over the past number of years. In that time many eminent Irish and International literary figures have gathered in Listowel at the annual festival to celebrate the work of new and established writers.
Today, the event takes place over 5 days leading up to and including the June bank holiday weekend in a unique atmosphere of learning. It gives new and established writers an opportunity to discuss their work before a national and international audience.
Under the leadership of it’s President Colm Tóibin, together with Literary Advisors Sarah Webb, Professor Brendan Kennelly, Jennifer Johnston, Niall MacMonagle and Seamus Hosey, Listowel Writers’ Week provides an extensive programme of literary events including lectures, readings, workshops, seminars, theatre, literary and historical tours, art exhibitions and music.
Five Presidents of Ireland have officiated at the Opening of Listowel Writers’ Week over the years, the latest being President Michael D. Higgins in 2012 who described the festival in his opening address, quote; ‘Here in Listowel every year the Nobel Laureate and bestselling author is celebrated, the emerging voice of the poet reading in public for the first time is applauded, the draft novels and stories are discussed and encouraged. Here the writer gets to realise that he is part of a group, part of a family composed of creative individuals interested in and anxious to support each other’s gift and talent.’
In 2012 a new strand was added to the Festival, Young Adult BookFest designed specifically for secondary school students.
In 2014 The Listowel Writers’ Week Children’s Programme was renamed and registered as The National Children’s Literary Festival.
Among the many literary luminaries who have previously appeared at our festival are: Nobel Laureate and Booker Prize-winner, J.M. Cóetzee. Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney. Booker Prize winners: Kazuo Ishiguro, John Banville, James Kelman, Thomas Keneally and Anne Enright. Poet Laureates: Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy and Andrew Motion. Award winning playwrights: Tom Murphy, Brian Friel, Roddy Doyle, Frank McGuinness and Hugh Leonard. Celebrated poets: Michael Hartnett, Leland Bardwell, Richard Murphy, John Montague, Paul Durcan, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Roger McGough, Rita Ann Higgins, Harry Cifton, Thomas Lynch and Kate Cruise O’ Brien. Acclaimed novelists: Blake Morrison, Chris Whyte, Lionel Shriver, Colm Tóibín, Jennifer Johnston, John McGahern, Joseph O’Neill, Sebastian Barry, Joseph O’ Connor, Hugo Hamilton, Edna O’Brien, Douglas Kennedy, Patrick McGrath, William Trevor, Colum McCann, Gerard Donovan, Frank McCourt, Joris Duytschaever, Irvine Welsh, Dr. Robyn Rowland, Andrew Lindsay, Michael Cunningham, Rebecca MillerJane Urquhart, Anatoly Kudryavitsky, Cees Nooteboom, Kate Adie, David Mitchell, Michael Dibdin, Clyde Rose, Lynn Barber, Robert Lacey, Abdel Bari Atwan, Clive James, Melvyn Bragg, Alain De Botton, Lloyd Jones, Eric P Kaufman, Robert Fisk, Jung Chang, Terry Jones, Gabriel Byrne, Gerald Celente, John Connolly, Michael Holroyd, Edward St Aubyn, Robert McCrum, David Sedaris, Alice Sebold, Jackie Kay, Emma Donoghue, Audrey Niffenegger, Andrew Miller,Jim Crace, Louise Doughty, Aminata Forna, Gerbrand Bakker, Tishani Doshi, Mary Lawson and many more.
Quotes from recent authors:
Colm Toibín (President of Listowel Writers’ Week) “All year round in Listowel, the committee and the tireless organisers of Listowel Writers Week meet to create magic.”
Willy Vlautin “Listowel Writer’s Week is amazing. It’s intimate enough that you are able to meet your favourite writers. In one day I met Colm Tóibín, Colum McCann, and saw John Montague and Paddy Moloney perform. What a week!”
Eimear McBride “Listowel Writers’ Week has a great history and a tradition of wonderful writers who I love and admire.”
Jim Crace “This is a wonderful literary festival, a must for all authors. Its success is that it is stitched into the community.”
Aminatta Forna “I though the festival was wonderful, with such a great spirit of camaraderie, fun to be part of. Listowel is gorgeous.”
Mary Lawson “It is the planet’s Number 1 Literary Festival! It is so friendly and informal (and noisy! and exhilarating!) – and yet flawlessly organised – truly, there is not another festival to touch it.”
Nadeem Aslam “No matter what your taste is for literature you will find someone who is the best here.”
Michael Holroyd “I thought Listowel Writers’ Week was one of the best festivals I’ve ever been to. I hope it continues for another forty years!”
Donal Ryan “There wasn’t a minute of our time at Listowel Writers’ Week we didn’t enjoy. It’s an amazing festival organised by amazing people.”
Listowel is just 8 miles from Ballybunion which is alongside The Wild Atlantic Way and boasts miles of stunning sandy beaches and the famous Ballybunion Links Golf Course in north Kerry.