Today, 22nd September is officially the first day of autumn, with the autumn equinox taking place at 10.29pm tonight. Traditionally it’s always been thought of as a time of balance, when the hours of darkness and light are of the same length – twelve hours. It’s also the time when the harvests have been brought in and we consider what’s needed to stock up on for the upcoming colder months.
If you’re a writer, a photographer or artist, now is an ideal time to capture the changing season in word, photo or artform. It may even just be a time to reflect a little, and consider the changing of the season and what it means to you personally.
Here at Listowel Writers’ Week we’re settling into making preparations for next year’s festival, which will take place from Wednesday 28th May – Sunday 31st May 2015. We’re always looking at ways to keep the festival fresh, and we value your comments and suggestions. If you visited us in 2014 or indeed any previous year we would love to hear from you. You can email me at email@example.com or leave a comment on this post.
Meanwhile, our team of busy voluntary organisers are putting their heads together to come up with some great new ideas that will be of interest to our readers, writers, theatre goers, workshop attendees/directors, sponsors and patrons in 2015 – not forgetting our much valued younger audience, who come for Operation Education and our children’s programme, which this year was renamed The National Children’s Literary Festival.
Meet two of our hardworking team members below: Michael Garvey and Máiréad Costello, both North Kerry natives:
Michael Garvey grew up in Listowel, where, he says, he couldn’t help but develop a deep love and appreciation of literature. That said, when it came to choosing his course of study, there was no question that he would choose anything other than literature, and so he set off for Dublin, where he completed a degree in English Literature and French at Trinity College. During his time at Trinity he spent a year studying in Paris, where he lived at the Irish Cultural Centre.
After graduating, he spent a short while working for Trinity College and then for a digital marketing agency, but ultimately decided that he would rather devote his time to writing and returned to Listowel to do so. Michael spent almost two years back in his native Kerry, honing his craft and working as a freelance editor and translator, during which time he joined the Listowel Writers’ Week team and worked with us on the 2013 and 2014 festivals.
Fascinated by other cultures, Michael spent three months earlier this year travelling from Israel up through Eastern Europe and into Russia, finishing his odyssey with a spell in Iceland. (We’re only ever so slightly jealous!)
Michael has had articles published in The Irish Times and Siren, a story longlisted for the RTÉ/Penguin Ireland Short Story Competition and another story published in wordlegs. He is currently a student on the prestigious Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia in Norwich (the starting point of so many great writers), but thankfully he’ll be back to help out once again at the festival in 2015.
A native of Tralee, Máiréad Costelloe joined the team in 2011 as part of the Children’s festival team, following an invitation from colleagues in Kerry Library who were already part of the festival. Máiréad says, “It’s fantastic to be involved with a part of the festival that has grown and developed so much in the last number of years to become the National Children’s Literary festival. And it’s always a real treat to have an excuse to act like a big kid myself for one week of the year!”
Máiréad’s job as a Mobile Library Assistant in South & East Kerry villages and schools allows her a fantastic opportunity to meet plenty of young readers eager to share their ideas and suggestions for the Children’s Festival. But best of all is the sense of satisfaction she feels when she sees the excitement of the children during the festival, especially when they get to meet their favourite author and hear what inspired them to start writing.
“Over the past three years I’ve really enjoyed the enthusiasm and friendliness of everyone involved in creating the wonderfully unique and welcoming festival that is Listowel Writers’ Week,” she says.
When Máiréad is not encouraging children to read, (and doesn’t have her own head stuck inside of a book) she likes to do a bit of hillwalking and greyhound racing. She also sings with a local choir and helps out at the Tralee Women’s Resource Centre.