Well established as Ireland’s premier literary event, Listowel Writers’ Week welcomed a host of Irish and international poets, playwrights, novelists, short story writers, artists, musicians, friends and sponsors at the historic Listowel Arms Hotel last night, to celebrate, once again, Ireland’s literary culture.
We were delighted and honoured that Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon officially opened the 45th edition of the festival, which has been a mainstay on the Irish literary calendar since 1971. Music was provided by The Bookshop Band.
Listowel Writers’ Week President Colm Tóibin, who was unable to attend in person, spoke via a link, his subject matter the 1916 Rising, which we will be commemorating in a number of events throughout the week. “W.B. Yeats”, he said, “whose poem ‘Easter 1916’ contains the refrain a terrible beauty is born gave the leaders of the rebellion heroic status and allowed the event itself to become almost iconic, almost noble. But in the last two stanzas, in a number of startling images, Yeats had much to question, much to say, about the idea of violence.”
Paul Muldoon was then welcomed to the podium by Chairperson Liz Dunn. In his opening address Paul acknowledged he was the winner of the Pigott Poetry Prize 2015 which was a wonderful moment for him, especially as the prize is associated with Listowel, a town with which he’s had a terrific grá for many years. “It’s not only through the extraordinary achievements of the local writers of Listowel, Bryan MacMahon and John B. Keane for example; without them in some sense, there clearly would have been no Listowel. I would go beyond that, to say it’s really now, with the extraordinary achievement of the organisers and the longevity of this festival, that we really cannot think of Listowel without Listowel Writers’ Week.” He continued, with his characteristic humour, that he was surprised to receive the invitation to open the festival, as he normally gets invitations to close things down and exclaimed, to much laughter and applause “I am delighted in my modest way to declare, in my modest way – Thing’s Open. Carry On!”
The John B. Keane Lifetime Achievement Award, in association with Mercier Press, was presented to author and historian The Very Rev. Dr. J. Anthony Gaughan. Anthony was one of the co-founders of Listowel Writers’ Week and has been Vice President of the festival for many years.
Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award 2016
As always, the high point of the evening was the announcement of the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award, which was won by Anne Enright for The Green Road. This is the second time Anne has won the Award, her first being in 2008 for The Gathering. A cheque for €15,000 was presented to Anne by Padraig Mallon of The Kerry Group, who spoke of the special connection between the Group and Listowel Writers’ Week going back 21 years. He then extended his congratulations to all the shortlisted novelists and thanked adjudicators Rachel Cusk and Gerbrand Bakker.
The Other four shortlisted novels were: The Blue Guitar by John Banville, Beatlebone by Kevin Barry, This Living and Immortal Thing by Austin Duffy and The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien.
The Pigott Poetry Prize
The Pigott Poetry Prize, for a published collection of poetry by an Irish poet is generously sponsored by Mark Pigott, KBE, Chairman and Chief Executive of PACCAR Inc. Mark’s family originated from Listowel and emigrated to the United States in the late 1890s. The adjudicators for the 2016 Award were Gillian Clarke OBE and Christopher Reid. This year’s winner was Eamon Grennan for There Now.
The two other shortlisted collections were: The Boys of Bluehill by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Geis by Caitriona O’Reilly.
The John B Keane Lifetime Achievement Award in association with Mercier Press was presented to author and historian The Very Rev. Dr J. Anthony Gaughan. The Award recognises individuals who have made a significant contribution to Irish cultural life. Anthony Gaughan was one of the co-founders of Listowel Writers’ Week and has been Vice President of the festival for many years.
The winners of our full range of Literary Competitions were also announced and are as follows:
The Bryan MacMahon Short Story Award – Thomas Kiernan
Duais Foras na Gaeilge – Simon O’Faoláin
Eamon Keane Full Length Play – Harriet O’Carroll
Single Poem – Maighread Medhbh
Poetry Collection – Angela McCabe
Writers’ Week Originals Short Poem – Erin Fornoff
Writers’ Week Originals Humorous Essay – John Fitzgerald
Writers’ Week Originals Short Story – Karen O’Mahony
Irish Post Short Story – John O’Donoghue
Nilsson Heritage Award – Christy Loftus and James Laffy
Con Houlihan Young Journalist Award – Rory Cassidy
Kerry County Council Creative Writing 9 and under – Sadhbh Cushen
Kerry County Council Creative Writing 12 and under – Grace Lenny
Kerry County Council Creative Writing 14 and under – Mia Tobin Power
Kerry County Council Creative Writing 16 and under Niall O’Brien
Kerry County Council Creative Writing 18 and under Molly O’Mahony
Kerry County Council Creative Writing Limerick – Aidan Reynolds
Special Category Award Adult – Joseph Ganley
Special Category Award 14 and Under – Ruth Stewart
Special Category Award 18 and Under – Klaudia Simachovocz
Listowel Writers’ Week Festival Cover Design – Édain Ní Dhomhnaill
“Hope” – An Exclusive Portfolio
The limited edition portfolio entitled ‘Hope’, which is a collaboration between Listowel Writers’ Week and Stoney Road Press, Dublin was launched. The portfolio contains a unique piece of work by Irish poet Evan Boland and Irish authors Anne Enright, Jennifer Johnston, Brendan Kennelly and Colm Tóibin, as well as a Donald Teskey limited edition print.
The portfolio is available to view at Olive Stack Gallery, Main St, Listowel for the duration of the festival.
Featured guests at Listowel Writers’ Week 2016 include Joanne Harris, Gerbrand Bakker, Paula Byrne, Savyon Liebrecht, Gregory Pardlo, Hilary Fannin, Tom Holland, Jean Echenoz, AC Grayling, Patrick DeWitt, Anakana Schofield, Louis de Berniéres, Lucy Caldwell and James Runcie. We also have a great range of afternoon and evening theatre, art exhibitions, bus and walking tours, book launches, pub trail and much more…
The festival runs until Sunday 5th June. We hope to see you here!