My 2018 Festival Picks – Chairperson Liz Dunn

Liz Dunne (17)

Whilst being Chairperson of Listowel Writers’ Week is, undeniably, a great honour it does come with disadvantages. The printed programmes generate such excitement in me and with a fantastic range of events on offer to adults and children alike, the conundrum of choosing which events to highlight is like trying to choose who to invite to a wedding! I am regularly asked what I plan to do with my time when my tenure as Chairperson is complete. That’s an easy answer, I’ll attend all the fabulous events on offer without wondering whether I should be somewhere else doing something else and I’ll be booking early too!

It goes without saying that to be hosting events with Colm Toibin, Margaret Drabble, Edna O’Brien and Pauline Bewick is an amazing honour for us.

Another highlight will be the film premiere of ‘The Window in Heaven’s Gable’, a film about Kieran Gleeson a stalwart supporter of the Festival who gave up his career as an accountant to buy a derelict cinema in Listowel. The lunchtime and evening theatre events include a young drama group and it’s heart-warming to be able to include teenagers who will perform their play for us.

For me, one of the highlights each year continues to be our annual Opening Ceremony and Awards Night. The range of awards for writers of all ages, genres, established and emerging writers is humbling. This year one of our former prize-winners Gary Cunningham will chat to Carlo Gébler about how his tentative steps towards becoming an established author have led to a book with film rights already sold and the imminent publication of his second book. Of course there will also be great excitement as we celebrate the winner of the Pigott Poetry Prize and the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Awards.

For the poetry fans amongst us, we have the amazing performance poet Scarlett Sabet, Billy Collins and Poets’ corners, with and without pints. In addition this year we are offering a ‘Poetry Pharmacy’ where William Sieghart will find a poetic cure for all his patients and, yes, you will need to make an appointment on the day!

For would be authors, we have events to help them on their way too. In addition to an amazing array of workshops we are delighted to be welcoming Tramp Press who will offer one-to-one advice on publishing and editing and Sarah Webb and her panel of experts are hosting a workshop to offer their expertise and advice to those who would like to write and/or illustrate children’s books.

Talking of which our National Children’s Literary Festival programme promotes, once again, the importance we place on encouraging our younger readers. Not only are there adult events with Anthony Horowitz, Sarah Webb and Alex Barclay but these acclaimed authors also feature in the children’s events which range from crime writing and illustration to singing, dancing, yoga, poetry, interactive storytelling, a treasure hunt and crafts. We are also very excited to be welcoming ‘Bold Girls’ in association with Children’s Books Ireland. Marita Conlon McKenna, Robin Stevens, John Kane and Sheena Wilkinson will also be joining us. By then, we will also know who is going to be the new Laureate na n’Og, I wonder if whoever is selected will be one of our Festival guests?

So now you can see my conundrum? If anyone has a time travel machine could I please borrow it just for the few days, please – pretty please?

Full details of all events at