WHAT WE DO
Welcome to Listowel Writers’ Week, Ireland’s oldest Literary and Arts Festival, where writers, artists and poets gather in the beautiful heritage town Listowel, County Kerry. We promote writing of all genres and create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible audience – where writers and readers gather to celebrate the written word together. At the heart of our annual celebration is a commitment to developing and promoting writing talent where we showcase works through literary panel discussions, moderated talks, poetry readings, interviews, cultural tours, walks and more.
Founded in 1970, with the first festival taking place in 1971, the dream of Listowel Writers’ Week was a simple but daring one; to transform a beautiful Kerry heritage town into a literary universe, and make it a literary haven where writers and book-lovers from all corners of the globe can gravitate to, for a celebration of literature, cultural experiences and inspiration. Listowel Writers’ Week was founded to foster new and exciting talent and to give aspiring writers wings – we haven’t forgotten this! Each year, this dream of the original founding members, writers, artists and prescient personalities like John B Keane, Bryan MacMahon & Brendan Kennelly is realised through our programme of events, workshops and competitions.
Our creative writing workshops were the first to be introduced in Ireland by Bryan MacMahon. The workshops cater for all experience levels – from eager beginners to seasoned masters, and cover virtually every literary genre and craft. Douglas Kennedy, Vona Groarke, Michael Harding, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Elizabeth Day and Gerald Dawe are just a few of the master-craftspeople that have delivered creative writing workshops in Listowel. If you are an aspiring young writer, quietly mastering your art, our team are here to support you!
Each June bank holiday weekend, some of the most distinguished names in contemporary literature join travelling storytellers, experimental poets, local songwriters, cutting-edge novelists, and readers from all corners of the globe – for five days, to create a literary mecca in the heart of Lovely Listowel.
Edna O’Brien, Lemn Sissay, JM Coetzee, Seamus Heaney, Kazuo Ishiguro, Anne Enright, Graham Norton, Alan Cumming, Hugo Hamilton, John McGahern, Tishani Doshi & Robert Fisk are just some of the fantastic writers that we have welcomed over the past five decades.
– National Children’s Literary Festival –
The National Children’s Literary Festival, at Listowel Writers’ Week runs in conjunction with Listowel Writers’ Week. This Festival has lots of events on offer for children and families including treasure hunts, writing workshops, quizzes, face-painting, pantomimes, street performers, as well as readings from some of the luminaries of children’s literature. Philip Ardagh, Shane Hegarty and Niall Breslin have featured on our programme. The National Children’s Literary Festival is a fantastic family occasion which offers many events full of wonder, fun, creativity and the written word.
– Young adult bookfest @ listowel writers’ week –
A one day Arts Festival, the Young Adult BookFest, at Listowel Writers’ Week is a wonderful opportunity for fourth and fifth year secondary school students to connect with many speakers who are forging their own fields in the arts. This is an annual event hosted in Listowel Community Centre for 900+ students across Kerry and Limerick. Shane Casey, Ciara Ní É, Bernard Casey, Stephanie Rainey, Dave Rudden and Emma Langford participated in the 2019 line-up. In 2020 the YA BookFest was delivered online, expanding to a three day virtual festival, which reached audiences far beyond Kerry. President Michael D. Higgins opened the festival and contributors included Sarah Crossan, Bernard Brogan, Frances Rocks and Lorraine Nash. YA BookFest is a dynamic literary festival for lovers of the spoken and written word!
If you would like to get in touch with our team:
Listowel Writers’ Week Artistic Policy 2020 – 2025
Listowel Writers’ Week provides a creative and entertaining festival that inspires its participants and, by encouraging engagement in the arts, enriches cultural life locally, nationally and internationally.
The main tenets of our artistic policy are as follows;
* Promote access to works of literary excellence in the various genres of writing to diverse audiences whist ensuring value for money within budgetary constraints.
* Curate a spread of art forms to engage and entertain. Sub-committees discuss how literature, art, theatre, film, drama, music and poetry fit into our programme, and these can be developed in order to support the framework of engagement and development of our audiences.
* Provide a forum for emerging, established, mid-career, senior, significant or honorific artists to include local, national and international artists.
* Enable writers to advance their skills and develop their careers with forums for meeting other writers, publishers and writers’ agents etc.
* Guarantee that artists are always fairly and equitably remunerated.
* Ensure gender balance and social diversity across the programme of events.
* Encourage an outlet for artists from groups that are at risk of discrimination or exclusion and support artists from a diverse range of communities.
* Welcome and embrace different ideas on presentation and context.
* Evaluate artists’ suitability for participation and inclusion in the programme of events to enhance and achieve the KPI’s of our audience development strategy.
* Enable the creative processes of writing through literary workshops for children and adults delivered by reputable and professional facilitators.
* Engage with school children and young adults. Our family and school events programme which runs over four days, covers the age group from birth to 12-13year olds. It is fully inclusive, offers disabled access and events specifically programmed to ensure inclusion and cultural diversity across the festival.
In addition, and under the same premise, we run a day long festival for young adults, 13-15+ year olds – Young Adult Book Festival, also known as YA Book Fest.
* Develop partnerships with strategic partners, local authorities, organisations, community, government authorities and other stakeholders thus facilitating evidence-based decision making for the purposes of future planning and curation of the festival including professional development of volunteers.
* Consult with attendees, strategic partners, stakeholders, community and local authorities each year with a desired outcome of monitoring and evaluating the demographics to ascertain what steps are necessary to further increase our audiences, deepen our relationship with our audiences and diversify to become more inclusive in terms of audience development and public engagement.
* Host multi-disciplinary arts events during the year to engage with the local community.
Listowel Writers’ Week remains committed to being an inclusive and welcoming festival that willingly and enthusiastically collaborates with artists, arts organisations, communities, government authorities, and other stakeholders in pursuit of the mutual goals of Making Great Art Work.
Listowel Writers’ Week Child Protection Policy
Listowel Writers’ Week Child Protection & Welfare Policy document can be viewed here.