WHAT WE DO
Welcome to Listowel Writers’ Week, Ireland’s oldest literary and arts festival where writers, artists and poets gather in the beautiful Kerry heritage town of Listowel in Co Kerry. We promote writing and all its genres throughout the literary community, and create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible audience and where writers and readers celebrate the written word, together. At the heart of our annual celebration is a commitment to developing and promoting writing talent. This is done 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 centre of the literary universe and make it somewhere writers and book-lovers from all corners can gravitate to for a celebration of literature and imagination. Listowel Writers’ Week was founded to foster new and exciting talent, to give aspiring writers wings, and we haven’t forgotten this! Each year, this dream of the original founding members, writers, artists and champions 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. They cater for all experience levels, from eager beginners to seasoned masters, and covering virtually every literary genre and craft. Douglas Kennedy, Vona Groarke, Michael Harding, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Elizabeth Day & 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, don’t do it alone, we are here to help!
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 the Irish countryside.
Lemn Sissay, JM Coetzee, Edna O’Brien, Seamus Heaney, Kazuo Ishiguro, Anne Enright, Graham Norton, Alan Cumming, Hugo Hamilton, John McGahern, Tishani Doshi & Robert Fisk are among the fantastic writers we have welcomed over the years and we look forward each year to adding to this renowned list.
– National Children’s Literary Festival –
The National Children’s Literary Festival at Listowel Writers’ Week runs in conjunction with Listowel Writers’ Week. Now in its 9th year, the 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. It is a fantastic family occasion, with events full of wonder, imagination and the written word.
– Young adult bookfest @ listowel writers’ week –
A one day arts festival, the Young Adult BookFest @ Listowel Writers’ Week is an opportunity for fourth and fifth year secondary school students to take a break from the Leaving Cert curriculum and hear from a host of speakers all of whom are forging their own in different fields. An annual event, more than 900 students across Kerry and Limerick attended in November 2019 and heard from a great line-up with Shane Casey, Ciara Ní É, Bernard Casey, Stephanie Rainey, Dave Rudden, Emma Langford, Brian Conaghan, Riobard Pierse and Declan Coyle.