Limerick Festival Puts Poetry In The Shop Window

From: Dunphy PR
Published: Thu Apr 08 2010

The literary trail has been developed by the County Limerick Arts Office ahead of the 11th annual Éigse Michael Hartnett, which takes place in the town from 22-24 April 2010.

Michael Hartnett, who wrote both English and Irish poems, was born in Croom, County Limerick in 1941, and reared in Newcastle West, He died in Dublin in 1999.

The annual festival is regarded as one of Ireland's largest annual gatherings of contemporary poets. Among the confirmed participants of this year’s festival are Jorie Graham, Pulitzer prize winning US poet; Fintan O’Toole, author, cultural and political commentator, and Irish Times Deputy Editor, Patrick Hederman, author and Abbot of Glenstal Abbey; Eileen Sheehan, award winning Kerry poet; Gearóid Mac Lochlainn, ground breaking performance poet; and Rita Ann Higgins, poet and dramatist.

Commenting on the literary trail, Limerick County Arts Officer Joan Mac Kernan said: "The town has a bustling lively feeling as it prepares for the big community event of the year, Éigse Michael Hartnett Literary and Arts Festival. One is led around the town on an informal literary trail by the poetry of Michael Hartnett which is displayed on large boards in the shop windows. Hartnett who was closely linked with the wren, the king of all birds, is everywhere, on posters advertising the festival, peeping from behind books in the library and bookstore and generally creating a magical presence in the town."

‘All this colour and poetry creates a lovely festive ambience in the town, one can see people reading and reflecting on lines such as ‘…I loved her from the day she died. She was a summer dance at the crossroads…She was a song that nobody sings…’, as they sip their morning coffee or buy their fish or vegetables. It emphasises that this festival is a real community celebration, happening in the library, the castle, the book store, pubs, community hospital and eating houses of Newcastle West", added Ms. Mac Kernan.

The festival will be officially launched at Newcastle West Library on Thursday April 22nd when keynote speaker Abbot Mark Patrick Hederman OSB presents ‘Irish Poets, learn your trade: Poetry as speaking Truth’.

Pulitzer Prize winning poet Jorie Graham, making her first appearance at an Irish festival will read on the Friday night with award winning poet Eileen Sheehan. The magic of this reading will be further enhanced with the haunting singing of Roisin Leafy. Synge’s ‘The Aran Islands’ will be performed directly after, at 10.00 pm in the dramatic dining hall of Desmond Castle by Tegolin Knowland and Sean Coyne.

The opening event on Saturday is The Hartnett Memorial Lecture which will be given by Fintan O’Toole. Fintan follows in a long line of prestigious Hartnett Memorial speakers that have included Nuala O’ Faoilain and Paul Durcan. The afternoon promises to be great fun with poets, bards and haiku masters queuing up to participate in the Hartnett Viva Voce. Prize money will be awarded for the best performed original poem and the best performed Hartnett poem. The competition adjudicators will be Eileen Sheehan, Gabriel Fitzmaurice and John Cussen. Saturday evening features two of Ireland’s acclaimed poets and performers Rita Ann Higgins and Gearóid Mac Lochlainn reading with the internationally renowned poet David Whyte. They will be joined by Polish singer Dorota Konczewska for what promises to be an unforgettable event.

The final event of the festival ‘Kick up your Heels’ will be a lively session of dancing, singing, story and poetry recitation. The outstanding sean nos dancer Seosamh O’ Neachtain will be setting the tone for this final shin dig which should have all the talent of the Eigse weekend gathering for the finale.

Children and young people are also a key focus of the festival weekend with puppet shows in the library on the Friday and Saturday and poets and writers visiting schools over Thursday and Friday. These include writer Michael Smith recounting the life of Antarctic explorer Tom Crean and due to popular demand there will be lunch time presentations for adults who want to hear about his daring endeavours On Saturday afternoon youth theatre members of County Limerick Youth Theatre will be spilling onto the streets in dramatic costume along with other street acts to entertain the Saturday afternoon crowds.

According to Joan MacKernan: "Many of the events over the festival weekend are free or just have a nominal admission fee. This festival is grounded in the community and we want to make it as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, giving people the opportunity to hear and engage with the standard bearers in poetry, writing and critical thinking in Ireland and internationally.

The inaugural Éigse Michael Hartnett was held in 2000. Past participants include the Pat McCabe, Carol Ann Duffy, Paul Durcan, Thomas Lynch, John Waters, Leanne O'Sullivan, Alice Taylor and the late Nuala O Faolain. Previous festivals have attracted literary and arts enthusiasts from all over North America and Europe.

Full details and updates of the Éigse Michael Hartnett programme are available from the Limerick County Arts Office on 061 493498/496300 or


Note to Editor:
- Images relating to the window displays may be downloaded from
- Contributor images and biographies are available on request. Interviewees with individual Festival participants may be arranged on request, subject to availability. Please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy Public Relations on 086-8534900 or
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