A WEALTH of talent and some of Ireland’s best-known names will gather in Newcastle West for this year’s Éigse Michael Hartnett, which will run over four days from October 5 to 7.
The programme for this year’s festival offers lots to choose from and plenty to enjoy with poetry, music, songs, literature, visual arts, talks, walks, puppet theatre, genealogy, and a lantern parade all in the mix.
Among this year’s highlights will be performances by Steve Cooney, Emma Langford and Jack O’Rourke. The cast of writers and poets includes Michael Harding, Karl Geary, Harry McGee, Paddy Bushe, Ann Marie Ní Churréain, Michelle McDonagh, and Tim Cunningham. Alan English, Sunday Independent editor and author of five best-selling books, will be the guest speaker on opening night.
Local writers from the Desmond Scribblers will also feature in the programme, while local writer Pat McLoughlin will launch his latest novel.
Launching the festival programme in the Red Door Gallery in Newcastle West this week, Cllr Tom Ruddle, Cathaoirleach of Newcastle West Municipal District, drew on his memories of the late poet Michael Hartnett (1941-1999) and remarked: “Newcastle West is one of the few towns in the country with a statue of a poet in the Square.”
Dr Pippa Little, arts officer with Limerick City and County Council, said the Council was delighted to continue working in partnership with the Éigse committee and, along with the Arts Council, to have invested in Éigse.
“Éigse has culture at its hear, and brings a shared joy in our Irish culture. It’s a special celebration of the local and the national,” she said.
A highlight of the Éigse Michael Hartnett festival is the presentation of the Michael Hartnett Poetry Award, which is awarded on alternate years for a poetry collection in English and in Irish. This year’s award is for a collection in Irish, and the winner has been announced as Cathal O’Searcaigh for his collection An Tír Rúin.
O’Searcaigh paid tribute to Michael Hartnett and his work, describing him as “a magisterial presence in the poetry of this country” a “bardic voice alive to all the demands and nuances of our times”.
“We always need the inspiration and the vision of a Michael Hartnett to open up new outlooks for the future, to provide insightful perceptions of the present, and to suggest a reliable reading of the past.”
Cathal O’Searcaigh will accept the award, which now carries a purse of €8,000, on Thursday October 5 and will give a reading the following day.
Full details of the Éigse Michael Hartnett programme are available on EigseMichaelHartnett.ie.