Éigse Michael Hartnett festival will move to its own beat

The Hit Machine drummers will set the beat for this weekend's Éigse Michael Hartnett festival.

THE mighty sound of rolling drums will signal the start of this year’s Éigse Michael Hartnett, the literary and arts festival which will run from October 5 to 8 in Newcastle West.

Over four days and nights, the town that was home to and helped shape the late poet Michael Hartnett, will play host to a wide range of talented poets, writers, musicians, singers, thinkers, and artists in a packed programme of exciting and engaging events.

Among this year’s highlights will be performances by Steve Cooney, Emma Langford, and Jack O’Rourke, and the cast of writers and poets includes Michael Harding,  Karl Geary, Harry McGee, Paddy Bushe, Annemarie Ní Churréain, Michelle McDonagh, and Tim Cunningham. Academic Dr Mary McAuliffe and Sunday Independent editor Alan English will also take part.

The festival will open in spectacular style on Thursday October 5 at 7pm in The Square, where renowned street act The Hit Machine drummers will perform before leading a Lantern Parade through the town to the opening ceremony, which returns to the Newcastle West Library this year after a gap of four years.

In a new departure, this year the festival has teamed up with Cleary’s Window Sessions to present singer/songwriter Jack O’Rourke in an intimate gig.

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The programme continues on Friday with a reading over coffee by Cathal O’Searcaigh along with Limerick poet Tim Cunningham  and a lunchtime reading by best-selling author and columnist Michael Harding.

Evening events include readings by award-winning poets Paddy Bushe and Annemarie Ní Churreáin, who will be joined onstage by Steve Cooney on guitar for what promises to be a night of great richness and entertainment.

Friday night will also see a screening of Róise and Frankie, an Irish made and genuinely delightful film.

On Saturday morning, Dr Mary McAuliffe, director of Gender Studies at UCD and social commentator, will deliver the Michael Hartnett Memorial Lecture on the theme of women, their part in the fight for independence, and what happened to them afterwards.

An exhibition by artist Gerard Fenniman, entitled ‘Odd-Being in the Age of Humans’ will run throughout the festival and on Saturday afternoon, photographer Pádraig Ó’Flannabhra will present images from his book ‘Éire, Dubh & Bán/ Ireland, Black & White’.

Saturday afternoon will also see The Hartnett Tour, a walking tour around Newcastle West taking in places associated with Hartnett and embellished with stories and poems, while the gala evening event will put Karl Geary, author of Juno Loves Legs, under the spotlight where he will share the stage with Limerick singer/songwriter Emma Langford.

For more details visit EigseMichaelHartnett.ie.