In the Irish literary calendar few events are looked forward to with as much anticipation and excitement as Listowel Writers' Week. Last night the party kicked off with an event in the Mansion House to launch the programme and share some of the highlights from this year's upcoming festival. Chairman Seán Lyons was MC for the evening and encouraged the boisterous, carnival atmosphere of Listowel by urging us to '...experience...learn...listen...savour...[and] share every joyful moment as we enter the fifth decade of the celebration of the written word that is Writers' Week'.
Lord Mayor Andrew Montague began the formalities, an evident honour for him as he 'grew up surrounded by books' as the son of a bookseller. Poet Rita Ann Higgins was in attendance and announced the five novels shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award 2012, a decision she had to make along with John Boland. It was clear from how much she had to say on each novel that Rita was moved, albeit in different ways, by each writer and the stories they have penned. Our congratulations and best wishes to the five shortlisted: Kevin Barry, Christine Dwyer-Hickey, Anne Enright, Carlo Gebler, and Belinda McKeon. Pat Moylan of the Arts Council Ireland officially launched the festival, paying tribute to its history and legacy as well as commending all that is to come. Of course there were singers and singing, mingling and chatting as well as eager flicking through the long-awaited programme!
It is with great excitement and delight that we announce a book launch as part of Listowel Writers' Week this year. Renowned actor Barry Cassin has written the story of his life, recalling his youth, his parents, and in particular his wife Nancy who completely failed to turn him into a farmer! In his charming memoir I Never Had A Proper Job , Barry opens up about a life spent in the theatre, sharing how actors were regarded as 'tinkers' and examining Irish culture, society and life in the 1930s. This book is a must-read for both theatre and culture aficionados as well as those interested in a way of living long gone.
I Never Had A Proper Job by Barry Cassin will be launched by Minister Jimmy Deenihan on Friday 1st June at 12.00pm in The Plaza Centre. We hope to see you there!
Chairman Seán Lyons also highlighted the significance of having a Poet President this year at Listowel, calling President Michael D. Higgins a 'long-time literary friend'. This Writers' Week will be opened by President Higgins, a fitting choice as he himself is a writer as well as a passionate political voice. Listowel will almost mark a year since the release of President Higgins' New and Selected Poems, a collection which also includes personal prose pieces by President Higgins.
The line-up for Writers' Week 2012 is, as expected, awe-inspiring! Among the long list of literary greats, both established and soon-to-be, we were delighted to see a number of authors published by independent Irish publishers, including Manchán Magan from Brandon Books, Deirdre Ann Hines and Mary Kenny from New Island, and Mary Noonan from Dedalus Press.
All in all, the programme looks fantastic and we eagerly await the 30th May!