The rain was splish splashing in its Galway fashion on Tuesday evening but that didn’t deter the many literature devotees who gathered at the House Hotel for the programme launch of this year’s Cúirt International Festival of Literature.
The speeches on the evening were led off by Galway Arts Centre chairman Craig Steven who read out an entertaining essay by JB Priestley on the joys of book-buying. Next, Cúirt programme director Maeve Mulrennan gave a charming and funny speech in which she paid generous tribute to her co-workers, and sprinkled her words with enough self-effacing quips to suggest she could make a career in stand-up comedy should she ever tire of arts administration.
Guest of honour Eithne Verling, director of Galway City Museum, officially launched the programme. She fondly recalled her own experiences of seeing many illustrious writers read at Cúirt, people such as Beryl Bainbridge, Allen Ginsberg and Van Morrison, and also shared some interesting insights from a scientific study relating to the creative process, concluding her speech with some lines from Ginsberg’s classic poem ‘Howl’.
With speeches done, the guests had time to pore over their programmes and study this year’s line up. The poring entailed a bit of squinting it must be said as Pure Design’s colour scheme of blue text on blue pages was not always the most reader-friendly combination. That quibble aside, the list of writers winging their way to Galway this year is as impressive as ever, including novelists Eimear McBride (A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, The Lesser Bohemians ) on April 28; Sara Baume (April 29 ), Paul Kingsnorth (April 29 and 30 ), and AL Kennedy; poets Simon Armitage and Terrance Hayes (April 29 ), Mary O’Malley (April 26 ), Yrsa Daley-Ward and Terrance Hayes; crime writers Sophie Hannah and Denise Mina; singers Sean Tyrell, Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola and Sive,
A début panel including Alan McMonagle, Lisa Harding, Roisín O’Donnell, and British writers Paula Cocozza and Amanda Reynolds takes place on Friday April 28 in the Town Hall Theatre. There will also be new books launched by Galway-based poets Kevin Higgins (April 24 ) and Elaine Feeney (April 25 ), special events celebrating the work of Dermot Healy (April 29 ) and Michel Déon, as well as debates, workshops, interviews, exhibitions and theatre. It all adds up to an eight day April extravaganza of great writing in all its many forms, so get reading and get booking.