WITH THE Galway Theatre Festival having wound down on Sunday, it was time for the Cúirt International Festival of Literature to take the baton in Galway’s annual cultural relay race.
The Hotel Meyrick played host to the Cúirt launch, and there was a large turn out from the city’s sizeable legion of book lovers and writers. The Galway Youth Jazz Orchestra were on hand to provide pleasing background sounds as the assembled literati amicably mingled and nattered. Those present included theatre director Max Hafler, whose staging of Lorna Shaughnessy’s The Sacrificial Wind is running at the Town Hall studio as part of the festival; poet, musician, and biographer Gerard Hanberry; poet Pete Mullineaux who MCs Thursday’s Spoken Word Platform, and reads from his own work on Friday; and artist Dolores Lyne whose work features in the Placing The Word exhibition at the Black Gate Cultural Centre on St Francis Street.
The official launch speech was delivered by Dr Charlotte McIvor from NUIG’s Department of Drama & Theatre Studies. She spoke of her admiration for the ‘longevity’ of many of the writers appearing at Cúirt and the fact that they are appearing across multiple events; “That speaks to me not only of the flexibility of the artists but their dedication,” she noted.
She declared that Cúirt “caters to those of us who are arts enthusiasts, those of us who are potential artists, those of us who are emerging or established artists”, and that in gathering at the festival “we do our part in working together toward sustaining the world and perhaps driving it forward toward greater justice…to gather, to think, and from thinking to doing, should be revolutionary acts in this moment as they have been in other epochs.”
She concluded: “I feel that more than ever reading, writing, and thinking together complexly are essential acts that can and will sustain us and that is what this festival, this programme, is committed to.”
Following Dr McIvor’s speech there were short readings from two of Galway’s resident writers, both of whom also feature in the festive line-up. Alan McMonagle delivered an excerpt from his new superb new novel Ithaca, which has been getting rave reviews at home and abroad since its publication last month. Poet Mary O’Malley then treated the crowd to a selection of her recent work.
Later this week McMonagle will be taking part in the Debut Panel on Friday afternoon at the Town Hall while O’Malley will be reading on Wednesday evening, at 8.30pm, at the same venue, along with Martina Evans and Vona Groarke. O’Malley is also one of the writers taking part in Writing the Sky, the Saturday afternoon event celebrating the work of Dermot Healy.
Tickets for Cúirt events are selling briskly, especially the main 8.30 evening readings so audiences are advised to book early to avoid disappointment.