The 40th Westport Arts Festival kicks off next Wednesday, September 30, and this year’s festival features an eclectic mix of events for all ages across all art forms. The literary programme for this year’s festival includes the award-winning writer, John Banville, whose novel, The Sea, won the Man Booker Prize. There will also be readings from Donal Ryan, Martin Dyar, Geraldine Mills, and Orfhlaith Foyle. Dr Eimear O’Connor, art historian and author and curator, will give a presentation on Seán Keating and the Art of the Rebellion. The winners of the festival’s Poetry Competition will be announced at a special prize-giving evening of poetry and music in The Creel, featuring writer and singer-songwriter, Orlagh de Bhaldraithe.
Music fans will not be disappointed this year, as the festival hosts a number of concerts, encompassing a variety of musical styles. The opening night will feature a very special event, when archival footage of Mayo, courtesy of the Irish Film Institute, will be screened in the Town Hall Theatre, accompanied by a new soundscape which has been composed by two Westport-based musicians: Achill native Des Cafferkey and Polish native Bartholomew de Boer. The music, entitled ‘Draíocht Mhaigh Eo – The Magic of Mayo’ will be performed live on the night by a band of local musicians.
For the first time, the Westport Arts Festival has teamed up with the expertise of the Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, following its extremely successful festival in June, and they will be co-hosting a Friday night gig in the Mill Times, featuring The Eskies, with support from Jukebox Gypsy.
There will be two lunchtime concerts on Saturday afternoon, both featuring Mná Mhaigh Eo – some of the finest of Mayo’s female musicians. Teaming up for a very special traditional concert in the Wyatt Hotel will be Westport’s own world-famous harpist, Laoise Kelly, Julie Langan from Newport, and Castlebar native, Emer Mayock. Down the street in the Clew Bay Hotel, Orlagh de Bhaldraithe who performed at the open mic at the poetry competition will also do a solo gig.
The festival headline act, Alabama 3 will be performing in Hotel Westport, and support will be by local band Fresh Evidence. Following the theme of providing a platform for young local musicians, Sunday evening will showcase a young pianist and composer from Westport, Richard Hughes, who will perform a programme of music, including work from the great composers, Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven, alongside two of his own compositions. This performance will take place in the beautiful surroundings of Holy Trinity Church.
Film, photography, and the visual arts all form a strong part of this year’s programme. Amongst the films to be screened are Ó Ghaillimh go dtí an Ghrianlann, about the North of Disko expedition which set sail from Killary Harbour and travelled a 2,000 nautical mile journey to the northwest of Greenland. Irish professional photographer Daragh Muldowney will also give a presentation of his images and talk about his voyage aboard the Killary Flyer. His exhibition Out of Thin Air will be on display in the Clew Bay Hotel for the duration of the festival. Alan Friel’s award-winning short film, Sophie at the Races, will be screened in the Town Hall Theatre, and afterwards, film producer Martina Niland will participate in a Q&A session with Mayo Film Club’s Jeroen Van Rens.
There will be a number of art exhibitions around the town over the course of the festival. For full details on all events call to the Town Hall Theatre, visit the festival website www.westportartsfestival.com, or email [email protected].