Prepare for a new look Athlone Literary Festival

Athlone Literary Festival takes place this year from Friday to Sunday September 24 to 26, with a jampacked programme of events to include workshops and readings, to debates and art exhibitions.

According to the organisers, this year is a festival of firsts, with the introduction of new writers and new artists to Athlone, school events, comedy workshops, and even the launch of a new literary cocktail.

“This eventful and ambitious line-up is so electrifying that it has reawakened the literary greats James Joyce, Maria Edgeworth, Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, Oscar Wilde, Maud Gonne, and even John Broderick himself, who have already been spotted around Athlone. We wish to welcome all our fond friends and first-time festival goers to the 2010 event,” said festival committee chairman, Jarlath Duffy.

“We are absolutely delighted to have secured the unique Michael D Higgins, politician, poet, and prophet, who will be interviewed by Donncha O’Connell. Michael D has a formidable reputation in both politics and poetry, and law lecturer Donncha O’Connell is determined to rise above the politics and explore what maketh the man.

“In honour of the event and to add to the literary inspiration of the assembly, the committee has commissioned a complimentary cocktail called ‘Willie Ryan’, in memory of John Broderick’s novel, The Waking of Willie Ryan,” added Mr Duffy.

This year the Athlone Literary Festival begins with the launch of art exhibition ‘Loveliest of the Lawn’ in the Aidan Heavey Public Library on Thursday September 16. The committee welcome local artist Emer O’Connor for her first Athlone exhibition, an exhibition of narrative art, based on the concept of the garden in literature. The inspiration for this series of drawings comes from a variety of literary works by authors including Margaret Atwood and Elizabeth Bowen. The title is taken from Oliver Goldsmith’s Sweet Auburn. The exhibition runs from September 20-25.

This year the festival weekend kicks off with ‘Memories into Memoir’, a day-long workshop on Friday September 24 by author Irene Graham, back by popular demand. This is an ideal way to capture your family’s and personal memories and pass down your stories through the generations.

The festival committee is delighted to welcome from the UK renowned author Terence Frisby. Terry is a playwright, actor, director, and producer. His most famous play, There’s A Girl In My Soup, was London’s longest-running comedy and a worldwide smash hit. His latest book, Kisses On A Postcard, started life as an award-winning radio play, then a stage musical, and is currently being mounted for a West End production. Terry will read from this book in three local secondary schools and recount his first-hand experiences of being an evacuee during World War II.

The committee worked closely with the Passionfruit Theatre this year and has scheduled two events on the opening Friday evening. At 7pm people are welcome to the free reading of an extract from Johnnie’s Britches, a comic play by PG O’Dea. and a reading of a short story from Tell Me Sweet Little Lies by Dr Joe Ducke. This will be followed by the official unveiling of a portrait of the late Joe Ducke, created by Ruth Ryan, daughter of PG O’Dea. Later the festival will bring you a late night comedy gig at 9.30pm, straight from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Abie Philbin Bowman’s new comedy show Sex, Lies and the KKK.

The debate this year will be replaced by a very unique and dynamic forum chaired by military historian Dr Harman Murtagh. Terence Frisby, Roisin Boyd, and Col Colm Doyle will share their personal stories of the effects of war on civilians. This forum has been given the title ‘Oh! what a glorious thing is War’.

Following an extremely popular slot last year, the writers and poets of the Midlands have two open mike sessions to read their own original works on the Saturday of the festival. All writers are very welcome to these events, just come along early and sign up to read.

Award-winning author Claire Keegan will run a seminar on Saturday morning. This is an opportunity for all writers - beginners to advanced - to spend a morning with widely acclaimed short story writer and experienced teacher of creative writing, Claire Keegan. This is followed by a comedy workshop, the launch of Desmond Egan’s new poetry collection, and on Sunday morning the festival will conclude with Athlone’s Sunday Miscellany featuring five local published writers with music and singing.

A season ticket is €90 and concessions are €70 (includes attendance at two workshops of your choice ). To book email [email protected] or ring (086 ) 3671039 or write to Athlone Literary Festival, NIB Building Northgate Street Athlone.

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