Tenth annual Féile na bhFlaitheartach to focus on the O’Flaherty brothers and the Irish Free State

The Liam and Tom O’Flaherty Society will hold its 10th annual Féile na bhFlaitheartach on Inis Mór during the last weekend in August. The two-day bilingual festival, on Saturday August 27 and Sunday August 28, celebrates the island’s world famous novelist Liam O’Flaherty and his notable brother, the journalist Tom O’Flaherty.

Both the O’Flaherty brothers, from the village of Gort na gCapall on Inis Mór, commented extensively on the early years of the Irish Free State. They took a keen interest was how it lived up to the ideals of an equal society for all, as envisaged in the 1916 Proclamation and the struggle for independence.

Most of Liam O’Flaherty’s novels of the 1920s through to the 1930s focus directly and contemporaneously on the nature of the newly established Irish Free State. Tom O’Flaherty, who had moved to the USA and become a founder member of the CPUSA, reported on developments in his journalism for The Worker.

This year’s féile will focus on the the O’Flaherty brothers and Irish Free State on its centenary, as well as on the Civil War in Connemara.

On Saturday August 27, society chairperson Éamon Ó Ciosáin will open the festival at 12 noon in Kilmurvey House, followed by the keynote lecture, “The novels of Liam O’Flaherty - the Free State in the dock”, by lecturer, author, and editor Jenny Farrell, who holds a PhD in literature from Humboldt University Berlin and has written extensively on the novels of Liam O’Flaherty from a Marxist perspective. She will highlight O’Flaherty’s class understanding of the Irish Free State, and examine literary aspects of his writing and his place in the European artistic avant garde. After her talk there will be an opportunity for questions and answers.

The second event of the day will take place in the nearby Garden of Remembrance, adjacent to the former O’Flaherty homestead. In a session hosted by Seosamh Ó Cuaig, the society will pay tribute to the life and work of Liam O’Flaherty’s recently deceased daughter, Pegeen O’Sullivan. Following this, Máirín Mhic Lochlainn will premiere her own translation into Irish of The Sniper; this will be the first time this famous short story about the Civil War will be heard in Irish on O’Flaherty’s home island. Jim Ward will then read extracts from Tom O’Flaherty’s journalism, commenting on the times in English.

Later on Saturday August 27, an arthouse film will be screened, following by an evening dedicated to the memory of Tomás Mac Síomóin, writer and publisher, who died in February of this year and who undertook the significant task of republishing three of O’Flaherty’s banned novels, which up to that point had not been published since their first edition. Mac Síomóin’s work made these novels available for the first time in Ireland.

The banned books are the Galway novel The House of Gold, the social satire Hollywood Cemetery, and the Irish Civil War novel The Martyr. The society will celebrate Mac Síomóin’s contribution to the Irish literary canon through this and his own work.

Tomás Mac Síomóin shared Liam O’Flaherty’s satirical view of the Irish establishment, as well as his experience of the literary power of the Irish language. The event will be hosted by Éamon Ó Ciosáin and will include readings from Mac Síomóin’s own work and his accomplished translations into English of Inis Mór writer Máirtín Ó Direáin’s poetry. Among the readers will be Mac Síomóin’s daughter Seónaidh Ní Shíomóin. The tribute will be accompanied by sean nós singing and traditional music.

At the féile’s traditional Sunday midday session in Tí Joe Mac, Cill Rónáin, historian Cormac Ó Comhraí, author of Revolution in Connacht: a photographic history and other books, will give in a bilingual lecture, hosted by Seosamh Ó Cuaig, about the Civil War in Connemara.

Féile na bhFlaitheartach is sponsored by Galway County Council, Údarás na Gaeltachta, Foras na Gaeilge, Ealaín na Gaeltachta, and the Arts Council.


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