Spring sunshine greeted the official opening of this year’s Cúirt International Festival of Literature which was held at the Rowing Club in Woodquay on Tuesday evening.
Writers and readers, Cúirt ‘newbies’ and veterans filled the venue and shared the familiar buzz of anticipation as one and all looked forward to the forthcoming feast of readings, discussions, workshops, exhibitions, and performances.
The official opening speech was delivered by Druid’s artistic director Garry Hynes. She reflected on the success Cúirt has enjoyed down the years and noted that the festival “has become among the most eagerly awaited events on the national calendar. Why? Because it has consistently provided some of the most memorable and unique cultural experiences we have in Ireland in any given year”.
Expanding on the reasons behind Cúirt’s success, Hynes observed that “Cúirt is bringing in the big players and the about-to-be big players, both Irish and international, and it is a tribute Cúirt, and to Galway more widely, that what is enjoyed most by writers and readers is the egalitarianism and altogether relaxed atmosphere that wins out during the festival.”
She also spoke passionately about the importance of the arts in society and pointed out that Galway’s arts community played a pivotal role in making the city the vibrant, attractive place that it is today.
The egalitarianism and relaxed atmosphere Hynes alluded to was well in evidence amongst the assembled guests. Those present included novelist Richard Beard, poets Rita Ann Higgins and Pete Mullineaux, cartoonist Tom Mathews, historian John Cunningham, artist Margaret Nolan, city arts officer James Harold, and Galway Arts Centre director Padraic Breathnach.
The launch also saw the announcement of the winners of the Cúirt New Writing Prize which is sponsored by Tig Neachtain in memory of Lena Maguire.
The poetry prize went to Kevin O’Shea, from Moycullen, and the fiction award was won by playwright and author Eamonn Kelly. Both writers received €500 and will read at the Cúirt/Over the Edge Showcase in the Town Hall Theatre tomorrow at 3pm.
Cúirt continues until Sunday.