Galway to become Europe’s literary capital during Cúirt

Joseph O’Connor

Joseph O’Connor

FROM THE author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin to the writer of Divorcing Jack, and from Canadian rappers to South African poets, the Cúirt International Festival of Literature has it all and it’s all in Galway city from April 21 to 26.

The novelists

The opening night of Cúirt is Tuesday April 21 at 8.30pm in the Town Hall Theatre when Joseph O’Neill and Timothy O’Grady will read.

Joseph O’Neill is an Irish barrister working in New York. He is the author of the novels This Is The Life, The Breezes, and Netherland, and the memoir Blood-Dark Track.

The American writer Timothy O’Grady is the author of the highly praised On Golf and (with Kenneth Griffith ) of Curious Journey: An Oral History of Ireland’s Unfinished Revolution.

On Wednesday 22 at 1pm in the Town Hall, Galway writer Gerard Donovan will read. His superb novel Schopenhauer’s Telescope was long listed for the 2003 Man Booker Prize. He is also the author of Country Of The Grand, a short story collection. Many of which are set in Galway.

Also reading on the night is Sana Krasikov, originally from the Ukraine. Cúirt will have her first book available in advance of its publication.

At 8.30pm in the Town Hall, the acclaimed Irish novelist Colm Tóbin makes a welcome return to Cúirt. He will share the stage with Cape Breton writer DR McDonald, who has received many awards for his fiction.

On Thursday 23 at 1pm in the Town Hall Studio, the award winning Zimbabwean short writer Petina Gappah and Helen Simpson, author of Hey Yeah Right Get A Life, will be reading.

Pakistan born, England based, novelist Nadeem Aslam, author of Maps For Lost Lovers (described by The Independent as “the most gorgeously written British novel of the year” ) will read at 6.30pm in the Town Hall. Joining him will be Ma Jian, who has spent the last decade writing Beijing Coma, which draws on his first hand experiences of the Tiananmen Square protest and massacre in 1989.

The celebrated author Blake Morrison, author of And When Did You Last See My Father? and Things My Mother Never Told Me, and poet and prose writer Janice Galloway will read at the Town Hall on Friday 24 at 1pm.

Gene Kerrigan, one of Ireland’s leading commentators and journalists, and Divorcing Jack author Colin Bateman will be reading in the Town Hall at 6.30pm.

At 8.30pm, Louis De Berniéres, author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, will read at the Town Hall. He will be joined by Mancunian Tim Parks, described by The Irish Times as the most “underrated of English writers”. There may be an Italian theme to the evening as Parks is the author of A Season With Verona and Medici Money.

Claire Keegan’s short stories have won The William Trevor Prize and The Francis MacManus Award. Gerard Woodward is the author of several prize-winning collections of poetry and Whitbread and Booker shortlisted novels. Hear them in the Town Hall on Saturday 25 at 6.30pm.

Interviews and events

Joseph O’Connor has long been a popular writer in Ireland, but he has achieved international recognition for his novels Star Of The Sea and Redemption Falls. He will be interviewed by the musician and film-maker Philip King in the Town Hall on Friday 24 at 8.30pm.

Philip King’s film on Seamus Heaney and Liam O’Flynn, Keeping Time, will be screened in the Nuns Island Theatre on Saturday 25 at 5pm.

Aidan Higgins, author of Lagrishe, Go Down, will be interviewed by the writer Neil Donnelly in the Town Hall on Saturday 25 at 3pm.

This year’s Anne Kennedy Memorial Lecture will see NUI Galway’s Prof William Schabis deliver a lecture entitled Writing About Atrocity: Justice, redemption, and trivialisation. Thoughts on Schlink (The Reader ), Mailer, and Grass. The event takes place in the Galway City Museum on Saturday 25 at 5pm.

If the Government had listened to economist David McWilliams (and George Lee ) instead of hurling abuse at them, it might have found itself better placed to tackle the recession.

McWilliams’ celebrated political show Leviathan is coming to the Hotel Meyrick on Sunday 26 at 7pm. On the night McWilliams and guests Dr Alan Ahearne, Kathy Sheridan, Katy Lederer, and Paddy Cullivan will debate the motion Leadership - are economists replacing politicians?

Brian Friel is 80 this year and Cúirt will mark the event with readings of his plays Faith Healer, Molly Sweeney, and Dancing At Lughnasa in the Town Hall Studio at 8pm during the festival.

Cúirt will screen a selection of films by Pat Collins, including Michael Harnett: A Necklace of Wrens; Frank O’Connor: The Lonely Voice; John McGahern: A Private World; and Nuala Ní Dhomhaill: Taibhsi I Mbeal na Gaoithe.

The poets

The poet and funeral director Thomas Lynch and Leanne O’Sullivan will begin Cúirt 2009’s poetry programme with a reading in the Town Hall Studio on Wednesday 22 at 3pm. South Africa’s Ingrid De Kok and Bristol-Irish poet Maura Dooley will read in the same venue at 6.30pm.

In the Róisín Dúbh at 8pm, Manchester’s Lemin Sissay, whose poetry can go from riotously funny to deadly serious, will take to the stage. He will be joined by Ulster poet Gearóid MacLochlainn, who writes as Gaeilge agus as Bearla.

Galway based poet, actor, and songwriter Pete Mullineaux and the award winning Derry born poet Colette Bryce will read in the Town Hall Studio on Thursday 23 at 3pm.

Cava in Dominick Street will host Peter Wessel and his Polyfonías Poetry Project on Thursday 23 at 6pm. In the show Holland’s Peter Wessel will celebrate Europe’s cultural diversity through music, poetry, song, and language.

Leading American poets, Jane Hirshfield and Philip Schultz will read in the Town Hall on Thursday 23 at 8.30pm while Micheál Ó Conghaile and Galicia’s Juan Carlos Mestre will read in the Town Hall Studio on Friday 24 at 3pm.

Loughrea’s Patrick Deeley and Co Down’s Leontia Flynn will read in the Town Hall on Saturday 25 at 11am.

The Cúirt Poetry Grand Slam takes place in the Róisín Dúbh on Saturday 25 at 3pm. The MC is Pete Mullineaux and the guest poet is Slovenia’s Andrej Khadovich. Submissions for the Slam must reach the Galway Arts Centre by Friday March 27.

Carol Ann Duffy, Don Paterson, and Sean O’Brien will read in the Town Hall on Saturday 25 at 8.30pm.


Canadian rapper Buck 65 has thrilled Galway audiences with his brilliant lyrics and dynamic stage performances in the Róisín Dubh. He will do so again in the Dominick Street venue on Friday 24 at 9pm. Scullion, featuring Sonny Condell and Philip King, will also play the Róisín on Sunday 26 at 9pm.

All this, and so much more is happing during Cúirt. There is a wealth of children’s events, theatre and dance shows, Galway Youth Theatre staging Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, book launches, exhibitions, and the annual Bardic Brunch to round things up.

Tickets for all the Cúirt events are available from the Town Hall Theatre on 091 - 569777. Information on the festival events can also be obtained from the Galway Arts Centre, 47 Dominick Street, on 091 - 565886.


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