Castlebar's annual feast of literature and writing, Wild Atlantic Words, takes centre stage in the county town this coming week with a programme to suit every taste.
Whether you are a dedicated foodie, an avid follower of Gaelic football, have a passion for history, enjoy a poetic fling, or simply like to listen to celebrated writers read from their works, Wild Atlantic Words is the place to be.
The six day event gets under way on Tuesday, October 8 when Irish Times food columnist, Jess Murphy, is the invited speaker at Rua in Spencer St. The award winning chef enjoys a huge readership for her weekly food column, and the event at the Rua is sure to be a full house affair, so that pre-booking for the talk is essential.
On the same evening, all book club members in the county are invited to the County Library to talk about their favourite books and authors, and to discuss the new novel, Fever by Mary Beth Keane
Thursday afternoon will be the turn of young readers from primary schools in the locality to come to the County Library at 4pm, where the first survey of the reading habits of young people will be launched, with the students invited to read short extracts from their favourite books.
Later on, at the Castle Bookshop, all interest will focus on the Mayo launch of Skin, the new book by Claremorris writer E.M.Reapy. Already an award-winning author for her book Red Dirt, Reapy is among the most celebrated of the new crop of emerging writers from Mayo who are making a major impact on the literary world.
On Thursday night, it's time for the informal and humorous 'A Poem and a Pint' at Bridge Street. One of the favourite events of the week, this is an occasion when anybody who feels like reciting their favourite piece of verse is given the floor. Hosted by Ken Armstrong, the selected pieces range from the standard to the classical to the newly composed to the plain quirky, in a laid-back, fun atmosphere.
Friday sees the Castlebar debut of Colm Keane and his wife, Una O'Hagan, at the County Library at 6pm. The popular couple will speak about their work, including Colm's latest book, The Village of Bernadette. Keane has published eight best-sellers, while Una O'Hagan - former RTE newsreader - has also written three best-selling books.
From the spiritual to the sporting, An Sportlann will be the host venue for all GAA enthusiasts when Kevin McStay will be guest speaker for the launch of his book, The Pressure Game. Controversial, uncompromising and nothing if not frank, McStay will pull no punches when it comes to discussing his career as one of the best known GAA managers in the country.
Saturday afternoon will see two events at the Linenhall. Minor Monuments will feature a live audio-visual documentary by Ian Maleney and Jamie Goldrick based on the text of that name. The documentary is a moving reflection of a text which provides a thought-provoking and quietly devastating meditation on family and loss. This is followed by the reading and presentation of prizes to the winners of the first ever Wild Atlantic Words short story competition, judged by writers Thomas Morris and Wendy Erskine.
Saturday's events conclude with the flagship '100 Years On' at the Courthouse. This War of Independence centenary event features a talk by historian, Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, titled 'Always in Danger of finding Myself with Nothing at all' followed by a contribution from Dominic Price 'Caught in the Whirlwind', dealing with the defining moments of the War of Independence in Mayo.
The compere for the event will be Senator Marie-Louise O'Donnell and will be preceded by the official launch of 'In My Grandfather's Time' - an exhibition of the War of Independence photographic collection of Jack Leonard.
The festival closes with the traditional 'Sunday Morning, Coming Down' at Bridge St, where John Healy hosts a panel of home town writers in a relaxed, informal setting. This year's contributors are Micheline Egan, Sean Lyons, Des MacHale and Johnny Mee, and audience participation is encouraged in the general discussion and reminiscences of all things relating to Castlebar and its people.