Bookish festival gets rolling in Westport

There is a swirl of wonderful wordiness and lively debate in Westport today and continuing all weekend for the fifth annual Rolling Sun Book Festival.

The quirky boutique attraction for bookworms, which officially launches tonight, will see a host of well-known wordsmiths, artists, and erudite panellists taking part in a lively programme of events which are bound to appeal to lovers of all things literary and cultural.

The festival takes its name from a visual phenomenon which happens twice a year on Croagh Patrick when the setting sun appears to roll down the side of the mountain.

The festival launches with a gala opening at Westport House tonight, performed by one of Mayo’s top writers Anne Chambers and internationally acclaimed singer Luka Bloom.

The line-up on Saturday includes an eclectic evening of discussion called From Brehon Laws to Bra Burning.

The discussion will examine the quest for equality of the sexes, going back some 400 years to the fearsome and undoubtedly feminist pirate queen Grace O’Malley, all the way up to the still very pertinent modern day issue of gender balance, politics, and power.

A powerhouse of the feminist movement in Ireland, journalist Nell McCafferty, is joined on the panel by former government ministers Mary O’Rourke and Eamon Ryan, and bestselling Granuaile biographer Anne Chambers.

The talk takes place in the Wyatt Hotel at 8.30pm.

There are a number of book launches during the festival as well, including 36 Views of Croagh Patrick, Pictures and Poems by Anthony O’Brien.

Mr O’Brien is a Louisburgh based potter and his new book on Mayo’s holy mountain was inspired by the 19th century Japenese artist Hokusai, who created a series of woodcuts entitled Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji, focusing on Japan’s own ancient pilgrimage mountain.

On a competely separate but interesting note, the festival programme also outlines how the author entered the Guinness Book of Records when he was just nine years old for landing a 51.5lb monkfish near Bertra Beach.

For anyone looking for some inspiration to get writing, another festival event, Between the Lines, could be a great starting point.

Irish Times columnist Hilary Fannin, novellist and actress Michele Forbes, and broadcaster and writer Rachael English will be in the Clew Bay Hotel to shoot the breeze about their writing lives.

Sunday sees a live recording of the popular RTÉ Radio One programme Sunday Miscellany in Hotel Westport at 11.30am.

For the full festival programme, times and entry fees, visit www.rollingsunbookfestival.com

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