Dromineer Nenagh Literary Festival Committee, from left: Kate Walsh, Kathleen O'Meara, Virginia O'Dowd, Geraldine Cronin, Catherine Lahiff, Geraldine McNulty (Chairperson), Margaret Folan and Margaret Kennedy. Missing from photo, David McAvinchey and Eddie Guerin. PHOTOGRAPH: ODHRAN DUCIE

Dromineer Nenagh Literary Festival to go ahead

The Dromineer Nenagh Literary Festival, which has grown into one of the country’s most significant literary festivals, will go ahead on the first weekend of October this year, making it one of the very few live arts festivals to be held anywhere in the country, with most cancelled or taking place online due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The festival will have a shortened programme and limited audiences this year, to take Covid-19 restrictions into account, but events are being recorded and will be made available to view online. Acclaimed writers Donal Ryan and Liz Nugent will feature in events to be held in Nenagh Arts Centre, which has removed its tiered seating and replaced it with tables and chairs to accommodate socially distanced audiences.

While there will be no workshops this year, no Café Trail or literary boat trips, the Committee of the Festival is delighted that the very successful 2019 Writer in Residence project from 2019 featuring John W Sexton is continuing with the publication of a book of work.

“We thought long and hard about staging a festival this year in light of the pandemic, and if we could run events while maintaining social distance”, said Geraldine McNulty, Chairperson of the Dromineer Nenagh Literary Festival.

“After considerable investigation of venues and taking public safety into account we have decided to go ahead even if audiences will have to be limited. Our dreams of expanding our very successful 2019 Festival have been put on hold in this extraordinary year, but we believe strongly that hosting live events, if possible, will raise morale and keep artistic activity alive,” she said.

Four significant events are planned, beginning on Thursday, October 1st, with a Crime Night featuring three of Ireland’s top female crime writers – Liz Nugent, Jo Spain and Catherine Ryan Howard being interviewed by RTÉ’s Rick O’Shea.

On Friday, October 2nd, local internationally acclaimed author Donal Ryan will be joined by another successful local artistic talent, Andrew Flynn, the theatre director, who has adapted Donal’s book 'The Thing About December' for the stage. Members of Andrew’s Decadent Theatre Company will perform excerpts from the production on the night.

This is another exciting year for Donal Ryan who is publishing his latest novel 'Strange Flowers' this summer, and the Festival is delighted to welcome his once again. Andrew Flynn has built a stellar career as a theatre director since, as an 18-year-old in Nenagh, he founded the Young Nenagh Players and went on to form a lasting friendship with renowned playwright Martin McDonagh through Druid Theatre Company in Galway. Andrew has founded Decadent Theatre Company and is now Director of Galway Youth Theatre.

On Saturday, October 3rd, the Festival welcomes poet Doireann Ní Ghríofa and artist Alice Meaghar, who is originally from Thurles, in a highly original and creative collaboration inspired by stone carvings in Kilcooley Cistercian Abbey near Gortnahoe village, near Thurles. The collaboration produced the book 'Nine Silences' published by Salvage Press.

On Sunday afternoon, October 4th, a very special 'Jane Austen Event' will take place in Ashley Park with tea and cakes, featuring Rose Servitova, an Irish writer responsible for 'The Watsons', a novel which Jane Austen started before her death and which Rose finished, true to Jane Austen’s style and which has been acclaimed by the annual Jane Austen Festival. She will be joined by the costume historian Melissa Shields in period costume for the event, which will take place in Ashley Park and the gardens will be open.

The Festival Committee would like to acknowledge the support of Tipperary County Council, Nenagh Arts Centre, the Arts Council, without whose support the festival, even with a limited programme of events, could not go ahead.