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Fourteenth annual Dromineer Literary Festival lives up to reputation

Friday, 20th October, 2017 2:00pm
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Fourteenth annual Dromineer Literary Festival lives up to reputation
Fourteenth annual Dromineer Literary Festival lives up to reputation

The fourteenth Dromineer Literary Festival, held on October 6-8th, lived up to the international reputation that it so richly deserves.


Audience numbers were higher than ever, and the quality of the contributors, from established authors and poets to the youngest schoolchildren, was unsurpassed.  On Friday, authors and teachers Eileen Sheehan and John W Sexton inspired new young writers from Transition Year at their workshops at Lough Derg Yacht Club.  Later that evening at Nenagh Arts Centre, Dani Gill, Martina Evans, Martin Malone and Geraldine Mitchell read poems that were by turns poignant, hilarious, enraged, and deeply affecting.

On Saturday morning, author Lisa Harding gave a Writing Fiction workshop and poet Martin Malone hosted a Poetry Masterclass workshop at Lough Derg Yacht Club. Visitors new to the location delighted in the breathtaking backdrop to their workshop.  Many reported they were fired up and excited to get back to their desks following the inspiration and encouragement they received at the workshops.  Following the workshops participants and festival artists gathered for a buffet lunch at the Yacht Club, prepared and cooked by committee member Margaret Kennedy and her family.
On Saturday afternoon the 2017 festival artist Yvonne Hennessy, whose artwork is inspired by her work as an animator, explained her working method and the origin of her beautiful exhibition, Nurture: Before Their Wings Fold.  Yvonne’s work was exhibited at both the Yacht Club and Nenagh Arts Centre.  Tom Dowling, manager of Nenagh Arts Centre, kindly organized the extended display at the Arts Centre.

There were 518 entries to the Primary Schools’ Poetry Competition this year.  The poet and author Geraldine Mitchell judged the Primary Schools Competition again this year and commented on the extremely high standard of the entries.  She also commended the support and enthusiasm of the teachers and parents of the children.  Before reading the winning entries, Geraldine gave her thoughts for her selection.  It was wonderful to see the children’s delight as they collected their prizes and certificates.

Competitions encourage new writing, and over the years many of our winners have gone on to become successful authors.  The winning short stories and poems were selected this year by judges Lisa Frank and John Walsh from the independent publishing house Doire Press.  Lisa and John each gave their thoughts on the winning poems and flash fiction before the winners read their work. Ronan Dodd, from the Nenagh Players, read Jeremy Halinen’s poem, as he was unable to travel from the USA.  The winners included:

1st Sea Watch - Edel Burke (Ireland)
2nd Crow out the window - Jeremy Halinen (USA)
3rd Wild Swimming - Lani O'Hanlon (Ireland)
Highly Commended:
Potadoireacht na Caoloige - Louis Mulcahy (Ireland)
The Birds of Errislannan - Robert Childers (Ireland)
Harvest - Anne Cousins (Ireland)
At the Altar with my Father - Breda Spaight (Ireland)
Flash Fiction:
1st Power - Barbara Leahy (Ireland)
2nd Confined - Shauna Gilligan (Ireland)
3rd Halves - Niamh MacCabe (Ireland)
Highly Commended:
Breathless - Edel Burke (Ireland)
At the Launching Party on Saturday afternoon Martina Evans gave detailed appraisals of new collections by Amanda Bell (First The Feathers, Doire Press, October 2107), Edward O’Dwyer (Bad News, Good News, Bad News, Salmon Poetry, April 2017) and Arthur Seefahrt’s manuscript Burgertown, USA.  Amanda, Edward and Arthur gave electrifying readings from their new works.

At the Meet the Authors event in Nenagh Arts Centre on Saturday evening, multi-award-winning authors including the war photographer, journalist and short story writer Sándor Jászberényi, novelist and poet Martina Evans and novelist and short story writer Alan McMonagle talked to Martin Doyle, Books Editor at The Irish Times, about their writing lives and their motivations in their work.  Each of the writers gave readings from their exceptional work.  Tom Dowling, Mary, Arthur and all the crew at the Nenagh Arts Centre worked tirelessly to make the event run smoothly.

At midday on Sunday The Ku-Ee-Tu, skippered by Ted Knight and his daughter Edel, with help from his granddaughter Kayley, left the public harbour in Dromineer for the highly popular Afloat event on Lough Derg.  On board, the novelist and short story writer Sara Baume read and engaged in conversation with by Martin Doyle.  At the end of September, Sara's second novel, A Line Made by Walking, was shortlisted for the highly prestigious Goldsmiths Prize.  At 33, Sara is the youngest shortlisted author in the prize's history.  Previous winners include Kevin Barry, Eimear McBride and Mike McCormick.
On the passage home, the Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat paced alongside the Ku-Ee-Tu.  Crew member Kevin Dooley demonstrated a boat to boat transfer from the lifeboat, much to the delight of all on board.  Our thanks to Deputy Launching Authority, Pat Garland, helm Owen Cavanagh and crew members Darragh Quinn and Kevin Dooley.

On Sunday afternoon, Andrew Tierney discussed and read from his extraordinary first book, The Doctor’s Wife is Dead; a Victorian non-fiction drama set in his native north Tipperary during the period of the Great Irish Famine.  Committee member Margaret Kennedy interviewed him expertly and encouraged a lively discussion in the highly atmospheric and recently restored Nenagh Castle.  We are grateful to the OPW and to Kevin Whelan and his colleagues for their assistance with this event.

For two founding members of the Dromineer Literary Festival, this is their last year on the Committee. Chairperson Eleanor Hooker and former Chairperson Pat Kelly are retiring after fourteen years’ association with the Festival. Their fervent hope is that the Festival will go on to new strengths and build upon its national international position in the world of Art and Literature.



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