Fáilte go dtí hÉigse Michael Hartnett 2022
The Éigse committee are delighted to welcome you to the Éigse Michael Hartnett Literary & Arts Festival, held annually in Newcastle West, County Limerick. This year’s Éigse takes place from October 6th to the 9th.
In academic circles when poetic legacies, such as that of Michael Hartnett, are thrashed out and explored there is always, of necessity, a legacy BUT. BUT… he passed away in mid-sentence; his potential was unfulfilled etc., etc. We leave such debates to the continuing academic interest in Hartnett; but for those of us who love Michael Hartnett the debate has already been won. His core work, what we see in his numerous collections, his brilliant work as a translator, and his lyrical evocation of a Maiden Street upbringing (‘we were such golden children never to be dust’) and his other mischievous local interventions, are timeless and will stand the test of time – no ifs, ands or buts.
So, for us true believers, Hartnett’s legacy, as one of the central figures in modern Irish poetry, is assured. Éigse Michael Hartnett, a festival hosted throughout the town, in the schools, Library, Red Door Gallery, hospital and pubs is a celebration of that legacy. The breadth and diversity of this year’s programme creates an ambience of warmth and conviviality that lends itself to lively gatherings, easy conversation and spirited debate.
While his memory is still fresh among us, however, the pace of change is relentless. The Newcastle West he wrote so roguishly about has faded into the past, living on only in memory and in his verse. Many of the central characters in these sagas, such as Tony Sheehan, Peg Devine, Tony Roche, Jimmy Deere, John Bourke, Billy the Barber, Ned O’Dwyer or Ned Lynch are no longer readily remembered by the young people of the town. Each year, however, they are recalled, remembered and celebrated in Éigse Michael Hartnett.
Prophets are never recognised in their own countries. Until, that is, they make themselves irremovable landmarks on our landscapes and streetscapes. The once-exiled artist returns as a statue in our most cherished Square, and, if they’re lucky, with an Éigse Literary and Arts Festival and Poetry Award to honour him in perpetuity.
This Poetry Award was established by Limerick County Council in 1999 and is jointly funded by Limerick City and County Council and The Arts Council to celebrate Michael Hartnett’s contribution to literature in English and Irish. The Michael Hartnett Annual Poetry Award is awarded in alternate years to books of poetry in the Irish and English language.
In 2022, the award will be made to a poet writing in English who has published a third book of poetry, or subsequent book of poetry, in the last two years, i.e. 2020-2021. This year the award has been doubled thanks to the generosity of Limerick City and County Council and the winner will receive a prize of €8,000.
This year’s adjudicators are poets Kerry Hardie and Peter Sirr, both former recipients of the award.
Michael Hartnett deserves all these efforts to keep his legacy alive – and, some would argue, the time has come for a more permanent centre to attract tourists and scholars to the town. The Éigse organisers welcome recent efforts to establish a permanent Arts and Cultural Centre in Newcastle West. This town needs to be a centre for the continued study of the poet’s work and a recognised repository for his papers and other materials before they are lost forever. It has been done successfully in Bellaghy and Inniskeen so why not in Newcastle West?
We also salute those who ensured that Hartnett’s iconic portrait by artist Edward McGuire was purchased thanks to the generous support of the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland (FNCI) and Limerick City and County Council for the City Gallery of Art. Like Hartnett himself the portrait returns after a lengthy exile and will now forever be available to view locally. However, in our continuing efforts to further Hartnett’s legacy we can do more, particularly if the local community demands it and if the political will exists to make it a reality.
On behalf of our Éigse Michael Hartnett committee, the Limerick Arts Office, Limerick City and County Council and the Arts Council, we would like to welcome all our participants and visitors to this year’s Éigse and wish every one of you an enjoyable and stimulating visit.
Bí linn agus fáilte!
Éigse Committee 2022: Vicki Nash, Norma Prendiville, John Cussen, Rose Liston, Rossa McMahon, Rachel Lenihan, Vincent Hanley, Mary Carroll.
Participants and Programme of Events
Official Opening, Thursday, October 6
Born in Limerick, Gerard is a writer/director. His film work includes Guiltrip, About Adam, Ordinary Decent Criminal, Nora (co-written with Pat Murphy), and Alarm. He has also written for television, The Truth about Claire and Black Day at Black Rock. Theatre plays include Love Child, The Gay Detective and That Was Then. He is well- known for his radio work with Dermot Morgan (Scrap Saturday). He has published five novels: According to Luke, Counting Down, Unspoken, The Effect of Her and What She Saw. He is this year’s guest speaker at the official opening.
When and where: THURSDAY 8PM. Áras William Smith O’Brien
Brian has had an interest in music all his life and discovered Elvis Presley at 16, which led him to singers like Nat King Cole,Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. At the age of 18 he became interested in classical singing and later began his vocal studies. He has performed at numerous venues throughout the country, including the National Concert Hall, Dublin and Thomond Park in Limerick. He has also been broadcast on national radio and television and local radio. Brian’s voice could be described as a classical crossover voice and he has an extensive repertoire ranging from classical and musicals to jazz, swing and easy listening. He lives in Newcastle West.
When and where: THURSDAY 8PM. Áras William Smith O’Brien
The Hit Machine Drummers
The Hit Machine Drummers are a brotherhood of rhythmic warriors who enthrall and entertain with dynamic, captivating drumming. Clad in authentic kilts, boots and military style vests, they are a commanding, driving presence. The pulse of life. The rhythm of a heartbeat. The beat of a well tuned drum. Rhythm is an instinct that pulls on everyone. Come along to their outdoor performance and feel the power of their beat. They will be joined in a lantern parade to the library by members of Foróige.
When and where: THURSDAY 7PM at the Square followed by Lantern Parade.
Friday, October 7
POETRY AWARD WINNER (Eleanor Hooker)
The winner of this year’s Michael Hartnett Poetry Award will be presented with her prize at the official opening on Thursday night. This is a chance to hear her work in the informal setting of our coffee morning.
When and where: FRIDAY 11AM Upstairs at Marguerite’s, The Square.
Mark Patrick Hederman
Mark Patrick has been a monk for over 50 years at the Benedictine monastery of Glenstal Abbey, Co Limerick. He has been abbot of the community and headmaster of the school there. Born in Ballingarry, Co Limerick, his latest book, Crimson and Gold: Life as a Limerick, is a humorous account of the changing face of Ireland as he experienced it since the 1950s. His other, more recent publications include The Opal and the Pearl, (2017) and Living the Mystery (2019), published by Columba Press, Dublin.
When and where: FRIDAY 1PM. Reading and light lunch with Mark Patrick at the Desmond Complex.
Seanie Barron roams around his native Askeaton, looking for wooden branches left in a field or ditch, or growing in a bush. He then collects and shapes them into walking sticks. In this new collection, surreal forms and shapes of Barron’s making reference wasps, salmon, snakes, ice skaters and cocktail parties. Over the last decade his sticks have been exhibited throughout the world. The Sculptural Imagination of Seanie Barron explores the uniqueness of Barron’s approach. The sticks have been described by Jon Woods as “sculptural objects that glow and sing their mysterious songs in ways that continue to enchant and enthrall.’
A touring exhibition with South Tipperary Arts Centre Clonmel and Askeaton Contemporary Arts.
When and where: FRIDAY, SATURDAY & SUNDAY in The Red Door Gallery
Keith is a native of Newcastle West who was schooled in Monagea and then at St Ita’s Secondary School, before heading off to university in London nearly 30 years ago. He qualified as a nurse there and since then has completed master degrees in mental health and business. He lives in Manchester and still works in mental health. In recent years he has started to write novels, firstly the mental health dark comedy, Hello Larry Barry, and then an action and adventure one, The Jude Crew. Newcastle West played a part in both novels, he explains. He is currently working on a crime fiction novel, due for release next year.
When and where: FRIDAY, 6PM. Book launch and reading at the Longcourt House Hotel.
Kerry Hardie’s eighth collection Where Now Begins (Bloodaxe Books) was published in 2020. Her seventh, the The Zebra Stood in The Night, was shortlisted for the Irish Times Award. She has won many prizes including the Michael Hartnett Poetry Award, the Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Award, The Suspended Sentence Award, The Laurence O’Shaughnessy Award, the IOTA chapbook Award and The Irish National Poetry Prize. She has written two novels and a voice play broadcast on RTE which has also been performed live. Her short stories have been published in Ireland, Switzerland, France and the US, and she has just completed another novel. Her work has been widely translated and has been much anthologized in Ireland, the U.S. and the U.K. She lives in Kilkenny and is a member of Aosdána.
When and where: FRIDAY, 8PM. Reading at Longcourt House Hotel.
eleven poetry collections since Marginal Zones (1984). His most recent collection, The Gravity Wave (2019) was a Poetry Society Recommendation and won the 2020 Farmgate Café National Poetry Award. Peter is also a past winner of the Michael Hartnett Poetry Award. His essay collection, Intimate City: Dublin Essays (2021) reflects a long-standing attachment to and obsession with the Dublins of past and present. He is a member of Aosdána.
When and where: FRIDAY, 8PM. Reading at Longcourt House Hotel.
Núria Vizcaino Estrada
Cellist Núria is from Barcelona where she studied in the Conservatori Superior del Liceu under Professor Erica Wise. She combined these studies with a teaching degree and several orchestral experiences all over the world, both of which she considers one of the best ways of growing as an individual but also as part of our society. She loves to perform Bach, but performs across a diverse range of composers and musical styles. She is currently studying for her MA in Classical String Performance at the University of Limerick.
When and where: FRIDAY, 8PM. Longcourt House Hotel with Kerry Hardie and Peter Sirr.
One of 2022’s must-see films, An Cailín Ciúin is an Irish-language film with subtitles that has broken Irish box office records. Based on author Claire Keegan’s novel Foster, it stars Carrie Crowley
and Andrew Bennett with a mesmerising performance by young newcomer Caitríona Clinse as Cáit. An Cailín Ciúin is set in early 1980s Ireland and follows Cáit, a young girl whose family send her to her mother’s cousin to be cared for while her mother has another baby.
Seanie Barron: Only in Askeaton dips into the life and work of wood artist Seanie Barron who creates imaginative and playful walking sticks, some of which are on exhibition at the Red Door Gallery. The short film, directed by Michael Holly, was made under the auspices of Askeaton Contemporary Arts and won the Audience Prize for Best Short Film at the Cork International Film Festival 2021.
These screenings are in partnership with the Newcastle West Film Club and Askeaton Contemporary Arts.
When and where: FRIDAY, 8PM. Screening at Desmond Complex.
Calling Me Home and In Time are two short, integrated dance films choreographed by dance artist Mary Hartney. Calling Me Home, which features dancers from the Brothers of Charity, Newcastle West along with guest dancers, is an interpretation of Jonathan Bryan’s book Eye Can Write. In Time is the last poem written by Seamus Heaney. It was written for his granddaughter, Síofra less than a fortnight before his death in 2013. The themes explored are energy, balance and outbreak.The dancers from Enable Ireland, Castleconnell, Co. Limerick are joined by guest dancers. Both films were made as part of integrated dance programmes supported by the Limerick Culture and Arts Office.
When and where: FRIDAY & SATURDAY, 3PM ach day at the Red Door Gallery.
Saturday, October 8
Catriona is former Head of Special Projects at the National Archives of Ireland and managed the Census Online Project, which placed the Irish 1901 and 1911 censuses online free to access. She is editor of Dublin 1911, published by the Royal Irish Academy in late 2011 and presented the RTE documentaries Ireland before the Rising in 2016, and Life After the Rising in 1919. She is an Honorary President of the Irish Labour History Society and a former President of the Women’s History Association of Ireland. She is Chairperson of the SAOL Project, a rehabilitation initiative for women with addiction problems, based in the North Inner City and also Chairperson of the Inner City Renewal Group, City. Catriona is a member of the Royal Irish Academy. She will deliver the Michael Hartnett Memorial Lecture on: How did Ireland do in it’s decade of centenaries?
When and where: SATURDAY 11AM at the Desmond Complex.
Dubliner Peter started playing traditional music at the age of six and learned the uilleann pipes from three of the great players of modern times, Leo Rowsome, Séamus Ennis and Willie Clancy. He played with the groups Raftery and 1691 and later played pipes and flute with The Bothy Band. In the early 1980s, he toured Europe and North America and made two groundbreaking albums of music and song together with: Philip King, Rince Gréagach and Seacht Nóiméad Déag chun a Seacht. He has also contributed as a session musician to albums featuring Paul Brady, Maura O’Connell, Mick Hanly and The Chieftains among others. An Oireachtas piping champion, he worked for over 40 years in RTE and is known for programmes such as The Rolling Wave, Sounds Traditional, Áirneán, Céilí House, Ulster Folk, Mo Cheol Thú and The Long Note.
When and where: SATURDAY 1.30PM at the Desmond Complex.
The Hartnett Tour
A bus tour with a difference taking in Camas, home of Michael Hartnett’s grandmother Bridget Halpin, the Poet’s Corner at Killeedy Eco-Park and finishing with tea and tunes at the Tigh Cheoil in Ashford.
The tour will be led by Vincent Hanley.
When and where: SATURDAY 3PM starting from Desmond Complex.
Mary Costello’s short story collection, The China Factory (2012), was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award and the Irish Book Awards. Her novel, Academy Street (2014), won the Novel of the Year Award and the overall Irish Book of the Year in 2014. It was shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award, the Costa First Novel Prize, and the EU Prize for Literature, among others, and has been translated into many languages. Her second novel, The River Capture (2019) was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards, the Kerry Group Novel of the Year and the Dalkey Novel Award. Originally from Galway, Mary lived in Dublin for many years and recently moved back to Galway.
When and where: SATURDAY 8PM at the Longcourt House Hotel.
Admission: €15 (includes Mick Hanly concert).
One of Ireland’s foremost singer/songwriters, Mick was born and reared in Limerick, and began his career as a folk singer in Dublin
in 1971. His professional debut was as the opening act for Planxty’s first Irish tour. In the following years, his musical journey moved between Trad, Country, Rock, and Contemporary, and he toured the UK, Europe, and the US in a variety of different guises: doubling with Andy Irvine as a folk act on the European circuit in the early eighties, as lead singer with Moving Hearts, and lead singer/writer with Rusty Old Halo. The tours were interspersed with album releases (fourteen in total). He has won two BMI awards (1 million Radio plays and Most Played Country Song in the US in 1992) for his song Past The Point Of Rescue as well as two Hot Press and two National Entertainment awards. His songs have been recorded by numerous artists: Moving Hearts, Christy Moore, Dolores Keane, Ronnie Drew, Mary Black and Delbert McClinton. His 16th album is due out in 2022.
When and where: SATURDAY, 9.15PM at the Longcourt House Hotel.
Sunday, October 9
Gabriel Fitzmaurice, from Moyvane, Co. Kerry where he still lives, taught for over thirty years in his local primary school. He is author of more than sixty books, including collections of poetry in English and Irish as well as several collections of verse for children, volumes of essays and collections of songs and ballads. He has translated extensively from the Irish and has edited a number of anthologies of poetry in English and Irish. Poems of his have been set to music and recorded by Brian Kennedy and performed by the RTÉ Cór na nÓg with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. An Honorary Member of the Széchenyi Academy of Letters and Arts in Hungary, he is a recipient of the Listowel Writers’ Week John B. Keane Lifetime Achievement Award. He frequently broadcasts on radio and television on culture and the arts.
When and where: SUNDAY 1PM at the Desmond Complex. Launch of new edition of Farewell to Poetry.
Tom Moloney is a retiree. As he continues to breathe in and out, not only is he up and at it, he is energized, and inspired, by Brendan Kenneally’s advice about living in Begin Again.
Not that Tom has abandoned entirely the many facets of his former life, in particular, the whisperings of his Muse; more accurate to say he is testing the view of practitioners of the two arts when they suggest that poetry and the short story are intimately related.
For the record, Tom has published two collections of poetry: My Register (2009) and Killing Time (2015). He has also published a novel, Getting the Nod from Himself (2015). Overcoming the Joy and other Yearnings is his first collection of short stories.
When and where: SATURDAY 1.30PM at the Desmond Complex. Launch of Overcoming the Joy and Other Yearnings.
Fostering the creativity of young people is an important part of Éigse and we are delighted that, this year, we were able to host a number of writing and visual art workshops. Students from Desmond College and Scoil Mhuire agus Ide worked with Colm Keegan to create their own Spoken Word performances which can be viewed, on screen, at the Red Door Gallery.
Members of Foróige worked with Aileen Nix to create lanterns for the Lantern Parade and also took part in poetry workshops with Edward O’Dwyer. Their poems can be seen and enjoyed on posters throughout the town.
An award winning writer and poet from Dublin, Colm’s debut collection Don’t Go There was released to critical acclaim and his latest collection Randomer is now available from Salmon Press. He judges the Waterford Poetry Prize and was guest editor of Poetry Ireland Review for May 2022. He has also written a number of plays and was a co-founder of Lingo, Ireland’s first Spoken Word festival.
He has developed numerous creative writing projects for schools and organisations across the country including South Dublin Epic and Inklinks, and has been awarded several residencies including the LexIcon, Ireland’s largest public library. He is currently Artist in Residence with Dept of Education at Maynooth University.
His latest programme Writing Home, developed to support homeless service users through the pandemic and developed with Kilkenny County Council, won a LAMA award for best education initiative 2021.
Colm worked with students from SMI and Desmond College who created a Spoken Word film to be screened at the Red Door.
Edward is a secondary school teacher from Limerick writing both poetry and fiction. His third collection of poetry, Exquisite Prisons, is due in 2022 from Salmon Poetry, and follows The Rain on Cruise’s Street (2014), which was Highly Commended in the Forward Prizes, and Bad News, Good News, Bad News (2017), which contains the poem, The Whole History of Dancing, which won the Best Original Poem award at Éigse Michael Hartnett 2018.
He has represented Ireland at Poesiefestival in Berlin, took part
in Poetry Ireland’s Introductions Series, and was shortlisted for
a Hennessy Award. His first short story collection, Cheat Sheets, features in The Lonely Crowd journal’s ‘Best Books of 2018’ list. He is the current Poet Laureate of Adare, elected by Poetry Ireland for their Poetry Town initiative in 2021.
Edward worked with members of Foróige for Éigse and their poems can be seen on posters around town.
Aileen is a creative Fine Art artist based in Newcastle West with an excellent eye for aesthetics. She is experienced in a broad range of mediums.
Aileen graduated from the Limerick School of Art and Design in 2015 with a degree in sculpture and combined media. With strong communication and listening skills, and an ability to work effectively in dynamic and diverse teams, Aileen really enjoys socially engaged art projects.
Aileen’s work has been exhibited in the RDS, Dublin, at K-Fest in Killorglin, Co Kerry and in the Red Door Gallery, Newcastle West.
Aileen worked with members of Foróige for Éigse to create lanterns for the Lantern Parade.
Salad Sunday is a new addition to the Éigse Michael Hartnett programme and celebrates one of Michael Hartnett’s most amusing poems, The Balad of Salad Sunday, which pokes fun at an incident in Newcastle West which turned out to be a non-event.
Salad Sunday is intended as a fun, entertaining event for the community and will take place in the Square, the Red Door Gallery and the Desmond Complex. Throughout the afternoon, we will have live music on stage, as well as street food and market stalls. There will be dramatic recitations of The Ballad of Salad Sunday along with recitations of The Maiden Street Ballad, another long-time popular favourite of Michael’s.
Newcastle West‘s ever popular MC, the broadcaster and teacher Seamus Hennessy will be on stage throughout the afternoon.
The Seanie Barron exhibition of walking sticks will continue at the Red Door Gallery where there will also be continuous screenings of Spoken Word. Local artists will exhibit and there will be readings from Broadford’s Tom Moloney and from well- known poet Gabriel Fitzmaurice.
Students from Scoil Mhuire agus Ide and Desmond College who took part in workshops with poet Colm Keegan have performed their work, live to camera. Watch and listen to them perform on screen in The Red Door Gallery. Posters of poems written by Foróige members will be exhibited around the town.
At 1pm, in the Desmond Complex , poet and singer Gabriel Fitzmaurice will launch the reprint of his final collection, Farewell to Poetry.
At 2pm, Tom Moloney from Broadford will launch his latest book, a collection of short stories, Overcoming the Joy and other Yearnings. The event will take place in the Desmond Complex.
Unique voice’ scoops Michael Hartnett Poetry Award 2022
The winner of the Michael Hartnett Poetry Award 2022 is Tipperary poet Eleanor Hooker, who has been lauded as a “poet with a unique voice that refuses to apologise”. Her winning collection, Of Ochre and Ash, (Dedalus Press 2021), has been described as “compelling” and “memorable” by this year’s judges, poets Kerry Hardie and Peter Sirr.
“Many excellent books were submitted for the Michael Hartnett Annual Poetry Award this year, but we both kept circling back to Eleanor Hooker’s third collection, Of Ochre and Ash,” the judges said, announcing the winner. “Family, place and memory are among her concerns, but it’s the imaginative brio, admirable adventurousness, and a real way with language, image, metaphor and form that make this a compelling collection.”
“She is a poet with a unique voice that refuses to apologise,” they continued. Responding to the announcement of her win, Eleanor Hooker said: “It’s difficult to articulate just how much this means to me, how validating it is that these two great poets and writers have chosen my work for this incredibly prestigious award. It’s a tremendous honour.”
Ms Hooker will be presented with the Michael Hartnett Poetry Award on the opening night of Éigse Michael Hartnett which takes place in Newcastle West, Co Limerick from October 6 to 9. This year the value of the award has doubled to €8,000 and is supported by the Arts Council and by Limerick City and County Council.
An admirer of the late poet Michael Hartnett, Ms Hooker said: “Michael Hartnett faced down his fears and made of them poems of exquisite lyrical elegance. He wrote with courage of his most dark and raw moments, without artifice or pretence. The desire for such authenticity and truthfulness has inspired much of my own writing. Michael Hartnett died too young, but to continue to read his poems is to remember that ‘eras do not end when great poets die/for poetry is not whole’.
For Eleanor Hooker, ‘Poems are a safe place to put vulnerable, breakable things’. Born in south Tipperary, Ms Hooker initially trained as a nurse and midwife. She lived for several years in the UK and holds an MA (Hons) from the University of Northumbria. She also has an MA in Creative Writing from Trinity College Dublin and is currently studying for a PhD.
She lives in Dromineer, Co Tipperary with her husband Peter. They have two sons. She is a founder member of the Dromineer Nenagh Literary Festival and is helm of the Lough Derg RNLI lifeboat.
Meanwhile, the programme for this year’s Éigse Michael Hartnett Literary and Arts Festival has been released. Promising an exciting opening night, with The Hit Machine Drummers and Lantern Parade, the prorgramme includes readings, music, song, film, exhibitions, launches and a bus tour of Hartnett country.
Among this year’s guests are Gerry Stembridge, Kerry Hardie, Peter Sirr, Mary Costello, Catríona Crowe, Mark Patrick Hederman, Peter Browne and Gabriel Fitzmaurice as well as local writers Keith McCoy and Tom Moloney. A fourth day has been added to this year’s festival, intended as a family and community oriented fun day.
For full details go to www.eigsemichaelhartnett.ie