Thursday, Oct 5 – Sunday, Oct 8
NEWCASTLE WEST CO. LIMERICK
Éigse Michael Hartnett 2023
Welcome to Éigse Michael Hartnett 2023 and, if you are not from the town, welcome to Newcastle West and to Hartnett country. Hartnett country is not a figment of the imagination. While much has changed in West Limerick since Michael lived here, much has also survived: the readiness to talk; the local turn of phrase; the love of music and dance; the quick and witty retort; the slanted humour and of course, the lush, green countryside. Michael’s relationship with his home-place was a complicated and complex affair but it was the place that shaped him and where he first came to poetry. We are proud to claim him as one of the most original, lyrical, strong and independent voices in Irish poetry and as one of the great translators of Irish-language poetry.
Éigse Michael Hartnett honours Michael’s legacy but also continues it, by bringing together poets and musicians, artists and thinkers, in a free-ranging programme that holds a hand out to all comers. Our invitation is a simple one: Come and join us.
Éigse Michael Hartnett is made possible through the support and funding of the Arts Council and of the Limerick City and County Council Culture and Arts Department. We are grateful to them and appreciate their continuing involvement.
This year’s organisers are Mary Carroll, John Cussen, Vincent Hanley, Rachel Lenihan, Rose Liston, Vicki Nash and Norma Prendiville.
Michael Hartnett 1941-1999
Michael Hartnett was, and continues to be, one of Ireland’s most loved poets. He always made the point that he was born in Croom, home of the Maigue poets, but Newcastle West was his homeplace. He began writing poetry as a young teenager and his first collection, Anatomy of a Cliché was published in 1968. A sometimes controversial writer, he wrote in both English and Irish and also translated the work of a number of medieval Irish poets. He was the recipient of a number of awards including the Irish Poetry Prize, a Poetry Ireland Choice award and the American Ireland Fund Award. He was a member of Aosdána. Michael died in Dublin in 1999.
Participants and Programme of Events
Official Opening, Thursday, October 5
7.00pm Lantern Parade
The Hit Machine Drummers will give a public performance in the Square before leading the Lantern Parade up Bishop Street to the Library where their drumming magic can be enjoyed for a second time.
The most energetic, raw, and hardworking group of drummers in Ireland make a very welcome return to Éigse 2023. The Hit Machine Drummers have been entertaining the masses since 2013. Getting bigger, better, faster and louder from day 1. Jaw dropping choreography, toe-tapping grooves, fun filled show with conga lines, rhythm games, and sometimes we even get someone from the crowd up onto stage to join us. These powerful Celtic Drummers are like warriors, clad in Black Kilts with chains and stunning leather vests. Their weapons are the songs that will make you want to dance.
8.00pm Official Opening
Éigse Michael Hartnett 2023 will be officially opened by the Mayor of the City and County of Limerick, Cllr Gerard Mitchell, followed by the presentation of the Michael Hartnett Poetry Award to this year’s winner.
Our special guest for the evening is Alan English, Editor of the Sunday Independent, former editor of the Limerick Leader and author/co-author of five best selling rugby books.
Venue: Newcastle West Square and Library.
Éigse Window Sessions Special
This year, Éigse Michael Hartnett collaborates with Cleary’s Window Sessions at Cleary’s Bar, South Quay, to bring you a new event as part of the programme line-up. We are delighted to welcome Jack O’ Rourke to Newcastle West for Éigse 2023 on Thursday 5th October. Tickets are very limited for the event and there has been huge interest already. Remaining tickets go on sale on Monday 11th September 2023 at 7pm. Please follow the link below to reserve your seat for an evening of lyrical magic at Eventbrite!
Venue: Cleary’s Bar, South Quay.
Admission: €17.50 (at eventbrite.com only)
Friday, October 6
10.30am A Cuppa and a Poem
A chance to meet and enjoy the work of this year’s winner of the Michael Hartnett Poetry Award along with the work of Limerick poet Tim Cunningham
Venue: Upstairs at Marguerite’s, The Square.
Tim Cunningham was born in Limerick and educated at C.B.S., Limerick, and Birkbeck College, London. He has worked, mainly in education, in Dublin, Trowbridge, London, Delaware and Essex. Recently returned to Ireland, he lives in Westport, County Mayo. He has had eight collections of poetry published since 2001, his most recent being PASSPORTS (March 2020). Tim’s ninth collection, Peristeria, published by Revival Press, was launched on 21st April 2023 at The People’s Museum, Limerick City. He was awarded a Kavanagh fellowship in 2012.
11.30am Who do you think you are?
The Éigse organisers have teamed up with the local Women’s Shed for a special presentation from local genealogist Ger Greaney.
Venue: Desmond Complex.
Admission: Confined to Women’s Shed members
1.00pm Tales from a Colourful Life
Author and columnist Michael Harding will entertain with excerpts from his many bestselling books along with musings and stories, served up with a light lunch.
Venue: Desmond Ability Complex
3.00pm Odd-Being in the Age of Humans
An exhibition of recent work by Knockaderry-based artist Gerard Fenniman will be on display during the festival. At 3.00pm, Gerard will give a short talk about his work.
Venue: Red Door Gallery, The Square.
Gerard Fenniman is an artist based in the parish of Knockaderry in West Limerick. Having an ecological focus to his work, he has concerned himself with issues of death, and rebirth. In 2014 an acquired disability meant reinventing how he approached his work. In 2015 Gerard collaborated on a project in Abbeyfeale Town Park engaging local communities, ecologies and considerations for living well. Gerard returned to college in 2018 to complete an MA in Fine Art by research completing a project entitled “Imagery of The Diaspora” as a response to the ongoing commemorations. Since finishing the MA Gerard’s work has prioritised environmental and ontological concerns, with added emphases on research. Gerard’s work is inspired by the writings of Donna Haraway in that he has been drawn to her use of the word “chthulocene” and her proposal for a compost society which together challenge us to think our way towards a cultural framework for ongoingness as a species.
6.00pm Book Launch
Tipperary-born but Newcastle West-based writer Pat McLoughlin will launch his latest novel, The Unbreakable Dream.
Venue: Longcourt House Hotel.
Pat McLoughlin is originally from Newport, Co. Tipperary but has been living in Newcastle West for over 51 yrs. Pat began his writing career when he retired from his job with the ESB in 2005. His first collection of short stories ‘To Weave with Words’ was published in 2018 by the Limerick Writers’ Centre. Since then, he has written two more collections of short stories and a novel – his current novel will be his fifth publication. Donal Ryan described Pat’s writing as ‘humane, empathetic and blessedly sincere storytelling’ he also said the Pat had ‘a wonderfully keen eye and ear and an admirable ability to compress a world of story into a single sentence’. Pat has attended creative writing courses at U.L. and at the Limerick Writers’ Centre and is currently a member of the Desmond Scribblers Writing Group in Newcastle West. He is married to Eleanor, has two children and two grandchildren.
8.00pm Silver Screen Time
Once again, Éigse has partnered with the Newcastle West Film Club, this time for a screening of the 2022 film, Róise & Frank, a touching Irish made film, shot in Co. Waterford, that looks at love, loss and hurling.
Venue: Desmond Complex
8.00pm From the Heart
Poets Paddy Bushe and Annemarie Ní Churreáin join musician extraordinaire Steve Cooney for an unforgettable evening of words and music.
Venue: Áras Smith O’Brien (Council building)
ANNEMARIE NÍ CHURREÁIN is a poet from the Donegal Gaeltacht. Her publications include Bloodroot (Doire Press, 2017), Town (The Salvage Press, 2018) and The Poison Glen (The Gallery Press, 2021). Ní Churreáin is a recipient of the Arts Council’s Next Generation Artist Award and a co-recipient of The Markievicz Award. Of her work The Yale Review reports that she “often captures a whole world of cultural and historical implications in a single, simple, but metaphorically rich image”. A former literary fellow of Akademie Schloss Solitude (Germany) and The Jack Kerouac House (U.S), Ní Churreáin is a 2023 Guest Editor of Poetry Ireland Review Issue 140. Visit www.studiotwentyfive.com.
Paddy Bushe lives in Waterville, Co. Kerry. He has published thirteen collections of poetry of which three are in Irish, as well as seven collections of translations from Irish and Scottish Gaelic. He was presented with the 2005 Michael Harnett Award for Gile na Gile (Coiscéim 2005) and the and the 2017 Irish Times Poetry Now Award for On a Turning Wing (Dedalus, 2016). Peripheral Vision, a collection in English, and Second Sight, a selection of his poems in Irish with his own translations, appeared from Dedalus in 2020. The Amergin Step, a prose work which is a personal, imaginative exploration of both the landscape of Iveragh and the literature and mythology associated with it, is forthcoming. He is a member of Aosdána.
Steve Cooney is best known for his development of an influential style of guitar accompaniment to the traditional dance music of West Kerry, for which he won the National Entertainment Award in 1997. Born in Australia, he came to Ireland in 1980. He has participated in making more than 250 CD’s, either as a guitar or bass player or as producer and engineer. A poet and songwriter, he has worked with many iconic international artists in rock and country music but his primarily focus is Irish traditional music, and fusions of that genre. His CD release of solo guitar interpretations of ancient harp tunes won in three categories at the 2020 RTÉ Folk Awards, where he was also given a Lifetime Achievement Award. He was named TG4 Cumadóir na Bliana (Composer of the Year) in 2021. He was awarded a Ph.D. in 2018 for an intuitive musical notation system that he invented for early learners and for those with difficulties reading staff notation.
Saturday, October 7
11.00am Michael Hartnett Memorial Lecture.
Dr Mary McAuliffe, Director of Gender Studies at UCD, is this year’s guest speaker and will look, in broad strokes, at some of the women who took an active part in the Revolutionary Decade 1913-1923, what happened them after, and why.
Venue: Desmond Ability Complex
Mary McAuliffe is a historian and Director of Gender Studies at UCD. Her latest publications include Margaret Skinnider: a biography (UCD Press, 2020) and co-editor with Miriam Haughton and Emilie Pine, Legacies of the Magdalen Laundries; Commemoration, Gender, and the Postcolonial Carceral State (Manchester University Press, 2021). She is currently completing her book, OUTRAGE-Gender and Sexual Violence against Women in the War of Independence and Civil War‘ to be published in 2024. She is a past President of the Women’s History Association of Ireland and a member of the Humanities Institute, UCD.
1.30pm Book Club Special
This initiative involves local bookclub, The Magic Honies, in a meet-the-author session with Michelle McDonagh whose debut novel, There’s Something I Have To Tell You, hit the bestseller list earlier this year.
Venue: Desmond Complex.
Admission: Confined to bookclub members.
Michelle McDonagh’s debut novel There’s Something I Have To Tell You became an Irish bestseller going to Number Two in the Top Ten when it was published in April of this year by Hachette Ireland. Michelle has been writing stories since she was a child in primary school, and it had always been her dream to write a novel. After far too many years of intense procrastination, she enrolled in the an online novel writing course in 2019 and decided to step back from journalism for a while to focus on finishing her first novel. A native of Galway, she has over 25 years’ experience as a journalist. She was a staff reporter with The Connacht Tribune in Galway for twelve years before going freelance. She worked for all of the Irish national and tabloid papers covering news and courts, before switching solely to features and
health, mainly for The Irish Times. She now lives in Blarney where she is married with three children, and a very cute cavapoo.
2.00pm Life in Black and White
Photographer Pádraig O’Flannabhra presents images and words from his new book Éire, Dubh&Bán/Ireland, Black&White, in which people, events and scenes from 1996-2023 are beautifully captured.
Venue: Desmond Complex.
Pádraig Ó Flannabhra is a native of Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. He began his creative working life as a Design and Pattern originator with Nenagh Textile Mills and later with Youghal Carpets Design Studio, while all the time indulging his enthusiasm and love of photography. He became a full-time professional photographer in1984 when he established his Photoart Studio in Nenagh. Since then he has won many national and international awards and accolades for his work, including a unique ten Kodak European Gold Portrait Awards — an Irish first.
He has exhibited widely in Ireland, the UK and in France. His first publication ‘Ireland Beyond the Pale’ was published by Liam Miller of the Dolmen Press in 1986. This was followed by ‘Éire ar an Imeall’ / ‘Ireland on the Fringe’ in 1993 and ‘Turning a Blind Eye‘ in 1997, both published by ‘Tiobraid Árann ag Labhairt ‘–Tipperary’s Irish Language Project. His latest (9th) collection ‘Éire Dubh & Bán’ /’ Ireland Black & White‘ (2023 ) has just been published and it is in support of Crois Dhearg na hÉireann / Irish Red Cross.
3.30pm The Hartnett Tour
A walking tour which will combine stories and poems to shine light on the life, times and work of Michael Hartnett. Led by Vincent Hanley, it will include the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at the Hartnett home in Assumpta Park.
Venue: Tour begins at Hartnett Statue.
8.00pm Telling it as it is
For this event, novelist Karl Geary will weave magic with words, reading from his latest book Juno loves Legs and talking about his writing life while Limerick’s own, singer/songwriter Emma Langford ,will beguile with the power and tenderness of her songs.
Image of Emma Langford by Ruth Medjber
Venue: Longcourt House Hotel.
Karl Geary was born in Dublin. His widely acclaimed debut Montpelier Parade was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and for Newcomer of the Year at the Irish Book Awards. His second book Juno Loves Legs was published in March 2023 and was instantly taken into the nation’s hearts. Karl lives in Glasgow with his wife and daughter.
Emma Langford is another artist to make a return visit to Éigse this year and she has since established herself as a household name on the Irish folk and songwriter scene. Storytelling and wit sit at the heart of everything she does; interweaving her live performances, and shining through her works. Hers is an inimitable, dreamy voice on the frontline of a new wave of Irish folk. Langford released her debut album Quiet Giant in 2017, gaining her a prestigious RTÉ Folk Award and an Irish Post Music Award nomination for best Irish folk act. She received the inaugural Dolores O’Riordan bursary, the Music Network RESONATE residency, and an Arts Council Agility Award, to support continuing research and explorations around women in Irish history. In late 2021 Emma wrote and independently released her stunning second album, Sowing Acorns, which paved the way for a bright and busy career. The bold choice to release this record at the height of a global pandemic paid dividends, and the record received huge international praise. She also joined the ranks of pandemic-inspired musical supergroup, Irish Women In Harmony. Her latest single, “Abigail (Tomhas Ghobnatan)” is the first release from a new suite of work based around the lore and history of Ballyvourney, a village in the Muskerry Gaeltacht of County Cork.
Sunday, October 8
1.00pm A tale of murder
Irish Times journalist Harry McGee will read from his book The Murderer and the Taoiseach: Death, Politics and GUBU, Revisiting the Notorious Malcolm Macarthur Case, and recount his dealings with Macarthur himself.
Venue: Desmond Complex.
Harry McGee is the political correspondent with The Irish Times. He has previously worked for several publications, including being political editor of the Irish Examiner, as well as jobs with the Sunday Tribune, the Sunday Press, the Connacht Tribune newspapers, public service broadcaster Raidió Teilifís Éireann and has also edited Magill. He has appeared as a commentator on RTÉ Radio 1, Newstalk and TV3.
McGee, a former Young Journalist of the Year, is originally from Salthill, County Galway. He studied at Coláiste Iognáid and at University College Galway. He left his job as the Political Editor with the Irish Examiner to take up a new job with The Irish Times in January 2008 and was promoted to the post of Political Correspondent for that publication in December 2009.
McGee wrote, presented and produced the seven-part GUBU podcast series for The Irish Times in 2022. He has also written and presented several TV documentaries for RTÉ and TG4 and wrote the RTÉ Legacy Documentaries on Martin McGuinness and PJ Mara. His most recent publication is The Murderer and the Taoiseach: Death, Politics and GUBU – Revisiting the Notorious Malcolm Macarthur Case (2023) and is published by Hackette. His main pastimes are the GAA and mountaineering Irish Mountaineering Club.
2.00pm Desmond Scribblers
Set up in 2018, the Desmond Scribblers brings together local writers in prose and poetry. This is an opportunity to hear some of their work.
Venue: Desmond Complex.
Desmond Scribblers is a local writers’ group based in Newcastle West. In 2018 a diverse group of people gathered in the Red Door Building, Newcastle West, to look at the possibility of setting up a forum for local writers. Even though the group hailed from a variety of backgrounds there was one string that bound them together – a love of writing. The spark from that meeting kindled the receptive writing cinders that initiated the birth and perpetuation of Desmond Scribblers. Since its inception, the writers’ group has gone from strength to strength with members producing wonderful poetry and prose; it also has a number of published writers in its midst. The group has also produced a variety of Christmas miscellany programmes for local radio. New members to the group are warmly welcomed and encouraged. You don’t need to have composed or written anything; an interest in the written word is the only requirement.
3.00pm Children’s Event
Callback Theatre presents a magical hour of puppet theatre for five-to-nine-year-olds with Dorothy Dolittle’s Magical Adventure. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Venue: Courtenay National School.
Admission: €5 per child
CallBack theatre was founded in 2001 by Cora Fenton and John Sheehy. Since its inception, CallBack has produced and toured all around the country at various festivals and venues with a number of plays. CallBack is now primarily focusing on producing & touring new work written by John Sheehy. His play Men Without Souls premiered in Friars’ Gate Theatre, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick and was funded by Limerick City of Culture and Ballyhoura Development. CallBack theatre also tours with a children’s Fun Educational Puppet Show: Dorothy DoLittle’s Magical Adventure; a puppet show on Healthy Eating and Physical Exercise. With over 200 shows to date this show has already been seen by over 2000 children.
1.00pm - 3.00pm Come to the market
A mini-market with a variety of stalls featuring food, crafts, home-made produce and other items will bring a buzz to Sunday afternoon.
Venue: Desmond Complex .