Fáilte go hÉigse Michael Hartnett 2019

Éigse Michael Hartnett 2019 marks the 20th anniversary of Michael Hartnett’s death, in October 1999. His loss was felt keenly by all those who loved him, and one of the most original, lyrical, strong and independent voices in poetry, both in English agus as Gaeilge, fell silent.

The late Seamus Heaney once remarked, Michael “affected Irish poetry the way a power surge affects the grid: things quickened and shone when he published.”

Two decades later, his poems remain as compelling and as fresh as ever. All the poets we have gathered for this year’s Éigse have long recognised and acknowledged Michael’s gift of poetry and over the weekend will honour him in their own way.

As his friend and fellow poet Michael Coady once said. “I find that when I meet writers, Michael somehow always finds his way into the conversation.”

Because music was so important to Michael, music will also be a big part of this Éigse. We have film, a poetry slam, exhibitions and storytelling to keep you entertained and satisfied. And beneath it all, will be the hum of chat, of laughter and of debate, all tuned to the memory of Michael.

On behalf of the Eigse Michael Hartnett Committee and Limerick Culture and Arts Office we welcome all to this year’s festival in Michael’s hometown. May it be a lively gathering. And a fitting one.

Micheál Ó hAirtnéide 1941-1999

Michael Hartnett was and is one of Ireland’s most loved poets. Born in Limerick in 1941, his first collection Anatomy of a Cliché was published by Dolmen Press in 1968.

A controversial writer he wrote both in English and Irish as well as translating a number of medieval Irish poets into English. He was a recipient of a number of awards, including the Irish Poetry Prize, a Poetry Ireland Choice award, the Irish-American Cultural Institute award and the American Ireland Fund award. He was a member ofAosdána.

After his death in 1999, his Collected Poems was published in 2001 by  Gallery Press.

Declan Kiberd who delivers this year’s Memorial Lecture at Éigse says Hartnett “was the greatest translator of Irish-language poetry in the second half of the twentieth century: but, being that, he was also his country’s most underrated poet. He left major poems in both languages, but also the certainty that there can be no final farewell to English.”

Éigse 2019 Programme

Thursday, October 3rd

12.30pm – 4.30pm

Ocean Rhythms a collection of recent works by Holland-based Irish artist Olivia O’Keeffe. Admission free.

Venue: Red Door Gallery, The Square

12.30pm – 4.30pm

Cluas Eile – listen to some Michael Hartnett poems in the Éigse Poetry car. Admission free.

Venue: Red Door Gallery, The Square

7.30pm – 8:00pm

A reception to mark the opening of Éigse Michael Hartnett 2019.

Venue: Newcastle West Library


Official Opening of Éigse Michael Harnett by The Mayor, Limerick City and County, Cllr Michael Sheahan.

Presentation of Michael Hartnett Poetry Award 2019 to Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh.

The Blink of an Eye – 20 years after Michael’s death, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill pays tribute to one of Ireland’s most gifted poets of the late 20th century.

Venue: Newcastle West Library


Club na hÉigse

Venue: The Silver Dollar, Maiden St.

Friday, October 4th

10.30am – 12 noon

A Poem and a Cuppa – Máighréad Medbh returns to her home town for a reading along with Limerick born Edward O’Dwyer. Admission free, Refreshments extra.

Venue: Upstairs in Marguerite’s, The Square

12 noon – 4.00pm

Haiku in the Castle – see, hear and read Michael Hartnett’s Inchicore Haiku. Admission free.

Venue: Desmond Castle, The Square

12.30pm – 4.30pm

Ocean Rhythms a collection of recent works by Holland-based Irish artist Olivia O’Keeffe. Admission free.

Venue: Red Door Gallery, The Square

12.30pm – 4.30pm

Cluas Eile – listen to some Michael Hartnett poems in the Éigse Poetry car. Admission free.

Venue: Red Door Gallery, The Square


Storytelling and Music with Daisy Kearney and Donie Lyons. Admission free.

Venue: St. Ita’s Community Hospital


Airs and Graces – an evening of poetry with a selection of some of Michael Hartnett’s favourite music.

Three poets, all former winners of the Michael Hartnett Poetry Award will take part – Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Jo Slade and James Harpur. Music by the Irish Chamber Orchestra quartet led by violinist Diane Daly.

Admission €15. Ticket includes admission to the Félann cabaret later. (Tickets at the door).

Venue: Longcourt House Hotel 


Félann – a late evening musical treat from Anne Phelan, violinist with musical friends. Think cabaret, think chansons, think jazz, blues and swing. Félann has it all.

Admission €12. (Tickets at the door).

Venue: Longcourt House Hotel

Saturday, October 5th

11.00am – 1.00pm

Poetry in the Tower – poets Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Paddy Bushe and Gabriel Fitzmaurice and harpist Eva Downey in the atmospheric setting of the 14th century tower at Springfield Castle.

Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh, this years winner of the Michael Hartnett poetry award will be presented with her award.

Admission €10 includes morning coffee. 

Venue: Springfield Castle, Broadford

12 noon – 4.00pm

Haiku in the Castle – see, hear and read Michael Hartnett’s Inchicore Haiku. Admission free.

Venue: Desmond Castle, The Square

12.30pm – 4.30pm

Ocean Rhythms a collection of recent works by Holland-based Irish artist Olivia O’Keeffe. Admission free.

Venue: Red Door Gallery, The Square


The Maiden Street Ballad – starting at Ned Lynch’s bar before moving on to Desmond Hall at 3pm for the launch of special anniversary edition of Cómhar.

Venue: Desmond Castle, The Square


Poetry Slam – with prize of €300 for Best Original Poet and €100 for Best Reading of a Michael Hartnett Poem.

Admission free.

Venue: Whelan’s Bar, Maiden St.


A Magical Night of poetry and music featuring Paula Meehan, Theo Dorgan and Eileen Sheahan with music by the inimitable Colm Mac Con Iomaire. West Limerick musicians, Tim & Michael Collins and Diarmuid O’Brien, will also take to the stage for a rousing finale to Eigse.

Admission €20. (Tickets at the door).

Venue: Longcourt House Hotel

All Day

Míchéal Rowsome At Large!


School Activities: In collaboration with Newcastle West Film Club, second level students will attend screenings of Muince Dreoilín, the Pat Collins’ film about Michael Hartnett with poet Gabriel Fitzmaurice hosting a question and answer session after each screening.

Poetry Wall: Poems written by primary and second-level students from Newcastle West schools will feature on the walls of Newcastle West library and on a virtual wall on our website.

Éigse 2019 Poets

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest poets in Ireland, also reputed for her dedication and defence of the Irish language. Ní Dhomhnaill has published extensively and her works include poetry collections, children’s plays, screenplays, anthologies, articles, reviews and essays.

In her writings, Ní Dhomhnaill focuses on the rich traditions and heritage of Ireland, and draws upon themes of ancient Irish folklore and mythology that intermingle with contemporary issues concerning femininity, sexuality and culture.

In 1981, Ní Dhomhnaill published her fist poetry collection, An Dealg Droighin (Cork: Mercier Press), and became a member of Aosdána. Other works include Féar Suaithinseach (Maynooth: An Sagart,1984); Feis (An Sagart, 1991), and Cead Aighnis (translated by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Medbh McGuckian; An Sagart, 1999). Ní Dhomhnaill’s poems appeared in English translation in the dual-language editions Rogha Dánta/Selected Poems (Dublin: Raven Arts Press, 1986, 1988, 1990; translated by Michael Harnett); The Astrakhan Cloak (Oldcastle: Gallery translated by Paul Muldoon, 1991, 1992), Pharaoh’s Daughter (Gallery, 1990), and The Fifty Minute Mermaid (translated by Paul Muldoon; Gallery, 2007).

In 2018, she received the Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award for her achievements in poetry.

Paddy Bushe

Paddy Bushe is a poet, editor and translator. Born in Dublin in 1948, he has lived in Kerry since 1973. He has published ten collections of poetry, eight in English and two in Irish, as well as four books of translations. He edited Voices at the World’s Edge: Irish Poets on Skellig Michael (Dedalus 2010), an anthology of work written after overnight visits to the island by some of Ireland’s finest poets in both languages.

He has translated the collected poems of the renowned Scottish Gaelic poet Somhairle MacGill-Eain (Sorley MacLean) into Irish. On A Turning Wing (Dedalus 2016), won the Irish Times-Poetry Now Award. He received the Michael Hartnett Award for Gile na Gile (Coiscéim, 2006), a book which was also awarded Duais an Oireachtais that year. He is a member of Aosdána.

Paula Meehan

Paula Meehan was born in Dublin where she still lives. She studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and at Eastern Washington University in the U.S. She has received many awards for her work including The Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry 2015, and a Cholmondelay Award for Poetry 2017.

She was Ireland Professor of Poetry, 2013 – 2016. Her public lectures from these years, Imaginary Bonnets with Real Bees in Them, was published by UCD Press in 2016. Geomantic, a new collection of poetry, is published by Dedalus Press, Dublin.

Theo Dorgan

Theo Dorgan is a poet, and also a non-fiction prose writer, novelist, editor, documentary screenwriter, essayist and translator. Among his recent publications are: JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (2014), a libretto commissioned by The Albert Hall; LIBERTY WALKS NAKED (2015) and BAREFOOT SOULS (2015) translations from the French of the Syrian poet Maram al-Masri; FOUNDATION STONE: Towards a Constitution for a 21st Century Republic (2013, essays, editor) and the novel MAKING WAY (2013).

His most recent collections of poems are NINE BRIGHT SHINERS — awarded the Irish Times/Poetry Now Prize for best collection in 2015 — and ORPHEUS, published in 2018, both from Dedalus Press. He is a member of Aosdána.

James Harpur

James Harpur has published six books of poetry. His latest volume, The White Silhouette (Carcanet, 2018) was an Irish Times Book of the Year. Other books include Angels and Harvesters (2012), which was a PBS Recommendation and shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award; and The Dark Age (2007), winner of the Michael Hartnett Prize. He is a member of Aosdána and lives in West Cork.

Eileen Sheehan

Eileen Sheehan lives in Killarney and is originally from Scartaglen, in the Sliabh Luachra area of County Kerry. She has read at festivals in Ireland and abroad including The Shanghai Literary Festival and Cork International Poetry Festival.

Anthology publications include Best Loved Poems: Favourite Poems from the South of Ireland (editor Gabriel Fitzmaurice with photographs by John Reidy/ Curragh Press) and The Deep Heart’s Core: Irish Poets Revisit a Touchstone Poem (editors Eugene O’Connell & Pat Boran/ Dedalus Press). Her third collection The Narrow Way of Souls is published by Salmon Poetry.

Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Doireann Ní Ghríofa writes both prose and poetry, in both Irish and English. Her artistic practice encompasses cross-disciplinary collaborations, fusing poetry with film, dance, music, and visual art. Among her awards are a Lannan Literary Fellowship and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. She is a member of Aosdána.

Doireann’s early work includes three Irish-language collections (Résheoid, Dúlasair, and Oighear, all published by Coiscéim), and the bilingual pamphlet A Hummingbird, your Heart (Smithereens Press). Her first collection of poems in English was Clasp (Dedalus Press, 2015), whose “poems excel in their consideration of motherhood” (Poetry Magazine, Chicago). Clasp was shortlisted for the 2016 Irish Times Poetry Award, and was joint winner of the Michael Hartnett Poetry Prize. Doireann’s most recent books are ‘Lies’ (drawing on a decade of her Irish poems in translation), and ‘9 Silences,’ a collaborative book of poems and art, with acclaimed visual artist Alice Maher.

In her role as Ireland Professor of Poetry, Paula Meehan awarded Doireann the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary 2014-2015. Doireann has also been awarded The Rooney Prize for Irish Literature (2016), The Michael Hartnett Poetry Prize (2016), a Seamus Heaney Fellowship (Queen’s University, Belfast, 2018), The Wigtown Award for Gaelic Poetry in translation (Scotland, 2012), the Ostana Prize (Italy, 2018), and a Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry (USA, 2018). The Arts Council of Ireland have awarded her four bursaries in literature, and three of her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize (USA). In 2016, she was selected as one of Poetry Ireland Review’s ‘Rising Generation’ of Irish poets.

Her work has been commissioned by institutions such as The Poetry Society (Britain), Temple Bar Gallery, Poetry Ireland, The Embassy of Ireland in Britain and the Department of Foreign Affairs. More information on current projects is available here.

Born in Galway in 1981, she grew up in rural County Clare, learning Irish through the Gaelscoil system of immersion education. She attended university in Cork city, where she variously studied human anatomy, psychology, and literature. She is a qualified teacher, and holds an M.A. in Modern Irish Literature/Nua-Ghaeilge (UCC). Doireann lives near Cork city with her husband and their four young children.

Gabriel Fitzmaurice

Deeply rooted in the literary tradition of North Kerry, Gabriel Fitzmaurice is a poet, broadcaster, writer, translator, singer and raconteur. He was born in 1952, in the village of Moyvane, Co. Kerry where he still lives. For more than three decades, he taught and later served as principal at his local national school but is now happily retired. He has been called “poetry’s answer to John B Keane” (Books Ireland) and his poems have been described as “comparable to Burns for their insight and lyricism” (The Irish Times ).

He is the author of more than forty books, including collections of poetry in English and Irish as well as several collections of verse for children. He has translated extensively from Irish and has edited a number of anthologies of poetry in both English and Irish. In addition, he has published volumes of essays and collections of songs and ballads. He is a familiar voice on Kerry Radio where he hosts his own show. He is a former chair and literary advisor of Listowel Writers’ Week and is currently a committee member of Éigse Michael Hartnett. He is an award winner of the Gerard Manley Hopkins Centenary Poetry Competition. He works as a translator of essays and collections of songs/ballads from the original Irish and has twice represented Ireland at the European Festival of Poetry in Louvain, Belgium. Gabriel

A musician and singer, he has played and sung on a number of albums of Irish traditional music. He frequently broadcasts on Irish radio and television and local radio stations on education and the arts.

Jo Slade

Jo Slade is a poet and painter. She is the author of six poetry collections and two chapbooks of poems. Her most recent collection, Cycles and Lost Monkeys, (Salmon Poetry 2019) Her poetry collection, The Painter’s House, published by (Salmon Poetry in 2013) was joint winner of the Michael Hartnett Poetry Prize 2014. Her installation/exhibition, The White Cottage took place in The Sailor’s Home, Limerick 2016.

Máighréad Medbh

Máighréad Medbh was born in Co. Limerick and has become well known as a textual innovator and performer of her work. She has published seven books of poetry, the most recent a verse fantasy/allegory called Parvit of Agelast (Arlen House, 2016), which was shortlisted for the Pigott Prize in 2017.

Her prose work, Savage Solitude: Reflections of a Reluctant Loner (Dedalus, 2013), spans the genres with a dramatized internal conversation that includes quotes from eclectic reading. Several books explore themes: Tenant (1999), a story in verse set during the famine; Twelve Beds for the Dreamer (2010), dreams in relation to the astrological cycle; When the Air Inhales You (2008), largely elegies.

Máighréad has performed widely at home and abroad, and on the broadcast media. She has also written for radio and three novels are online as ebooks. She holds an M.A. in Poetry Studies from DCU and is currently working towards a practice-based PhD in Experimental Literature. A new book is due from Arlen House in 2019.

Edward O'Dwyer

Edward O’Dwyer was born in Limerick where he lives currently. His poetry has been published in journals throughout the world, including in The Forward Book of Poetry. He is the author of the collections The Rain on Cruise’s Street (Salmon Poetry, 2014) and Bad News, Good News, Bad News (Salmon Poetry, 2017), the latter containing ‘The Whole History of Dancing’, which won the Best Original Poem Prize at Eigse Michael Hartnett Festival 2018.

His most recent book, Cheat Sheets (Truth Serum Press, 2018), is a collection darkly comic flash fictions with the theme of infidelity. Donal Ryan refers to them as “wicked little gems”, while Tanya Farrelly compares them to “Woody Allen at his best” and describes the book as “a side-splitting study on the absurdity of human behaviour.” The book features on The Lonely Crowd journal’s ‘Best Books of 2018’ list.

He has recently completed a sequel to Cheat Sheets and a new collection of poems, Exquisite Prisons, will be published in Spring 2020. At the moment he is having a go at writing a novel.

Éigse 2019 Musicians

Colm Mac Con Iomaire


This is Colm Mac Con Iomaire’s second time at Éigse and is sure to be another memorable performance. He is shortlisted in the RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards for Best Folk Instrumentalist. And his recently released 3rd solo album The River Holds Its Breath (Tost ar an Abhainn) is shortlisted in the Best Folk Album and Best Original Folk Track categories.

Colm has composed a number of film scores including the 2019 Oscar nominated short film Late Afternoon. He appears on multiple albums with The Frames and Swell Season and was a founder member of Kila.



‘Félann’ was formed by singer and violinist Anne Phelan, comprising of three Dublin based musicians from different musical genres.

The music of ‘Félann’ takes you on a journey, from 1930s/40s wartime Paris, with it’s vintage, melancholic French chanson and intimate cabaret feel, through to the spirited gypsy jazz and swing of ‘Hot Club’ Paris and the distinctive sounds of Stephane Grapelli and Django Reinhardt. We also perform passionate interpretations of jazz, blues and swing classics through to the mid-20th Century.

This union of voice, violin, guitar & bass cultivates the unique ‘Félann’ sound.

Eva Downey


Eva Downey, harpist is just 18 years old and lives in Newcastle West. She has enjoyed playing and performing music for as long as she can remember. In addition to playing a number of instruments, she is being voice trained with Olive Cowper.

She has performed for the former Vice President of America, Dan Quayle and Princess Electra (of the Marconi family). She envisages music as a big of her future career.

Micheál Rowsome



Tim Collins

Michael Collins

Trevor Sexton

UL String Ensemble led by Diane Daly

Diarmuid O’Brien


To contact Éigse send us a message using the contact form below or call us on 087 164 2130.

For details on accomadation options in Newcastle West and further information visit: http://www.newcastlewest.ie

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