Listowel Once Again
On Wednesday 29th May the 42nd Listowel writers’ Week was opened by author and Broadcaster, John Bowman.
In September 2010, Noel represented James Joyce and Ireland in Russia in a celebratory week of international events marking the centennial of the death of Leo Tolstoy.
The high point of the evening was the announcement of the winner of the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year award worth €5,000. This year’s winner is Gavin Corbett for his novel This is the Way.
Anybody who was ever in Galway or who has watched TV on Christmas Day will be familiar with the film The Quiet Man starring John Wayne and Maureen O Hara. Not everyone will know that it was based on a short story of the same name written by Kerryman Maurice Walsh. It was published in the Saturday Evening Post on 11th February 1933 and the rest, as they say, is history.
And now Irish-American writer Frank Mahon has adapted it for stage and that’s what I forfeited lunch to see in Saint John’s Theatre and it was well worth it. I missed Colm Toibin’s reading in the Listowel Arms but I couldn’t be everywhere.
However I did make the lunch of Honor Donohoe’s and Maeve Devoy’s books Babylon and The Tell Tale Collection. The former is a moving story of an adopted girl’s search for her roots and the latter has been described as “ . . . a rich tapestry of Irish life woven from the fabric of the decades as seen through the eyes of subjects born in the 1920s right up to the turn of the century.”
Later in the evening Poets Corner an open mic session went on until . . .I’m not telling you!
Friday; The day (or my day anyway) started with Walk in the Shadow of the Famine, a walk around the famine trail of Listowel where we learned where thousands of victims were buried in mass-graves. The two wonderful tour guides were John Pierce and Michael Gueran. I learned of a website www.irishfaminepots.com which gives a lot of information and some lesser known facts about the great potato failure.
Mapping the Irish Famine was a revelation. Riveting discussions with Thomas Keneally, John Crowley, William J. Smyth and Mike Murphy was a wonderful education.
There are more than 100 events at the festival and by the time you read this I’ll have fitted in a fair few.