Exciting line-up announced for Éigse Michael Hartnett

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Wednesday, April 2nd 2014

Author Claire Kilroy, Grammy-award winning singer/songwriter Susan McKeown, historian Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, Limerick mountaineer Mark Quinn and photographer John Minihan are amongst the confirmed participants of this year’s Éigse Michael Hartnett in Newcastle West, County Limerick from April 10-12th.
The renowned poet and novelist, Theo Dorgan has taken up the reins as President of the exciting and wide-ranging festival celebrating the life and work of Newcastle West’s most famous son, poet Michael Hartnett. Hartnett, who wrote both English and Irish poems, was born in County Limerick in 1941 and died in Dublin in 1999. He is regarded as one of the most significant voices in late 20th century Irish writing.

The annual festival is considered one of Ireland's largest annual gatherings of contemporary poets. Among the other confirmed participants of this year’s festival are author Sheila O’ Flanagan, writer and comedian Sonya Kelly, tenor Brian Hartnett, Limerick artist Ciaran O’Sullivan, tenor Brian Hartnett, artist Micheál Rowsome, musician Paul Dunworth, and poets Eileen Sheehan, Martina Evans and John W. Sexton.

Theo Dorgan, who was a friend of Michael Harnett and who has been a long-time supporter of the festival, commented: “Éigse Uí Hairtnéide is a kind of miracle, a continuing statement in dark times that we are no mean people, that we are not yet beaten down into the clay. The Festival celebrates imagination and all those who live and work by craft and imagination.”

Festival Coordinator, Bríd Quinn of the Limerick Arts Office commented: “This festival is grounded in the community and we want to make it as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, giving people the opportunity to hear and engage with the standard bearers in poetry, writing and critical thinking in Ireland and internationally. Many of the events over the festival weekend are free or just have a nominal admission fee.”

The festival will be officially launched on Thursday April 10th at 8pm at Newcastle West Library where Ireland’s most celebrated photographer, John Minihan will deliver the Keynote Address. Minihan photographed many writers including Samuel Beckett, Edna O’ Brien and of course, Michael Hartnett. His work also includes the iconic snap of a 19-year-old Lady Diana Spencer in the garden of the nursery she worked at.

Opening night will also feature the presentation of the Michael Hartnett Poetry Award with a reading from the winning poets work, Mark Roper and Jo Slade. Proceedings then move to the Shamrock Bar for Body Talk – a mixture of dance, storytelling, movement and poetry – featuring Micheál Rowsome with music by Paul Dunworth. Earlier in the day and again on Friday morning, poets Eileen Sheehan and John W. Sexton and Limerick mountaineer Mark Quinn will visit schools throughout County Limerick.

Friday (April 11) will feature a performance by Creative Dance in the Courtney Lodge with Gravity, Rush and Braking Bad. The performance is choreographed by Dancer in Residence Mary Hartney and will include a series of duets from Spoken Dance. On Friday afternoon, Sonny Egan will host storytelling, music and song with the residents of St. Ita’s Community Hospital, while Spoken Dance will be joined in performance by a host of local dance artists in Diamonds on the ‘Soles of Her Shoes’ at The Red Door.

Friday evening sees the launch of an exhibition by Limerick artist Ciaran O’Sullivan at the Red Door. Vincent Hanley will officiate at the event.

On Friday night, the atmospheric Medieval Desmond Hall will host an evening of poetry, prose and song. ‘A Banquet of Word and Song’ brings an eclectic mix to the table from poet Martina Evans, author Sheila O’ Flanagan and tenor Brian Hartnett. To round off the night, the County Council Area Office will host Sonya Kelly’s highly acclaimed one-woman show, ‘The Wheelchair on my Face’.

Saturday morning opens with Professor Diarmaid Ferriter delivering the Michael Hartnett Memorial Lecture. This year it bears the intriguing title ‘Scrambling for the bones of the patriot dead’. Saturday afternoon kicks off with the annual rendition of ‘The Ballad of Salad Sunday’ in Ned Lynch’s followed by The Hartnett Viva Voce in the Shamrock Bar, where prize money will be awarded for the best original poem and the best performed Hartnett poem. Meanwhile, the Newcastle West Area Office will be the venue for an event featuring poet Theo Dorgan, author Claire Kilroy and Grammy-award winning singer/songwriter Susan McKeown.

Other festival highlights include Club na hÉigse, an informal, open, lively gathering of audience and guests in which Éigse closes with song and poetry.

The inaugural Éigse Michael Hartnett was first held in 2000. Past participants include the Jorie Graham, Pat McCabe, Fintan O’Toole, Carol Ann Duffy, Patrick Hederman, Paul Durcan, Thomas Lynch, John Waters, Leanne O'Sullivan, Alice Taylor and the late Nuala O Faolain. Previous festivals have attracted literary and arts enthusiasts from all over North America and Europe.

Full details and updates of the Éigse Michael Hartnett programme are available from the Limerick Arts Office on 061 407 372 / arts@limerickcoco.ie or www.eigsmichaelhartnett.ie.

Last update:02/04/2014

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