Exhibition: The Life and Times of John O’Connor
Venue: Armagh County Museum.
Exhibition: Words Melted into Motion
Venue: Armagh County Museum
A BBC exhibition about the poet, W. R. Rodgers.
Bookstore: No Alibis
Venue: Charlemont Arms Hotel and at event venues.
Book signings: Friday and Saturday, 2nd and 3rd November (venues as above)
Mick Conway, a cross platform artist, will be picking up images and sounds from the city and the Writing School events and creating prints that can be order via John O’Connor Writing School.
The John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival gets off to a fine start with the launch of the exciting historical novel, The Flight of the Wren, by award-winning Portadown author, Orla McAlinden. The novel, which explores penal transportation during the Great Famine and is published by Mentor Press, Dublin was a winner at the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair in 2016. In the same year Orla was awarded the Cecil Day Lewis Emerging Writer Bursary and also the Bord Gais Energy Short Story of the Year Award. Libraries NI chose her first book, The Accidental Wife, as the Armagh Big Read 2017.
This is a free, family friendly public event and light refreshments will be available.
This event is supported by Libraries NI.
‘WR Rodgers is a latterday metaphysical who apprehends the divine through the senses, The Word through words… In his best poetry we find the Word made flesh, melted into motion” – Michael Longley.
The poet William Robert Rodgers (known to all as ‘Bertie’) was born in Belfast, but minister at Cloveneden Presbyterian Church near Loughall from 1935 to 1946, when he left County Armagh to take a job in the BBC as a producer and scriptwriter. In this discussion, hosted by William Crawley, the poets Paul Muldoon and Michael Longley, Professor Fran Brearton of Queen’s University, Belfast and the Rev Dr. Robert Tosh, formerly Senior Producer Religious Programmes, BBC Northern Ireland, will consider Rodgers in his roles as poet, preacher and BBC producer. There will be extracts from some of the many distinguished radio productions in which he was involved, including his first radio script, City Set on a Hill, a portrait of Armagh producted by Louis MacNeice in the BBC’s Belfast studios in 1945. The event will pay tribute to John O’Connor, referring to stories produced by Paul Muldoon during his own time at the BBC.
William Crawley is an award-winning journalist and broadcaster with the BBC. Since 2014, he has hosted BBC Radio Ulster’s daily current affairs programme Talkback, while the previous twelve years he hosted its weekly religion and ethics programme, Sunday Sequence.
Fran Brearton is Professor of Modern Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast. She recently edited and annotated Robert Grave’s First Wold War memoir, Good-bye to All That, for Penquin Classics (2014).
Paul Muldoon has won numerous awards for poetry, most recently the 2017 Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, and the Seamus Heaney Award for Arts and Letters. Born in Portadown, Co. Armagh, and brought up near The Moy, Co. Tyrone, he now lives in New York City and is Chair of Poetry at Princeton. He has been described by the Literary Times Supplement as ‘the most significant English-language poet born since the Second World War.’
Michael Longley has published eleven collections of poetry. His most recent collection, Angel Hill, came out in 2017, as did Sidelines: Selected Prose 1962-2015. His previous collection, The Stairwell (2014), won the Griffin International Prize. In 2001 he received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, and he has won the Whitbread Prize for Poetry, the Hawthornden Prize, the T.S. Eliot Prize and the PEN Pinter prize. From 2007 to 2010 he was Ireland Professor of Poetry.
Rev. Dr. Bert Tosh is an Irish Presbyterian minister who served in congregations in Belfast, Donegal and Londonderry before joining the BBC in Northern Ireland as a Religious Broadcasting Producer in 1984. He retired two years ago but continues to dabble in broadcasting.
Please note: in addition to this event, a BBC exhibition ‘Words Melted into Motion’ about the poet W.R. Rodgers is available to view at Armagh County Museum throughout the festival weekend during Museum opening hours. This is free to visit.
Panel discussion with writers Anthony Quinn and Gerard Brennan facilitated by David Torrans of No Alibis Bookstore.
The crime fiction genre is a wide and varied literary construct. Two distinctive strands involve place and environment: the urban and the rural. Join us for an evening with two masters of the genre, reading the dark and gritty streets and ploughing through the murky dark of the countryside.
David Torrans established No Alibis Bookstore in 1997. Initially specialising in the selling of a wide variety of Crime Fiction, he has recently expanded into pubishing with the creation of No Alibis Press in 2017.
Anthony Quinn is the author of eight novels, the latest of which is The Listeners, published in December, 2018. His debut novel, Disappeared, was picked up by the Daily Mail as its Crime Novel of the Year, and by The Times as one of the Best Books of the Year. He lives in Co. Tyrone with his wife and four children.
Gerard Brennan recently earned his PhD in Creative Writing from Queen’s University Belfast. His publishing credits include Undercover (2014), Wee Rockets (2012) and The Point (2011). In 2012, he was winner of the Spinetingler Award for Best Novella in 2012. His most recent novel is Disorder, published by No Alibis Press in 2018.
A new translation by Paul Muldoon of Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire (The Lament of Art O’Leary), the greatest love poem in the Irish language. Composed in 1773 by O’Leary’s widow, Eileen, it tells the story of a young hussar’s persecution and murder by a tyrannical British landowner, Abraham Morris. This production features original music composed by Jim Lockhart and performed by members of Horslips – Barry Devlin, Johnny Fean, Ray Fean, and Jim Lockhart. The Lament for Art O’Leary stars Lisa Dwan as Eileen O’Leary, Ruth Smith as Art’s sister, and Paul Muldoon as Art’s father.
Paul Muldoon has won numerous awards for poetry, most recently the 2017 Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, and the Seamus Heaney Award for Arts and Letters. Born in Portadown, Co. Armagh, and brought up near The Moy, Co. Tyrone, he now lives in New York City and is Chair of Poetry at Princeton. He has been described by The Times Literary Supplement as ‘the most significant English-language poet born since the the Second World War.’
Lisa Dwan is an Irish stage, film and television actor, best known for her Beckett work on stage, as Zoe Burke in the Irish soap opera, Fair City, and as Deirdre in Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog.
Jim Lockhart is a musician, composer, radio and TV producer and member of the Celtic Rock Band, Horslips.
Barry Devlin is an Irish musician, screenwriter and director, and member of the Celtic Rock Band, Horslips.
Ruth Smith is a musician, actor, teacher and producer living in Co. Clare. She is a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and one third of the female vocal and instrumental trio, The Evertides.
The immitable and humorous Glenn Patterson shares insights into his life and work as a writer with the poety, Kate Newmann.
Glenn Patterson was born, and lives, in Belfast. The author of ten novels, most recently Gull, he has also published to collections of non-fiction and a memoir, Once Upon a Hill: Love in Troubled Times. He is the co-writer (with Colin Carberry) of Good Vibrations (BBC Films) and wrote the libretto for Long Story Short: The Belfast Opera. In 2017 he was appointed Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast.
Kate Newmann is one of Ireland’s finest poets, who, with her mother, the Armagh-born poet, Joan Newmann, is co-founder of Summer Palace Press.
‘A fascinating, superbly researched and revelatory book – told with tremendous pace and excitement.’ – William Boyd
The true story of the Special Operations Executive heroines who fought to free Nazi-occupied France. This fascinating story shows how much each agent depended on the judgements, courage and actions of their colleagues, French counterparts and London HQ, and how their individual contributions combined to great effect.
There were thirty-nine women among the four hundred-plus agents in SOE’s French section. A third of them would not survive the war. Stroud focuses on six, whose diverse stories, achievements and fates provide a very personal and poignant way into its history.
Rick Stroud is a producer, director and writer. As well as Lonely Courage, he has written The Book of the Moon, The Phantom Army of Alamein and Kidnap in Crete. With Victor Gregg, he has co-authored Rifleman, A Front Line Life, King’s Cross Kid and Soldier Spy. He is a trustee of the London Library.
‘He is a true original and more than one generation would be much poorer without him’ – The Times.
Roger McGough’s new show features a fine selection of vintage, classic and surprising poems. It’s a gala gig that’s making waves!
Hilarious and surreal, McGough is a poet of many voices. Menace and melancholy there may be, but with plenty of McGough’s characteristic wit and wordplay too. His latest book, It Never Rains, is a collection of new verses with drawings by the author. President of the Poetry Society, he has been honoured with a CBE for services to literature and the Freedom of the City of Liverpool. Widely known for Lily the Pink, the Aintree Iron, Scaffold, GRIMMS, The Mersey Sound with Adrian Henri and Brian Patten, he now presents the long-running Poetry Please on BBCR4. His Molière adaptations travel far and wide with English Touring Theatre. The beat goes on. @McgoughRoger
2017 encompassed more McGough milestones than the average year. The fiftieth anniversary of the iconic and top-selling Penguin Modern Poets No. 10 – The Mersey Sound by Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten. The the summer of ’67 epic poem of love and lust, Summer with Monika, republished and newly illustrated by Chris Riddell. McGough has had a host of country-wide dates with The Bootleg Beatles and the RPLO in It Was Fifty Years Ago Today, which sold out the Royal Albert Hall in hours. November, Roger’s significant birthday month, saw the publication of 80 – a selection of poems for children (Puffin). The beat goes on. @McgoughRoger
‘Rueful, unpredictable observation to please the sharpest wits’ – The Independent.
This event is followed by a book signing in the Oak Room of the Charlemont Arms Hotel, 57-65 Upper English Street at 9pm.
This event is supported by the Seamus Heaney HomePlace
The books say there are five stages of grief – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Anger. Didn’t got that way for me. Mine were Crying, Drinking a lot, Feeling guilty about drinking, Drinking more and Passing Out…and that was just in one evening.
Five years after the sudden death of her partner, Nuala McKeever is back on stage with a new work that explores the process of coming back to life after the person you love dies. With dark humour and savage honesty she lays bare the struggles in an often hilarious journey from over-thinking to understanding. Part drama, part stand up, Laugh After Death is a deeply personal, ultimately uplifting, story of one woman’s attempt to find peace in free-fall.
Just before the debut of her new show, Laugh After Death, which opens at the Lyric Theatre in November 7th, we have the opportunity to hear Nuala present extracts from the piece and talk about the five-year process of writing it, with time for questions from the audience.
Nuala McKeever, Northern Ireland’s Queen of Comedy, first came to public attention in the BBC NI sitcom, Give My Head Peace, followed by her own comedy character show, McKeever, on UTV.
‘A voice that could tame dinosaurs’ – Culture Northern Ireland
Following their unforgettable appearance at last year’s John O’Connor Celebration Evening. Gareth Dunlop and Lisa Lambe are back to perform at our Festival Club. These astonishing songsters and performers will have you begging for more. Do not miss this one-off pairing!
Lisa Lambe is an Irish singer and actress and a former member of the ensemble, Celtic Women. She is hailed as ‘the finest singer and actress of her generation on whom a whole foundation of theatre could be built’ (Fintan O’Toole).
‘Norah Jones meets Alison Krauss’ – audience member, John O’Connor Festival, 2017.
‘When she opened her mouth to sing, you could have heard a pin drop’ – audience member, John O’Connor Festival, 2017.
Gareth Dunlop is one of the finest musicians, performers, and songwriters of his generation. His songs have been place in TV shows including One Tree Hill, House and Cougar Town. He is a regular visitor to Nashville where he has worked alongside hit songwriters and artists including Mike Reid and John Oates. He has played with Van Morrisson, Snow Patrol, and Jools Holland.
Guest support from Jake Curran and John McCullough.
Jake Curran is a professional guitarist and session musician from Dublin. He has just completed a tour with Niall Horan from One Direction.
John McCullough is a pianist and a keyboard player from Ireland. He has worked with many different artists and bands including The Waterboys and Van Morrission.
Venue: Charlemont Arms Hotel, 57-65 Upper English Street & various venues
Book signings: Friday, 2nd Nov and Saturday 3rd Nov (venue as above)
Industry Talks are part of the Writing school Programme. Limited places are free to the public are available. Places are allocated at the venue on first-come, first-served basis
Each of our Writing School courses is supplemented with an informative and interactive Industry Talk, which gives students, and a limited number of members of the public, the opportunity to engage at first hand with some of the most respected writers in Ireland and the UK.
Poetry – Roger McGough
Venue: Marketplace Theatre, 9 Market Street.
Fiction – Robert McCrum and Joanna Mackle
Venue: AmmA Centre, Market Street
Screenwriting – Daragh Carville
Venue: AmmA Centre, Market Street
Playwriting – Emma Jordan
Venue: Marketplace Theatre
Venue: Marketplace Theatre, 9 Market Street
Venue: AmmA Centre, Market Street
Venue: AmmA Centre
Venue: Marketplace Theatre
For Primary School children aged 6+
Venue: Armagh City Library, 2 Market Street.
Price: FREE – but needs to be booked in advance, tel Armagh City Library – 028 3752 4072
Saturday 3rd Nov | 12.00pm – 1.00pm
Using the media of poetry pebbles and sketching, Mick will work with a group of children to sketch an image and develop an associated poem. Fun for all!
Mick Conway was a boarder at St Patrick’s College Armagh in the 1960s. He accidentally fell into the wonderful world of children’s play in 1978 and has been a play worker and writer on play work theory and practice ever since. He believes that children are the most creative people on the planet – and they can prove it! This will be an unforgettable poetry and play session for your child. All materials provided.
This event is supported by Libraries NI
Venue: The Charlemont Arms Hotel, 57-65 Upper English Street
Price: £5 (please note that this is free for Writing School students)
Saturday 3rd Nov | 12.30pm – 1.30pm
Hosted by Adrian Moynes, Chairperson, The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, a panel of publishers and authors share their experience and advice in an open forum. Whether your work is fact or fiction, verse or drama, this is your chance to pose your questions about how to be published.
The panel includes Alexandra Pringle of Bloomsbury Publishing, Patsy Horton of Blackstaff Press, David Torrans of No Alibis Press and the writers Rosemary Jenkinson and Orla McAlinden.
Join author and critic Robert McCrum and the British Museum’s Deputy Director Joanna Mackle, as they talk about their joint experience of working at the coal-face of international literary publishing when they were working at Faber & Faber in the 1980s. During this time they collaborated with some of the world’s greatest contemoporary writers, including the Irish greats John McGahern, Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, and Paul Muldoon.
Joanna Mackle is from Northern Ireland and is Deputy Director of the British Museum. She oversees its exhibitions, public programme, communications, marketing, digitial, national and international engagement.
Prior to this Joanna worked for Faber & Faber and was responsible for major writers such as Kazuo Ishiguro, Seamus Heaney, Harold Pinter and Paul Auster.
Robert McCrum was Editor-in-Chief of Faber & Faber fron 1980-1986, where he published such writers as Kazuo Ishiguro, Milan Kundera, Marilynne Robinson, and Hanif Kureishi. He was associate editor with The Observer (UK) until recently.
His account of his stroke, My Year Off (1998), is in its third edition as Picador Classic. Every Third Thought was published in August 2017.
Born in Co. Armagh to an Irish father and an Italian mother, Susan Lynch is one of Ireland’s leading actors. She has shared the screen with Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt and Ewan McGregor, and played the lead role in Pat Murphy’s 2000 film Nora, about the life of Nora Joyce.
She is well known for her work in television – from Cracker to Happy Valley.
A three-time IFTA award winner, Lynch recently starred in the award nominated Bad Day for the Cut. ‘A captivating performance that anchors the film’ – The Guardian
Susan is joined by the playwrite and screenwriter, Daragh Carville, in conversation about her life and career.
Daragh Carville’s many plays include Language Roulette (1996-7), What We’re Made Of (2016), Observatory (1999), Family Plot (2005), This Other City (2009), and The Life and Times of Mitchell and Kenyon (2014). Television credits including Being Human, 6 Degrees and The Smoke. He teaches scriptwriting at Birkbank College and is currently working on a major new drama series for BBC Northern Ireland, due to screen in 2019.
Venue: Armagh Robinson Library, 43 Abbey Street
Saturday 3rd Nov | 4.30pm – 5.30pm
Please note that this event replaces ‘Things to Leave Behind. Namita Gokhale in Conversation with Darran McCann’ which has had to be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.
The John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Programmes is very excited to announce that, at short notice, renowned journalist and author Fintan O’Toole is available to attend the Festival and to give a talk on his new book, ‘Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain’ – ahead of its publication date of 15 November (Head of Zeus).
Fintan O’Toole is a columnist with the Irish Times and Leonard L. Milberg visiting lecturer in Irish Letters at Princeton University. His new book on Brexit will be published in November and he is working on the official biogrpahy of Seamus Heaney.
Born in Dublin in 1958, he has been drama critic of In Dublin magazine, The Sunday Tribune, the New York Daily News, and The Irish Times and Literary Adviser to the Abbey Theatre. He edited Magill magazine and since 1988, has been a columnist with the Irish Times. He contributes regularly to the New York Review of Books.
Other books include A History of Ireland in 100 Objects (2018). Enough is Enough (2010). Ship of Fools (2009), The Irish Times Book of 1916 Rising (2006), White Savage: William Johnson and the Invention of America (2005), After the Ball (2003), Shakespeare is Hard but so if Life (2002); The Irish Times Book of the Century (1999); A Traitor’s Kiss: The Life of Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1997); The Lie of the Land: Selected Essays (1997); The Ex-Isle of Erin (1996); Black Hole, Green Card (1994); Meanwhile Back at the Ranch (1995); A Mass for Jesse James (1990) and the Politics of Magic: The Work and times of Tom Murphy (1987).
This event is supported by British Council NI.
Armagh Connections, a lecture delivered by Eric Villiers, celebrates two generations of writers, poets, painters, scientists, sailors, explorers and musicians whose national and international fame has been neglected and written out of history: people who fell between the two stools – non Irish enough to be remembered by the Irish-Ireland emerging between the 1880s and the 1920s, and not British enough to be celebrated by the London-centric narrative.
Eric Villiers, a journalist and history researcher, has written two books on forgotten Irish celebrities, John King, Ireland’s Forgotten Explorer: Australia’s First Hero and The Story of Mary Connolly, an ex-miner and bare-footed street singer who rose to fame as a concert mezzo soprano.
‘A music-and-literature extravaganza’ – Time Out
Join us for fun and frolics at Muldoon’s Picnic – making its way back to Armagh where it debuted for the first time of New York, in 2016.
How would you describe a poet with a house band and a selection of guest artists from the worlds of literature and music?
Paul Muldoon calls it an ‘omnium-gatherum’ – a variety show. It’s about songs, poems, stories – and fun. Join Paul and his guests for an unforgettable evening’s entertainment. Guests include fiction writers Lisa McInerney and Paul McVeigh, poets Mark Doty, Maureen Boyle and Peter Fallon; with music from Horslips.
Paul Muldoon has won numerous awards, most recently the 2017 Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, and the Seamus Heaney Award for Arts and Letters. Born in Co. Armagh, he now lives in New York City. Muldoon is the author of twelve major collections of poetry.
Horslips are the Irish Rock Legends regarded as the founding fathers of ‘Celtic Rock’. They formed in 1980 and ‘retired’ in 1980! Never! ‘As for the Táin, it most definitely, saved my life. Epic stuff. Literally’.- John Kelly, RTE.
Peter Fallon is a prize-winning Irish poet, member of Aosdána, and publisher of the Gallery Press. He possesses a unique and unparalled track record as an editor and assembler of books.
Lisa McInerney’s The Glorious Heresies, won the 2016 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her second novel, The Blood Miracles, won the 2018 RSL Encore Award. ‘A preposterously gifted writer’ – The New Statesman.
Paul McVeigh’s The Good Son won The Polari First Novel Prize and The McCrea Literary Award. His short story ‘Hollow’ was shortlisted for Irish Short Story of the Year at the Irish Books Awards 2017.
Mark Doty is a renowned author of poetry and prose. He is currently at work on a memoir that centres on his poetic relationship with Walt Whitman, entitled What is Grass?
Maureen Boyle’s debut poetry collection, The Work of a Winter, is published by Arlen House Press. She has won the Ireland Chair of Poetry Prize and the Fish Short Memoir Prize.
As this year’s festival comes to a close, please join us for an informal and relaxed Sunday afternoon with an impressive line-up of writers, singers, musicians and poets. The line-up includes performance poet David Braziel, song master Tony Villiers, poet Therese Kieran, Martelle McPartland and the John O’Connor Creative Writers, Flash Fiction Armagh, Byddi Lee, the John O’Connor Writing School 2018 Short Story Competition winner – and more!
David Braziel lives in Portadown. He is an award winning performance poet who has performed at festivals and events all across Ireland. He has been widely published including having a number of poems broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster. His one-man show, Too Big for Words, debuted in Belfast in 2017.
Therese Kieran, born in Co. Armagh, is an Irish Writer’s Centre XBorders: Accord 2018 participant. In 2017 her poems were highly commended in Imagine Belfast Poetry & Politics Competition. Also in 2017, she was long-listed for the Seamus Heaney New Writing Award.
Martelle McPartland is a poet, playwright, editor, script writer, arts facilitator and creative writing tutor based in Lurgan, Co. Armagh. She has won many awards for her short stories, notably as a finalist in the Bridport. She is facilitator of the John O’Connor Creative Writers.
Byddi Lee grew up in Armagh and has since lived in South Africa, Canada, California and Paris before returning home to live in her home city. She has published flash fiction, short stories and, in 2014, her novel March to November. She organises Flash Fiction Armagh.
Tony Villiers from Armagh continues to make waves in the music world. ‘Superb songwriting rooted in great tradition’ – Ralph McLean, BBC Radio Ulster.