Sunday 19 November 2017

Gulliver travels to Howth for literary festival

Celebration: Swift was a regular visitor to Howth Castle, and the seaside village's literary festival is dedicating a series of talks to the author.
Celebration: Swift was a regular visitor to Howth Castle, and the seaside village's literary festival is dedicating a series of talks to the author.

John spain

A series of talks on Jonathan Swift will be one of the many interesting events at this year's Howth Literary & Arts Festival, which runs from June 10 to 12.

Swift was a regular visitor to Howth Castle - he sat for the portrait which hangs in the dining room while there - and many of the festival events will take place in the environs of the castle.

Harvard Professor Leo Damrosch, author of Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World, will take part in the series, which will be moderated by Trinity College's Professor Brendan Twomey.

Also taking part in the Swift strand are historians James Kelly of St Patrick's College and Moyra Haslett of Queen's University Belfast, as well as economist David McWilliams.

The 'In Conversation With' events at the festival will include Claire Kilroy, Catherine Dunne, Michele Forbes, John Boyne, Hilary Fannin and Joe Duffy, as well as poets Adam Wyeth and Nuala Ní Chonchúir. One of the attractions of the Howth Festival, apart from the glorious surroundings, is its boutique nature. Many of the 'In Conversation With' events take place in the historic Lutyens Library in the castle with just 80 seats in the semi-round, making them unusually intimate encounters with the writers.

The Howth Festival this year has been widened to include drama, cultural history and visual arts as well as writers and books.

Art historian Frances Ruane and painter Una Sealy will explore the legacy of the painter Patrick Collins, who lived and worked in Howth Castle in the 1950s.

Marja Almquist, of The Yarn School, and historian Mary McAuliffe of UCD will present The 77 Women Commemoration Quilt Project, in which each quilt panel tells the story of one woman from 1916 and one from today.

The drama strand will include a play about WB Yeats, who spent part of his childhood in a house above the cliffs on Balscadden Road in Howth. The Curlew Theatre Company is planning to stage The Muse & Mr Yeats, a 'play for voices' performed by Tegolin Knowland and Sean Coyne, written by Eamon Grennan. It presents the women with whom Yeats was romantically involved, each one chosen in her turn as his 'muse'. Marina Carr (dramatist), Olwen Foueré (actor) and Fiona MacIntosh (scholar) will be discussing Greek mythology and drama in an exchange moderated by Abbey Theatre director Fiach Mac Conghail. And Saturday evening will include a reading by Owen Roe of George Bernard Shaw's Roger Casement speech, in conversation with Karin McCully.

Children's literature remains an important part of the north Dublin festival and this year the events, which will take place on Sunday, June 12 just outside the main gate of Howth Castle in St Mary's Church parish centre, sees the return of the Book Doctors from Children's Books Ireland and the talented crew from Fighting Words, who will hold a writing workshop. John Boyne, author of the bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and The Boy at the Top of the Mountain, will be reading from his latest novel and answering questions.

For full details of all events, see

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