Wednesday 20 March 2019

Another successful chapter for the Literary Festival

Carmel Harrington finishes up as festival chair after five successful years at the helm

Anthony Cronin International Poetry Award winner Joan Morrissey, special guest Ann Haverty and Margaret Galvin
Anthony Cronin International Poetry Award winner Joan Morrissey, special guest Ann Haverty and Margaret Galvin
Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award winners, Michael Harney, third, Carmel Harrington, Wexford Literary Festival chairperson and A. Joseph Black, second
Dominic Palmer, Declan Dempsey, Billy Roche,John J. Kelly and David Butler at the festival launch

Now five years in, it seems that the Wexford Literary Festival is really beginning to come into its own. Not only does it provide some really fascinating talks and workshops with authors and people in the publishing industry, but it has also spawned its own community. People return to Enniscorthy each year especially for the event, joining new festival goers and meeting even more new people. In fact, at the Literary Festival, it's entirely possible that you could find yourself chatting over a cup of coffee to a multi-award winning, multi-million selling author without even realising it!

One of the growing features of the annual festival is the array of awards up for grabs, marketed to an international community of writers and bearing the names of literary heavyweights. The Billy Roche Short Play Award, The Colm Tóibín International Short Story Award, The Anthony Cronin International Poetry Award - all saw entries from across the world.

The festival launched with the Billy Roche Short Play Award at The Presentation Centre on Friday night with four of the shortlisted plays being read by the Wayside Players and Enniscorthy Drama Group.

While the standard was extremely high and all four were unique and engaging, it was Declan Dempsey from Wexford who scooped the prize with his play 'A Sergeant and A Gentleman'.

On the night, award-winning author Carmel Harrington announced that this would be her last year as Festival Chairperson, making way for fellow author Caroline Busher. 'I feel the festival is really alive now,' she said. 'A lot of people think literary festivals are not for them, but what we've built here is a festival that's about great books, great writers and great readers.'

Carmel, however, was determined to finish on a high with this festival, and it's safe to say she was successful to this end. Saturday saw a range of fascinating talks such as a fascinating author talk with international best-seller Adele Parks, a masterclass in sci-fi with Dr Sarah Cleary, Caroline Busher and 'Doctor Who' writer Andrew Cartmel and a fascinating discussion on 'writing crime' with Jane Casey, Shane Dunphy and legendary crime journalist Paul Williams, all expertly chaired by Karen Tomkins.

Finally, there was great excitement at The Athenaeum on Sunday as the awards winners were announced. UK based Jupiter Jones was declared winner of the Colm Tóibín Award for his short story 'The Moth', while the Anthony Cronin Award went to Kerry native and Dublin based poet Joan Morrissey for 'Wash Day'. Concluding matters for this year, Ms Harrington thanked everyone for their support of the festival during her time in the chair and wished her successor Caroline Busher the very best for the event's continued success.

Enniscorthy Guardian