Literary Festival takes first bold step

Junior Minister Brendan Griffin with Skellig Hotel Sales and Marketing Manager Miriam Ferriter (left) and Dingle Literary Festival founder Sheila O’Reilly at the festival launch in the Skellig Hotel on Friday night. Photo by Declan Malone
Junior Minister Brendan Griffin with Skellig Hotel Sales and Marketing Manager Miriam Ferriter (left) and Dingle Literary Festival founder Sheila O’Reilly at the festival launch in the Skellig Hotel on Friday night. Photo by Declan Malone

It took only six months for the Dingle Literary Festival to progress from an idea to a reality and already there are great hopes that it will become a bright spot in the cultural life of West Kerry.

At the launch of the inaugural festival in the Skellig Hotel on Friday night, Festival Director Sheila O'Reilly recounted how she and Camilla Dinkel of the Dingle Bookshop had dreamt up the festival during the course of a conversation in Keane's pub in Ballyferriter during the summer. At the time they wondered "if it was a mad idea that would work"; at the launch of Friday Tourism Minister Brendan Griffin felt the festival was already on its way to achieving that.

"It's a massive leap of faith to put yourself out there, but it's already a tremendous success looking at the programme for the weekend," he said. "I've no doubt there's a very bright future ahead for the festival.

Minster Griffin said the festival was too late to apply for funding this year but added: "Hopefully for next year the State and its agencies will come firmly behind you".

In the absence of State funding the festival relied on local support this year and Sheila said the organisers were overwhelmed by the response from local individuals and businesses and the volunteers who have been "phenomenal, inspiring and energising".

The dream of the organisers is to build a literary festival that will become part of the Dingle Peninsula creative landscape, focusing on the literary arts in English and Irish and it set about that task with a very busy programme of workshops, readings, talks, and book launches over the weekend. The lives and writings of Maidhc Dainín Ó Sé and Danny Sheehy were celebrated at events in Halla na Feothanaí and An Díseart respectively, Dairena Ní Chinnéide launched 'Deleted' - her first collection of English language poetry, Trevis Gleason launched his second 'Dinners' cookbook, and there was much more besides. The events were well attended, the response was enthusiastic and the future of the fledgling festival does indeed look bright.

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