'Drawn to the Sea' was the theme of the 4th annual Write by the Sea festival in Kilmore Quay and hundreds of people were lured there from far and near at the weekend by an exciting programme of literary events.
The festival was launched by Wexford's own Cat Hogan who said so many great writers have been captivated by the sea, in the eternal search for that place where we understand that we are but a speck.
The author said Write by the Sea offered a 'world-class programme of national and international writers' and was successful in attracting support and funding because it has the local community firmly behind it.
Chairperson Lucy Moore thanked the hardworking committee and army of volunteers without whom the festival wouldn't happen, including those who seek out writers, apply for grants, organise publicity and put up signs.
Funding for the festival is a constant struggle and the festival is grateful to the Arts Council and Wexford County Council for sponsorship this year as well as the library service, RTÉ Supporting the Arts, Poetry Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and Ireland's Ancient East for support. She also thanked local businesses who 'dig deep' to help the event.
The chairperson had a special welcome for the 33 featured writers and workshop hosts at the festival, including two people from the Faculty of Georgia Southern University in Savannah, Bill Dawers and Amanda Konkle, who gave talks on the work of the acclaimed Wexford-American writer Flannery O' Connor.
Bill Dawers is chair of the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home in Savannah's Historic District and Dr Konkle is the author of the recently published 'Some Kind of Mirror: Creating Marilyn Monroe'. Dr Konkle gave a talk in the RNLI Lifeboat Station on Saturday morning about Marilyn Monroe at the end of her career.
Among the writers featured in the festival were Mike McCormack, Paula Meehan, Theo Dorgan, Sara Baume, Sinead Gleeson, Dermot Bolger, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Lisa Harding, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, Catherine Dunne, Sue Hubbard, Jackie Hayden, Ruth Fitzmaurice and Michelle Dooley Mahon.
Kevin Doyle presented a workshop on breaking into crime writing; Joe Brennan gave an introduction to oral storytelling; Dermot Bolger was interviewed by Professor Victor Merriman and Mike McCormack was interviewed by Theo Dorgan who also gave a reading titled 'The Writer as Navigator'; Derek Hand gave a talk on the work of John McGahern.
The acclaimed Irish poet Paula Meehan conducted a poetry writing workshop called the 'Dream Life of Poems' and also gave readings with Hilary Hares and teenage Wexford poet Sinead O'Reilly who has just been listed among the commended entrants in the prestigious Foyle Young Poets of the Year Awards 2019 for her poem 'Envelopes'.
Sinead was publicly congratulated by Cat Hogan who broke the news during her opening speech.
The winners in a writing competition judged by Dr. Richard Hayes of Waterford Institute of Technology (who also interviewed Sara Baume on Sunday) were Rosemary Tumelty in the Memoir category for her story 'The Homecoming'; Steven Wade in the Fiction section for 'Time and Tide'; and Daniel Wade in the Poetry category with 'Maude Jane Delap. Daniel was also announced as the overall competition winner.
Wexford wildlife artist Dave Daly was the featured artist at the festival with an exhibition of new paintings titled 'Drawn to the Sea'.