The 32nd Goldsmith International Literary Festival was launched last Thursday evening at Ballymahon Community Library. The festival, which is the third longest running festival of its type, will take place as usual over the June Bank Holiday.
Founded thirty two years ago to celebrate the literary genius of Oliver Goldsmith and to promote Goldsmith Country as a tourist attraction, it has over the years explored many aspects of Goldsmith’s life and work. A huge variety of renowned critics, politicians, poets, commentators and academics have, by turns, stimulated, informed and amused audiences over the past three decades.
The 32nd annual festival is - in common with many other events this year - in a commemorative mood. This year’s Theme is “1916: Is the Pen Mightier than the Sword?” The opening event will take place on Saturday, June 4 at 11.15am in the convivial setting of the Goldsmith Reading Room, Ballymahon Community Library.
The festival will be officially opened by Ms Miriam Mulrennan, Arts Officer, Westmeath Co Council. This will be followed at 11.30am by a talk by the well-known historian Dr Brian Hanley, entitled “Shared History? Reflections on War and Revolution”. Dr Hanley’s talk will be chaired by Mary Gallagher, a grandniece of Eamon Ceannt.
The organisers of the popular festival are delighted to welcome back noted academic Dr Martin Mansergh to deliver a talk on “1916 – A Cultural Rising”. The chair for this event is Larry McCluskey, an old friend of the festival and noted educator and raconteur.
In a departure from the usual evening format the committee are delighted to host the incredibly talented singer/songwriter John Spillane. Fresh from a fantastic performance on The Late Late Show, this promises to be a night to remember in The Rustic Inn. This concert will follow a recital by Ballymahon’s much loved Inny Singers.
The Festival culminates on Sunday with the fifth annual Goldsmith Miscellany. This has proved a lovely addition to the programme. Chaired by Oliver Hegarty and featuring a number of short talks interspersed with music, this will also take place in the Goldsmith Room at Ballymahon Library. Speakers and contributors include Matt Nolan, Donal Mac an Bheatha, Jude Flynn, Anne Fitzgerald Tom Reid and Matt Fox. Once again, the committee are indebted to County Librarian Mary Carleton Reynolds and staff for allowing for the use of this lovely venue. Music for this event will be provided by Donie Keyes and Padraig Campbell.
The final event for 2016 takes place as usual at Goldsmith’s birthplace, Pallas, with the results of the children’s and adults’ poetry competitions organised under the aegis of the festival and adjudicated upon by award-winning Longford poet Noel Monahan.
The ever gracious hosts Joe and Chris Farrell of Pallas sponsor the annual cheese and wine reception with lots of age appropriate food and drink for the younger poets. Chaired by Anne Tully of the Festival Committee, the poetry competitions have received numerous extremely high quality entries from all over Ireland while the Children’s poetry competition will once again feature poetry by the children of primary schools in Goldsmith Country. Another old friend, flautist Gerry Bohan, will provide musical accompaniment.
The Goldsmith International Literary Festival has a very full and exciting programme of events and the hard working committee are looking forward to welcoming old friends and new to Goldsmith Country.
As always, the organisers acknowledge the invaluable sponsorship of their friends in Longford and Westmeath. A full list of sponsors will be acknowledged by publication in the local press.
For more info go to goldsmithfestival.ie