THIS weekend sees the return of in-person events as part of the West Cork Literary Festival.
The long-established festival has hosted online events throughout the pandemic and has dozens taking place this month, including live zooms, pre-recorded interviews, workshops and professional development.
This weekend organisers are holding a small number of outdoor events in a marquee outside Bantry House and Festival Director Eimear O’Herlihy is looking forward to seeing authors and book lovers in the flesh.
“Programming a festival during a pandemic has proved to be incredibly challenging whilst also throwing up some really interesting opportunities – and the balance between the two shifts from day to day,” she says.
“I’ve really missed meeting writers and audiences and seeing them interact with one another and I’m craving the buzz of seeing visitors and locals alike enjoying the festival atmosphere in our town.”
Guests include Graham Norton, Cauvery Madhavan, Anne Griffin and Rachel Donohue, Rónán Hession, Alannah Hopkin, Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe and Seán Hewitt, Lisa McInerney and Eimear Ryan, John Connell, and Louise Kennedy and Stephen Walsh.
Anne Griffin, who will appear alongside fellow novelist Rachel Donohue on Saturday, has a long connection with West Cork and arrived in the area some time ago. She has been staying on Cape Clear Island.
“I have a long history with Cape, my sister and her family have lived here for over 30 years, having emigrated from Dublin,” she explains.
“I’ve come every year since to visit. Significantly it was here in 2013 when I stayed for four months that I started to write. So this place is hugely significant to my writing.
“I’m here now for three weeks writing my third book.”
Anne’s second novel Listening Still was published by Sceptre in April 2021. Anne and Rachel will be in conversation with Sue Leonard tomorrow at 3pm.
Eimear acknowledged the challenge of finding the right combination of in-person and online events as the country begins to reopen. While there was a certainty in hosting events online during periods of severe restrictions, it is less simple now.
“Over the past year we have focused on supporting writers and doing everything we can to provide them with paid opportunities whilst also connecting them with readers,” she says.
“It has been wonderful seeing people tune in from all over the world and being able to present literary events throughout the year rather than focusing everything on one week.
“We love seeing the country opening up again but of course this does mean that people are less likely to tune into online events and we are also hosting some outdoor in-person events in an ever-changing landscape.
“It’s been quite the year but we are still here and we are more committed than ever to supporting the work of Irish and international writers at all stages of their careers.”
Appearing in the marquee before Anne and Rachel is Cauvery Madhavan, whose novel The Tainted is based on a true story of the Irish Connaught Rangers in south-east India in 1920. Cauvery will read from it today and will be in conversation with Elizabeth Rose Murray. Later that evening, Rónán Hession will be in conversation with Don O’Mahony about his new novel Panenka, the tale of a former footballer’s second chance at life.
For the full festival line-up see westcorkmusic.ie/LFprogramme