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    Irish literary festivals

    You can meet award-winning authors, Hollywood stars, critics, readers and writers (and sometimes all in the pub) at Ireland’s many literary festivals

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    Listowel Writers' Festival

    Heavyweights of the book world

    “I love literary festivals,” says multi-award winning Irish crime novelist Tana French, “because you’re surrounded by people interested in the same things.”

    Perhaps the biggest literary festival in Ireland is Listowel Writers’ Week in late spring in County Kerry. Established in 1970, it has attracted international heavyweights such as JM Coetzee, Kazuo Ishiguro, Lionel Shriver and Germaine Greer to its relaxed atmosphere.

    In fact, it’s the mixture of talent and fun that creates the magic.

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    Aspects Literary Festival

    Pubs, pints and meeting readers

    Playwright Michael West says, “Listowel is great because everyone likes books, of course, but they like to talk even more, so these household names go from pub to pub having deep chats with readers over a pint. It’s all a bit seat-of-the-pants, but that’s its charm. You’ll see big Hollywood stars get up, read something out and then wander around seeing what else is going on.”

    For something offbeat, the Ennis Book Club Festival began when an enterprising book club identified a need for a new literary event for Ennis in County Clare. The festival celebrates the joy of reading, and typical audiences include avid readers, those looking for inspiration, and even those who haven’t picked up a book in years!

    Soak up your location

    Most of the literary festivals you’ll find dotted across the island of Ireland are set in the most beautiful of locations. Take the West Cork Literary Festival. Set in Bantry, the festival takes places across multiple locations across Bantry in West Cork, with the likes of Graham Norton and crime writer Catherine Ryan Howard stopping by for talks.

    Another scenic location is Bangor, in County Down where you’ll find the five-day Aspects Festival in Bangor. With crashing sea waves as a bonus audience member, the festival has had James Naughtie, Ardal O’Hanlon and Colin Bateman along for readings and talks. Aspects also offers plenty of practical help for aspiring writers, including workshops from Oscar-nominee, director Tim Loane.

    “It’s like a mini holiday,” says French. “Crime writers tend to be the most cheerful people you’ll meet,” she says. “I think it’s because whenever they have a dark thought they get it out on paper, so they’re great fun when they come to the pub!”

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    Dublin Book Festival

    Like the sound of that? Try these…


    Cúirt International Festival of Literature, Galway city: Cúirt is renowned for its great atmosphere and is one of Ireland’s largest, with around Irish and international 60 authors appearing annually.


    Belfast Book Festival, Belfast: poetry slams, live music, book talks and free events take place in Belfast’s Crescent Arts Centre, as well as venues such as the Black Box, Ulster Museum and the Linen Hall Library.


    John Hewitt International Summer School, Armagh: established in 1987, this annual festival celebrates the life and work of renowned Northern Irish poet John Hewitt.


    Dublin Book Festival: an exciting chance for writers to experience Dublin's unique literary culture and to learn from some of the world's best authors, publishers and industry experts.