Saturday, September 17, 2005

Éigse Michael Hartnett

Today I was out in the lovely town of Newcastle West, for the second night of the Éigse Michael Hartnett, a poetry festival celebrating one of Ireland's most loved recent poets. It's a very personal affair, with relatives and friends remembering Hartnett though bawdy songs, poetry, music, food, and drink.

Last year was great craic and this time around it's proving to be just as much fun. The site was the Desmond Hall of the local Geraldine castle, built as early as 1298. It's been restored to a beautiful state, with other parts of the grounds following on. Candle lighting was well-suited to the occasion as Gabriel Fitzmaurice opened up the evening with his usual pithy introductions.

The first poet was John O’Donoghue whose intense delivery and dense texts are likely not to everyone's tastes, though he is undoubtedly a great wordsmith. He studies Hegel, which to some is a warning. Personally I enjoyed the reading but would have preferred a shorter dose.

No greater contrast could be found than in the lively delivery and spirited poems of Jackie Kay. Living in Manchester, born in Edinburgh, adopted, and with a Nigerian birth-father, she can certainly write from an outsider perspective. But she does so with such wit and verve that one never gets bogged down. Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) is filming one of her novels. You read it here first!

Providing musical interludes was none other than Niamh Dunne. I haven't seen her in some time, since she's busy summers travelling from festival to festival. Last year she went to Canada playing solo and with Díorma. (Scroll down on this page or search for her name.) She has also played with Beoga. A review of The Dunne Family CD Legacy should convince you to buy it.

The organisers, from Limerick County Council, have done a great job. I am so looking forward to tomorrow. Maybe see you there?



robin said...

It's hard to find so here's the actual schedule of events. Hope it's not too late to be of use.

robin said...

Well, the bus from Limerick was exactly on time. I was exactly one minute late. Guess who didn't make it to Newcastle West?

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