Good times taken as read at Ennis Book Club Festival

The Ennis Book Club Festival (March 7-9) is a reader’s delight. “Other literary festivals are about writing skills and getting published. Our workshops are different. One of our really popular events is called ‘Ten Books You Should Read’,” says chairperson, Ciana Campbell.

This event will be presented by English teacher and critic, Niall MacMonagle, and Professor Margaret Kelleher, from UCD. Niall’s brother, John MacMonagle, a graphic design artist, will present an illustrated talk, ‘Judging a Book by its Cover’.

For the official opening, actor and writer, Pat Kinevane, will perform his acclaimed show, Silent, at Glór.

Journalist and writer, Martin Sixsmith (author of The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, which was made into the Oscar-nominated film, Philomena) and novelist, Dónal Ryan, author of the Man Booker long-listed novel, The Spinning Heart, will read from their work and will be interviewed by Seán Rocks, presenter of RTÉ Radio One’s Arena.

Acclaimed travel writer, Dervla Murphy, and writer and broadcaster, Evelyn Conlon, will be in conversation with Manchán Magan. “We’re been trying to get Dervla to come for about three years. But, every year, she has been off travelling somewhere,” says Campbell.

The Sunday symposium will be presented by hurling legend, DJ Carey, whose autobiography was published last year. The other presentations are by writer, Billy Keane, and broadcaster Michael Murphy, of RTÉ, who is also a poet. Sunny Jacobs, an American woman living in Ireland, has written about being on Death Row (she was exonerated).

Samantha Ellis, author of How To Be a Heroine, which examines literary heroines, will read along with novelist, Kate Kerrigan. RTÉ’s Rachael English, and Kathleen MacMahon, will read from their novels.

A workshop entitled ‘How to Read Poetry’ will be led by Kevin Higgins and American poet, Christopher Locke. “The poetry events are always well-attended by men, which is really interesting,” says Campbell. There will be performance poetry from Kalle Ryan, Stephen James Smith and Colm Keegan. Their presentation is entitled ‘Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About’. “These poets are just back from Paris, where they sold out. They’ll be performing poetry with a twist and they’ll be revealing aspects of themselves,” says Campbell.

This year is the centenary of World War 1, so writer, Neil Richardson, will talk on how to research one’s ancestors in the British army. That will be followed by the launch of the Clare Roots’ Society’s booklet, The Clare War Dead. “The Clare Roots Society is trying to stimulate interest in the county and get feedback from the public. There’s an initiative to build a peace park in Ennis to commemorate people from County Clare who fought and died in World War 1.”

The last event is the annual lunch at the Old Ground Hotel. Bigger Picture Productions will present Postscript, a poignant and humorous drama. It’s about one woman’s search for her birth mother.

“It’s complete happenstance that Martin Sixsmith’s book is about the same thing. It wasn’t planned,” says Campbell.

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