Immrama Festival of Travel Writing opens up a world of war and peace

Literary audiences will be in for a treat with some of the biggest names in travel writing taking centre stage at this year’s Immrama Festival of Travel Writing.

War correspondent Fergal Keane and Kim Phuc Phan Ti, best known as the nine-year-old child depicted in the Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph taken during the Vietnam War, will be visiting the West Waterford town of Lismore for this year’s festival.

Taking place from Thursday June 16, to Sunday June 19, it is expected to draw thousands of visitors from across the country.

According to festival co-ordinator Jan Rotte, the theme of this year’s Immrama event is ‘Journeys through war and peace’ and each of the guest speakers will focus their talk on that theme.

The festival kicks off with a screening of 2015 horseracing dram Palio in the Courthouse Theatre. This will be followed the next day with a talk from multi award-winning journalist Peter Murtagh.

Saturday morning will see former County Librarian Donald Brady take to the stage at 11am. Mr Brady is a regular contributor at the Immrama festival speaking every year on a different historical subject or personality from Lismore. This year he will speak about 17th-century chemist Robert Boyle.

He will be followed by travel author Paul Clements at 12.30pm, who will speak about his latest book, Wandering Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way: From Banba’s Crown to World’s End.

Mr Rotte said the keynote speakers, who will both speak on Saturday, will be a high point of the weekend’s events.

“The two main highlights are Kim Phuc and Fergal Keane and both of them fit very nicely into this year’s theme,” he said.

“Kim Phuc is the girl in the Pulitzer prize-winning picture from 1972 and she will tell her life story and what her life was like through the Vietnam War.”

Mr Rotte said it is a “very hard-hitting story” but a not-to-be-missed event.

He continued: “Fergal of course has reported from many war zones and from his own experience can tell a lot, particularly with his involvement as a journalist in the latest refugee problems in Greece, Syria and the Ukraine.

“He will give people a journalistic point of view of the struggles of people caught up in war.”

A committee of 18 people has been involved behind the scenes of the festival and Mr Rotte extended his thanks to everyone who continues to make the festival a success.

“With all the organisation that needs to be done things wouldn’t happen without their commitment,” he said. “They are very hardworking.”

Speaking at the launch of the 2016 programme, Mayor of Waterford John Cummins said Immrama is a festival like no other in the country.

“This festival has, from its very inception, brought some of the biggest names in travel writing and broadcasting to Ireland and with those names it has also brought international audiences and has shone an international spotlight on this beautiful Heritage Town,” he said.

Turtle Bunbury will kick-start the fourth and final day of activities on the Sunday morning with the popular literary breakfast in Lismore House Hotel.

A new addition is the young travel writer’s competition, open to secondary school students. or call 058-53803.


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