Dublin Book Festival: A feast for writers and readers alike

There are a couple of distinguishing aspects to Dublin’s largest book festival.

All its participating authors, who include titans such as Jennifer Johnston, Frank McGuinness and Patrick McCabe, are Irish, and most of its events are free.

The festival runs across four days in the middle of the month, and takes in a diverse, atmospheric range of venues such as The Gutter Bookshop in the old part of Temple Bar and the National Library of Ireland. McGuinness, whose first play in 14 years, The Hanging Gardens, has just been running at the Abbey Theatre, will be in conversation with RTÉ’s Seán Rocks on the opening evening of the festival.

One of the most interesting sessions on the festival’s bill is a “Meet the Publishers and Agents” event. Michael O’Brien from O’Brien Press, and Eoin Purcell, the editorial director at New Island, will be joined by the agent Faith O’Grady and publishing consultant and literary scout Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, to help field questions by would-be authors.

The session that will generate the most laughs will surely be the one that gets Ireland’s greatest satirist Paul Howard, author of the Ross O’Carroll-Kelly series, Pauline McLynn and Damian Corless in a room together to discuss how to come up with good comedy writing. It’s called, suitably enough: Making Us Laugh.

Two arch practitioners, Gerry Hunt and Stephen Mooney, will give a workshop on how to create a good graphic novel, a genre that continues to rise inexorably in popularity (“faster than a speeding bullet”, to use the title of a recent book on the phenomenon), which reflects the way in which society becomes more visual in its means of communication every day. The pair will also advise on how to work with an illustrator.

Lovers of food writing and the art of cooking will be keen to check out Ross Lewis’s kitchen session with Andrew Rudd. Corkman Lewis had the distinction of working as head chef for the state visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Ireland in 2011. He’ll conduct a cooking demonstration, using two recipes from his latest book, A Story of Irish Food. The demo will be held at Rudd’s new venue, Medley on Drury Street, which the marketing blurb maintains has a “New York loft style feel to it”.

Dave Kenny will host a Writing History forum with Máire Kennedy, a librarian in charge of special collections, and the authors Brian Creegan and Colin Murphy, who recently wrote a stirring account of the Captain Boycott affair, will discuss how to bring history to life, not always the easiest thing to do.

Christine Dwyer Hickey, Nuala Ní Chonchúir and a few other sisters will explore what it’s like to be a woman writer in a discussion in The Ante Room .

Ireland Through The Lens is an exhibition of images from the wonderful Vanishing Ireland series by Turtle Bunbury and James Fennell, photos from Giles Norman’s Ireland — Timeless Images, and a selection from the musician Raymond Beggan.

Lastly, the historian Pat Liddy will lead a special walk dedicated to books inspired by Dublin, one of two literary walking tours. The other is titled Come Here To Me, Lads! Dublin Walking Tour, and it departs from Smock Alley, the traditional home of Irish publishing. * For more information, visit:

www.dublinbookfestival.com.


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