We are on the final countdown to the Éigse Michael Hartnett Festival for 2022! There is a wide-ranging programme of events between workshops, poetry readings, music, exhibitions, film, book launches, street entertainment, and even a bus tour!
We’ve had some events already with the young people in the town in the schools and the youth organisations. Colm Keegan has conducted workshops in creative writing in SMI and in Desmond College and the results of their labours will be on view during the Festival weekend.
Aileen Nix, a local artist, has been working with the local Foróige group in town to produce lanterns for the opening parade.
Edward O’Dwyer also worked with the Foróige group and their poems will be on display around town.
The idea of the Éigse is to recognise Michael Hartnett’s genius and to celebrate his life and his poetry. As you know he died in 1999 at the age of 58 and there has been an annual Éigse every year since – even during Covid we went online and kept it going.
This year we are proud to announce that thanks to the generosity of Limerick City and County Council we have been able to increase the value of the annual Michael Hartnett Poetry Award to €8,000 and we are delighted that Eleanor Hooker from Dromineer on the shores of Lough Derg is this year’s deserving winner of the prestigious award.
We received great news yesterday with the confirmation that the recently acquired portrait of Hartnett by Edward McGuire which is now in the City Gallery will be on display in Newcastle West for the opening of this year’s Éigse.
We kick things off on Thursday the 6th of October at 7.00pm in the Square with a rousing street performance by The Hit Machine Drummers, a kilted brotherhood of rhythmic warriors who enthrall and entertain with dynamic, captivating drumming. They will lead us in a lantern parade with members of the Foroige Youth Club in Newcastle West. The parade will leave the Square and travel down Hartnett’s beloved Maiden Street to the Council Offices down near the Longcourt House Hotel. There this year’s Éigse will be officially opened by the Lord Mayor, Francis Foley who will present this year’s poetry prize to Eleanor Hooker. Other special guests on the night will be Gerard Stembridge and music from Brian Hartnett.
On Friday the 7th we begin bright and early with a poetry reading by Eleanor Hooker which takes place upstairs in Marguerites at 11am.
This is followed by lunch with Mark Patrick Hederman former Abbott and Headmaster in Glenstal at 1.00pm at the Desmond Complex, where a light lunch will be served to accompany a reading from Dr. Hederman’s recently published works including Crimson and Gold: Life as a Limerick.
The evening events at the Longcourt House Hotel start at 6.00pm with a belated book launch that fell victim to Covid in 2020. Keith McCoy will be reading from his debut novel Hello Larry Barry and from his recently published second novel The Jude Crew. Both novels are set in Newcastle West although The Jude Crew spreads its wings a bit wider.
At 8pm in The Longcourt House Hotel, we have a fantastic poetry reading by two former Michael Hartnett award winners Kerry Hardie and Peter Sirr who were also our judges this year for the Michael Hartnett Poetry Award. The reading will be followed by live music from cellist Núria Vizcaino Estrada from Barcelona and currently studying for her MA in Classical String Performance in UL.
Also on Friday at 8.00pm you can enjoy two film screenings over at the Desmond Complex in partnership with Newcastle West Film Club and Askeaton Contemporary Arts. Based on the novel Foster by Claire Keegan, An Cailín Ciúin, is the acclaimed award -winning Irish-language film that has broken all Irish box office records this year. This will be followed by Seanie Barron: Only in Askeaton, a short film that dips into the life and work of wood artist Seanie Barron and examples of his work will also be on exhibition at the Red Door Gallery throughout the weekend.
Saturday the 8th begins at the Desmond Complex with the annual Michael Hartnett Memorial Lecture at 11am. This year the lecture is being given by Historian and former Head of Special Projects at the National Archives of Ireland, Caitriona Crowe. Caitriona will deliver the lecture on: How did Ireland do in its decade of centenaries? So, the lecture should be very thought-provoking and I’m looking forward to that.
This will be followed at 1.30pm by music and memories of Hartnett from uilleann piper and former RTE producer Peter Browne. He has some great stories to tell about being on tour with Michael Hartnett back in the 80s.
We are particularly happy this year to be taking the Festival outside NCW in partnership with the Kileedy Development Association and to acknowledge the wonderful work and community building going on in Raheenagh. So, at 3 p.m. the Hartnett Bus Tour will depart from the Desmond Complex taking in Camas, home of Michael Hartnett’s grandmother Bridget Halpin, whom he immortalised in his beautiful poem ‘Death of an Irishwoman’. Then it’s on to the Poet’s Corner at Killeedy Eco-Park and finishing with tea and tunes at the Tigh Cheoil in Ashford.
Saturday evening’s events will begin with a reading from author Mary Costello at 8.00pm at the Longcourt House. She will be reading from her short story collection, The China Factory (2012), and her two novels Academy Street (2014), and The River Capture (2019) which was shortlisted for many awards.
The reading will be followed by live music from Mick Hanly who needs no introduction to Limerick audiences. He is one of our foremost singer/songwriters, and of course, Mick was born and reared in Limerick. We expect a big crowd in The Longcourt House Hotel next Saturday night.
Salad Sunday is a new addition to the Éigse Michael Hartnett programme for 2022 and celebrates one of Michael Hartnett’s most amusing poems, The Balad of Salad Sunday, which pokes fun at an incident in Newcastle West back in the early 80s.
Salad Sunday is intended as a fun, entertaining event for the community and will take place in the Square, the Red Door Gallery, and the Desmond Complex. Seamus Hennessy will be the MC for the events in the Square and there should be plenty of buskers and food stalls – so come along and enjoy the craic – hopefully, the weather holds up!!
Our final two events of the weekend are the launch of two new books: Gabriel Fitzmaurice is launching the new edition of Farewell to Poetry and Tom Moloney is launching his first collection of short stories called Overcoming the Joy and Other Yearnings. Both take place at 1.00pm and 1.30pm respectively at the Desmond Complex.
As you can see it’s a full programme with something for everyone young and old, so we hope you can join us over the weekend.
Many of the events are free but some need to be booked on Eventbrite although money will also be taken at the door. Check out our website http://www.eigsemichaelhartnett.ie for up-to-date details of all the events.
Éigse committee 2022: Vicki Nash, Norma Prendeville, Rachel Lenihan, John Cussen, Rose Liston, Rossa McMahon, Mary Carroll, and Vincent Hanley