Monday 18 February 2019

Book the date for literary festival!

Cllr. Keith Doyle, chairman, Enniscorthy Municipal District, Carmel Harrington, festival chairperson, and Billy Roche who performed the launch
Cllr. Keith Doyle, chairman, Enniscorthy Municipal District, Carmel Harrington, festival chairperson, and Billy Roche who performed the launch

Padraig Byrne

Now celebrating it's fifth birthday, the Wexford Literary Festival has enjoyed some wonderful success in a relatively short period of time. This success was reflected upon as book lovers gathered with renowned Wexford author, playwright and performer Billy Roche to launch this year's event. The festival will take place in venues across Enniscorthy from November 2 - 4.

Chairperson of the festival Carmel Harrington, who herself has enjoyed some wonderful success of late, spoke of just how far they have come in a short space of time. 'It was our goal to host a vibrant event that connects inspires and informs readers and writers of all ages,' she said. 'We are so proud to still have that at the heart of the festival.'

Carmel then spoke of how all the hard work on the part of the committee, past and present, has made the festival what it is and thanked each one of them for putting their own mark on the evolution of the event. 'The small and big success we've had has made it all worthwhile,' she said. 'We've seen writers get recognition with our awards, connected readers with great books and their authors, given authors a platform and a place to shine and celebrated local, national and international writers of the highest calibre. We've introduced writers to agents and literary houses and celebrated with them when they've had their books published. We've brought many visitors to the gorgeous and historic town of Enniscorthy. There's a lot to be proud of.'

Chairman of the Municipal District Keith Doyle spoke of how impressed he was at the festival's growth over the years and the touch of class it has brought to the town, describing it as 'a diamond' and wishing it all the best for the future.

The man of the moment, Billy Roche, spoke of the fine literary tradition of Enniscorthy, referencing writers like Paddy Kehoe Anthony Cronin and Colm Tóibín, and spoke of the great banter between Enniscorthy and Wexford writers over the years. He encouraged people to support local writers, saying: 'What Enniscorthy has is pretty special.' He said that writers like Carmel and Cat Hogan were making great strides and were following on in the footsteps of the likes of Anthony Cronin.

It was also announced on the night that the festival this year would have a new prize in the form of the Billy Roche Short Play award - something of which he was immensely proud.

'I hope that it unearths another Conor McPherson or Marina Carr maybe,' he said. 'I think that's possible, probable actually, and I'd love to see it happening. All these emergent writers I wish them well. It's not an easy life. In many ways it's even harder now then when Colm and I were beginning.'

This year's festival will get underway with the Billy Roche Short Play Award on Friday, November 2, in the Presentation Centre which will see four short-listed plays performed by Enniscorthy Drama Group. Among the writers and speakers scheduled for this year's festival are Paul Williams, Andrew Cartmel, Jane Casey, Sinead Gleeson, June Caldwell, Hazel Gaynor, Catherine Ryan Howard, Paul Perry, Carmel Harrington, Shane Dunphy, Dr. Sarah Cleary and Caroline Busher.

There will also be family events, plenty more awards and a candlelit evening with Carmel Harrington and Liz Nugent in the Castle. For a full programme of events and tickets, please visit You can also follow them on Facebook.

Wexford People

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