Newcastle West hosts Éigse Michael Hartnett

Ceaití Ní Bheildiúin, Michael Hartnett Poetry Award Winner

Newcastle West will host its annual Éigse Michael Hartnett Literary and Arts Festival from this Thursday through to Saturday. The festival is taking place in a year when Michael, had he lived, would have celebrated his 80th birthday. Presented last year as an online version, the 2021 edition – which honours one of the most significant voices in late 20th-century Irish writing- will be a blended event and will be run in compliance with current Covid-19 restrictions. It is supported by the Arts Council and Limerick City and County Council Arts Office.
Guests include Irish Ambassador to Washington Dan Mulhall (who will deliver the keynote Michael Hartnett Memorial Lecture on Saturday, 3pm), writers Patricia Scanlan, Kathleen MacMahon and Louise Nealon, along with broadcaster John Creedon who will read from his book ‘That Place We Call Home.’ There is also a strong line-up of poets, including Moya Cannon, Seán Lysaght, Colm Keegan, Rafael Mendes and Natasha Remoundou.
Ceaití Ní Bheildiúin of Kerry has been named as winner of the €4,000 Michael Hartnett Poetry Award for her collection in Irish, ‘Agallamh Sa Cheo, Cnoc Bhréanainn’ (Coiscéim, 2019).
“It is staggering to have a book of my own awarded the Michael Hartnett Prize. It is an honour beyond belief,” the winner said. “I always get a great hit out of reading Michael Hartnett’s poetry. I became aware of him, his poems, and his life story shortly after I started to compose pieces of Irish language verse. I felt an immediate affinity to him that he had toiled in the same mistiness of Gaeilge as a second language as I was doing. I find his poetry in both Irish and English powerful.”
The poem pays homage to Mount Brandon, Kerry.
John Cussen, of the Éigse Michael Hartnett Committee stated: “Michael Hartnett would be delighted that Irish poetry is, in the words of the judges, in such rude health. We are truly delighted with the response to this year’s Poetry Award and are looking forward to welcoming Ceaití to Newcastle West.”
Ms. Ní Bheildiúin will be presented with her award on the opening night at the Longcourt Hotel in Newcastle West. Mayor Daniel Butler will be in attendance (limited free admission/live-streamed), while entertainment will be from tenor Derek Moloney.
Friday’s ‘The Word and the Melody’ will be staged in memory of Sheila O’Regan, a member of the organising committee, who sadly passed away earlier in the year.
‘Castle Capers’, an outdoor, free event will take place in the shadow of the town’s historic Desmond Hall on Saturday afternoon. It will be a mix of music, starring Abby Butler, Ger Wolfe and the Coláiste Íde agus Iosef Traditional Group, as well as the spoken word.
For full festival infor-mation, visit: (See page 48).