Éigse Michael Hartnett Literary & Arts Festival

Over the next few days, in various venues around the town, Michael Hartnett’s ‘people’ will gather to celebrate and remember the poet and the man. In listening to readings, attending art installations, in the schools, Desmond Complex, the Library, the Red Door Gallery or drinking a few pints with old friends in quiet nooks and crannies of The Square and Maiden Street, a remarkable and beautiful dynamic
will occur: the making plural of what is most often a lone pursuit, the reading and appreciation of poetry, perhaps particularly so, the poetry of Michael Hartnett. The idea of ‘a people’ is, of course, central in Hartnett’s poetry. Who he wrote to and for, is a concern which runs throughout his poems, at times prompting affirmation,

My dead father shouts
From his eternal Labour:
“These are your people!”

at times descending to maudlin discontent:

Dying in exile.
To die without a people is the real death.

He wrote a body of work which he was proud of, expressing the essence of his people, people like Bridget Halpin, John Kelly the blacksmith and his son Sean, John Cussen, Des Healy, Ned O’Dwyer, in such a way as to bring him ease. These poems, and his parallel documenting of his process, are examples of what makes Hartnett such a great poet. It ensures that we, as readers and lovers of his poetry, become his ‘people’ too and so we gather here this weekend in his native town to honour his achievements and his memory.

So over the coming days, let’s do justice to that epithet; remember and celebrate, laugh when Dermot Bolger tells Hartnett’s cheesegrater joke, say a silent prayer when a sad remembrance is shared, give all of our intellects to each debate. Most importantly let’s do so with love. That’s what he deserves.
There is no ‘real death’ for Michael Hartnett.

On behalf of the Éigse Michael Hartnett Committee, Limerick City and County Council and Limerick Arts Office, we would like to welcome all our visitors to
this year’s Éigse Michael Hartnett Literary and Arts Festival.

We’ll see ye up town!!
Michael Hartnett

Organising Committee: John Cussen, Vincent Hanley, Rachel Lenihan, Rossa McMahon, Vicki Nash & Norma Prendiville