Fáilte go hÉigse Michael Hartnett 2018

Éigse Michael Hartnett 2018 has a rich and varied schedule of events which takes place this year from the 12th to the 14th of April. We take pride in welcoming John Boyne, Mike McCormack, Declan Kiberd, Emma Langford, Robyn Roland, and others to Newcastle West for the first time.

The Programme of Events is designed to enthuse, stimulate, inspire, and perhaps occasionally bemuse. It celebrates the literary legacy of Michael Hartnett, the poet and man. Hosted throughout the town of Newcastle West, in the library, schools, hospital and pubs, the breadth of the programme creates an ambience of warmth and conviviality that lends itself to lively gatherings, easy conversation and spirited debate.

This year is also special because we will be joined in our celebrations by Michael’s family, Rosemary, Niall and Lara.

As part of the programme of events the organisers have this year included an interesting food element in recognition of the burgeoning food industry in the town and also as a celebration of the town’s rich agricultural hinterland. Michael Hartnett was an aspiring gastronome in his own way and he had a great love of food and cooking. The event is titled ‘Pulled Pork and Poetry’ and features a cookery demonstration by Tom Flavin, Executive Chef at the Strand Hotel in Limerick with apt readings from Michael Hartnett’s poetry by Edward O’Dwyer.

On behalf of the Éigse Michael Hartnett Committee and Limerick Culture and Art’s Office we would like to welcome all our visitors to this year’s Éigse Michael Hartnett Literary and Arts Festival. As always, we hope to celebrate Hartnett’s genius with good poetry, good food (and some drink!) in the company of his family, friends and myriad followers.

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.

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