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The festival, formerly known as The Kate O’Brien Weekend, began in 1984 to mark the tenth anniversary of the death of Limerick-born Kate O’Brien. The event continues to celebrate the life and works of the author, while attracting prominent participants from all over the world. It is an inspiring mix of both discourse and discussion.

This year’s launch of the `Limerick Literary Festival in Honour of Kate O’Brien’ will take place on Wednesday June 1st at 5.00pm in O’Mahony’s Bookshop Limerick. The festival, usually scheduled for February, was moved to June for this year due to the ongoing Covid 19 restrictions . The festival programme for 2022 includes talks, interviews, poetry, an exhibition and more to be announced.

The Festival takes place in Limerick  June 18th and 19th with the Saturday programme taking place in The Peoples Museum, Number 2 Pery Square and the Sunday programme taking place in the Belltable.

The theme for 2022 is re-emergence and centres around the following quote from Brendan Kennelly’s poem Begin.

Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.

— From The Essential Brendan Kennelly

In the wake of the Covid 19  crisis, as we return to live events, it is particularly apt especially as we also celebrate the re-publication of Kate O’Brien’s Pray for the Wanderer. This book, the first to be published after she had been banned in Ireland, represents her indominable spirit and ability to begin again.

Building on this significant history, the Limerick Literary Festival seeks to promote Limerick nationally as a place of literary excellence and to provide a platform where readers can meet their favourite authors and other readers.

The festival will be opened by Professor Kerstin Mey, the president of the University of Limerick and will feature Louise O’Neill in conversation with Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, Frank Shovlin, Stephen Kinsella, Mary Coll, Caitriona Clear and previous winners of the Kate O’Brien Award Una Mannion and Sue Rainsford. Authors Caitriona Clear and Mary Coll will lead a session entitled ‘Kate O’Brien: why would you bother?’ exploring the reasons why we should still read the novels of Kate O’Brien, in an Ireland which has changed almost beyond recognition from the ‘de Valera’s Ireland’ deplored by the writer in  her angry polemic Pray For The Wanderer (1938).

Festival highlights will also include a tribute to the late Limerick artist Dave Lilburn. On Sat June 18th a group of Dave’s friends and collaborators, Tony Curtis, Ciaran O’Driscoll and Judith Hill, among others, will come together in a programme to celebrate the late artist.. The Tribute will feature a short film made by Mike O’Neill in 1994 of Dave at work in his studio as well as a small exhibition of Dave’s work. Dave was a loyal supporter of and regular  attendee at of the LLF in honour of Kate O’Brien, he is much missed by all who knew him and admired his wonderful work.

The festival will culminate with a very special event, Wild Wild Erie: A Paul Durcan Celebration.

Wild Wild Erie, Paul Durcan’s most recent book, celebrates artworks in the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio. In his books Crazy About Women and Give Me Your Hand, Durcan wrote startlingly original poems in response to the National Gallery of Ireland and London’s National Gallery collections. In Wild Wild Erie, Durcan with characteristic playfulness, insight and an altogether unusual way of looking responds to works in Toledo‘s extraordinary collection including works by Élisabeth-Louise Vigée-Le Brun, Victoria Dubourg, Edward Hopper, Matisse, Jack B. Yeats, Sean Scully and Diane Arbus. On Sunday, 19 June, actors Ingrid Craigie and Mark O’Regan will perform Paul Durcan poems, beginning with much-loved classics such as ‘The Kilfenora Teaboy’, ‘The Cabinet Table’, ‘Making Love Outside Áras an Uachtaráin’ and ‘The Cabinet Table’. This will be followed by poems from Wild Wild Erie and the readings will be accompanied by images of the artworks projected on a large screen.

The full programme will be announced on June 1st by ‘Meskell UL-Fifty Poet in Residence’ Emily Cullen.

For more information and updates, please follow us on social media, Facebook – @limerickliteraryfestival, Twitter @kobweekend, and Instagram @limerickliteraryfestival.

We hope to see you in June at the 2022 festival, which will celebrate writers, artists, books and readers.

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