Raftery Festival, Kiltimagh
9 – 14 November 2009
Terry McDonagh is certainly inspired enough to keep this festival on its toes, and what better tribute to pay than to Mayo’s most renowned poet, Anthony Raftery, who left Kiltimagh in the late 18th Century after breaking the back of his master’s horse. He spent the rest of his days wandering half-blind and reciting his poetry in the towns and along the roads of County Galway, where he now lies buried in the ‘Cemetery of the Poets’ (Reilig na Bhfilí) in Killeeneen (Craughwell).
After a four days of outreach workshops in local schools, book launches and readings by Colette Nic Aodha, Louise Lawrence, Geraldine Mitchell and Terry McDonagh, the Friday night readings by Phillip Casey and myself, which drew an excellent crowd of discerning enthusiasts and then the impromptu readings and song at Kitty McGreal’s and workshops on rhythm and music in poetry the next morning, the festival ended with the usual Saturday night Festival Slam, which saw two rounds of readings end with five finalists. Defending champion Micéal Kearney relinquished his title to newcomer Elizabeth Mace. 2nd place went to Tony Reidy, 3rd place was a tie between John Walsh and Miceál Kearney and 5th went to Una Flanagan. Well done to the contestants, and thanks to Terry and the Raftery Committee for keeping this important festival vibrant and fresh year after year.
On the way back to Cork I decided to stop in to Reilig na Bhfilí to pay my respects to the man himself.
Mise Raifteiri an file
Lán dochais is grá
Le súile gan solas
Le ciunas gan chra
– Antoine Ó Raifteiri (1779-1835)
The videos and review are here.
6-8 November 2009
It marked another magical excursion into the west Kerry gaeltacht as ten poets from Ó Bhéal and as many from Limerick and Tralee descended on Ballyferriter’s little poetry festival. Due to rapid expansion and popularity since it began a few years ago, the festival committee are now calling for a new name for this annual event.
This year featured workshops and a reading by Waterville-based Paddy Bushe as well as a lecture on local history by Dr. Deirdre Nic Mhathúna. After settling into the local cuisine on Saturday evening, we were welcomed by Máirín Feirtéar (the last living descendant of Piaras Feirtéar) and Domhnall MacSithigh, in the theatre at Tigh ui Chatháin. After a short reading by Paddy Bushe, Máirín and Domhnall then chaired the yearly open-mic, which is for me the festival highlight, giving stage to a variety of quality poets, chiefly from across Munster.
As per last year, the next morning we found ourselves once again comfortably gathered in Dingle, packed into Diseart chapel and bathing under the magnificent stained-glass windows of Harry Clarke. Firstly we were treated to an excerpt and dramatisation from Noel Ó Briain’s translation of Cúirt an Méan-Oíche (The Midnight Court), played out by Noel and Áine Moynihan. This was followed by readings from all the poets present from Limerick’s Whitehouse, Cork’s Ó Bhéal, Tralee’s Doghouse and local poets, chaired by Bríd Ní Mhórain, Billy Ramsell and Bertha McCullagh.
The festival closed over a well-deserved breakfast at the Garden Café where much talk was given to next year’s return to Ballyferriter. A big thanks is due to the Féile Bheag Filíochta committee for organising this event, which holds a uniquely special place on Munster’s annual poetry landscape. Make it next year if you can!
The videos and review are here.
Ó Bhéal’s Jazz-Poetry night was all a-buzz yet again this year with the BACKRA MeN, over from Coventry with Jon Morley on poetry, Si Hayden on bass and Ben Haines on drums. For most at the event this made a relaxed and excellent end to the festival. The band even took on Romanian guest poet Denisa Mirena Pi?cu’s poetry from her brand new hot off the press collection, Disposable People.
For videos from the night click here.