Raftery Festival turns up the Volume

21 – 23 November 2008

Anthony Raftery would be in his element if he knew what Terry McDonagh was up to in Kiltimagh. He’d go home altogether, I’d say. The festival took a step up this year with world-class guest poets Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Matthew Sweeney (who was also poet-in-residence). In the Town Hall on the Friday evening, Nuala read from her recent collection, Fifty Minute Mermaid (translated by Paul Muldoon) and there was music by Diarmaid Moynihan, Margaret O’ Riordan, Mary McNicholas and Ollie Burke. After that the crowd split up to fill two local pubs, Lil Fordes and Kitty McGreal’s for a more informal, impromtu night of poetry and music from all.

The Festival moved comfortably along with the guidance of Arts Officer Ciarán Friel, and Saturday began with Creative Writing workshops. Later on in the evening we heard readings by Matthew Sweeney from his latest bi-lingual collection, Het ijshotel and also from Ger Reidy and Andrew Forster, with music by Tony Reidy. After all that, the (by now large) crowd headed off to The Park Hotel for the festival Slam, which was hosted by Mags Treanor and won by Slam-Maestro, Miceál Kearney.

On Sunday at the Old Schoolhouse there was a quiter gathering for a relaxed ‘open-mic’ session which ended the Festival on a gentler note. Thanks to Terry MacDonagh and his hosting talents, Co. Mayo is firmly on the poetry map. I’ll be there again next year.

Following are videos of the Saturday Slam and poems read on the Sunday.

Video Clips of Performances

Raftery Poetry Slam – Sat 22nd

Round 1

Matthew Sweeney


Liz Anne Gorman

The Shirt

Miceál Kearney

Now it is My Time

Clodagh Leonard

On Paper

Terry McDonagh

Haunting in Mayo

Tony Reidy

Hayshed Days

Susan Kelly

Don’t You Just Hate It (1)

Noel Burke


Round 2

Noel Burke

Kiss and Tell

Susan Kelly

Five Inch Fantasy

Tony Reidy

Come What May

Terry McDonagh

A Litany to an Irish Housing Estate

Matthew Sweeney


Miceál Kearney

From the Memoirs of John Delaney

Round 3

Miceál Kearney


Terry McDonagh

The Vegetarian Storyteller

Susan Kelly

Don’t You Just Hate It (2)

Tony Reidy

There’s a Baby Crying


Miceál Kearney


Festival Farewell and Close – Sun 23rd

Susie Fry




James from Kiltimagh

The Holy Places

Life’s Losses and Gains

Patty MacNicholas dances a Reel

Noel Burke


Twenty Acre Man

A Short Little Poem

Matthew Sweeney

Other Worlds

Terry McDonagh

By the Alster Pavillion, Hamburg

A Couple Return