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)

Final Round – Finalists at the Raftery Poetry Slam

Miceál Kearney
Early in the A.M.

Elizabeth Mace
Mary’s Time

Tony Reidy
Farewell to the Land of the Child of Prague

Una Flanagan