Hay Festival Kells, Part 1: Reflections on Michael Harding

Michael Harding

Michael Harding

Sometimes it feels as if Michael Harding was born at the age of 58, middle-aged and fully-formed. A performer, an actor, a novelist, a memoirist and a playwright, he has come to inhabit that great unfathomable of the popular consciousness only over the past few years.

Staring At Lakes, his first memoir, a chronicle of depression and love and the jagged line between the two, won the Irish Book of the Year award in 2013. It was followed by Hanging With The Elephant last year and a weekly Irish Times column about life in the Irish midlands. From Cavan, his prose has echoes of the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh from neighbouring Monaghan, recognising beauty “in the habitual, the banal”.

Continue reading “Hay Festival Kells, Part 1: Reflections on Michael Harding”

From Galway to the Gate: This week’s notable literary events around Ireland

cuirtThere are few places I would rather be this week than Galway for the annual Cúirt International Festival of Literature, which features Irish writers of renown such as Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley and Edna O’Brien as well as Laurent Binet, who was responsible for one of the most critically acclaimed novels of recent times, last year’s HHhH.

From the perspective of emerging writers, one of the events to catch the eye is Over The Edge’s reading evening, which takes place in the Town Hall Theatre on Thursday afternoon (4.30pm), features readings from several writers including Cúirt New Irish Writing fiction prize winner Hugo Kelly and does not have a cover charge.

Michael Harding (feature interviewee in today’s Sunday Times culture magazine) will read in somebody’s kitchen, Keith Ridgway and Leanne O’Sullivan will give fiction and poetry workshops respectively – although you’re probably too late for those as the deadline to apply passed a fortnight ago –  festival director Dani Gill will interview Binet and Sheila Heti (the author of this year’s How should a person be?) on characterisation in the novel and Lucy Caldwell (whose All the Beggars Riding was published earlier this year) and Indian-American poet and novelist Tishani Doshi will talk about the origins of stories with Galway City Arts Officer James C. Harrold.

And all that’s nowhere close to even the half of it. Download the full Cúirt programme here (pdf 17MB).

What: Cúirt International Festival of Literature

Where: Galway (multiple venues … including kitchens)

When: Tuesday-Sunday

Find out more: www.cuirt.ie


If you happen to be around Belfast with some time on your hands this week, you could do much worse things than make a date with Brian Friel’s Translations, directed by Adrian Dunbar.

Where: Grand Opera House

When: Tuesday-Saturday, 7.30pm; Matinees Thursday and Saturday, 2.30pm.

How much: £11.25-£28

Find out more: http://www.goh.co.uk/translations


Peter Gowen, originally from Youghal and now based in London with his family, is a playwright by spare time, actor by night and chef by day – “corporate fine dining, cooking for bankers, hedge fund managers and VIP clients,” he said this week. His latest play, which he performs himself, is entitled The Chronicles of Oggle, which has been eight years in the making and aspires to treat big Irish themes with an Irish sense of humour. It is also the debut production of the Everyman County Touring Initiative.

Where: Everyman Palace, Cork

When: Monday-Thursday, 8pm

How much: €9-€15

Find out more: http://www.everymanpalace.com/category/mon-22-thu-25-apr/


It’s more than 30 years now since Frank McGuinness’s Factory Girls was first staged at the Abbey Theatre. The story of five women who stage a lock-in in a shirt factory in Co. Donegal when faced with losing their jobs is as relevant now as it was then.

Where: Millennium Forum, Derry

When: Wednesday-Saturday, 8pm; Matinee Saturday, 5pm

How much: £12.50-£16.50

Find out more: http://www.millenniumforum.co.uk/content/factory-girls-frank-mcguinness-city-factory


Banned for 32 years after it was written, George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs Warren’s Profession is now regarded as one of his finest plays and it is currently on an extended run at the Gate. Variously described as “magnificent”, “stunning” and with “exceptionally high performances” by the national media, the production stars Sorcha Cusack, Tadhg Murphy and Bosco Hogan.

Where: Gate Theatre, Dublin

When: Monday-Saturday, 7.30pm; Matinee Saturday 2.30pm

How much: €25

Find out more: http://www.gatetheatre.ie/production/MrsWarrensProfession