We look forward to welcoming the following authors. Click on the images below for a short biography.
Aidan Comerford was on top of the world when he stepped off stage having just been crowned the winner of So You Think You're Funny at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2014. Previous winners included Dylan Moran, Tommy Tiernan, David O’Doherty and Aisling Bea. This was it! His big break ... He returned to Ireland elated, only to find out that while he was in Edinburgh his youngest daughter, who has autism, had gone missing near a lake. Aidan had to accept that personal dreams can never take precedence over a family struggling through tough challenges – redundancy, mortgage problems, a pyritic house, post-natal depression and autism. Corn Flakes for Dinner is an hilarious, poignant memoir about ordinary magic, a masterclass in navigating life's toughest challenges and rediscovering the joy in the ‘every day’.
Alan was horse-racing correspondent for sportsnewsireland.com from 2009 to 2012. His work has appeared in the Sunday Business Post, Club Rugby Magazine and Club GAA Magazine. He is also the co-author of Running Through Walls: The Dave Langan Story. In Coolmore Stud: Ireland’s Greatest Sporting Success Story Alan tells the story of how Coolmore Stud, and its training operation at Ballydoyle, have come to dominate the world of horse breeding and racing. Founded by the legendary horse trainer Vincent O’Brien, and now managed by John Magnier, Coolmore Stud has grown from a small breeding farm into a global behemoth, renowned the world over for the quality of the horses it produces. Alan Conway tells the story of how Coolmore Stud and its training operation at Ballydoyle have come to dominate the world of horse breeding and racing. The book was shortlisted for the Bord Gais Éireann Sports Book of the Year.
Alan Nolan is a comic book writer, graphic designer, artist and co-creator of the ‘Sancho’ series. He is author and illustrator of Sam Hannigan’s Woof Week, Conor’s Caveman, Fintan’s Fifteen, The Big Break Detectives Casebook and the Murder Can Be Fatal mysteries for young readers. Born in Dublin, he studied at the National College of Art and Design. He lives in Bray, County Wicklow, with his family.
Anna Carey is a journalist and author from Dublin who has written for the Irish Times, Irish Independent and many other publications. Anna’s first book, The Real Rebecca, was published in 2011, and went on to win the Senior Children’s Book prize at the Irish Book Awards. Rebecca returned in the critically acclaimed Rebecca’s Rules, Rebecca Rocks and Rebecca is Always Right. Her first historical novel, The Making of Mollie, was shortlisted for the Senior Children’s Book Prize at the 2016 Irish Book Awards. The sequel, Mollie on the March, was published in March 2018.
Barry Ryan, from Glanworth in Co. Cork, is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has travelled the world extensively over the past several years, covering both the UCI World Tour and the Grand Tours, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and other events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has also appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. In The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation Ryan deals with the careers of Ireland’s two greatest cyclists This, however, is an untypical Irish-written cycling biography, more in the tradition of Paul Kimmage’s Rough Ride than the many hagiographical accounts of the rise of the Golden Two. It doesn’t shirk pointing out the elephant in the room, the many questions surrounding doping in Irish cycling.
For four years Caitríona Perry explained the vagaries of American politics to an Irish audience, including one of the biggest political upsets in modern history – the election of one Donald J. Trump, forty-fifth President of the USA. With her four-year term of office completed, she returned home to co-present the 6.01 News on RTÉ 1 TV. Her experience as RTÉ Washington Correspondent, especially the final eighteen months, informed her best-selling book In America: Tales From Trump Country. Caitríona is a must-see for anyone with even the vaguest interest in American politics, which, let’s face it, is a far more important factor in our lives than it probably should be.
Remembering 1918 – The Pen and the Hammer: The Irish Struggle for Female Suffrage
Remembering 1968 (and after) – The Second Wave of Irish Feminism
Making a welcome return to the festival (and with more leisure time on her hands since moving on from her position with the National Archives where she was senior archivist and manager of the Irish Census Online Project), historian Catriona Crowe (Dublin 1911) is contributing to Hinterland on the double this year. To mark the centenary of the extension of the franchise to propertied women over the age of thirty – a rather grudging concession – she will discuss the history of suffragism in Ireland and Britain in the early 1900s. She will also wind forward by half a century to mark the second significant wave of militant feminism in the 1960s. In addition to her many scholarly, journalistic and broadcasting achievements Catriona is also a member of the Royal Irish Academy and Chair of the Irish Theatre Institute, as well as a member of numerous boards in the cultural sector.
Whether as a journalist, critic, essayist, academic or novelist Colm Tóibín is non pareil. As editor of the ground-breaking Magill magazine for three years in the 1980s Tóibín established journalistic credentials that would, undoubtedly, have led him to the very top of that profession. Instead he chose a different direction, with the publication in 1990 of The South, which he quickly followed up with The Heather Blazing (1992). His fifth novel The Master (2004), a fictional account of elements of the life of Henry James, gained a nomination for the Man Booker Prize, and won the International Impac Dublin Literary Award. In 2009 he won the Costa Award for his novel Brooklyn, later turned into a successful film. His most recent work House of Names (2017) is a retelling of the Greek tragedy of the house of Atreus (Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Orestes, Iphigenia and Electra). In his three decades as a novelist Tóibín has himself become The Master. There is, quite simply, no better writer in the English language.
David Nihill is a US-based Irish entertainer and best-selling author. In what doesn't sound like the best plan ever, David decided to try and overcome his fear of public speaking by pretending to be an accomplished comedian called ‘Irish Dave’ who just happened to be on tour in America for one full year, crashing as many comedy clubs, festivals and shows as possible. One part of the plan was at least logical: he was already Irish and already called Dave. In one year, David went from being deathly afraid of public speaking to hosting a business conference, regularly performing stand-up comedy, and winning storytelling competitions in front of packed houses. He did it by learning from some of the best public speakers in the world: stand-up comedians. He also told a lot of funny stories along the way. Join us as David shares them along with the principles, techniques and tools of the world’s best speakers in a humorous talk based on his bestselling book Do You Talk Funny? 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (And Funnier) Public Speaker.
Remembering 1918 – Dev!
Broadcaster and writer Dr David McCullagh is best known as a presenter of Prime Time on RTÉ 1 TV, and as a former RTÉ Political Correspondent. David is also an accomplished historian whose first work A Makeshift Majority dealt with the travails of the country’s first inter-party government, in office from 1948 to 51. David is also the biographer of the man who led that (and the subsequent) coalition administration, John A. Costello (The Reluctant Taoiseach, 2010). In 2017 he produced the first of a two-part biography of Eamon de Valera covering the years 1882–1932 (De Valera: Rise) and it is ‘The Long Fellow’ who will be the subject of his first Hinterland talk as part of our Remembering 1918 strand.
Getting ready for Brexit
David Murphy is RTÉ Business Correspondent and played a major role in the station’s coverage of the Irish economic disasters of the 2008–2012 period. Together with his wife, the journalist Martina Devlin, he wrote one of the best exposés of the Irish financial meltdown, Banksters. David was a participant in the first Hinterland debate last year when our panel explored the implications of Brexit.
The Book of Revenge is Elizabeth Rose Murray’s fourth novel. Her debut novel The Book of Learning – Nine Lives Trilogy 1, was chosen as the 2016 Dublin UNESCO City of Literature Citywide Read for Children, and the follow-up, The Book of Shadows – Nine Lives Trilogy 2, was shortlisted for the 2016 Irish Book Awards. Based in West Cork, Elizabeth has had poetry and short stories published in journals and anthologies across the UK, Ireland, Australia and America. Her stories have been shortlisted in several competitions and broadcast on radio. Her first novel for young adults, Caramel Hearts, was published in May 2016.
Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen
Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen are Aislings. Maybe not complete Aislings but about 42%. Emer is from Kildare and Sarah is from Carlow. After meeting while studying journalism at Ballyfermot College of Further Education in 2003 they formed a firm friendship. Sarah is currently on maternity leave from her job as Features Editor of The Gloss and Emer is a former Editor of The Daily Edge and a columnist with the Sunday Business Post. Their debut novel Oh My God What a Complete Aisling has been on top of the Irish best-seller lists for months now.
Dr Emma Lyons, who is based at University College Dublin, is an historian of 17th and 18th century Ireland where her focus is on Catholc land ownership and education. She has also done extensive research into the role of Irish women in the Great War. In her spare time Dr Lyons is a keen photographer and, in a former life, was an amateur jockey.
Since the death of his fellow Donegal man Brian Friel, Frank McGuinness can legitimately lay claim to the title of Irish Drama Laureate (as the position does not exist we can make this assertion on his behalf – he would be too modest to do so himself). He is the author of one of the classics plays of the Irish canon, Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, a work that had a social and political impact that went far beyond theatre. He began his writing career as a poet and it was in this capacity that he appeared at the Kells/Hay Festival in 2013. And although he is, arguably, Ireland’s premier dramatist, he will be returning to Kells to read and discuss his latest novel The Woodcutter and his Family, which deals with the last days of James Joyce in Zurich.
Gerard Siggins was born in Dublin and has lived almost all his life in the shadow of Lansdowne Road; he’s been attending rugby matches there since he was small enough for his dad to lift him over the turnstiles. He is a sports journalist and worked for the Sunday Tribune for many years. His ‘Rugby Spirit’ series – Rugby Spirit, Rugby Warrior, Rugby Rebel, Rugby Flyer, Rugby Runner and Rugby Heroes (O’Brien Press) – has sold over 40,000 copies and is hugely popular with sports-loving children around the world.
Gerry Adams was born in October 1948 and grew up in the Ballymurphy district of West Belfast. He joined Sinn Féin when it was still a banned organisation in the mid-1960s and along with other republican activists became involved in campaigns around bad housing and equal rights and attended the inaugural meeting of the civil rights movement in 1967.
In 1972 he was interned without trial by the British in 1972 and the same year he was released to participate in secret talks in London between Irish republicans and the British government.
Gerry Adams played a leading role in the campaign for political status. He was a friend of Bobby Sands and knew many of the hunger strikers who died in 1981.
In June 1983 Gerry Adams was elected MP for West Belfast and in November of that year he was elected as Uachtarán Shinn Féin.
In March 1984 as he and several other members of Sinn Féin drove through Belfast city centre they were ambushed by the UDA. Gerry Adams was shot five times and seriously wounded. Later his home was also bombed.
In 1986 Gerry Adams was instrumental in launching the party's current peace strategy. He privately met with John Hume and in the following year Sinn Féin launched Scenario for Peace. In 1993 it emerged that the Sinn Féin President had been holding private meetings with the leader of the SDLP, John Hume. In the first of six joint statements issued by the two party leaders they set out their hope for the future.
In January 1994 President Bill Clinton gave Gerry Adams, who was banned from entering the USA, a 48 hour visa to attend a conference in New York. Six months later in August 1994 the IRA was persuaded to call a cessation of all military actions. It ended in February 1009 but was re-established in July 1997.
In September 1997 Gerry Adams led Sinn Féin into all-party talks and in April 1998 the Good Friday Agreement was achieved.
In 2005 Gerry Adams appealed to the IRA to take decisive decisions that would save the peace process from imminent collapse. As a result the IRA formally ended its armed campaign and in conjunction with the International Independent Commission on Decommissioning it dealt decisively with the issue of arms.
In March 2007 Gerry Adams and the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Ian Paisley agreed a deal which saw the political institutions restored.
In 2011 he resigned from Westminster and stood in the Louth constituency in the general election for the Dáil. He topped the poll and led a renewed and strong Sinn Féin team of 14 TDs and 3 Seanadóirí into the Dáil. In 2016 23 Sinn Féin TDs and 7 Seanadóirí were returned to the Oireachtas and in the Assembly elections and Westminster elections last year Sinn Féin secured its largest ever vote in the North and won 7 Westminster seats.
In November 2017 Gerry Adams announced his decision to step down as Uachtarán Shinn Féin. Mary Lou McDonald was elected Uachtarán Shinn Féin in February this year.
Gerry Adams is the author of 16 books, including: Falls Memories; A Pathway to Peace; The Politics of Irish Freedom and Selected Writings, A New Ireland – A Vision for the Future; his autobiographies "Before the Dawn" and Hope and History - Making Peace in Ireland; An Irish Voice, An Irish Journal and My little book of Tweets and his most recent book Never Give Up.
Remembering 1968 – The Vietnam War
Professor of American History at San Jose State University in California, Glen Gendzel is uniquely qualified to contribute to our commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the momentous events of 1968. In the USA, opposition to the continued American involvement in the Vietnam War was at its most intense that year. Glen will explore the course of the war in 1968, including the Tet offensive of February, disastrous for both sides, and repercussions on the home front.
Glen will also team up with Myles Dungan in a Litcrawl event to bring to O’Rorke’s Bar the larger-than-life Mr Dooley, the garrulous Irish barman created by the Chicago Irish-American humourist Finley Peter Dunne. It wowed them in Santa Fe (2014) and San Francisco (2015) – now the Mr Dooley tour comes to Kells! Lock up your wallets.
Gráinne Shaffrey is one of Ireland’s leading conservation architects. Her practice, Shaffrey Associates, undertakes architectural, urban design and planning projects throughout Ireland. Her work includes the conservation, adaptation and extension of historic buildings and new buildings in existing urban settings, and includes projects like the Wicklow Head Lighthouse in 1998 (conservation) for the Irish Landmark Trust, and Ardfert Cathedral in Co. Kerry (restoration) for the Office of Public Works. The latter project was awarded the RIAI Silver Medal for Restoration 1999/2000/2001.
Remembering 1918 – The Influenza Pandemic
The Great War is rightly viewed as one of the most egregious examples of wanton carnage in world history. But in terms of morbidity it paled in comparison to the infamous 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. It is reckoned, for example, that up to half of the 100,000 or so American military deaths of the war were caused by influenza. Millions of people worldwide died of this virulent strain of flu. Dr Ida Milne, Irish Research Council Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow at Maynooth University and Queen's University Belfast, is this country’s acknowledged expert on the pandemic and on its effects on Ireland in 1918. Her monograph on the subject, Stacking the Coffins: Influenza, war and revolution in Ireland, 1918–19, will be published this year by Manchester University Press.
Described by the Washington Post as ‘one of the most imaginative literary novelists writing in the English language today’, John Banville is probably Ireland’s most garlanded and celebrated writer. He has won numerous international awards, including the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 2005 for The Sea, and the 2011 Franz Kafka Prize. His most recent novel Mrs Osmond (2017) is a masterly ‘sequel’ to the canonical Portrait of a Lady by Henry James, in which Banville muses, in the style of the great American master, on the future of the free-spirited Isabel Archer. This will be his second appearance in Kells as that most eminent writer of literary fiction, John Banville. He has also appeared at our festival in his alternative guise, that of prolific crime novelist Benjamin Black.
John McKenna is a short story writer, playwright and novelist. His novels, which include Clare, A Haunted Heart and The Space Between Us, have been critically acclaimed. He has also written three collections of short stories, two volumes of poems and a biography of the Kildare-born explorer Ernest Shackleton. John also writes, directs and acts with Mend and Makedo Theatre Company. He is a winner of an Irish Times Fiction Award and in 2014 was shortlisted for the position of Irish Fiction Laureate.
Jonathan C. Creasy
Poet, scholar and musician Jonathan C. Creasy toured Kells last year in the latter incarnation. One of the most successful events in our inaugural Litcrawl was his rendition of the songs and poetry of the great Woody Guthrie. Jonathan returns this year with another Litcrawl slot dedicated to the work of a recent Nobel Literature Prize winner – though Bob Dylan is probably a little better known for his music than his poetry. Jonathan will do honour, homage and justice to Dylan, one of the greatest song-writers of the 20th century, and will give his audience another rollicking good time in the process.
Adventures in … the book trade
For a dozen years, from the time he set up in 1986, Welsh-born Jonathan Williams had the distinction of being Ireland’s only literary agent. He says himself that it took him more than half that time just to become established. Over the years he has represented writers as diverse as Benedict Kiely, John Montague and John Waters. During his career of over thirty years in the business (he intends to retire and read whatever he wants sometime soon) the role of the agent has changed radically. They have, in effect, replaced the talent-spotting editor. They are the buffer between the writer and the publisher, who no longer accepts material not sent to them by an agent. Jonathan will talk about his three decade ‘adventure in the book trade’.
Harry Potter is twenty-one this year, or at least this is the twenty-first anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. So that’s the same thing, right? Right or wrong, Hinterland is celebrating the impact of the young wizard with the iconic birthmark on the reading habits of a generation (some now entering into their thirties and reading the Potter books to their own children). Kelly Gartland is, to her chagrin, 100% Muggle (or so she tells us anyway), but with the aid of potions (smelly) and perhaps a mandrake or two, she will introduce a young audience to the practicalities of Potterism in a magical workshop.
Kingsley Donaldson, a former Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army, now works in the area of conflict resolution with the Causeway Institute for Peace-building and Conflict Resolution International. He has teamed up with Professor Paul Cornish to assess what the future might look like from a security perspective in 2020: World of War. He is not someone who shies away from controversy and spirited debate. He will be returning to Kells after a feisty contribution to our Brexit discussion in 2016, which emerged organically, after the result of the referendum vote was announced on 24 June.
Lisa McInerney, whose own website describes her as creator of ‘fitful short stories and … the occasional gourmet crisp sandwich’, is the author of Los Pecados Gloriosos, Weergaloze Dwalingen and Hérésies Glorieuses, which will give some indication of the outstanding success of her first novel The Glorious Heresies (it’s also been translated into German, Czech, Polish, Danish, Italian and American). Lisa is probably the most persuasive argument in favour of blogging, because that’s where she started. But with the publication of the award winning The Glorious Heresies and her recent follow-up The Blood Miracles, Lisa is channelling her creativity into the writing of some of the best fiction to come out of Ireland since the invention of … well, blogging. If we talk nicely to her she may also offer a workshop on making the perfect crisp butty.
Liz Gillis is the author of Women of the Irish Revolution and has researched the role of feminist militants in the anti-conscription campaign. She is also the author of Revolution in Dublin and The Fall of Dublin. She has a degree in Irish History and works as researcher with the RTÉ Radio 1 History Show. She has worked as a researcher on numerous publications, participated in many conferences focusing on the Irish revolution and has also developed a 'Revolutionary' walking tour of her native Liberties. Liz is co-organiser of the annual conference on the burning of the Custom House in 1921.
With her debut novel Unravelling Oliver Liz Nugent made a spectacular entrance onto the Irish and international literary stage. Unravelling Oliver has been published in fourteen languages, longlisted for the Dublin International Literary Award (formerly the IMPAC) and selected as Best Crime Novel at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards. Her second novel Lying in Wait was published in 2016, went straight to Number 1 and spent eight months in the top ten of the Irish best-seller lists. It also won Liz a second Irish Book Award. It was hailed by Sebastian Barry as ‘taut, crisp, clear, a storm-warning of a book’ and has also been longlisted for the Dublin International Literary Award. Liz was named Irish Tatler Woman of the Year in Literature in 2017. Her third novel, Skin Deep, was published by Penguin in the spring of 2018. It has been described by Donal Ryan as ‘monumentally good’ and Marian Keyes said the story was ‘brilliantly done’.
Maggie O’Farrell makes her first visit to Hinterland having just added a critically acclaimed memoir to her already impressive list of novels and literary awards. The author of seven novels, she won a Somerset Maugham Award in 2005 for The Distance Between Us. She followed that up five years later with the 2010 Costa Novel Award for The Hand That First Held Mine. The memoir which caused such a stir in late 2017 is I Am, I Am, I Am, a narrative of seventeen near-death encounters that have punctuated her life. These include a mismanaged labour in an understaffed hospital.
Mary Manning and Sinead O’Brien
Dunnes Stores cashier Mary Manning knew little about apartheid when, in 1984 at the age of twenty-one, she refused to register the sale of two Outspan South African grapefruits under a directive from her union. She was suspended, and nine of her co-workers walked out in support. They all assumed they would shortly return to work. They didn’t. Instead they became the central figures in a prolonged strike and boycott that captured world attention, a dispute waged at considerable financial and emotional cost to themselves. After the Dunnes Stores strike ended, Mary Manning emigrated to Australia until her name had been forgotten by potential employers, who associated her with the ‘anti-establishment’ label. Now living in Dublin, she has given talks throughout Ireland, as well as in London, New York and Washington. She has two daughters. Striking Back: The Untold Story of an Anti-Apartheid Striker is her account of the Dunnes Stores strike and much more besides.
Sinéad O’Brien is an award-winning filmmaker and author. Her book Left for Dead was named Sunday Times Sports Book of the Year and shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book Award. It is under film option in the UK and US.
Mary O’Rourke is a former deputy leader of her party and has held a number of senior cabinet positions. She has also been leader of the Seanad and is a frequent popular guest on radio and television. For fifty minutes last year Mary O’Rourke (please don’t tell us she needs any introduction) kept a Kells audience enthralled reading from Letters of My Life, in which Mary wrote a letter to twenty people past and present, close and distant, living and deceased. To her beloved brother Paddy, to the Athlone Fianna Fail Women’s Group, to a young couple embracing on a bridge, to a past professor, to a cousin in America. Every letter is heartfelt, every letter offers gratitude for the difference the recipient made to Mary’s life.
But fifty minutes wasn’t enough, so the moment she stepped off the podium we invited her to come back for part two in 2018. She graciously agreed. Who knows, maybe 100 minutes won’t be enough.
Mary Watson is the author of the Young Adult novel The Wren Hunt, described by the Sunday Times as ‘a thrilling and otherworldly depiction of Irish culture’. Her debut novel is part thriller, part love story. It was extremely well reviewed and was brought out by Bloomsbury, publishers of the Harry Potter series, a distinct vote of confidence from the company which discovered and nurtured J.K.Rowling. Originally from Cape Town in South Africa, and author of a number of works for adults, Mary now lives in Galway.
Matt Dickinson is a filmmaker and adventurer who has successfully climbed Mount Everest, filming as he went, and lived to tell the tale of the catastrophic climbing season of 1996. He is also a veteran of the unforgiving wilderness that is the Antarctic, and this informed the writing of his 2006 novel Black Ice, a thriller set in Antarctica. Matt, who mesmerised a Kells audience last year with his account of his Everest adventure, will switch his attention in 2018 to the more exposed landscape around the South Pole.
Matthew Gilsenan of the renowned Celtic Tenors was raised by parents who shared a great love for music, from the great composers to obscure Irish folk. Matthew, along with all his siblings, was born to sing. His classical training started in the Sisters of Mercy convent in Kells, Co. Meath, aged 10, and progressed to some of the great Irish and Scottish teachers. Although he ventured into opera and classical singing, Matthew never lost his love for the music of his youth, in particular the vibrant contemporary Irish music which is his great source of inspiration. Matthew, having trained as an engineer, decided in 1997 to take a six-month sabbatical from engineering, and embarked on his singing career. In the space of a year, Matthew’s live singing moved from his engineering firm’s rock band to Ireland’s National Chamber Choir to the operatic stage and onwards, together with James Nelson founding The Celtic Tenors.
Matt Spangler’s stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner has been going from strength to strength. After a lengthy West End run last summer the play has been touring the UK and has now come to Ireland, playing in Dublin, Belfast and Cork in June 2018. Matt will be talking about his relationship with the author and the play. Rather more challenging for Matt will be his second event! He will describe how he would go about adapting for stage Mary Manning’s Striking Back: The Untold Story of an Anti-Apartheid Striker, her account of the lengthy Dunne’s Stores strike of the 1980s, which began as an anti-apartheid protest. In an experiment that could go anywhere Matt, our ‘in-house’ dramatist, will be joined onstage by Mary Manning and co-writer Sinead O’Brien.
Dr Myles Dungan, author (Irish Voices from the Great War and How the Irish Won the West) and presenter of The History Show on RTÉ Radio 1, looks back at one of the most dramatic and controversial presidential elections in American history. It encompassed the eclipse of a sitting president, the assassination of one of the leading candidates, riots at the Democratic selection convention in Chicago, a Southern racist uprising, and a far tighter race than anyone had predicted. Myles will also be conducting his usual quota of public interviews, talking this year to Nick Davies, Barry Ryan, Susan Denham, John Banville and Colm Tóibín and the elusive ‘Sean Hartnett’.
Nerys Williams is an Associate Professor in American Literature at UCD and Fulbright alumnus. Her first volume of poetry, Sound Archive (Seren, 2011), won the Irish ‘Strong’ Prize in 2012 and her second, Cabaret (New Dublin Press), was published in 2017. She has written extensively on modern and contemporary poetry and is currently working on a memoir of life in Wales in the 1980s and ‘90s.
Investigative journalism is the meat and drink of the Guardian newspaper and Nick Davies is the exemplar of that tradition. His tenacious and morally courageous work on the British ‘phone hacking’ scandal from 2010 onwards could have ended his own career in ignominious fashion. Instead his dogged efforts brought the newspaper empire of Rupert Murdoch spectacularly to heel and led, indirectly, to the closure of one of the worst offenders, in the News of the World. In Hack Attack (2014) a work of non-fiction that often reads like a thriller, Davies gives his own first-hand account of the exposure of the scandal. In Flat Earth News (2008) he writes about the ‘corrupted profession’ of journalism, in which the press release has long since triumphed over original and essential reporting.
The Boyne Valley is a place of history, myths and legends. This rich valley is home to a range of heritage sites and monuments; sites like Tara, Newgrange, Kells and the Battle of the Boyne site which are well known nationally and internationally. With a landscape of passage tombs, sacred hills, monastic ruins, bloody battlefields and heritage towns it is no wonder that the Boyne Valley is considered to be the birthplace of Ireland’s Ancient East. The legends, stories and history of these places have been brought together by celebrated local historian and guide Noel French in his new volume Discovering the Boyne Valley.
Remembering 1918 – The Dublin Metropolitan Police and the Royal Irish Constabulary
Paul Maher, as well as being a serving Garda, researches the history of An Garda Siochana, the Dublin Metropolitan Police and the Royal Irish Constabulary. For many years now he has run the hugely successful Garda Historical Society and has lectured in many different forums (including Kells/Hay in 2016). For this year’s talk he will focus on the duties of the DMP, just before the Anglo-Irish War signalled the beginning of the end for the RIC and the DMP.
Remembering 1918 – The Conscription Crisis in Ireland
Prof. Pauric Travers was appointed first lay President of St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, in 1999. He is an educationalist and a distinguished historian. He is a graduate of UCD where he completed his BA and his MA, and of the Australian National University where he completed his PhD. He is a former Academic Director of the Parnell Summer School, and his writing includes Settlements & Divisions: Ireland 1870–1922 (1988), The Irish Emigrant Experience in Australia (Poolbeg, 1991) and Irish Culture and Nationalism 1750–1950 (1992). Professor Travers will discuss the 1918 Conscription Crisis in Ireland when the British government sought, unsuccessfully, to introduce compulsory enlistment.
Pen Vogler is a food historian par excellence. Her favourite dish is 19th century Britain, whose cuisine she has served up in a number of works associated with some of the most beloved authors and characters in the English language. Take Dinner with Dickens, for example, where Pen celebrates the food of Victorian England by recreating dishes Dickens wrote about with such brio and gusto, and which he enjoyed himself in real life. Dickens used food for character exposition, to create comedy, and to highlight social issues. Pen is also the author of Tea with Jane Austen and Dinner with Mr Darcy, which focus on the cuisine of the Regency period. Pen will discuss how Dickens and Austen write about food to tell us about the morals, manners and characters in their novels; and how the social forces that they describe have changed what we eat.
Peter Fallon / Oisin Leech / Saramai Leech
After the success of their unique partnership in 2016 and 2017 we present another intimate interlude of songs, readings and talk with three acclaimed artists from County Meath.
As one of The Lost Brothers, Oisin Leech, from Navan, has played Glastonbury, the Electric Picnic and SXSW. Today he'll sing solo and combine with his sister, Saramai, another exceptional singer/songwriter who, thanks to a recent EP and appearances at Other Voices and other venues, is a growing force. Joining Oisin and Saramai to read his poetry and stimulate a conversation is award-winning poet and publisher Peter Fallon, the success of whose work has brought him around the world and who, in the words of the Sunday Times is 'one of Ireland’s greatest literary talents'.
Ralph Riegel is the southern correspondent for The Irish Independent and a regular contributor to RTÉ, BBC and TV3. In Molly Martens: The Making of a Murderer he tells the story of the trial and of what drove Molly Martens to kill her husband. Previous books include Afraid of the Dark: The Tragic Story of Robert Holohan and Shattered: Killers Do Time, Victims’ Families Do Life. He lives in Cork.
RTÉ broadcaster Rick O’Shea describes himself as ‘a book pusher and an event host’. And that’s what he’ll be doing at Hinterland. Oh My God What a Complete Aisling will be ‘pushed’ to a Kells audience in a Rick O’Shea Book Club event. Rick’s Book Club boasts over 14,000 members. His panel will consist of four Meath bibliophiles. Rick will also be pressed into service to interview some of our other guests. So you’ll be seeing a lot of him.
Remembering 1918 – Vivid Faces
Shortly after Roy Foster retired as Carroll Professor of Irish History at Oxford University, the chair, created for him in 1991, was renamed in his honour, proof positive of the status of this most distinguished of academics. Biographer of Charles Stewart Parnell, Randolph Churchill and W.B.Yeats, author of one of the definitive one-volume histories of this country, Modern Ireland 1600–1972, Foster has been at the forefront of Irish academic research (and controversy) for more than thirty years. Channelling his recent work Vivid Faces: The Revolutionary Generation in Ireland (2014), his talk will examine some of the significant events and personalities of 1918 in Ireland.
Originally from Preston, Lancashire, Ruth Eastham is more a citizen of the world these days, having lived and worked in Australia, New Zealand and Italy. A writer of young adult fiction, from mystery stories such as The Messenger Bird to supernatural adventures like Arrowhead, her latest novel is a page-turning adventure story with an environmental backdrop (the prevention of fracking) – Warriors in the Mist. Her novel The Memory Cage was nominated for the Carnegie Prize and shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Book Prize. Join Ruth for a creative writing workshop based around an object precious to you. It could be a photograph, a piece of jewellery, a cuddly toy! Anything with a special memory attached.
Ruth will read from The Memory Cage, to get ideas flowing – www.rutheastham.com.Teen/YA
Sean Hartnett is a pseudonym, and its owner is a marked man. Born in Cork in the 1970s and despite being from a strong Republican background, ‘Hartnett’ joined the British Army in 1998 and in 2001 was posted to Northern Ireland as a member of the elite Joint Communications Unit, Northern Ireland, known colloquially as ‘the FRU’. While there he was (covertly) involved in some of the most high profile events of the tail end of the ‘Troubles’. He told his story, to the consternation of the British establishment, in the best-selling memoir Charlie One in 2016. Since leaving the British Army he has been working in the world of commercial espionage and counter espionage, mostly in Ireland. In his follow-up The Green Fly he will lift the lid on surveillance and corruption in the years leading up to the ‘Great Bust’ of 2008, including an account of his undercover work for Anglo-Irish Bank. ‘Sean’ will be interviewed from a remote and secret location.
Sinead Gleeson is a writer, editor, freelance broadcaster (The Book Showon RTÉ Radio 1) and journalist. Her book of essays, Constellations will be published by Picador in the spring of 2019. She has previously participated in the Kells/Hay Festival in a number of capacities, talking about her own work, as well as conducting workshops and a series of public interviews, most notably her 2015 chat with Brian Eno, one of the most memorable highlights of the Hay/Hinterland Festivals since 2013. She has experienced huge success with The Long Gaze Back: An Anthology of Irish Women Writers (2015). She followed that up in 2016 with The Glass Shore: Short Stories by Women from the North of Ireland. Both won Best Irish Published Book at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards. This year Sinead will be discussing both anthologies in an event on Friday 22ndand will host public interviews with Maggie O’Farrell and Liz Nugent.
Sinéad O’Hart has had many careers (including butcher, bookseller and university lecturer) before finally becoming a children’s author with her first novel The Eye of the North. This is an adventure story (written with more than a slice of humour) about a girl called Emmeline who must search for her missing parents in the frozen north. Sinead lives in Co. Meath where, she says, it rains a lot but she doesn’t really notice because she’s probably reading – or writing. https://sjohart.wordpress.com.
Stephen Davison is a partner in the Belfast photographic agency Pacemaker Press International, and has been photographing and writing about motorcycle racing for 25 years. His updated, anniversary edition of Joey Dunlop, King of the Roads is packed with new material, including new photographs, a new introduction, and a new chapter on the legacy of the almost legendary Joey Dunlop. His racing career began in 1969, and his yellow helmet and number 3 bike quickly became synonymous with high-octane wins, drawing huge crowds to the Isle of Man TT races and to every other course he raced.
This event is a must for all our weekend visitors to the Kells Road Races.
Adventures in … the law
For decades Susan Denham has graced the legal profession in Ireland, ultimately rising to the very top, to become the country’s first female Chief Justice. Among her many achievements in that office was to supervise the creation of a dedicated Court of Appeal, designed to clear the decks of outstanding cases more quickly, and ensure that the infamous ‘wheels of justice’ turned more efficiently. In the first of a series of talks in which we invite leading practitioners to discuss their ‘adventures’ in their chosen profession Justice Denham will look back over the highlights of a long and distinguished career in the law.
Suzanne Campbell is a journalist with a particular interest in food, in its production, its consumption, and its politics. She is a regular contributor to radio and TV programmes (Drivetime and Countrywide, RTÉ Radio 1) and to newspapers and magazines (Irish Times, Irish Independent). She is also the author, with her husband Philip Boucher Hayes, of Basketcase: What’s Happening to Ireland’s Food, which poses the challenging question ‘When did the nation that was married to the land lose its inner culchie?’, and discusses what Ireland has lost in its headlong rush towards cosmopolitanism.
Tatyana Feeney grew up in North Carolina, where she spent much of her childhood reading and drawing. This developed into a love of art and particularly illustrations in children’s books, so she gave up her ambition to be a fire-girl and studied art history and illustration. Tatyana now lives in Co. Meath with her husband and two children. She has illustrated several books in the O’Brien Press ‘Panda’ series and is also the author and illustrator of Small Bunny’s Blue Blanket, Little Owl’s Orange Scarf, Little Frog’s Tadpole Trouble and Small Elephant’s Bathtime.
The Lost Brothers
Tom Dunne has been front man with the Irish rock band Something Happens for almost thirty years now (impossible – the man is barely thirty himself!). He has also been a radio presenter for the better part of two decades, probably still best known for his seminal Pet Sounds programme on Today FM. Last year he celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the recording of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, so we’ve invited him back to mark the 1968 recording of the seminal double album The Beatles, better known as The White Album. This included such classic tracks as ‘Back in the USSR’, ‘Blackbird’, ‘While my Guitar Gently Weeps’ and ‘Revolution’.
Remembering 1968 – Rated XXX: The Underground Press in the City of Love
A regular visitor to Kells since 2016, San Francisco native historian Tony Bucher will cast his eye over the radical, subversive underground press which thrived in the Bay Area in the Sixties and Seventies. News sheets heralding street rebellions, obscene comics, and magazines espousing the 'new journalism' grew alongside and underpinned the student revolts and flourishing counterculture of the burgeoning hippie movement of San Francisco of the era.
Note: Not suitable for children
Remembering 1968 – The Cannabis Craze from 1968 to 2018: 50 glorious years of ‘weed’ in San Francisco
With the recent legalisation of cannabis in the great State of California, the minds of grizzled veterans of the pot trade wander back to San Francisco in 1968 and the halcyon early days of the embrace of marijuana in hippie paradise. There can be no definitive account of this period, because, by definition, if you were there you can’t remember it. But Tony Bucher was young enough to escape the worst excesses, yet old enough to bridge the early days to the present. Fifty years later, legalization has brought about a new Gold Rush to capitalize on the business of ‘weed’, causing elements of the old counterculture to bud and flower in the mainstream.