Change to Limerick Literary Festival line-up

Organisers of the 2014 Limerick Literary Festival have today (Wednesday, 19 February 2014) confirmed that on receipt of medical advice Edna O'Brien is unable to travel to Ireland to participate in this weekend’s festival.

Festival organisers have confirmed that award winning novelist and playwright Sebastian Barry has been added to the 30th annual Festival programme in Ms. O’Brien’s absence.

Sebastian Barry’s novels and plays have won numerous awards including the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Prize, the Costa Book of the Year award, the Irish Book Awards Best Novel, the Independent Booksellers Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He also had two consecutive novels, ‘A Long Long Way’ (2005) and ‘The Secret Scripture’ (2008), shortlisted for the MAN Booker Prize. He lives in Wicklow with his wife and three children. The film of ‘The Secret Scripture’, starring Jessica Chastain and Vanessa Redgrave, will begin shooting in Ireland in May. His new novel, The Temporary Gentleman, will be released in April by Faber and Faber.

The Festival, which gets underway tomorrow evening and continues through Sunday, this year marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Limerick-born novelist and playwright Kate O’Brien, regarded one of Ireland’s best known literary figures.

Born into a prosperous Limerick family in 1897, O’Brien began her writing career in 1926 and Without My Cloak, a novel written in 1930, was her first best seller. Other works include The Ante Room, That Lady, The Land of Spices and The Last of Summer. Although frequently returning to Limerick, the inspiration for much of her work. She died in England in 1974.

This year’s festival features author visits, readings, lectures and panel discussions at 69 O’Connell St (formerly The Belltable) and The Lime Tree Theatre in Limerick City.

Festival participants include Sebastian Barry; Anne Enright, Booker Prize-winning author; Michael Frayn, English playwright, novelist and winner of Laurence Olivier, Whitbread and Tony Awards; Michael Longley, winner of Irish Times Poetry award; and Claire Tomalin, English biographer and journalist.

Other Irish contributors to the 30th annual festival include Selina Guinness, author; Vivienne McKechnie, poet; Niall MacMonagle, teacher, critic and Editor of ‘Poetry Now’; Peter Cunningham, award-winning novelist and newspaper columnist; Professor Frank McGuinness, Irish playwright and poet; Tony Curtis, poet; David Lilburn, award-winning artist; Siobhán Parkinson, award-winning novelist and one of Ireland's best-known writers for children; Robert O'Byrne, author; and Elaine Fox, research psychologist, neuroscientist and writer.

Opening the festival at 69 O’Connell St tomorrow (Thursday February 20th) at 6.30 p.m. will be Duchesse de Magenta, Amélie de Mac-Mahon. Her late husband (Philippe) was a descendant of J.B. MacMahon, one of the Wild Geese who left Limerick after the Treaty of Limerick in 1691. Following the official opening, Beoure Theatre will perform a reading of Kate O’Brien’s play “Distinguished Villa”.

On Friday, historian John Logan will lead a walking tour from Ború House, the former family residence of Kate O’Brien, starting at 2p.m. The walk will be followed by author Robert O'Byrne interviewing the Duchess of Magenta. At 7pm there will be a wine reception to launch two books, 'Pony' by poet Tony Curtis in collaboration with Limerick Artist David Lilburn, and A Butterfly's Wing by Limerick poet by Vivienne McKechnie. Later that evening at 8p.m., internationally renowned pianist Finghin Collins will give a recital at The Lime Tree Theatre.

A busy programme is scheduled for Saturday, starting at, in 69 O’Connell St, with talks by luminaries such as Claire Tomalin, Michael Frayn, Anne Enright, Elaine Fox, Peter Cunningham, Siobhán Parkinson and Selina Guinness, as well as Frank McGuinness in conversation with journalist and RTE Radio producer Kay Sheehy.

The programme concludes on Sunday at The Lime Tree Theatre with Niall MacMonagle at 10 a.m followed by poet Michael Longley. The festival finishes up at midday with one of the event highlights which will see Niall MacMonagle in conversation with celebrated writer Sebastian Barry about his life and latest work, ‘The Temporary Gentleman’.

The Limerick Literary Festival, previously called the Kate O’Brien Weekend, is organised by the Kate O’Brien Committee and funded by the Arts Council, Limerick City and County Council and City of Culture 2014. The Kate O’Brien Weekend has this year been incorporated into the Limerick Literary Festival.

For a full listing of all events and booking details please visit or contact the booking office at 061774774 / In light of Ms. Edna O’Brien’s inability to attend this year’s Festival, organisers say refunds, if required, will be made available through the Lime Tree box office from tomorrow (Thursday).

Last update:19/02/2014