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Leaves Festival: A Celebration of Writing and Music

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Article by ERMurray © 2 November 2019.
Posted in Guest Blogs ().

The Leaves Festival of Writing and Music, running from the 5-10th of November celebrates the diversity and richness in today’s literary, music, theatre and film scene. Leaves aims to excite and engage with audiences young and old.  Now a weeklong event with over 17 events the diverse and exciting programme has something for all genres.

This year’s festival is curated by Dermot Bolger one of Ireland’s best known writers.  Dermot, in his own words describes what makes the festival so special.

 “Occurring as it does, in that lull before the rush of Christmas, lends Laois’s Leaves Festival its own unique intimacy: an unhurried space for writers and audiences to meet in a relaxed atmosphere and luxate in their shared love of books. This friendly ambiance and lively exchange of ideas has allowed it to evolve a cherished place in Ireland’s literary calendar.”

The written word comes alive, aloud and off the page

This year’s programme gives plenty of opportunities to hear from contemporary writers, enjoy the art of conversation, listen to acclaimed musicians and appreciate film and live theatre.  Some of the highlights from this year’s festival include:

An evening with a true Irish Legend, John Sheahan of the Dubliners fame.  John, in conservation with Dermot Bolger brings us an eclectic mix of chat, poetry readings, nostalgic stories and well-loved tunes.

Award winning authors Joseph O’Connor and Christine Dwyer Hickey bring us an evening where the written word comes alive, aloud and off the page.  Hear the stories behind the stories in a fascinating celebration of the written word.  Sibéal Ní Chasaide will bring her unique haunting contemporary sean-nós music to this wonderful evening.

Manchán Mangan brings us a bi-lingual performance in which he bakes bread while offering insights into the wonders of the Irish language. This is a unique and entertaining way to celebrate our native language and get to try some freshly made arán agus im made with the help of the audience.

Master photographer John Minahan, in a rare public conservation with Dermot Bolger, will regale us of stories of his eventful career photographing some of the modern day greats like Samuel Beckett, Princess Diana and Francis Bacon.  This is a must for lovers of literature and photography.

There are a number of writing and poetry workshops with poet Enda Wyley and author Christine Dwyer Hickey.

Laois Libraries are running a number of events throughout the week including children’s workshops, book launches and much more.

Historical Venues to Showcase Literatures Best 

Dunamaise Arts Centre a former prison is now transformed into a thriving arts centre and plays host to many of the festival events.

The intimate & cosy setting of the 18th Century St Peter’s Church of Ireland is the perfect backdrop for musical events with wonderful architecture by James Gandon, architect of Emo Court, Dublin’s Four Courts and Custom House has amazing acoustics.

Ballintubbert Gardens and House will celebrate the theatrical, literary and horticulture history of the place as the final event in the Leaves festival.  It was the birth place of poet laureate C. Day–Lewis and the house through the years was also home to actors Sebastian Shaw and Sir John Hurt.

Find out more

The festival is organised by The Arts Office in Laois who can be contacted by emailing artsoff@laoiscoco.ie.  The full programme can be seen at leavesfestival.ie. Festival updates and news can be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  Tickets for evening events are on sale at www.dunamaise.ie. A festival pass offering 3 evening events for €30 can also be purchased.


Follow Elizabeth online, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Elizabeth Rose Murray lives in West Cork where she writes, fishes, and grows her own vegetables. Her first book for young adults Caramel Hearts (Alma Books) was published June 2016. Her debut novel for children aged 10-12, The Book of Learning - Nine Lives Trilogy 1 (Mercier Press) 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. The final installment The Book of Revenge will be published in February 2018.

Elizabeth has poetry and short fiction published in journals across the UK and Ireland - including Ogham Stone, Southword, South Circular, Esc and 3am - and has been shortlisted in various competitions including TV3AM Short Story, Francis MacManus, and Aesthetica Creative Works. She has also performed in Ciudades Paralelas: Station - a live writing installation.

Hoping to encourage new writers, Elizabeth provides manuscript reports and online writing courses through Inkwell Writers and Big Smoke Writing Factory. She is a regular at literary festivals, and offers adult workshops on writing for children and young adults, as well as multiple events and workshops for children and teens.

You can connect with Elizabeth on Twitter @ERMurray, Facebook www.facebook.com/ERMurray.Author or her blog www.ermurray.com