The full programme for the 17th Ennis Book Club Festival has been announced. This year’s festival will offer a vibrant programme of live events and activities for book lovers of all ages. As always, the festival will offer opportunities to engage with your favourite authors and features an additional programme of events for younger readers.

The official launch of the 2023 Festival takes place on Friday 27th January when the Laureate for Irish Fiction, Colm Tóibín, will present The Art of Reading, a monthly club for library book clubs across the country which will take place in Ennis. Colm will join us online from the U.S., in conversation with Louise Kennedy to discuss her superb debut novel, Trespasses.

On Friday 3rd at 10am in glór as part of the festival’s Young Readers’ Programme, Jaki McCarrick, playwright, and poet, will present a talk for young adults that explores the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh and his connections to the modernist tradition. This will be followed at 12pm, by a Children’s Book club event, with Ellen Ryan (Girls Who Slay Monsters), in conversation with Sarah Moore Fitzgerald.

At 2pm, in association with Poetry Ireland and the Clare Libraries service, the festival has a wonderful event, Meeting Eavan Boland – a Celebration of her Life and Legacy which will explore the legacy of one of Ireland’s most gifted poets. It will feature poets Nessa O’Mahony, John O’Donnell and Annemarie Ní Churreáin in conversation with journalist Olivia O’Leary.

Following this, Martina Durac, EBCF Artistic Director will be in conversation with local Clare author, Sean O’Driscoll about his book on the life and times of Rose Dugdale, an English heiress and academic who became a committed terrorist and member of the I.R.A. Both events will take place in The Temple Gate Hotel.

Taking place in glór, The Debut authors event will showcase the work of three emerging writers – Aingeala Flannery, Megan Nolan and Luke Cassidy in conversation with Pat Carty, celebrating these new voices whose work is richly varied, circling around themes of identity, home and belonging.

Crime fiction is one of the most popular genres of writing today and often takes us on an unsettling journey. Rounding off Friday’s events, EBCF is delighted to have four crime writing authors who are at the peak of their powers – Jane Casey, Håkan Nesser, Liz Nugent and Catherine Ryan Howard, in conversation with Declan Hughes, himself a novelist and playwright.

At 10am on Saturday 4th in Ennis Courthouse, EBCF is delighted to welcome Kit de Waal back to Ennis to explore her new book Without Warning & Only Sometimes which takes the form of a memoir in vignettes, exploring her childhood in an unusual and rough and tumble family. Kit will be interviewed by Derek Hand, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at DCU.

An exciting young adult Book club workshop event takes place in Clare Museum at 11am, based on writing about mythology where Ellen Ryan explores the remarkable journey she went on when researching her award-winning book, Girls Who Slay Monsters.

At 11.30am, Festival favourite Ten Books You Should Read features Róisín Ingle and Manchán Magan in glór exploring a list of their most recommended books. Designed for readers and book clubs, Ten Books is a Saturday highlight of the festival and a chance to explore the books that have left our guests intrigued, thoughtful and wanting to go back and read them all over again. This year we are very pleased to welcome Róisín and Manchán to share their favourite books, in an event that will be moderated by James Harrold.

The Temple Gate Hotel will host The Beyond Borders Bookclub at 2pm on Saturday. Led by poet Sarah Clancy, this Bookclub is a celebration of great literature from countries beyond Ireland and aims to open out the great diversity of writing and literature in the world for audiences in Ireland.

Clare writers, with Aoibhín Garrihy (Every Day is a Fresh Beginning) and Marc O’Riain (The Last of the Light) takes place in Ennis Courthouse and features the two authors sharing poetry and stories about landscape, memory, and friendship.

EBCF is happy to welcome Newmarket on Fergus author, Colm Liddy to an event in The Temple Gate Foyer where he will explore his book, Nan Hogan, looking at her life in Cumann na mBan and her role in the war of Independence.

Saturday afternoon sees a screening of Clouded Reveries – a documentary about local poet and novelist Doireann Ní Ghríofa. This film by director Ciara Nic Chormaic is a beautifully shot and intimate portrayal of Doireann’s life and creative process.

At 6pm in The Temple Gate, EBCF presents Northern Irish Writing Flourishing. Northern Irish fiction is thriving in the variety of form and genre of work being published now.  Neil Hegarty, himself a talented writer, will moderate a fascinating discussion with three writers – Lucy Caldwell, Olivia Fitzsimons and Michelle Gallen, whose work displays an impressive, layered and sometimes devilishly funny rendering of life in Northern Ireland.

The Saturday night author interview with novelist Tessa Hadley takes place in glór at 8.30pm. Hadley’s award-winning work is a triumph of restraint and wonderfully rich prose, wherein she explores the quiet burdens and losses her characters live with as they negotiate their way through life. Tessa will be in conversation with Bríona Nic Dhiarmada, (Kathleen O’Donnell Professor Emerita of Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame in the U.S., film maker and writer).

The closing day of the festival sees Pat Dolan, editor of the extraordinary Ionbhá: The Empathy Book for Ireland, explore some of the reflections on empathy contained within the book, along with two of the contributors, in a wide-ranging conversation about joy in the everyday. This event will take place at 10am in Sweet N’ Green café.

An always exciting and provocative event, The Sunday Symposium takes to the stage at glór. This year the symposium focusses on environment, ecology, and climate change. In what promises to be a fascinating and lively discussion, Éanna Ní Lamhna (biologist and author of Our Wild World), Eoghan Daltun (sculptor, farmer, and author of An Irish Atlantic Rainforest), scientist and journalist Olive Heffernan, and Harrison Gardner (co-founder of Common Knowledge and author of Build Your Own) explore the challenges and opportunities that surround us as they grapple with the question: where to now?

At 2pm, Festival goers will move to The Old Ground for the Literary Lunch, another highlight of the festival that this year will feature Donal Ryan talking about his writing life and times and all the influences that colour his work.

­­­­As always, there are lots of other terrific events taking place across the festival weekend including the beloved Books n ‘ Bun’s event on Saturday morning, testing your knowledge of all things literary, Walking Tour with Jane O’Brien, performances from Clare Youth Theatre and poetry readings.

Ennis Book Club Festival, in association with Clare Library also features an extensive programme for younger readers, including the chance to participate in Fighting Words, a creative writing workshop for Secondary Schools with Colm Quearney; Stories of the Revolutionwith Flor McCarthy; Supernatural Stories for Teens with Aislinn O’Loughlin; Get Started Writing with Helena Close and Teen Health and Wellness with Colette O’Flynn, all taking place in Ennistymon and de Valera Libraries.

Commenting on the programme for the 2022 Ennis Book Club Festival, Artistic Director Martina Durac says, “The best book festivals bring communities to meet on common ground. Writers and readers come together into a wonderful space to enjoy, celebrate, and interrogate ideas and stories of all kinds. With the Ennis Book Club Festival we celebrate those groups of people up and down the country, all over the world, in fact, who meet regularly to closely discuss and analyse books that grab their attention. With EBCF 2023, we want to bring our audience on a kaleidoscopic journey through Irish and international fiction, memoir, poetry, history, ecology and myth. It has been my great pleasure to programme this festival and I look forward to sparks flying, ideas being exchanged and lots of engaging discussions along the way”.

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