A celebration of the work of Meath short story writer and novelist, Mary Lavin, is underway with the second Mary Lavin Season organised by Meath County Library and Arts Office. This follows the inaugural tribute to Mary Lavin’s work last year to mark the centenary of her birth.
American born, Lavin came to Bective when her father, Tom Lavin, returned to Ireland from Boston to work as estate manager at Bective House outside Navan. She was to become one of the best known Irish writers of her generation, living at the Abbey Farm overlooking Bective Abbey. Lavin’s first book 'Tales from Bective Bridge’, a volume of ten short stories about life in rural Ireland, was a major success and went on to win the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction.
Her stories received numerous other awards as well, including the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Katherine Mansfield Prize, and many first appeared in the prestigious New Yorker - an American magazine which has published essays, fiction, satire and poetry of some of the most famous writers ever to have lived over a period of nearly 90 years.
Lavin will be celebrated along with other well known Irish women writers in a series of contemporary photographic portraits called 'Irish Writers’ (put together by Ursula Burke) which will be on display in Dunshaughlin, Dunboyne and Oldcastle libraries, as well as the Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, for two weeks at a time throughout October and November.
The launch of 'Mary Lavin’, edited by Elke D’hoker will also be a part of the season. This recently compiled book is a critical examination of the main themes and stylistic features of Lavin’s novels and short stories. The launch will take place on 10th October in the County Library, Navan at 8pm.
In October, Two Chairs Theatre Company will travel around Meath performing some of Lavin’s stories that are set in Meath and feature the landscape, folklore and people of the area around Bective where she lived.
'Stories of Mary Lavin’ told by Nuala Hayes with Anne Marie O’Farrell on the harp is a retelling of popular Mary Lavin tales with accompanying music. As well as that their will be performances of a 'A Likely Story’ and 'The Widow’s Son’ which are suitable for primary school groups of fifth and sixth class children.
Moving into November, an RTÉ documentary about Lavin’s life entitled 'An Arrow in Flight’ will be broadcast in the Solstice Arts Centre on Tuesday 5th at 8pm.
The film discusses her literature, her relationship with her parents and the important influences in her life with contributions from the late Nuala O’Faolain, Eavan Boland and one of Mary Lavin’s daughters, the late Caroline Walsh.
Running for the week of 20th to 24th November at Bellinter House Hotel will be 'Tales from Bellinter’. These are performances of Mary Lavin’s 'Happiness’ and 'In the Middle of the Fields’ adapted by Padraic McIntyre of 'The Night Joe Dolan’s Car Broke Down’ fame along with Deirdre Kinehan. Set in the historic Bellinter House on the banks of the river Boyne it will give audiences first hand experience of the surroundings that inspired a lot of Lavin’s work.
Heather Ingman, a professor at the School of English in Trinity College Dublin, will give a talk entitled 'Mary Lavin’s Life Lessons’ in County Library, Navan at 8pm on Thursday 21st November. Ingman has written many books based on Irish fiction including 'Twentieth-Century Fiction by Irish Women: Nation and Gender’ and 'A History of the Irish Short Story’.
Finally, there will be a talk on the life of Mary Lavin on Thursday 12th December, also in County Library, Navan. 'Mary Lavin: A Personal Insight’ is a talk given by Kathleen MacMahon, a granddaughter of Lavin who is also a writer and journalist, on the life of the famous novelist.
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