Kells will once again celebrate its very own Hinterland Festival of literature and the arts.
Now in its second year and following on the enormous success of the Hay Festival Kells, the town is poised and ready for yet another mass invasion of writers, readers, history buffs, music lovers, culture vultures and artists. Hinterland is now among the most prominent Lit Fests in this country, spawning a plethora of similar festivals countrywide, but none of them do it quite like Kells.
At Hinterland’s 2018 launch last Friday in Kells Courthouse, Ger Gaughran, committee Chair, thanked all those who make it possible. She recounted how a hefty chunk of promised funding failed to deliver this year, leaving Hinterland 2018 a tad unsteady. In an unprecedented display of grace under fire, the committee very quickly organized an online Fund-It campaign, target €10,000. Almost as quickly, the target was reached and exceeded. These Hinterland folks are unstoppable.
RTE broadcaster, historian and Hinterland Programme Director Myles Dungan introduced some of this year’s highlights. Next month will see two of Ireland’s most famous literary giants rolling into town; John Banville and Colm Toibín will be there. So will Michael Harding, Liz Nugent, Lisa McInerney, Frank McGuinness, Maggie O’Farrell and co-authors of “Oh My God What a Complete Aisling”, Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght. Rick O’Shea, who describes himself as “a book pusher and an event host” will also be in town.
Ryan Tubridy and PJ O'Rourke discuss JFK's visit to Ireland last year
Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams is coming, as is Fianna Fail’s Mary O’Rourke and there’s an intriguing long-distance interview with “Sean Hartnett”, a former British Army spook who was active in Northern Ireland during the troubles and whose memoir “Charlie One” is a bestseller. Six-One news broadcaster Caitriona Perry will be remembering her time as RTE’s US Correspondent in Trump’s America and another familiar Newsroom face,
Business Correspondent David Murphy, will be discussing how – or if - we can prepare for the inevitability of Brexit.
History is always an important feature of Hinterland and this year Prime Time broadcaster and historian David McCullagh will be talking about Eamon De Valera in 1918. Historian and retired director of the National Archives, Catriona Crowe will be looking back at Irish women’s steps towards suffrage and equality in both 1918 and 1968, and also looking back at 1968 – although from a completely different perspective, that of the Beatles’ White Album - will be arguably Ireland’s most beloved radio presenter, Tom Dunne.
Paul Howard and Tom Dunne at last year's Hinterland Festival
Mary Manning, the young girl who worked for Dunnes Stores in the 1980’s and refused to handle South African goods, leading to an all-out anti-Apartheid strike, will be there. American historian Tony Bucher will be recounting the emergence of Flower Power in the cradle of its birth, the San Francisco Bay.
Part of Hinterland’s appeal must surely be due to their many children’s events, all free but they must be booked. There are also many YA events throughout Saturday and Sunday. No other arts and lit fest in this country is as family-friendly as Kells. And then there’s Hinterland’s own “fringe” festival, the Lit Crawl, along with art exhibitions, antiques exhibitions, the Kells Type Trail, a play staged in a funeral parlour, and of course lots of night music at various venues. Full progamme and booking details (June 21st-24th) at www.hinterland.ie. Tickets can also be purchased from Kells’ BOOKMARKet Café and Antonia’s Bookstore in Trim.
From next week in the Meath Chronicle, Anne Cunningham will be bringing you her First Chapter books column with news, reviews and interviews. Keep Anne informed of what’s happening in your area at firstname.lastname@example.org.