Huge amount happening

Allingham Festival starts tonight

Sue Doherty


Sue Doherty


Allingham Festival starts tonight

Garry Keane (in black) on location in the Philippines

The Allingham Festival, which opens tonight, brings world-class writers and artists to Ballyshannon this weekend.

Featured guests include Laureate for Irish Fiction Anne Enright and poet Afric McGlinchey and there is a comprehensive programme of arts events on offer for all ages and interests.

This prestigious arts festival was inspired by the achievements of William Allingham, the “Bard of Ballyshannon” (1824-1889),who wrote poetry and essays, collected folk music, and edited Fraser's Magazine and Helen Paterson Allingham who painted striking portraits and landscapes. Talented and determined, they earned the respect of the foremost writers and opinion leaders of their day, including Tennyson, Carlyle, and Gladstone.

Official Opening

The festival opening. tonight at 7pm in the Abbey Arts Centre, is the first of many free events taking place over the weekend.

Come along to enjoy s with a wine reception and a preview of events by Festival Chairperson Tom Sigafoos at 8pm, followed by Olive Travers speaking about the Foróige Garden Project.

Valerie Cox will then deliver the annual Allingham lecture during which she will focus on the refugee crisis, and Europe's response it.

Valerie Cox retired in March 2016 after a 20-year career with RTE. She began as a freelancer on Morning Ireland, and she spent eleven years as a regular contributor to the Today programme.

Reflecting on her life as a journalist, she has said, “"It is a very, very privileged job... you can walk into situations when other people can't just barge in.”

Her experiences in helping refugees in Greece who have fled from middle-eastern war zones will inform her talk this evening.

Top writerS

One of the most eagerly anticipated highlights of this year's festival takes place at 3.30pm on Saturday in Dorrian's Imperial Hotel.

Man Booker prize winner and Laureate for Irish Fiction Anne Enright will take part in a public interview with Sinéad Gleeson of RTÉ's The Book Show).

Topics for discussion will include Enright's novel 'The Green Road' and her other writing, the Laureateship, and the state of writing in Ireland today.

Anne Enright has published novels, short stories, essays and non-fiction. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, her novel The Gathering won the 2007 Man Booker Prize, and her novel The Green Road was nominated for the Booker in 2015.

She has also won the 1991 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the 2001 Encore Award and the 2008 Irish Novel of the Year.

Her writing explores themes such as family relationships, love and sex, Ireland's difficult past and its modern zeitgeist.

Other Highlights

In addition to bringing in featured guests, the festival, which has as this year's theme “Creativity Across Borders”, will also highlight regional history, social issues, and new opportunities for creative careers.

Another of the weekend's big literary events also takes place on Saturday morning, at 10.30am, also in Dorrian's, when award-winning poet Afric Mc Glinchey will host a poetry workshop on Saturday morningfor new and established writers.

Afric McGlinchey grew up in Ireland and Africa. Her début collection of poetry, The Lucky Star of Hidden Things, was published in 2012 by Salmon Poetry. Her second collection, Ghost of the Fisher Cat, has been nominated for the Forward Prize for Best Collection. She has been selected as one of Ireland’s rising poets by Poetry Ireland Review. She works as a freelance editor, facilitator and reviewer and lives in West Cork.

The Allingham Writing and Art Competitions for children and adults attract worldwide participation, and the winners will be honoured at Saturday's award ceremonies. Regional authors are being invited to explore professional-development opportunities through an introductory gathering of “Wild Atlantic Writers” at the Festival.


Music lovers will have plenty to choose from, with the Festival Club every night and lots, lots more.

On Friday night, there's Comóradh Éamonn Ceannt,

a musical celebration of the life of Éamonn Ceannt (1881-1916) by uileann piper Paul Harrigan and Caoihmín Mac Aoidh in Dorrian's on Friday night.

Ceannt, one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising and signatory of the Proclamation of Independence, was also an avid uileann piper and founder of Cumann na bPíobairí in Dublin.

Also on Friday night, enjoy the always popular and entertaining finals of the Allingham Songwriting Competition on Friday night in Dicey Reilly's.

On Saturday night in the Abbey Arts Centre, the Allingham Concert features with Patrick Gallagher, Siobhan Calpin, Amy Gillen, Kieran Quinn, Seamie O'Dowd, and the winner of the Allingham Songwriting Competition.

Focus on film

Award-winning film-makers Garry Keane and Jamie D'Alton will take part in a Q&A session following a screening of their latest documentary, 'The Toughest Place To Be...' at 2pm on Saturday at the Abbey Arts Centre. This is a fantastic opportunity to put your questions to two of the most respected and prolific documentary film-makers working in Ireland today.

Ken Fox, lecturer in Social Media at Canterbury Christ is also speaking on Saturday.

Pick up a programme or visit for full details of what's on offer.