18th - 20th October 2019, Letterkenny
Cathedral Quarter Goes Literary!
Following on from the success of its Literary Festival in recent years Letterkenny’s Cathedral Quarter is aiming for even bigger and better things this year when its fourth festival kicks off on Friday October 18. And the main organiser of the event, Donnan Harvey, has no hesitation in putting out there that there is something for everyone during the three day event - from poetry to plays to live music not forgetting the odd lecture on renowned literary figures and their connections with this part of the country. It really should, says Donnan, be a marvellous weekend.
The official opening will take place at 7.30pm in the Donegal County Museum on High Road. It will be performed by Karen Levers and Richard & Rosalind Mulholland. This will be followed by a talk “Daughters of the House: The Significance of the Levers and Dunleath Collections to the story of Jane Austen’s Family in Ireland.” This talk will be given by noted Austen scholar, Dr.Sophia Hillan.
Karen Levers is originally from the United States, She began organising the Levers family archives at their family home, Mount Levers Court (built in 1737) in Sixmilebridge, Co. Clare. She has been in the news recently in that last year she made a significant find on eBay when she was able to identify a collection of photographs as the Lord George Hill family album. The other principal guest on the night, Richard Mulholland, took over the estate of his grandparents Sir Harry and Lady Mulholland in 1976, His particular connection to this event is that his 5-times great grandfather, the aforementioned Lord George Hill, married Cassandra Knight, Jane Austen’s niece.
Painting the big picture of all the connections these folk have to this part of the world on the night will be Dr. Sophia Hillan who is no stranger to Letterkenny. She really has a great story to relate!
On day two it’s time to get a little more active and for those who want to get creative there will be a Short Story Writing Workshop with award winning blogger, journalist and playwright Phil Mac Giolla Bháin of the Irish Writers’ Union. It will be getting underway at 11am on the Saturday in Dillon’s Hotel on the Main Street. A bit of a literary polymath in 2015 Phil’s play ‘Hame’, which was based on a Glasgow Donegal family living through the tumult of the Scottish Independence referendum, garnered much critical acclaim.
There can’t be a literary festival without poetry and the place to be is the Insomnia Café on the Diamond in Raphoe at 6pm on Saturday where there will be live readings organised by The Diamond Writers. This local cross-community group published their first anthology, Raphoe, to great acclaim in 2011. This is something not to be missed.
And, as Donan Harvey has promised, there is something for everyone including a double bill of plays from the Elusive Players in the Central Bar in Letterkenny starting at 7:30pm. Their first offering is ‘Matrimony’ which is definitely not for Mills and Boon fans. The second offering is The Life and Times of Lord George Hill which is a ten-minute play about the man who is buried in Conwal Parish Church cemetery alongside his first wife Cassandra Knight, niece of Jane Austen. It’s a fascinating story.
And to end the evening on a high note local music legends RAW will round off the night for the more energetic with a free event at Blake’s Bar on the Main Street. If you like real musicianship this is a gig not to be missed.
The final day’s events begin with a Tour of Raphoe sites associated with the Weaver-Poet Sarah Leech by Dr. Pauline Holland. Leech, the most prominent female poet of the Ulster rhyming weavers, was an incisive social commentator whose fearless portrayals of 1820s Donegal society act as a portal through her tragic, yet remarkable life, and explores the environs and areas which formed the inspiration for her work. This gets underway at 10 a.m with the bus leaving Dillons Hotel.
The Donegal Chamber Orchestra is back in Conwal Church for another Sunday afternoon recital, part of the popular classical concert series Sundays in Conwal, to close this year’s Chamber Music Festival. The Orchestra will be joined on the stage by actress Maura Logue reading Jane Austen’s text. This concert is presented in association with Donegal Music Education Partnership and the Donegal Chamber Music Society.
What is billed as ‘Jane Austen visits the grave of her niece Cassandra Knight’ will take place at Conwal parish graveyard at 3.30 pm. This free event is written and performed by Maura Logue.
The final event of the weekend will take place at Blake’s Bar when famed singer/songwriter and musician Mick Blake will take to the stage at 4pm. Described by none other than Christy Moore as a modern day bard Letterkenny born Mick writes powerful songs with powerful message on the issues of the day – injustice, inequality, war.
Urging people to come along and support the festival the Letterkenny Quarter Group’s secretary, Donnan paid tribute to Dillons Hotel, Blakes Bar and Shop Lk for their sponsorship. He also acknowledged the funding by Donegal County Council Development Fund Initiative and Bord Failte Small Festival Grants.
As numbers for some of the events are limited, some require transport and others need to be booked in advance it is advised to check out full details on the Facebook page where there is comprehensive information on all offerings.
Donnan Harvey can be contacted on 0863452457.