2014 John McGahern Seminar

Friday 16th - Sunday 18th May, 2014


Leitrim County Council is delighted to present the 8th annual John McGahern Seminar with the support of the Arts Council and Bord na Móna. Since its foundation the John McGahern Seminar has featured a remarkable array of national and international authors and academics, providing excellent opportunities for people to engage richly with his work. This years contributers include Neil Belton, Marina Carr, Luke Gibbons, Brian Leyden, Fiach Mac Conghail, Belinda McKeon, Donal O'Kelly, Donal Ryan, Gerard Whelan and Vincent Woods. The weekend combines panels, talks and readings which explore ideas central to and arising out of McGahern's novels, stories and theatre - drawing together writers and thinkers from many backgrounds to consider a wide-ranging and stimulating set of themes.


Fees:The seminar fee is €60. This includes all talks, tours, readings, receptions and transport to and from Aughawillan. Thre is a reduced student rate of €30.
Booking:To book contact Christine Kelly
Tel: 071 96 21694
Email: ckelly@leitrimcoco.ie



Friday 16th May

Venue: The Bush Hotel, Carrick-on-Shannon
 Vincent Woods, Chairperson
 Frank Curran, Manager, Leitrim County Council
 Opening Address
 Senator Fiach Mac Conghail, Director, The Abbey Theatre
 Panel Discussion - John McGahern epitomises how an artist can produce work of fundamental importance that celebrates an unvarnished Ireland and which is valued extensively throughout the world. Vincent Woods talks to Fiach Mac Conghail, Marina Carr and Belinda McKeon about the importance of the arts and the contribution artists make to our society.

Saturday 17th May

 Venue: The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon
10.00Donal O'Kelly
 Donal O'Kelly presents an illustrated synopsis of his 2012 show Jimmy Gralton's Dancehall - a metaphor of what Ireland might be, a place where everyone has a right to dance, and a solid floor to dance on.
10.40Gerard Whelan
 In 1957, Dublin's Pike Theatre staged the Tennessee Williams' play, The Rose Tattoo.Shortly after, the director was arrested and theatre closed. Over 40 years later, Gerard Whelan and Carolyn Swift set out to investigate this bizarre case. Their research resulted in Whelan's book  Spiked: Church, State Intrigue and the Rose Tattoo.
11.40Luke Gibbons
 Given the cultural circumstances, the banning of McGahern's The Dark might have come as no surprise but nonetheless had a lasting impact on the author's career. Luke Gibbons explores this in the context of Leitrim and Ireland at the time.
12.20Panel Discussion - "The Weather of the Times" Donal O'Kelly, Gerard Whelan and Luke Gibbons in conversation with Vincent Woods.
14.30Belinda McKeon
 Born in Longford and now living in New York, Belinda McKeon is the author of the bestselling novel Solace, described by Colum McCann as "elegant, consuming and richly inspired". A multi-award-winner, Solace was praised for its "subtle reconfiguration" (Irish Times) of territory related to the work of McGahern.  She will today give the first reading from her forthcoming second novel, Tender.
15.10Donal Ryan
 Considering McGahern in the same light, Anne Enright said about Donal Ryan "every so often, a writer comes along who cheers Ireland up, not because the books are cheerful – on the contrary, indeed – but because the writing enlarges a particular sense we have of ourselves". Donal Ryan's award-winning debut, The Spinning Heart, garnered unprecedented acclaim, and The Thing About December confirms his status as one of the best writers of his generation.
15.50Panel Discussion - Belinda McKeon and Donal Ryan in conversation with Vincent Woods.
16.20Marina Carr
 In January Marina Carr became the first John McGahern writer-in-residence at St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra and DCU. The award-winning playwright reads from her work and talks to Vincent Woods.
19.00John McGahern: A Private World
 Completed a year before McGahern's passing, Pat Collins’ exploration of arguably the defining Irish writer of the modern era was filmed just prior to the publication of Memoir,a definitive portrait of his life and times. The results are by turn fascinating and quietly moving, a portrait of an artist at peace in his final days.

Sunday May 17th

Venue: Aughawillan Community Centre and The Dock
09.30Bus trip to Aughawillan with readings by Leitrim Readers and Writers Groups
 Bus departs from the Bush Hotel car park at the rear of the hotel at 9.30 sharp. There will be brief stops at a number of points en route to Aughawillan where related excerpts from John McGahern’s books will be read. Those not wishing to travel by bus may travel independently to Aughawillan Community Centre for Brian Leyden at 11.00.
11.00Brian Leyden
 Arigna-born author Brian Leyden reads from his work including The Home Place: A Memoir described by Joseph O'Connor as “an absolutely beautiful piece of work". He talks to Vincent Woods about the memoir.
12.00Bus returns to Carrick-on-Shannon.
14.00Guided Tours - Visual Arts or Heritage Guided Tours
 Visual Arts Tour - Curator Alice Lyons gives a guided tour of the Dock's current textile exhibition by internationally renowned Polish artist Barbara Falkowska (b. 1931, Grodno, now Belarus).
 Heritage Tour - Carrick-on-Shannon Historical Society lead a tour of a number of significant historical sites in the town including St. George’s Church and the Costello Chapel. 
15.00Neil Belton
 As editor of Memoir, senior Faber & Faber editor Neil Belton had a unique insight into John McGahern's final and extraordinary book. Neil talks to Vincent Woods about editing Memoir,working with McGahern, and about his own writing.
15.40Vincent Woods
 Subversive Memory: McGahern, Gralton and the Arigna Miners. Vincent Woods considers John McGahern's response to Des Guckian's book Deported,and draws on his own work to illustrate the power of memory in bringing old stories out of darkness into the light of art.
16.30Closing Reception




  • EU Sturctural Fund
  • European Union