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Castlebar prepares for Wild Atlantic Words

Castlebar prepares for Wild Atlantic Words

Wild Atlantic Words Festival opens on the 3rd of October in Castlebar, marking the start of a spectacular programme of literary events.

Now in its sixth year, Wild Atlantic Words has earned a reputation as one of the country’s leading celebrations of literature, and this year’s programme promises to be better than ever.

An audience at the 2021 Wild Atlantic Words festival in Castlebar. The week-long festival returns on 3rd–9th October. Full details are on www.wildatlanticwords.ie. Picture: John Mee Photography

Opening talks

Dr Michael O’Connor’s opening lecture, ‘Criminal Conversations with My Wife’, with its case studies of the treatment of women by the legal system, will shed light on an aspect of judicial history which has long been overlooked.

This will be followed by a talk by Michael Smith, biographer of the legendary polar explorer, Tom Crean, which is certain to attract an avid following to hear about the exploits of ‘Ireland’s unsung hero’.

Book launches

Book launches have always been central to the Wild Atlantic Words festival, and this year is no different. There is the inspiring story of Geraldine Lavelle, whose life was turned upside down nine years ago when a terrible road accident left three-quarters of her body paralysed.

Her courageous fight back from those bleak days to her emergence as a powerful advocate for people with disabilities is told in her book, Weathering the Storm to be launched on Tuesday.

Noel Campbell and John Healy, co-authors of ‘The History of Castlebar’, will launch their eagerly-awaited book at the Wild Atlantic Words festival on Thursday, 6 October 2022. Picture: John Mee Photography

The History of Castelbar

Noel Campbell and John Healy will share the spotlight on Thursday night when The History of Castlebar will be officially launched.

A detailed account of the administrative, industrial, cultural and sporting life of Castlebar, the book tells the story of the county capital and its people, through a series of chapters charting the course of history from earliest times.

Paul Brady

On Friday, it’s the turn of Paul Brady, one of Ireland’s greatest living songwriters, to launch Crazy Dreams, and then on Saturday evening, Liam Horan will introduce his collection of short stories, Second Chance.

Tommy Gorman

On Sunday evening, Tommie Gorman launches his autobiography, Never Better, tracing a career which brought him from local news reporting to RTÉ and to interviews with personalities such as Gerry Adams, Roy Keane, Ian Paisley and Arlene Foster. In between came the struggle with a cancer diagnosis, and his search for the lifesaving treatments which would give him another chance.

Tommie Gorman makes a welcome return to the Wild Atlantic Words festival this year, launching his book, ‘Never Better – My Life in Our Times’, on Sunday, 9 October 2022. He is pictured in the Festival Dome with Tommy Marren of MidWest Radio at his ‘Breaking News’ event last year. Picture: John Mee Photography

A full programme

There are plenty of other events to whet the appetite and stimulate discussion, debate and argument. A major highlight will be the Civil War seminar on Saturday, hosted by Mayo County Council at the Courthouse, where the panel of expert guests includes Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, Professor Linda Connolly, historian and author Dominic Price, Eamon Ó Cuív TD, and former Minister for Justice Nora Owen.

The seminar will be opened by retired Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett, DSM, and the moderator will be Marie Louise O’Donnell. This seminar will also feature a display of rare Civil War items from the Jackie Clarke Collection.

Elsewhere, the programme offers poetry, young peoples’ writing and literary banter. Ken Armstrong and Gearoid Ryder host Story Cubes, a schools’ event with the aim of short story publication; the ever popular A Poem and a Pint opens its doors to anyone who feels like reciting their favourite verse; Noreen O’Grady brings yoga to the Festival Dome on Saturday morning; and best-selling cookbook author Sarah Butler will share her recipes and writing at the same venue.

Literary fans will enjoy Robert Gogan’s one-man ‘Strolling through Ulysses’ on Wednesday, when he guides his audience through the novel’s curious events and quirky characters – bawdy, irreverent and great fun!


A major highlight, as always, will be the readings and prize-giving for the Wild Atlantic Words short story competition, sponsored by Bridge St and Mayo Books Press.

Award-winning writer Elizabeth Reapy, who judged the competition, will introduce the winners of what has been an immensely successful competition.

‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’ will see John Healy introduce his panel of Ursula Kilkelly, Mark Mellett, James Laffey and Sean Lyons, who will talk on topics wide and varied.

All events are free of charge but spaces are on a first come, first served basis. For the full festival programme and more information, see the festival website.