Friday at Cúirt: The Galway Experience in a Nutshell

As the Cúirt International Festival of Literature entered its third day, it became apparent early on that it was going to be a day in which one would be exposed to the true "Galway experience."  

The highlight of the day, for me, was the Literary Walk through Galway City.  This was a free event, and a large group of literature buffs walked from spot to spot as the new short story compilation book, Galway Stories (which is almost literally "hot off the presses"), was opened and read in small pieces by the authors themselves in the locations in which the stories are set.  This was a thrilling experience, as was evidenced by the enthusiastic laughter of my fellow walkers, and the "buzz" which accompanied us as we wound our way through the narrow roads and medieval lanes of old Galway.  

My wife and I were so impressed by some of the passages read from these stories that we purchased a copy of this new book at the walk's final stop in Monroe's Tavern, which served as a gathering place for the official launch of the book at the end of this event.  Naturally -- and as a part of that true "Galway experience" I've already mentioned -- we were accompanied by alternating periods of bright sunshine and pelting rain.  No one seemed to mind, however, as it just wouldn't have been Galway without that fickle weather!

As a testament to just how much clout the Cúirt festival now carries, RTÉ Radio One recorded a show from Nun's Island Theatre featuring some of the writers and musicians on this year's festival lineup.  It really is an impressive group of authors, poets, musicians, and other artists that have gathered in Galway for Cúirt this year.  We met one woman who made her way to Galway all the way from Washington D.C. just to be in attendance at this year's Cúirt festival.  She is an aspiring author, and this festival's sterling reputation reached all the way across the Atlantic to convince her this is the place to be for both a celebration and a cultivation of modern literature.

Authors Ben Marcus and Keith Ridgeway (a Dubliner) engaged in a discussion at the 6:30 p.m. session, the theme for which was, "Realism and Surrealism in the Novel."  Poetry took center stage in the evening as American poet, Sharon Olds, and Irish poet, Paula Meehan, were on hand for discussion.  For theatre buffs, two plays, Pineapple and Carshow, were performed at Nun's Island Theatre.  

This is to mention but a handful of the readings, discussions, workshops, and performances which made up the Cúirt festival on Friday.  Late April is a perfect time to visit Galway if you are a literature buff.  This festival has gone from strength to strength in its 28 years of existence, and all indications point to it improving year-on-year going forward. 

More impressions from the Cúirt International Festival of Literature as it continues.  For now, enjoy a few of the scenes from Friday I captured in these photographs ...

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Tags: Arts, Drama, Literature, Poetry

Comment by The Wild Geese on April 27, 2013 at 1:41pm

These reports from Cúirt represent perhaps the finest travelogues that have ever graced our pages in our nearly 16 years of publishing. These evocative photos add immense value, as well. Go raibh maith agat, Ryan. 

Comment by Jim Roark on April 27, 2013 at 5:40pm

Another splendid report and yes, the photos do add so much, as they portray the number of folks interested in the literature featured at the festival.

Comment by John Walsh on April 29, 2013 at 9:05am

Thank you Ryan for this wonderful evocative report that captures the whole atmosphere of the 'Galway Stories' Literary Walk at the Cuirt International Festival of Literature in Galway last Friday. We're all slowly recovering.

'Galway Stories' an anthology of 20 short stories from writers who live or have lived in Galway is published by Doire Press and is available @ for any of The Wild Geese interested in good literature from the west of Ireland. And you're right Ryan - the weather was all part of the story! Thanks.  

Comment by Kelly O'Rourke on April 30, 2013 at 5:53pm

Really enjoyed attending this event.  Being physically in the story's setting while you read it just feels so right!


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