Dromineer Literary Festival makes connections around the world

Eleanor Hooker, chair of Dromineer Literary Festival with pater Sheridan in Nenagh Arts Centre
Dromineer Literary Festival has received a ringing endorsement from one of of Ireland’s foremost poets, Thomas McCarthy.

Dromineer Literary Festival has received a ringing endorsement from one of of Ireland’s foremost poets, Thomas McCarthy.

The Aosdana member and assistant director of European Capital of Culture 2005, told this year’s festival opening in Lough Derg Yacht Club that Dromineer, as well as the entire cultural district of Nenagh and North Tipperary, had become one of the key festivals in the calendar of Irish literary festivals.

“You can see from the entries to the competitions that the name of Dromineer has spread to England, North America and even as far away as Australia,” he said.

In a reference to how important the lakeside village was in devloping Ireland’s commercial links, he pointed out that 150 years ago, the goods of North Tipperary were trans-shipped and exported to markets in Dublin, Liverpool and beyond.

“So we see this festival at Dromineer making the same great connections around the world. We see the power of cultural traffic, as once we saw the power of canal traffic out of the River Shannon. It’s important that we understand how powerful this cultural traffic is; and what this traffic may mean for the future of Dromineer, Nenagh and North Tipperary,” said Mr McCarthy, who judged this year’s poetry competitions.

Pointing out that Ireland we’ll soon face elections, he revealed his admiration for those who offer themselves as public representatives.

“There’s no future for this country unless people are encouraged and inspired to go into public life,” he said.

“We now live in a world where the great wealth creating industries of financial services, software and cloud-computing are highly mobile; where executives in Silicon Valley, in Mountain View and San Jose, make decisions on where to locate operations based upon culture as well as tax efficiency. The new creative industries only cluster in areas that are seen to be creative, open-minded, innovative and cultured. It was never more important – I mean from a purely commercial point of view – for district councils and politicians, whether they are in Silicon Valley or North Tipperary, to support culture, to support literature, theatre and art,” said Mr McCarthy.

He said it was important that politicans, especially local politicians, understood that culture attracts commerce.

“I want to praise politicians in Tipperary who have supported the Dromineer Literary Festival, politicians who understand that the reach of culture is international, and that the presence of a festival like Dromineer gives North Tipperary a cultural edge, a cultural negotiating tool, in the long commercial discussions about inward investment in the future,” he said.

“I want to praise the Dromineer Literary Festival and the dedicated committee of volunteers who deliver the cultural goods at Dromineer and Nenagh every year. Supporting this festival into the future is not only a cultural act, but an act of commercial self-confidence. It is because our poets look outward that investment flows inward,” he said.

Festival chair Eleanor Hooker said: “Festivals such as ours are run by a volunteer committee and dependent, entirely, on national and local funding. Thomas McCarthy’s words are a massive boost to the festival organisers to continue with what we do, in this tiny village midway down the eastern shore of Lough Derg.”

Meanwhile, the programme offered a varied menu, opening with Peter Sheridan’s engaging and masterfully told story of growing up in 44 Seville Place. The festival explored mindfulness on Saturday with a large attendance in Nenagh Arts Centre to hear actor Mary McEvoy, Br Columba McCann OSB, Glenstal Abbey, and mindfulness practioner Mary O’Callaghan.

The highlights on the final day on Sunday included a wide ranging discussion on songwriting and life by local musician Molly Sterling, this year’s entry to Eurovision. As well as performing board the Spirit of Killaloe on Lough Derg, she opened up on how important it is for teenagers to speak about their emotions, their feelings and how important it is for society to deal with suicide.

The final event featured the festival’s first ever Irish language event, a talk on Irish love poetry by David McAvinchy, followed by readings by poets Ailbhe Ni Ghearbhuigh and Cathriona Ni Chleiricin in the atmospheric setting of Nenagh Castle.