Seven good reasons to Come to Doolin Writers Weekend, by Dave Lordan

With its  lively blend of Culture, Craic, Community, and Creativity, all set in one of the most beautiful and inspiring regions in the West Of Ireland, the Doolin Writers Weekend offers a winning combination few other arts festivals in Ireland or anywhere else can match.
Here are seven good reasons to come and join us at Doolin Writers Weekend:
Jessie Lendennie revolutionised Irish poetry, making it a place where, finally, the diverse voices and experiences of working class women and men were welcomed, recognised and heard. Among many other proud achievements, Jessie was the first to publish Rita Ann Higgins, Ireland’s leading contemporary poet and a champion of literary radicalism. And in the past decade, Jessie has introduced the new wave of rebel poets, including Sarah Clancy, Kevin Higgins and Karl Parkinson (forthcoming). She will be at the weekend launching Even The Day Breaks, an anthology celebrating 35 years of Salmon Poetry. An all-too-rare chance to meet the secret hero of Irish Poetry.
Poetry Workshop with Stephen Murray. Stephen Murray is widely regarded as Ireland’s most inspirational poetry teacher. His high-energy Youthspeaks programme has visited over 400 Secondary schools and all but done away with the old, failed model of teaching poetry writing in secondary schools. This adult poetry workshop is for those, like Stephen himself, with strong souls, strong thoughts and strong words.
The Bogmans Cannon Open Mic. A truly open mic modelled on the sing songs of the Irish West. A roaring success at last year’s festival, this year our open Mic takes place in Fitz’s Bar – scene of many a mighty session. All welcome here – poets and poetasters, jockeys and jokers, pipers and bongers, singers and shockers – where local talent will showcase alongside festival visitors. Guaranteed Craic, or your trousers back. Mc’ed by yours truly.
The Invincible Elaine Feeney. Until you have been to a poetry reading by Elaine Feeney, you probably don’t know just how powerful and memorable a poetry reading can be. With her fearless eloquence and her poems ranging in style from the anthemic to the surreal and subversive, Elaine has blown away audiences in venues from DeBarras famous folk club in Clonakilty to the Irish Arts Center in New York.
World Class traditional music. The North Clare region is the epicentre of Irish Traditional music and You’ll get live trad in every pub in Doolin for free that eager fans pay many dollars to see in Sydney or Boston. If you are not into trad, you will be after this weekend, if you are, it’s like a visit to heaven.
It’s a ramblers paradise. Head out in any direction on one of the numerous rugged but far from arduous back roads and boreens and you will enjoy clean air and beautiful views of the Burren, the Atlantic, the cliffs of Moher, and The Arran Islands as well as passing near to many intriguing landmarks and archaeological remains. Bring boots and a good coat and join me on one of the informal Bogmans Cannon guided rambles over the weekend. If you are tough enough you could also get a surf in at nearby Lahinch.
Photography Galore. No better place than wild Atlantic Doolin, which has attracted numerous pro photographers over the years – some of whom came for a weekend and have never since left – for photo buffs to flex their skills, and beginners and curious to really get to know the workings and potential of the super powerful cameras on their mobile devices. Landscape and portrait opportunities galore. Keep it real or use your photos as starting points to process through photo apps on your tablet or smartphone and produce more abstract – and surprising – digital imagery. If you don’t know how to play with photo apps, I will show you, and on the guided rambles mentioned above we will have several stop offs for leisurely photo taking at eye-intriguing locales.

Dave Lordan, Writer in Residence for the Doolin Writers Weekend.

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