Festival Programme 2024

our speakers

Carlo Gébler
Carlo Gébler was born in Dublin in 1954 and lives outside Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. His most recent publications include The Wing Orderly’s Tales, a collection of stories told by a prison orderly, The Projectionist, the Story of Ernest Gébler, a biography of his father, The Innocent of Falkland Road, a novel set in London in the 1960s, Aesop’s Fables, the Cruelty of the Gods (a collaboration with the artist Gavin Weston), Tales We Tell Ourselves, a re-telling of twenty-eight tales from Boccaccio’s Decameron, and The Late King of Thebes, the biography of Oedipus as written by his daughter, Antigone. A Year in a Day, a memoir, will be published in the autumn of 2024. Carlo Gébler is a prison teacher and works in HMP Hydebank. He teaches in Trinity at the Oscar Wilde Centre for Irish Writing. He is a member of Aosdana.
Read More
Robert O’Byrne
Robert O’Byrne is a writer and lecturer specializing in the fine and decorative arts and author of more than a dozen books, several of which look at Irish country houses. A former Vice-President of the Irish Georgian Society, he has written for Apollo magazine, the Burlington Magazine and the Irish Arts Review. Since 2012 he has produced an award-winning blog, The Irish Aesthete: www.theirishaesthete.com
Read More
Eliza Pakenham
Eliza is one of the numerous members of the Pakenham family who writes. Her most recent book recounted the stories of three generations of the family during the Napoleonic wars, and was based on the huge archive at Tullynally Castle, Westmeath, the family seat of the Earls of Longford for over 370 years. After disinterring so many facts, Eliza decided she preferred fiction and is currently polishing up a novel set during her student days in 1990’s Oxford. Nowadays, much of Eliza’s time is taken up with the colossal task of keeping this neo Gothic castle afloat, complete with its 120 rooms, 26 acres of garden and 7 Estate cottages.
Read More
Terence Reeves-Smyth
Terence Reeves-Smyth an archaeologist, architectural and garden historian. Until his recent retirement he was senior inspector of historic monuments and buildings with the Historic Environment Division. He has published books and numerous papers on various archaeological, architectural, garden subjects and is presently preparing a book on the history of the seed and nursery trade in Ireland
Read More
Stephen Price
Stephen Price is a broadcaster and writer. His 2011 book 'The Earl Bishop' is an accessible biography of Frederick Hervey, Bishop of Derry and the 4th Earl of Bristol, who built the original palace at Ballyscullion Park.
Read More
Andrew Gailey
Dr Andrew Gailey is an historian whose previous books include Ireland and the Death of Kindness: The experience of constructive unionism 1890-1905. Crying in the Wilderness: Jack Sayers, a liberal editor in Ulster 1939-1969. The Lost Imperialist: Lord Dufferin, memory, and mythmaking in an age of celebrity (2016 winner of the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography). His latest book is A Portrait of a Muse: Frances Graham, Edward Burne-Jones, and the Pre-Raphaelite Dream.
Read More
Bruce Clark
Bruce Clark is an author, journalist and broadcaster, specializing in the history of Greece, the later Ottoman empire and eastern Europe. He spent 40 years as an editor and foreign-news writer for top publications including the Economist, the Financial Times and The Times. His latest book "Athens, City of Wisdom" tells the story of the city over 3,000 years. He has deep roots in mid-Ulster and has written and broadcast about the region's Scots-Irish traditions and connections with early America.
Read More
Emma Heatherington
Emma Heatherington is the international best-selling author of fifteen novels, including the Irish Times and amazon chart topping This Christmas. Her novels are set in Ireland where they intertwine life affirming issues with heart-warming love stories. Emma’s distinctive style, full of poignancy and warmth has developed a loyal and growing fan base. She has been hailed as ‘the Queen of Hearts’ and has been compared to the late Maeve Binchy. Emma also runs writing and painting courses.
Read More
Anthony Malcomson
Dr Anthony Malcomson worked in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), serving as its Director from 1988, sorting and listing c.75 major ‘Big House' archives, in PRONI and in private houses all over Ireland. His books include: The Pursuit of the Heiress: Aristocratic Marriage in Ireland 1740-1840 (2006); Nathaniel Clements, 1705-77: Politics, Fashion and Architecture in Mid-Eighteenth Century Ireland (2015); and, most recently, The Maxwells of Finnebrogue and the gentry of Co. Down, c. 1600-1963 (2023).
Read More
Suzie Scott
Suzie is an artisan floral designer and photographer. She set up her business, Florestina in 2014. In 2022 she provided the flowers for the Service of Reflection for The Life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11, in the Presence of His Majesty The King and The Queen Consort, in St Anne’s Cathedral. Mary Delaney’s 18th century ‘paper mosaiks’ were the inspiration for a series of art photography of floral arrangements. Suzie is a Committee member of the Northern Ireland Heritage Gardens Trust which is committed to preserving for future generations the historic parks, demesnes and gardens of the island of Ireland. She is also on the Tours Committee of the International Dendrology Society. Suzie has also authored a book on the history of Christ Church in Carrowdore. www.florestina.com
Read More
Celtic Grace
Step into our original, magical, musical, interactive experience. Based on historically accurate events, this unique show focuses the incredible true-life story of the iconic, blind harper, Turlough O’Carolan, a genius composer who developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. A single act of kindness transformed his life and changed Irish history forever... David Williams (traditional flute) and Eileen Beamish (Celtic harp) – “Celtic Grace ™” - have played ensemble for over two decades. Their versatility, coupled with their imaginative arrangements, enable them to effortlessly craft exquisite, mesmerising soundscapes that delight audiences at luxury, iconic venues across England and Ireland. https://celticgracemusic.co.uk
Read More
Paddy Creedon
Grateful for his lifelong recovery from alcoholism, Paddy Creedon credits his life experiences as the source of his creative writing ambitions. Born in Tarbert, Co. Kerry, overlooking Ireland’s majestic Shannon Estuary in 1950, he has dedicated his ‘retirement years’ working as a recovery advocate. Now living in Northern Ireland, his passion is writing and reading his own works and developing connection with his audiences. Paddy performs with Celtic Grace. https://paddycreedon.com/
Read More
Yeats and the Nobel Prize
WB Yeats is awarded the Nobel Prize for weaving together folk tales, the fairy world, the wonder of 'the little silver trout' with his sublime and lofty thoughts. Joyce and Martin Enright (former President of the Yeats Society in Sligo) bring the story to life with poetry, music and songs.
Read More
Martin Enright
Martin has been a long time member of The Yeats Society and he served as President 2015-17 and Hon President 2018. He was honoured to be included as a Patron of London’s Bedford Park W.B.Yeats Artwork. ‘Enwrought with Light’ was unveiled on Sept 6th 2022. Martin acted as President of Sligo’s local archaeological society, The Sligo Field Club, was co-ordinator of various traditional music festivals, and served on the committees of The All Ireland Fleadhs. He was also chairperson of the Sligo branch of Birdwatch Ireland.
Read More
Joyce Enright
Joyce worked as Librarian, and as Archaeologist, Heritage in Schools expert, Tour Guide, Teacher, Incoming Tour Operator & Director of In-Service Courses for Primary School Teachers. Active Interests: Trad Music, Jazz, Gardening, Sligo Field Club, Yeats Summer & Winter Schools. Facilitated Seminars at Yeats Summer School on Myth; Saga background to Yeats’s Cuchulainn Plays. Published long essay on W B Yeats’s Sligo Relatives in Dedicated to Sligo (2013). Currently working towards book on Yeats and Sligo.
Read More
Andrew Hughes
Born in Co. Wexford, Andrew Hughes is an archivist, historian, and author. His second novel, The Coroner’s Daughter, was the One Dublin One Book choice for 2023. His latest novel, Emma, Disappeared, will be published by Hachette Ireland in April 2024.
Read More
Sebastian Graham
Sebastian Graham is the Heritage at Risk Officer for Ulster Architecture Heritage and is an expert in the architecture and built heritage of Ulster’s linen industry. He has developed an online resource exploring over 4000 mill sites across Northern Ireland. Sebastian has previously worked for the National Trust and Libraries NI.
Read More
Vibse Dunleath
As a food historian Vibse has extensive knowledge of how our ancestors lived and put food on the table 365 days of the year without a supermarket, a fridge or a freezer. It is a subject which is touched by the weather, politics, war and science. For the last 22 years she has lived at Ballywalter Park where she and her husband Lord Dunleath have a walled garden which they have been developing. Vibse established the Paradise Gardening Club in 2019, a bunch of gardeners who gather to learn, share and potter .
Read More
Sophia Hillan
Dr Sophia Hillan, former student and later colleague of Seamus Heaney, was Associate Director of Queen’s University Belfast’s Institute of Irish Studies (1993-2003). Her extensive work on the previously unexplored story of Jane Austen’s Irish family was published as May, Lou and Cass: Jane Austen’s Nieces in Ireland  (2011). She is the author of two novels, The Friday Tree  (2014) and The Way We Danced (2016); and a short story collection, The Cocktail Hour (2018). As Literary Co- Executor of the Michael McLaverty Estate, her studies of his work include The Silken Twine (1992), The Edge of Dark (2000) and (as editor) In Quiet Places (1989).
Read More
Finola O'Kane
Finola O’Kane is a landscape historian, architect, and Professor at the School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin. Her books include the prizewinning Landscape Design in Eighteenth-Century Ireland: Mixing Foreign Trees with the Natives (Cork, 2004), Ireland and the Picturesque: Design, Landscape Painting, and Tourism, 1700–1840 (2013) and the recent Landscape design and revolution in Ireland and the United States 1688-1815 (2023). She has also published widely on eighteenth-century Dublin, Irish urban and suburban history and plantation landscapes, with the volume Ireland, Slavery and the Caribbean: Interdisciplinary Perspectives co-edited with Ciaran O'Neill (2023)
Read More
Rowan Somerville
Rowan Somerville was born in London to an Irish father and an English mother. He was educated by Jesuits and took a honours degree in Literature in Edinburgh and has worked in film, televison and radio. He’s written 3 novels amd one non fiction work and has lived in Donegal, Connemara and London.
Read More
Neil Porteous
I am a gardening consultant working in Ireland with long experience of being a head gardener and gardens advisor, much of it for the National Trust. Most recently, I was head gardener at Mount Stewart, Co. Down. I have a love of garden history and received my M.A. in Garden History at Bristol. I approach the subject as a gardener and not as an art historian. I continue to work as a head gardener at Glenarm Castle, Co. Antrim and have many advisory commissions throughout the island of Ireland including Castlewellan and many OPW, (Office of Public Works), gardens in Ireland. I enjoy botanical travel, as I believe it is important for gardeners to see how plants grow in their native habitat. I have just returned from botanizing for five weeks in New Zealand and Victoria, Australia.
Read More