Omagh Literary Festival 2018

Book tickets for the 2018 Omagh Literary Festival here.

Welcome to the official website for the Omagh Literary Festival: Honouring Benedict Kiely. Here you can check out the line-up and schedule for this years festival, October 12th-14th; learn about the history of the festival, and about Benedict Kiely; read our blog, including a special interview with one of Ireland’s greatest living writers, Colum McCann; and check out one of the highlights of this years programme – our Poetry Slam.

New and Established Voices to Celebrate Irish Female Writers

Established and emerging writers will come together at the Omagh Literary Festival on Saturday 13th October to celebrate the role of Irish Female Writers. Sinéad Gleeson, Bernie McGill and June Caldwell will take part in a panel discussion chaired by Fiona O’Rourke at the Strule Arts Centre, and will talk about the impact and significance of work by female writers, both through their own experiences and the work of others.

Sinéad Gleeson is a leading figure in the Irish Literary community. She writes essays, fiction and poetry and has edited two significant anthologies – the award-winning The Long Gaze Back: An Anthology of Irish Women Writers and The Glass Shore: Short Stories by Women from the North of Ireland. Her debut essay collection Constellations will be published by Picador in 2019, and she is currently working on a novel. She will be joined on stage by Bernie McGill, who has written for the theatre as well as publishing two novels, The Watch House and The Butterfly Cabinet, and a short story collection, Sleepwalkers; and June Caldwell, who has been described as ‘a strong, salty, swaggering new voice in Irish Fiction’ and achieved success with her short story collection Room Little Darker. These three writers will engage in a lively discussion lead by Fiona O’Rourke, an author, creative writing facilitator and professional mentor at the Irish Writers Centre, Dublin.

4 Saturday - Sinead Gleeson
Sinéad Gleeson writes essays, fiction and poetry and has edited two significant anthologies – the award-winning The Long Gaze Back: An Anthology of Irish Women Writers and The Glass Shore: Short Stories by Women from the North of Ireland.

As well as these established writers, the event will also give notice of some new and emerging female voices by celebrating the winner and runners-up of the Benedict Kiely Short Story Competition, which this year took place for the second time, with submissions open for three months in the lead up to the Omagh Literary Festival. The winner of the 2018 Competition was Louise Farr. Louise is a teacher and a writer whose previous success includes being a finalist in the 2018 Exeter Novel Prize. Her story Sing to Me finished first from a field of over 130 entries from Ireland, the UK, Australia and America, and earned her the prestigious accolade and the £300 first prize. Olivia Fitzsimons and Ruth McKee finished second and third respectively.

Acclaimed Artist Colin Davidson to Speak at Omagh Literary Festival

Internationally acclaimed artist, Colin Davidson, will be in conversation with journalist, Eamonn Mallie at the Strule Arts Centre on Friday 12th October, as part of the Omagh Literary Festival.

Colin Davidson will be talking about his career in art, which began when he graduated from the University of Ulster with a first-class honours degree in 1991. Since 2010, Davidson has become best known for painting grand scale portraits, which have won widespread recognition and many international awards. Davidson’s portrait sitters have included Brad Pitt, Ed Sheeran, Liam Neeson, Brian Friel, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Gary Lightbody, Seamus Heaney, and HM Queen Elizabeth II. His portrait of Angela Merkel was used for the cover of Time Magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ issue.

Davidson’s portraits are held in many public and corporate collections worldwide, including Queen’s University Belfast, the Ulster Museum (Belfast), Standard Life (London), the National Gallery of Ireland (Dublin), the Standard Chartered Bank of Asia and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (Washington DC). His most recent exhibition of portrait paintings, entitled ‘Silent Testimony’, focused on the stories of eighteen people who are connected by their individual experiences of loss through the Troubles. This critically acclaimed body of work was on show at the Ulster Museum Belfast during 2015, before embarking on a tour which includes the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris.

Davidson will be in conversation with Eamonn Mallie, who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in journalism. Mallie worked as a researcher in Irish Language for RTE, before training as a radio current affairs producer for the BBC in Belfast. He joined Downtown Radio in 1976 as a reporter and became political correspondent in the 80’s, then hit the headlines in 1981 arising from a number of stories of international interest. In 1989, he formed his own company Eamonn Mallie News Services. Recently, his ITV programme, Eamonn Mallie Face to Face With, featured guests such as Jamie Dornan, Gary Lightbody and Joe Brolly. In recent years he has continued to have an influence by embracing the adoption of new media such as Twitter and blogging.

The pair are likely to bring a large audience, including long term supporters of the Omagh Literary Festival, which is now in its seventeenth year, and new attendees. Omagh Arts Committee Chairperson, Margaret Geelan, says: ‘Colin Davidson is one of our leading contemporary artists and is a well-known name to many people, so his appearance will be a real highlight of our festival. His work is instantly recognisable and his large exhibitions and long list of high profile sitters mean he has plenty of stories to tell. In Eamonn Mallie we have the perfect person to talk to him, and we look forward to welcoming them both to Omagh for what will be a fantastic event.’

Omagh Literary Festival, Colin Davidosn