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Watch out Listowel Writers’ Week – here comes West Cork Literary Festival

June 05, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: competition, connections, creative writing, events, localinfo, organisers

Coming up on the inside lane, is a cheeky Literary Festival…

Why do I call it “cheeky”?

According to Ruth Flanagan, Cork County Librarian:

“The West Cork Literary Festival can now, with some justification, be regarded as Munster’s premier literary festival.”

Does she not know Kerry is in Munster?

Does she speak with the arrogant justification of a West Corkonian?

Does she only say this because she works for Cork County Library Service?

Or might she have a pint?

We’ll return to this issue in due course.

I just want to flag it up, so that you can take a look at what they are offering & compare it with Listowel Writers’ Week.

I’d like to publicly invite Ruth Flanigan [who’s responsible for publishing my first short story, “The Ring” in Bealtaine Short Story Competition 2006] to come on here and support her contention.

It would be wonderful to welcome her on here, wouldn’t it?

If anyone knows Ruth Flanigan, please let her know of the invitation.

It would be a fine opportunity for her to market West Cork Literary Festival 2009.

It runs in Bantry, from Sunday 5 July – Saturday 11 July, so it is a ‘full’ week.

12 Comments to “Watch out Listowel Writers’ Week – here comes West Cork Literary Festival”

  1. Anna O'Leary says:


    don’t lose the path.

    Is this a blog about Listowel, or did you possibly set it up to market some other festival.

    I did hear some stuff two years ago…………………let’s see how this pans out folks.

  2. Anna,

    I don’t understand your point. Do you mean that you heard something about my intentions in 2007? If so, I’d love to know what you heard?

    I started this blog with Patrick Stack for the reasons which are outlined under the “About” tab on Home page.

    It’s been an organic development, meaning that it’s taken on colour as it’s grown. Hopefully, we’ll continue to attract people like yourself to make it even more interesting than a small group of three could ever do.

    When I read what Ruth Flanigan had to say in the brochure for West Cork Literary Festival (WCLF) I smiled at how ridiculous it sounded to describe anything but Listowel Writers’ Week as “Munster’s premier literary festival”.

    Then I wondered if Ruth was seeking to establish WCLF as a ‘Munster’, while recognising that Listowel Writers’ Week is a literary festival of international stature?

    No matter what she means, I think a bit of friendly competition for excellence can do nothing but good. I know we all tend towards parochialism, but surely we have a bigger interest in developing Ireland as a place synonymous with literary conversation.

    The more good literary festivals Ireland has, the easier it will be for Listowel Writers’ Week. Agreed?

    Clusters succeed in many areas.

    I think you might be hoping, like me, that there would be a valuable debate around this?

  3. Ann O'Donovan says:

    Having visited both festivals in the past, I must admit that between the two I personally have found that the West Cork Literary Festival just ‘pips’ it at the post.

    I know it’s smaller but the professionalism and content of the event just makes it a joy to visit and very much look forward to this year

    • Ann,
      Thank you very much for coming in on the discussion. That’s a great recommendation for WCLF.

      Unfortunately I haven’t yet been to WCLF, but I hope to. I live in Glanmire, Cork, and have a huge interest in the whole of the southern and western seaboard of Ireland being one huge literary cluster. Oh dear, that looks like I’m doing down inland Ireland. (Dublin to Belfast n nexus needs no advocates, eh?)

      The brochure for WCLF looks great, very professionally presented.

      Perhaps you’d be willing to say a bit more about how you found both Listowel and WCLF?

      Thanks again.

  4. Oh yea, Bard, and Cork is the real capital of Ireland, and ah … um “de real taoiseach is ah… um long dead” methinks.
    I can’t compare the West Cork Literary Festival with Writers’ Week as I’ve only attended the latter. And I’ve never had that “high-brow feeling” in Listowel that Luca of Italy speaks of.

  5. LOL. Oh, Bard. Come to Listowel. We’ve all done Cannes.

  6. Bard,
    You’re great. You’ve lit a fire. But you’ve missed a trick: where do fly fisherfolk fish?

  7. Kamilla,
    Welcome. Thank you very much for reading and commenting. This is what add that extra dimension to blogs.

    (1) For what it’s worth, I think all writers, who seek an audience through some sort of publication, “crave public attention”. They vary according to the amount and quality of attention they seek. There is a huge continuum, thank goodness.

    There are indeed writers who are in it for the pure satisfaction that writing brings. They don’t mind whether they have an audience or not, and whether they are ever published. I suspect there are many writers who fear publication, and the attention that inevitably brings. Even some of the best known writers find the strain of attention trying.

    (2) To clarify, I don’t have a “working relationship with her”. Cork Country Library & Art Service published “The Barn and other short stories” in 2007. Mine was one of the others. I’ve never spoken to Ruth Flanagan, nor had her contact details. But she is easy to contact. I chose to engage in a bit of public invitation, inviting Ruth to let us have a piece expanding on her interesting praise for West Cork Literary Festival 2009.

    As a blogger, committed like mad to making conversations accessible to the wider world, I prefer to do my business in public, openly, rather than ring her up.

    For me, it’s more fun.

    It’s good of you to share your thoughts. I hope you’ll contribute more.

  8. Luca of Italy,
    Thank you, thank you so much for writing in from Italy. You may be our only Italian fan, but I hope we’ll reach out to others in that wonderful country.

    Yes, size and history are but two dimensions. The newer and the smaller – you remind me of Stendhal’s book – where would we be without them?

    But who is the “average” supporter? Am I “high-brow”? Is Patrick Stack? To me he’s very high-brow: he understands the insides of computers.

    Did you get a “high-brow” feeling while at LWW? What was it like? Like any other festival or event you’d compare it with? And was it the company? Or how it behaved?

    Forgive all these questions. I don’t expect you to answer them, however curious I am.

    When I wrote the piece, I was convinced that the bigger picture needs both Listowel & West Cork. Lismore & Galway too. Limerick has the Kate O’Brien Festival.

    I can’t go to them all. But I can wish them all well. And I can encourage them to learn from each other, and from Festivals like Hay-on-Why, Cape Cod and whatever is are names of the best ten Italian literary festivals. (Please come back at me with some names of festivals in Italy.)

    No one asserts Cuirt is the premier, or do they? Perhaps we need the notion of niche?

    Let’s say all festivals need to be niche players, sufficiently broad to bring in the numbers for financial viability. Thankfully they are not clones of one master festival template.

    Let direct experience be the great thing: let’s go experience each other’s festivals. What do you think?

  9. Ah, I know my hurry would catch me out misspelling.

    E., thank you very much for offering your strong view. I mean to use “pint” because I’m a poet who plays with words and the sounds of pint and point resonated for me.

    I must say I loved the art in Listowel this year. The paintings added to the colour and gave both relief and contrast with the heady stuff of words. For some they work like that. Fortunately we have differing desires and satisfactions.

    I can’t believe Ruth Flanagan, if she reads my piece, will take the meaning that I thought she offended anyone.

    You are right to suggest I was making something out of perhaps nothing. I intended to advertise WCLF. Wanted people to know it is coming up and may be very good. Deliberately looked for a way to show that Ireland has good literary festivals for young & old to enjoy. I’d like people to talk about whether WCLF is really better than Listowel, or whether it’s simply that people from Cork are more extravert in how they express themselves.

    I hope you come back on this and many other potentially controversial threads from this blog. Many thanks

  10. Sibelius,
    Welcome. Wherever you’re from you are welcome. First time I read your remarks, my eyes lit on the word “scum” and also on “envy”. Great words for conjuring up emotions and inviting battle. I said to myself ‘here’s a warrior’.

    Second reading, I laughed a lot. Imagined you much better than me at generating a debate. I’m learning from you. All I need now is the courage to go for fierce language.

  11. Kamilla,

    How lovely it is to receive such a thoughtfully honed comment.
    Fortunately we differ in style. How boring the atmosphere would be without such differences.

    What can I say about my public invitation to Ruth Flanagan?

    (1) It was sincerely meant. I still live in hope she’ll take the opportunity to visit this blog & proclaim the value of WCLF. [I would if I were in her position, but, maybe that's one of the reasons I'm not.]

    (2) Your point about “playing to the gallery” is apt and inspiring: I was brought up to think that it was bad to ‘play to the gallery’. There was at least an implication that such behaviour was superficial, flashy, immodest & populist politics. As a consequence, I developed some diplomatic skills, but certainly not enough to be good at that.

    My thinking has been changed irrevocably by the internet, and by the inspiration of Walt Whitman’s writings.

    The internet has given us tools with which we may make small communities of conversation open and accessible. We, bloggers, have done our best to make Listowel Writers’ Week accessible, by being public about what we’re doing and why. No secret agenda, only loads of ideas that well up in the effort to create a platform on which people can link.

    Ruth Flanagan’s praise for WCLF (I’m sure great praise is deserved) was a public document. This blog is public. We meet on public space: her words, and our invitation in response.

    This is indeed “playing to a gallery”, except the gallery may be in Chicago, Vienna or Ballydehob. The gallery may be prevented from visiting any literary festival because they can’t afford the cost, or because they have a disability that makes real travel possible.

    I guess I’m making an ordinary case for an extraordinary process within which my default position is public: I do my best to do all my work in public. I’m trying to say that, in this internet age, public behaviour takes on new meaning, and I enjoy it.

    Thank you for raising the issue of what’s best done publicly and privately.

    I can’t imagine you offending me in any way.


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