Inish Festival: Island Conversations

Inish Festival 2015: Island Conversations launches today on Inishbofin and continues throughout the weekend. The event, which celebrates poetry, drama, music, and images, features the poet Bernard O’Donoghue, a noted scholar of Yeats, and a number of fine artists and thinkers considering the place of islands.

Opening with a unprecedented flotilla of boats, the festival is a celebration of islands, island communities, and the arts, and brings together artists, writers, musicians, scholars, performers – and most importantly the islanders themselves – in a series of conversations, performances, and creative events. In times of extraordinary change, communities and the arts, especially in Galway and the west of Ireland, face real challenges. Inish Festival provides a focus for creative exchanges and a platform for vital discussions regarding the vibrancy and regeneration of the arts and of these communities. An island shows us the world from a different vantage point; by starting here Inish Festival tells us about ourselves.


It is over sixty years since the poet Richard Murphy went ‘Sailing to an Island’, renovating a Galway hooker and taking writers and artists such as Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney, over sea to Inishbofin. Inish Festival represents a symbolic homecoming, as his family return and he links with us at the conference from his home in another troubled island, Sri Lanka. Other islanders and musicians join local and international speakers to talk about land clearances, emigration, archaeology, folklore; discussions about artistic representations of island culture encounter conversations about sustainability. In particular Inish Festival showcases creative responses in paint, light, words, and sound to islands and isolation. Inish Festival reminds us we are all islanders, but none of us is an island, entire of itself.

Yeats2015 worldwide celebrations continue

From a new Irish stamp to a public reading by Fiona Shaw, global events in honour of ‘a great public and private poet’ continue. Poet Bernard O’Donoghue noted that Yeats was “a great public and private poet, and is almost unique in that way. There’s that great thing that TS Eliot said about him, that he was somebody without whom the history of his own time could not be understood.” Play your part in history by joining the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society! See the latest news stories from the Guardian.


In Ireland, there will be a new stamp honouring the poet’s 150th birthday, as well as a limited-edition €15 coin, while the team at Yeats 2015 are asking people to record their own version of a Yeats poem in an attempt to create the world’s largest audio archive of his work. President Michael Higgins has contributed a reading of A Prayer for My Daughter, the family of Seamus Heaney have given permission for his recording of What Then? to be used, and the former president of Ireland Mary Robinson is reading The Song of Wandering Aengus.

Fiona Shaw, reads the Nobel laureate’s poetry at the Poet in the City event in London on 29 April, said: “Yeats made sense of the world between imagination, childhood and history. The poems became my learning ground of a language that had nothing to do with school or adulthood – a private, fierce, beautiful language of rhymes and half-rhymes, the romance, failure, fear and celebration. He was a great poet.”