Pictures & Story

Laois Leaves Festival of Writing and Music catches local imaginations

Leinster Express Reporter


Leinster Express Reporter

The annual Leaves Festival of Writing and Music celebrated the diversity and richness in today’s writing, spoken word, music, theatre and film scene in Laois.

This year the weekend-long programme opened in the Dunamaise Arts Centre with spoken word artist Stephen James Smith and featuring musician, Enda Reilly.

A Dublin poet and playwright central to the rise of the vibrant Spoken Word scene in Ireland today, Stephen’s poetry videos have amassed over 2.5 million views, including 2017’s ‘My Ireland’.

Stephen was the Laois Artist in Residence earlier this year; commissioned by the Laois Arts Office, he facilitated poetry workshops in Laois secondary schools, the prison, and youth services.

His poetry has been recently added to the Leaving Certificate syllabus and has been translated into multiple languages. Join him for readings from his debut collection, Fear Not.

Helen Cullen, from Portlaoise, has had great success with her debut novel, ‘The Lost Letters of William Woolf’ published earlier this year by Penguin in the UK. The Dunamaise Arts Centre hosted Helen’s writing workshop.

The Dunamaise Art Gallery was the venue for a double book launch featuring a local launch of Helen's book and Growing Pains and Growing Up, an anthology of essays and articles by local journalist John Whelan.

St Peter’s Church of Ireland, Portlaoise hosted conversation, music and readings by Helen Cullen, Brian Keenan, Dermot Bolger, music by Seán Ryan and Kathleen Loughnane. 

There was also a spoken word evening of remembrance for those who lost their lives and fought from the Mountmellick area in World War I.

Schools events include an Irish event at the Laois Shopping centre. Gaeilge Tamagotchi is a performance installation by Manchán Magan.

Barry Keegan, the creator of the graphic novel, The Bog Road will visit a number of schools and children’s writer Caroline Busher will also visit a number of schools.  

The Laois Library Service has appointed Simone Schuemmelfeder, as Reader in Residence. She hosted a master class and workshop session on storytelling

Other events Dunamaise Arts Centre events included cinema The Happy Prince, which chronicles the last days of Oscar Wilde and a play by Eoin Colfer entitled Holy Mary.

Photographers Micheal Scully and Denis Byrne covered the festival.