Leaves on Air literary celebration in Level 5 Laois

Dunamaise Arts Centre and Laois County Council Arts Office presents virtually

Leinster Express Reporter


Leinster Express Reporter

Dunamaise Arts Centre and Laois County Council Arts Office are delighted to present a revised version of the annual Leaves Festival of Writing and Music with a new chapter for 2020 in the form of Leaves on Air from November 4 to 8. 

Now in its 13th year, the Leaves Festival of Writing and Music faces challenges set by Covid 19 restrictions. For this year, writers and audiences cannot gather together in large numbers at Dunamaise Arts Centre and other locations across Laois.

As the safety of audiences, festival guests and staff is of the utmost importance and in respect of recent Level 5 restrictions, the decision was made to broadcast Leaves instead and present all events in the form of podcasts on www.leavesfestival.ie . Through these podcasts, the organisers say Leaves On Air will continue to celebrate writing and music and encourage people to enjoy contemporary Irish writers, the art of conversation and wonderful music, from the comfort of home.  

The organisers say this decision was not taken lightly as a number of planning meetings were held between Festival Curator and writer Dermot Bolger, Acting Arts Officer Mary Brady and the venue team at Dunamaise Arts Centre. Each phone or Zoom call rolled with the punches delivered by weeks of initial re-opening, then Local Lockdown, then re-re-opening, and then Level 3 restrictions closing our doors once again.

“We wanted to land on some certainty for the writers engaged for the festival and for the audiences with whom we wanted them to connect," said Michelle de Forge, Director of Dunamaise Arts Centre.

"We wanted to make sure that, while scaled back, a small but perfectly formed festival could be presented. So, we are delighted to present ‘Leaves On Air’ – a short series of podcasts which will take place over the Leaves Festival Weekend of 4th to 8th November 2020”, she said. 

Exploring the power of the human imagination in Lockdown, the organisers say audiences can enjoy readings from critically acclaimed and bestselling authors Hilary Fannin, Anne Griffin, Carlo Gébler and Marianne Lee in conversation with novelist, playwright and poet Dermot Bolger which will be complimented with music by renowned piper, David Power.  

This programme of authors readings and interviews will be available, for free, as audio downloads for a limited time period from leavesfestival.ie .

The Leaves On Air Festival is  supported by Dunamaise Arts Centre and Laois County Council Arts Office.

Carlo Gébler was born in Dublin in 1954.  His most recent books from New Island) include The Wing Orderly’s Tales – a collection of stories told by a prison orderly; The Projectionist – a biography of his father, Ernest Gébler, and The Innocent of Falkland Road, a novel set in the 1960s London of his childhood. His response to the ongoing pandemic has been to re-tell twenty-eight tales from Boccaccio’s Decameron, in a new book, Tales We Tell Ourselves, published in October 2020.A member of Aosdana, he is married with five children and has lived in Enniskillen since 1989.

Hilary Fannin worked as an actor throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Her first play was staged at London’s Bush Theatre and since then she has written numerous stage and radio plays. She was joint writer-in-association at the Abbey Theatre for its centenary year, 2004. She is co-creator and mentor of a playwriting course run by Fighting Words in association with the Abbey Theatre. Her acclaimed memoir Hopscotch was published by Doubleday in 2015. She began writing for The Irish Times in 2004 and currently writes a weekly column for that paper. She was named Columnist of the Year at the 2019 NewsBrands Ireland Journalism Awards. Her debut novel, The Weight of Love, was published by Penguin Random House this year.

Marianne Lee grew up in Tullamore, Co. Offaly and now lives in Dublin with her husband. She has a degree in Visual Communications from the National College and Art and Design and an MPhil in Creative Writing from Trinity College Dublin. She works as a designer and copywriter, and has published a selection of poetry and self-recorded an album. Her debut novel, ‘A Quiet Tide’, a fictionalised account of the life of Ellen Hutchins, Ireland’s first female botanist, who collected and discovered rare spies of plants while working in isolation in West Cork, was published in 2020 by New Island.

Born in Dublin, Anne Griffin now lives in Mullingar. In 2019 her debut novel When All Is Said was an Irish No. 1 bestseller when published by Sceptre. It has now been published in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and is being translated into sixteen languages. Described by John Banville as “a rare jewel”, by Donal Ryan as “a hugely enjoyable, engrossing novel” and by Graham Norton as “beautifully observed, masterful storytelling”, When All is Said won the Newcomer of the Year Irish Book Awards, 2019.

Waterford-based David Power is one of Ireland’s most acclaimed uilleann pipers whose stage credits include the off-Broadway show ‘Love’s Pure Light’, the Irish Rep. Theatre’s ‘The Field’ and Eugene O’Neill’s ‘A Touch of the Poet’ on Broadway.  He has regularly performed with poets including Dermot Bolger, Kerry Hardie, Seamus Heaney and Thomas McCarthy. His three solo albums are My Love is in America, Cuachín Ghleann Neifin and The eighteen Moloney. Power regularly performs with the fiddlers Willie Kelly and Martin Hayes and presents recitals with the organist Malcolm Proud. The Irish Times has described his piping as having “a breathtaking freshness…his fluid, fluent playing as light as a feather”. His albums are available from his website, DavidPowerUp.com