Power of Words festival aims to pack a punch in Abbeyleix

Stan Henderson previews the new Power of Words literary festival in Abbeyleix

Stan Henderson


Stan Henderson


Members of the Power of Words Festival Team pictured in Abbeyleix Heritage House Museum are Mairead Connell, Francine Ashe, David Delaney and Amanda Kelly Picture: Stan Henderson

A big punch will be thrown into the world of literature through a brand-new weekend-long writers festival in Abbeyleix in August.

Organisers and top authors expect the Power of Words Festival, dubbed POW, to create a huge impact in the world of writing. The action-packed event is a celebration of words written, spoken, acted and sung and there’s something for people of all ages.

Best-selling authors Andrea Carter, Niamh Boyce, John MacKenna, Angela Keogh and Helena Duggan are among the big names taking part.

The idea for the festival was thought up by Amanda Kelly from Mountrath. She gathered her team members and friends Evelyn Quinlan, Francine Ashe, Marna Hatton and Noelle O’Connell to make the dream a reality.

“Some people feel the world of books and writing is exclusive, POW hopes to dispel that myth, pack a punch and make the writing world accessible to all,” said Amanda.

The event features selection of writing workshops by Wexford’s The Underground Writers Society comprising of Caroline Busher, Shane Dunphy and Sheila Forsey. This aims to give people a chance to explore fiction, song-writing and memoir. Open microphone sessions throughout the weekend will provide opportunity for anyone who wishes to share their work.

The Living Poets Society features the works of Pat Ingoldsby for its inaugural year as the Power of Words believes that he embodies the essence of the festival.”

A booklet of stories created by POW with local preschool children and film footage of the young storytellers will be on display at Heritage House. Free children’s creative writing workshops are also available along with several children’s events.

Heritage House will hold walks and talks around Abbeyleix, its bog-lands. This includes a tour of its numerous fountains and the re-telling of historical events in front of the doors of some notable buildings.

Author of the Ben O’Keefe series Andrea Carter is 'hugely excited' to be taking part.

“I’ve known Amanda for a long time. She and her co-organisers have put together a fabulous programme of events and workshops for all ages. That the festival will include a celebration of the work of the wonderful Pat Ingoldsby is a lovely bonus, ” she said.

Niamh Boyce is the author of The Herbalist and most recently Her Kind based on the Kilkenny witch trials of 1324.

“In terms of writing festivals, POW is set to be the Listowel of the Midlands. I was delighted when Amanda invited me to be involved with POW. We both attended the NUI Writing for Publication course provided by John MacKenna and Suzanne Power in Kilkenny some years ago then met again at a writing workshop in Croi Anu in Moone run by Mary Pat Maloney who is also taking part, so it’s like a reunion in some ways. It’s a wonderfully lively festival. I think that Amanda’s sense of fun and inclusiveness shines through.” she said.

Irish playwright and novelist John MacKenna is equally excited to be taking part in the newest Laois festival.

“I'm really looking forward to the festival. Starting a new literary festival is a huge undertaking and Amanda Kelly and her team are to be lauded for having the energy and courage to do just that. From a writer's point of view being invited to take part is a great honour particularly in this inaugural year. For me, given that my father was born in County Laois, it's particularly gratifying. Roll on August.” he said.

Angela Keogh also happy to be involved.

“I'm really looking forward to performing Letters in the Post at the Power of Words Festival. The themes in the play will be familiar to people from the area. The festival is a welcome breath of fresh air and I look forward to hearing the readings and work of other writers and I’m really delighted to be involved,” she said.

The event runs from Friday to Sunday 23rd to 25th of August. Tickets are limited and available on Eventbrite or www.powerofwords.ie

For more information find The Power of Words Festival on Facebook, Twitter @POWabbeyleix or powerofwordsfestival on Instagram. Email powerofwordsfestival@gmail.com.