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Departures Volume III: Co. Cork

20 July, 2021 , 6:30 pm

Free Donations welcome

From Cóbh harbour in Co. Cork host Manchán Magan will be joined by acclaimed writer Billy O’Callaghan and author and poet Alice Taylor to discuss the impact of the scenic harbour landscape on their writing and discuss their inspiration from their surroundings and the effects of the changing landscape in Cork. Filmed at Cobh’s Sirius Arts Centre, with imagery from the dramatic Spike Island. Cork musicians Jack O’Rourke and Aisling Fitzpatrick treat us to a performance of two new songs from Jack’s upcoming album. This episode reflects the beauty and contrasts of Cork and includes actor Irene Kelleher reading from Billy’s novel Life Sentences (Jonathan Cape, 2020) and a selection of Alice Taylor’s poems.   

Manchán Magan has written books on his travels in Africa, India and South America and two novels. He writes regularly for The Irish Times, presents The Almanac of Ireland on RTÉ Radio 1 and reports on travel for various radio programmes. He has presented dozens of documentaries on issues of world culture for TG4, RTÉ  & Travel Channel. His book Thirty-Two Words For Field explores the insights the Irish language offers into the landscape, psyche and heritage of Ireland.

Born in Cork in 1974, Billy O’Callaghan is the critically acclaimed author of four short story collections and three novels, and is probably best known for his novel, My Coney Island Baby, which was published in 2019 by Jonathan Cape and enjoyed considerable international success. Winner of the 2013 Irish Book Award for Short Story of the Year (and shortlisted again for this prize in 2020), he has been a finalist for the 2016 Costa Short Story Award and, in 2020, the Royal Society of Literature’s Encore Award, among numerous other honours. His books have been translated into a dozen languages and his short stories have appeared in been published worldwide, in such journals and magazines as Agni, the Chattahoochee Review, the Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Salamander, and the Saturday Evening Post. His latest novel, Life Sentences, was published by Jonathan Cape in January 2021 and spent several weeks on the Irish fiction bestsellers list, peaking at number 3.

Alice Taylor is the author of the ever-popular To School through the Fields, and many other bestsellers, including And Time Stood Still, The Gift of a Garden, The Women, Do You Remember?, Tea and Talk, Home for Christmas, and As Time Goes By, where she explored the challenges and joys of her 80th year. A Cocoon with A View went straight into the Bestseller Charts when it was published in June 2020. In it, Alice examined a world changed utterly by the arrival of a once-in-a-century infectious disease. Heart-warming, reflective yet always practical, Alice offered comfort and inspiration to those trying to cope with a changed world. A book about connecting, when we had to stay apart. 2020 also saw the publication of Books from the Attic, where Alice rediscovered joy and inspiration from treasured old reads, the books of her school days in the 1940s and 1950s, the poems and stories, the words that stayed with her for the rest of her life. Alice has lived in the village of Innishannon, Co. Cork since 1961. She takes inspiration from her homeplace and surroundings, and she is celebrated for her heart-warming books reflecting on village and rural life, celebrating the importance of family and community, and the magic of everyday. Alice’s twenty-ninth book, Tea for One, will be published in October 2021. She continues to be one of Ireland’s most popular and beloved writers.

Jack O’Rourke has been described as “one of Ireland’s most gifted songwriters”. A Cork man by birth, Jack first came to prominence with his ode to misunderstood youth and growing up gay, ‘Silence’ – which became a torch song for the Irish Marriage Equality Referendum. He went on to release his debut album Dreamcatcher to massive acclaim, peaking at No.5 in the Irish album charts. From winning the Nashville-based International Songwriting Award to playing his Dreamcatcher album live with an orchestra at Cork Opera House, Jack’s fledgling career has been conspicuous by its high water marks. Chosen as a 2019 headliner for Other Voices, Jack was featured prominently in the television series. Jack certainly references the musicality of Leeside turn of phrase, but his songs explore unique character studies, matters of the heart and are deeply personal, yet universal. Comparisons have been drawn over the initial years to various musicians (Bowie, Kate Bush, John Grant, Guy Garvey). However, the further Jack embarks into his own musical oeuvre, his own identity has begun to emerge. More recently, Jack recorded an album of piano based reflections on a changing world, which will be released later this year. He was also awarded a Residency at Centre Culturel Irlandaise, Paris to compose a concept album, which will commence in 2022.

Irene Kelleher graduated from UCC with a First Class Honours Degree and Masters in Drama and Theatre Studies. She has also trained at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Massachusetts. Irene has numerous stage credits with her most recent performance being in Katie Holly’s play Sharon at Bewleys Café Theatre following on from a sell out run at the Cork Midsummer Festival. She toured Ireland and UK with her critically acclaimed first play Mary and Me, published by Oberon. She has toured Off Broadway in New York in the title role of Ian Wild’s one-woman show Mrs Shakespeare, which was awarded the Argus Angel Award. Her UK stage debut was at the Belgrade Theatre as ‘Maria’ in Stars in the Morning Sky directed by Hamish Glen.

The Dublin Book Festival is supported by Arts Council of Ireland, Irish Copyright Licensing Agency, Dublin City Council, Dublin UNESCO City of Literature. 

Departures is made possible by funding from The Arts Council of Ireland.

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