First Flight Fest Now History Fest (26 Sept – 9 Oct)


Despite the summer having slipped quietly away, there’s still plenty of festival and cultural activity to be had around the city. Coming up at the end of September is Dublin’s first history festival which promises to be a worthy member of the cultural scene. This is an exciting new initiative from Dublin City Council so any history buffs out there would be advised to check out what’s on offer.

Much of the programme is free of charge but booking will be necessary for most events. Some are simply ‘first come first served’ but it’s as well to check the details. Events have been scheduled for Dublin City Libraries, Dublin Castle (Printworks Venue), City Hall and the Irish Film Institute so check the web site for further information. I’ve certainly got my eye on booking a few events, though deciding which ones to choose will be a tricky task. It’s not often that you get to see the likes of Jung Chang and Simon Schama for free.

The curators of the inaugural festival have put together a programme of lectures on a variety of historical topics of both Irish and world interest. The line-up of participants features speakers of a high calibre; the programme editorial promises that ‘This new festival offers a unique opportunity for all to listen, participate and engage in historical debate with historians of national and international renown’. From the week’s events, I’ve just picked out a handful to mention here to give a flavour of what’s on offer.

The festival kicks off at 6pm on 26 September with what promises to be a fascinating discussion at the Printworks Venue, Dublin Castle. Historians Diarmaid Ferriter and Margaret MacCurtain will be in conversation on the emotive topic of the Magdalene Laundries. MacCurtain, a member of a religious order as well as a historian has researched extensively the history of Irish women in society. This should be a thought provoking evening for which booking is advised.

By way of contrast, you could listen to a dramatic rendering of some of the speeches from the main participants of the Dublin Lockout conflict, ‘Duel personalities: James Larkin, William Martin Murphy and the 1913 Lockout’. The piece is presented by historian Padraig Yeates, again at the Printworks, with the very able thespian assistance of Bryan Murray and Barry McGovern (4pm on 29 September). I saw Bryan Murray at the ‘Words on the Street’ event recently and look forward to catching this performance.

For budding writers there will be an opportunity to hone historical fiction skills at a writers’ workshop. Katharine McMahon will be conducting a two and a half hour workshop from 10.15am on 28 September at Pearse Library (€25). Later that day McMahon will be debating the different approaches to writing historical fiction (Truth, Lies and Historical Fiction) with fellow authors Robert Goddard and Tim Severin in the Printworks (5pm, free but booking essential).

I hope that’s been enough to get your historical antennae all a quiver; booking details will be found on the link below. The historic walking tours are already booked out so let your fingers do some fast walking if you want to attend any of the other events.

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