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Ennis to host biggest book club festival yet

Ciana Campbell, Paula Shiels, Mary Keneally and Frances O’Gorman from the Ennis Book Club committee at the launch of the Ennis Book Club Festival. Photograph by Declan Monaghan

SOME of the most recognisable names in Irish and international literature will participate in next year’s Ennis Book Club Festival, the largest event of its kind anywhere in Ireland and the UK.
Supported by Clare County Library, the three-day programme of events from March 5 to March 7 is expected to attract hundreds of book club members and book lovers from all over Europe and North America.
The festival will also feature Ireland’s first ‘Book Club of the Year Award’ and a professional development workshop for library staff.
Among the contributors to the festival will be Lionel Shriver, prolific journalist and Orange Prize-winning author of We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Post-Birthday World; Joseph O’Connor, journalist, screenwriter and author of 10 Irish number one bestsellers including Cowboys and Indians, Desperadoes, The Salesman and Inishowen; Tim Pat Coogan, biographer, historian, journalist and writer of Michael Collins and Ireland in the Twentieth Century; and Fiona Looney, columnist, playwright, scriptwriter and media personality.
Other authors scheduled to participate in the fourth annual festival include Diarmaid Ferriter, author, historian, and university lecturer; Paul Howard, journalist, author and creator of the cult character Ross O’Carroll-Kelly; Claire Keegan, award-winning short stories writer and author of Antarctica and Walk the Blue Fields; and Thomas Lynch, essayist, poet, short stories writer, funeral director and winner of the American Book Award and The Heartland Prize for Non-fiction.
Academic contributors to the festival include Dr Paul Delaney, School of English at Trinity College; Alan Titley, author, playwright, poet and professor of Modern Irish and Head of Department at University College Cork and Niall MacMonagle, reviewer, editor and English teacher at Dublin’s Wesley College. Further contributors will be added to the festival line-up over the coming months.
Chairperson Frances O’Gorman describes the festival as a wonderful social and literary event that brings together book club members, readers and authors from all over Ireland and beyond.
“It presents a unique opportunity for all literary enthusiasts to share their joy of reading, to meet authors, to discuss books and to have a weekend break with friends,” she adds.
One of the highlights of the weekend festival will be The Sunday Symposium, during which Tim Pat Coogan and
Diarmaid Ferriter will join a panel discussion on the subject of Reading History.
Elsewhere, the festival is inviting library staff nationwide to a free workshop on how to start, develop and challenge a book club.
Ciana Campbell of the festival organising committee notes that the professional development workshop, which will be presented by Anne Downes of Opening the Book, has been designed specifically for library staff who are interested or involved in book clubs. It will cover areas such as managing group dynamics, injecting new life and bringing new ideas.
Meanwhile, the 2010 festival features Ireland’s foremost Book Club of the Year Award. Entry forms, which are
being distributed throughout the country, must be submitted by Friday, January 8.

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