The Franco-Irish Literary Festival celebrated its 15th anniversary in Dublin at the beginning of April, featuring a very multicultural melange.
Literature, whether we think about novels or poetry, is an important part of our culture. But can books actually change lives? ‘Of course they can!’, avid readers will say. Others might be a little bit more sceptical.
But what is the truth? Can things we read really influence our thoughts, emotions and behaviour in a life-changing way? Whose lives are most likely to change thanks to the written word – writers’? Editors’? Publishers’? Readers’? What does it mean to ‘change lives’ and, more importantly, isn’t it naive to even expect major metamorphosis to be possible? There seem to be no good or bad answers to these questions. However, it is important to ask them, as did the participants of this year’s edition of the Franco-Irish Literary Festival.
The Festival is organised each spring by the Alliance Française in Dublin and the Cultural Section of the French Embassy. With writers from two different countries (Ireland and France), speaking and writing in three different languages (French, English and Irish Gaelic), it is a truly multicultural and multilingual event.
All talks and readings are open to the public, who are invited to join the discussion and ask questions (which can lead to serious debates or simply having a laugh). And, the best part? Admission to all events is free of charge!
This year, to celebrate its 15th anniversary, most of the festival events took place in Dublin Castle. George’s Hall offered comfortable seating and could accommodate a wide audience (a nice way to make up for the last year to those unlucky ones who could not fit into the National Library). Non-bilingual literature lovers had nothing to fear – simultaneous translation and headsets were available for every member of the public, allowing for full participation of those fluent in either English, or French.
The participating authors included both long-term friends of the festival, like the professor and poet Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, and new faces, such as Paul Lynch, whose second book is to be published in summer 2014. Between discussions everybody had a chance to get something for the body and for the soul – tea, coffee and croissants, as well as books, could be purchased during the breaks. The three-day long celebration ended with the Literary Brunch in the Alliance Française.
The 15th Franco-Irish Literary Festival was definitely a success, and as Mr. Jean-Pierre Thébault, the French Ambassador to Ireland said, let us hope for at least fifteen more wonderful years!
Lead image “230” by Alliance Française Dublin on Flickr, All Rights Reserved; copyright Mark Griffin; all other images via festival website