Dublin Book Festival 2019: Exhibitions, workshops, conversations with Derry Girls' Siobhán McSweeney, Kevin Barry and more

Booker Prize nominee Kevin Barry and Derry Girls star Siobhán McSweeney are among the Irish names who will be in conversation as part of this year’s Dublin Book Festival.

Both will be guests of Seán Rocks alongside Sue Rainsford, Patrick Freyne and more for a live discussion for RTÉ Radio 1 Arena. It’s just one of the 18 ‘in conversation’ events taking place at the festival from November 14 to 17.

There are 69 events overall including workshops, exhibitions, book launches, readings, debates, and an extensive children’s programme in what is the 16th year of the literary festival.

Among the many other names taking part are Pat McCabe, Áine Lawlor, Stephen Rea, ‘Aisling’ series authors Sarah Breen and Emer McLysaght, Jessica Traynor, Colm O’Regan, Bernard O’Shea, Séan Ó Tuathaigh, Suad Aldarra, Bryan Fanning, Niamh Boyce and Patricia O’Reilly.

Most events are free and will take place in venues across the city including Smock Alley Theatre, Temple Bar, The Science Gallery, Gutter Bookshops, Irish Writers CEntre, National Library of Ireland, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, GPO Witness History Museum, The Royal Irish Academy, Trinity College Dublin and more.

Dublin Book Festival Programme:


The festival opens with a special evening of conversation and performance with Pat McCabe, based on his latest book The Big Yaroo, hosted by RTÉ presenter Áine Lawlor. Location: Main Theatre, Smock Alley Theatre 6.30pm 14 Nov, €10/€8 concession

Outlanders author Séan Ó Tuathaigh and Suad Aldarra, a Software Engineer who was forced to flee her homeland during the Syrain conflict, will discuss the sacrifices one might take in order to reach a better life with UCD’s Bryan Fanning. Location: EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, CHQ Building 14 Nov, 5.30pm, €7/€5 concession

To celebrate the publication of J.P. Donleavy’s final finished novel, A Letter Marked Personal, there will be an evening of readings at The Lilliput Press.  You can gain entry with a postcard marked ‘personal’ distributed to bookshops across the city. Location: The Lilliput Press, 14 Nov 8pm, Free entry.

Seán Rocks will be joined by guests Kevin Barry, Siobhán McSweeney, Sue Rainsford, Patrick Freyne and more in a live discussion for RTÉ Radio 1 Arena. Locatoin: Main Theatre, Smock Alley Theatre 15 Nov 7pm, €10/€8 concession

Niamh Boyce, Patricia O’Reilly, Eibhear Walshe and Nessa O’Mahony will be in conversation about the Irish historical-fiction novel. Location: National Library of Ireland, 15 Nov 1pm, Free entry

Neuroscientist Shane O’Mara will discuss his book In Praise of Walking along with other panellists. Location: Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin 15 Nov 6.30pm, Free entry

Caelainn Hogan, author of Republic of Shame will share her experiences in the uncovering of Ireland’s mother-and-baby homes and the collusion of the Catholic Church with the Irish State with Katie Hannon, presenter of RTÉ Radio 1’s Late Debate and author of The Naked Politician. Location: GPO Witness History Centre, O’Connell Street 15 Nov 6.30pm.

Mary McCarthy will chair an informal discussion with playwright Thomas Kilroy, author of Over the Backyard Wall and Wendy Erskine, author of Sweet Home on the trials and tribulations of life as a writer in contemporary Ireland. Location: Lord Edward Pub, 15 Nov 8pm, Free entry

David Horan, Artistic Director of Bewley’s Café Theatre will be joined by emerging playwrights Caitríona Daly, Stewart Roche and Ciara Elizabeth Smyth and Sara Keating for a discussion on the highs and lows of presenting and producing theatre in Ireland today. Location: Main Theatre, Smock Alley Theatre 16 Nov 2pm, €8/€6

David McCullagh will be joined by renowned historian Margaret Ward and Lorcan Collins, who has recently published his overview, Ireland’s War of Independence 1919-1921: Ireland’s Guerrilla Campaign in a fascinating discussion on Ireland’s War of Independence. Location: National Library of Ireland 16 Nov 2pm, Free entry.

Lynn Ruane, senator and author of People Like Me is joined by Richie Sadlier to discuss his gripping memoir Recovery, in which he recounts the troublesome events, which led him to becoming a qualified psychotherapist. Location: Main Theatre, Smock Alley Theatre 16 Nov 4pm, €7/€5.

There will be a celebration of 35 years of The Lilliput Press (1984- 2019) with a panel of some of the Press’ finest authors including Kevin Power, Rob Doyle, Elske Rahill, Adrian Duncan and Alice Lyons who will discuss the highs and lows of publishing life, the publication process and why they first submitted to the Press. Location: Main Theatre, Smock Alley Theatre 16 Nov 6pm, Free entry.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy turns 40 this year and RTÉ broadcaster Rick O’Shea will be moderating an evening Irish authors including Erin Fornoff, Sarah Maria Griffin, Shane Hegarty, Colm O’Regan and Dave Rudden, who will be writing their own brand new entries to the Guide and performing them on the night. Location: Main Theatre, Smock Alley Theatre 16 Nov 7.30pm, €8/€6.

Meet Gillies Macbain, author of The Last Footman, a man whose life has been nothing if not unpredictable as he tells tales from his past, but it is up to you to judge his stories and decipher what is real and what is fabricated. Location: Sweny’s Pharmacy, 1 Lincoln Place 16 Nov 2.00pm, Free entry.

Co-authors of Once, Twice, Three Times an Aisling Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen will be in conversation with broadcaster Rick O’Shea as they discuss all things Aisling. Location: Main Theatre, Smock Alley Theatre 17 Nov 1pm, €8/€6 concession.

Lecturer and award-winning journalist Madeleine Keane will also be in a discussion with four of Ireland’s most exciting emerging writers, Nicole Flattery (Show Them a Good Time), Ian Maleney (Minor Monuments), Lucy Sweeney Byrne (Paris Syndrome) and Adrian Duncan, (Love Notes From a German Building Site). Location: Boys’ School, Smock Alley Theatre 17 Nov 1.30pm, €7/€5 concession.

One of Ireland’s most prodigious authors, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, is joined by Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole to celebrate Fitzmaurice’s writing throughout his entire career – and to discuss his final poetry book. Location: National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street 17 Nov 2pm, Free entry.



Exhibitions will take place in Smock Alley Theatre.

As we approach 20 years of direct provision in Ireland, Correspondences: An Anthology to Call for an End to Direct Provision gathers together writing, photography and visual art by those in direct provision and seeks to create new correspondences between these artists and Irish writers.

A new series of unique book-inspired artworks and magical sculptures in association with Ballyfermot College of Further Education will be on display.

Return to Sender: Revisiting John Hinde’s Ireland pairs Hinde’s iconic postcards from the 1950s – 70s with corresponding contemporary photographs by Paul Kelly.



The Business Clinic’s panel of experts Sean Gallagher, Liam Fennelly and Siobhán Murray will offer tips on how you can prepare and survive financially, strategically and emotionally when setting up and running a business. Location: Trinity Business School, Pearse Street, 14 Nov 6pm, €10/€8 concession.

The Irish Publishing Trade Day will include events and talks aimed at exploring and capitalising on the opportunities available to Irish publishers. Location: Main Theatre, Smock Alley Theatre 15 Nov 10am, Invitation only.

Paul Fadden, Managing Director of Ticketsolve, will discuss who buys tickets, when, how and why. It will highlight the methods of reading and analysing previous sales data, helping you to shape your next PR campaign and sell more tickets. Location: Main Theatre, Smock Alley Theatre 14 Nov, 11am, Free entry.



Renowned historian and author Pat Liddy will conduct a special walk dedicated to some of the stories and writers inspired by Dublin. Location: Front Steps, Smock Alley Theatre 15 – 17 Nov 2.30pm, €8/€6 concession.

Author and historian Lorcan Collins will take you to the relevant sites of the 1919 War of Independence and The Civil War throughout Dublin. Location: ront Steps, Smock Alley Theatre 17 Nov 11am, €15

The best way to read Ulysses is to follow Joyce’s words on the original locations of the book. This tour is led by Robert Nicholson, whose book The Ulysses Guide (New Island) relates all the action of Joyce’s novel to its original settings. Location: Front Steps, Smock Alley Theatre 16 Nov 12 noon, €8/€6 concession.

Explore Ireland’s ‘place among the nations’ on the streets with this walking tour of ‘Diplomatic Dublin’ led by John Gibney, co-author of Ireland: a voice among the nations, published by the Royal Irish Academy. Location: Front Steps, Smock Alley Theatre 17 Nov 12 noon, €8/€6 concession.



Award-winning author Declan Burke’s latest novel The Lammisters is a sharp-witted comedy following Irish bootlegger Rusty McGrew and a crew of accidental co-conspirators as they are forced to go on the run from the LA Police Department. Location: Gutter Bookshop 15th Nov 6.30pm, Free Entry.

Dublin Moving East: How the City Took Over the Sea by Michael Branagan is an in-depth examination of the rich documentary history of the creation of a great European city. Location: Dublin Port, East Wall 16 Nov 2pm, Free entry.

All are welcome to the launch of Celia de Fréine’s new thriller Cur i gCéill. Location: Winter Garden, Smock Alley Theatre 16 Nov 2.15pm, Free entry.

Join the writers and artists of Yes, We Still Drink Coffee, Stories of Women Human Rights Defenders, for the launch of the collection and readings of the pieces. Location: Winter Garden, Smock Alley Theatre 16 Nov 4pm, €7/€5.

Join Stephen Rea, Jessica Traynor and Bulelani Mfaco of MASI – the Movement of Asylum Seekers in Ireland, along with a host of readers and performers, to celebrate the launch of Correspondences: An Anthology to Call for an End to Direct Provision. Location: Winter Garden, Smock Alley Theatre 16 Nov 5.45pm, Free Entry.

Dark Enchantment by Dorothy Macardle, evokes a darkly magical mountain village, with witches, rumours, spells and curses, and is a brilliant follow-up to her successful and influential other novels The Uninvited and The Unforeseen.  Location: The Gutter Bookshop 16 Nov 6.30pm, Free entry.

Writer Lucy Costigan and photographer Michael Cullen will be in conversation with Tony Walsh to celebrate the launch of Dark Beauty: Hidden Detail in Harry Clarke’s Stained Glass. Location: The Winter Garden, Smock Alley Theatre 17 Nov 2.30pm, Free entry.



Join Máire Ní Mhaonaigh and Sharon Arbuthnot, authors of A History of Ireland in 100 Words and calligrapher Timothy O’Neill for a collaborative workshop offering a glimpse into the changing practices and paraphernalia of writing in medieval Ireland. Location: The Royal Irish Academy 15 Nov 2.30pm, €7/€5 concession.

Eoin O’Brien, Louise Kennedy and Leeann Lane will present readings of the works of three remarkable writers who were overlooked in their own time. Location: Winter Garden, Smock Alley Theatre 15 Nov 6pm, Free entry.

Takin’ the Mic will see Ciara Ní É and special guest Oisín Fagan host an evening of guest performances as well as the usual open mic for writers, spoken-word artists, comedians and musicians. Location: Main Theatre, Smock Alley Theatre 16 Nov 8pm, Free Entry.

On this one-day course with Danielle McLaughlin you will explore ways of interrogating the everyday until it surrenders its stories.  Location: Irish Writers Centre, Parnell Square 16 Nov 10.30am – 4.30pm.

If you’re interested in writing for children and young adults then join Aoife Murray, a Programme and Events Manager with Children’s Books Ireland, as she leads a discussion with the likes of Director of The O’Brien Press, Ivan O’Brien, Director of Gill Book’s Nicki Howard, literary agent Faith O’Grady, owner of The Gutter Bookshop and award-winning authors Sarah Webb and Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick for a morning full of tips and tricks on how to jump start your writing career. Location: Main Theatre, Smock Alley Theatre 17 Nov 10am, €20/€18 concession.

Enjoy a Sunday afternoon with Patrick Deeley and Catherine Phil MacCarthy, two of the leading poets and performers in Ireland. The authors will read from their work that reflects the nature and environment surrounding the authors at their time of writing. Location: Auditorium, National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin 17Nov 3pm, Free entry.

Enjoy an afternoon of laughs with two of Ireland’s funniest people. Colm O’Regan will discuss his most recent novel, Ann Devine Ready for Her Close-Up along with Bernard O’Shea with his own book, My Wife is Married to a Feckin’ Eejit. Location: Boys’ School, Smock Alley Theatre 17Nov 3.30pm, €8/€6 concession.



Take part in a Story Writing Workshop in association with Fighting Words
(Age 9–11). Fighting Words 16 Nov 10.30am, Free entry.

Chill out with a book in The Winter Garden at Smock Alley Theatre1. 2.30pm – 4pm, Free entry, Drop in

Join the Children’s Treasure Hunt: Smock Alley Theatre 16 & 17 Nov 12.30pm – 4pm, Free entry Drop-in

Get advice and inspiration at the CBI Book Clinic at Winter Garden, Smock Alley Theatre 16 Nov 1pm – 4pm, Drop in event

The Sky ISN’T the Limit! (Age 5+) Come and draw everything you can imagine with Jennifer Farley. Smock Alley Theatre 16 Nov 12.15pm – 1pm, Free entry

Creating Monsters! Join Alan Nolan for a fun-packed interactive family event involving paper, crayons, plastocine and plenty of imagination! Smock Alley Theatre 161.15pm – 2pm, Free entry

Our Little Album of Dublin: a Chat and a Poetry Treasure Hunt! (Age 5+) Join Tarsila Krüse and Juliette Saumande in a poetry treasure hunt around the room, figure out the clues, answer some questions and come back with some treasures that will help you create your very own poem! Smock Alley Theatre 17 Nov 11am – 11.50am, Free entry

Dare to Dream: Interactive Family History Event (Age 7+ and families) Join Sarah Webb in this fun family event which includes history, dressing up and acting as she chats about some of the remarkable people from Irish history who feature in her books. Smock Alley Theatre 17 Nov 12.15pm – 1pm, Free entry

Shooting For the Stars (Age 5+ ) Come and join author and scientist-astronaut candidate Norah Patten explore the cosmos through space travel, learn all about astronauts and prepare for your very own space mission. Auditorium, National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin 17 Nov 12 noon – 1pm, Free entry

Draw and Tell with Peter Donnelly. Join Peter for a lively workshop of storytelling and live drawing suited for all the family. Smock Alley Theatre 17 Nov 1pm – 1.45pm, Free entry

There is also a schools’ programme.  For more info and to book online check out


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