Gerard Manley Hopkins festival - details announced

A celebration of the life and works of one of the county’s most famous poet residents takes place at Newbridge College in Newbridge later this month.

A celebration of the life and works of one of the county’s most famous poet residents takes place at Newbridge College in Newbridge later this month.

This year celebrates the 25th staging of the Gerard Manley Hopkins Festival, one of the longest-running arts festivals in Ireland. It will take place from July 21 to 27 next.

Gerard Manley Hopkins taught at the Catholic University of Ireland (now UCD) in the mid-1880s. He stayed in Monasterevin several times, and called the town “one of the props and struts of my existence”.

The festival itself started life in Monasterevin, but moved to Newbridge several years ago for logistical reasons.

This year, the committee is pulling out all the stops to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of the Festival.

Events start with a concert by world-famous Swedish pianist Hans Palsson on Saturday, July 21.

Irish musical highlights during the week will include a concert by Frankie Gavin (with Michelle Lally and Desmond Egan) on Tuesday, July 21; and flute player Diarmuid Johnson later in the week.

The week’s Art Exhibition will be special, with work by Charles Cullen (who exhibits rarely nowadays), John Behan, Edward Navone (USA), James Mc Kenna and Wilhelm Fockersperger (Germany). There will also be glass works by Eva Kelly. A film version of “The Wreck of the Deutschland” by director Shane McGrath will also be shown.

Internatioal lecturers will speak at the festival, along with Hopkins experts including graphologist Denis Sexton who will examine Hopkins’s handwriting.

Psychologist Aiden Gregg will give the crowd a psychologist’s profile of the poet. Another highlight will be a lecture by international competition winner, architect Shelly McNamara.

There will also be workshops in writing and songwriting, and poetry readings nightly in various Newbridge pubs, plus book launches.

Friday 27th July is Conservation Day. It will include a field trip and - in conjunction with the featured Hopkins poem, “Felix Randal” - a visit to a working Forge.

Other field trips will include visits to Russborough House and NUI Maynooth where the Annual Banquet also takes place, at which a Lifetime Achievement Award will be made to legendary Irish poet Thomas Kinsella.