Kildare's Gerard Manley Hopkins Festival celebrates 31 years

Visitors expected from all over the world including India, France and USA

Leinster Leader reporter

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Newbridge's Gerard Manley Hopkins Festival celebrates 31st anniversary

Hans Palsson

It is amazing to drive into Newbridge and see the flags of the world flying proudly in the town at the moment.

“The flags, which are raised by the Tidy Towns Committee, show the level of engagement the community has with the Hopkins Festival of which its understandably proud, especially as the festival celebrates 31 great years in existence,” said festival PRO, Morgan McCabe.

“The festival is based in Newbridge and attracts visitors and participants from all over the world including India, France the USA and as far afield as Japan. It started out as a two day event and has now evolved into a seven day festival of culture, celebrating the life and work of Gerard Manley Hopkins and his interests in all of the arts, paintings, ceramics, sculpture, poetry, classical and traditional Irish music, philosophy and conservation of nature.”

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He highlighted this is the festival’s 31st year in operation and the voluntary committee run a very extensive programme thanks to generous funding from the Kildare Newbridge Municipal District Council and Kildare County Council who have been a vital support.

Key highlights of this years festival include the official opening of the festival and art exhibition by the Ambassador of Germany H.E.Frau Deike Potzel in Newbridge College Theatre at 7pm on Friday July 20. All are welcome.

There will be a public poetry reading in Whitewater Shopping Centre at 4.30pm on Saturday 21 while the Classical Piano Concert with world renowned Swedish pianist, Hans Pålsson takes place on Saturday 2 at 8pm in Newbridge College Theatre.

The concert will feature works by Beethoven, Mozart, Scarletti, Debussy and Schubert.

Tickets available in Farrells of Newbridge or at the door. There will be a Traditional Irish Music evening featuring Irish dancer, Tomas O Conghaile (Galway) with Diarmuid Johnson (flute) and friends at O’Rourkes Pub on Wednesday 25 at 9.30pm.

An art exhibition will be held at Newbridge College Theatre featuring local internationally recognised artists Eleanor Swan, Brian Bourke, Charles Cullen and Martin Gale.

The International Poetry Evening (featuring 10 countries) is being held at the Riverbank Theatre, Newbridge including poets of India, USA, France, Switzerland, Japan, Spain, UK, Germany, Sweden and Ireland on Wednesday 25 at 7.30pm.

“Our five day Youth Programme has been oversubscribed this year with 38 students attending including twenty students from Germany. The youth programme has been a huge success over the years. Under the guidance of Derek Egan this programme has been of huge benefit to transition year pupils some of whom have gone on to become Oxford English Professors,” added Morgan.

“Another highlight is a walk exploring the archeological, and natural aspects of the Curragh Plains with Michael Jacob, our local expert in all things to do with nature. This is always a rewarding event and takes place Thursday 26 of July at 4pm.”

He said there is something for everyone at from classical music to “wonderful lectures that will enrich you mind and feed your soul.”

Check out www. gerardmanleyhopkins.org.