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An Irish-language festival is coming to Dublin next week ... here's what's in store

IMRAM, the Irish language literature festival, is taking place in multiple venues around Dublin from Monday.

Image: Jennifer Magee via IMRAM

BOB DYLAN AS Gaeilge – that’s just a small taste of what will be on offer at an Irish language literature festival next week. 

IMRAM, the Irish language literature festival, is taking place in multiple venues around Dublin from Monday until next Saturday. 

With a diverse and culturally filled programme of events for all ages, this year’s highlights include Buail na Cloig/Ring them Bells: The Dylan Gospel Project, performed by Liam Ó Maonlaí and a host of musicians. 

Speaking to TheJournal.ie festival director Liam Carson said that the festival holds one “big music show” every year that focuses on a major musician. 

In the past, the music of Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell have featured in the shows. A poet translates the music into the Irish language for the festival. 

“What we do with the music project is we get Gabriel Rosenstock … he provides Irish language versions of the songs. They’re beautiful translations, they’re absolutely exquisite,” Carson said. 

In the past, we’ve chosen people like Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell because they tend to have lyrics which could be described as literature. You’re talking about songwriters who have a very high, poetic element to their work and we like giving that to the poet to translate. 

Tributes

The festival will also celebrate the acclaimed work of Liam Ó Muirthile, who passed away earlier this year. His work will be celebrated at the show on 15 October, according to Carson.

“Liam was just a force of nature, he was a remarkable man, fantastic writer, he was a poet of the first order,” Carson said. 

“His loss is a really big blow to the Irish language community and literature in Ireland full stop.” 

Ó Muirthile’s first collection of poetry, Tine Chnámh, written in 1984, received the Irish-American Cultural Institute’s literary award and the Oireachtas prize for poetry, according to Poetry Ireland. 

Meanwhile, the following night the work of Danny Sheehy will be celebrated. He has participated in the IMRAM festival on numerous occasions throughout the years.

“He was a storyteller. He was completely immersed in traditional storytelling,” Carson said. 

“He was a very much-loved man throughout the country.” 

A number of poets at the event on Tuesday will read poems written by Sheehy, along with poems that they’re written to honour him. 

IMRAM

The first IMRAM festival was set up in 2004 by Carson as he noticed that although there were a few literary festivals – there were none dedicated to Irish language.

They received funding from Poetry Ireland, Dublin City Council, Foras na Gaeilge – and, as of two years ago, that funding had increased 1000% in the 10-12 years the festival had been in operation.

The festival name means “a voyage of discovery”. 

A variety of events over the five days are taking place which cater to a range of audiences. 

IADT Studio IADT studio Source: Jennifer Magee via IMRAM

Starting on 10 October IMRAM na nÓg, a children’s literature and arts segment of the festival, begins. 

The Lexicon Library and IADT in Dun Laoghaire will play host to numerous colourful, fun and educational events, including a morning of games, storytelling and writing with the award-winning author Máire Zepf. 

Meanwhile, at the Royal Irish Academy, ‘Siar and Aniar’ will feature a multimedia performance of poetry and prose based on ‘Modern Ireland in 100 Artworks’, a celebration of Irish life during the period 1916 to 2015. 

A number of other multimedia shows will be held over the course of the festival. 

Carson noted that while the festival is focused on Irish language literature, non-Irish speakers are welcome to attend events. 

“Lots of people have Irish at the back of their minds from school or they’ve absorbed some sort of Irish,” Carson said. 

“It’s obviously an Irish language literature festival but we do make an effort to cater to people who may not have an awful lot of Irish or who don’t have Irish at all,” he said. 

He said that, for example, when a Bob Dylan song translated to Irish is playing, “we have the lyrics on the screen” so non-Irish speakers can follow the words. 

“Suddenly people start understanding the Irish and by the end of the night they’re actually singing along with the band,” he said. 

The way to learn any language is to go along, hear it spoken, hear it read, hear it performed. That’s how people learn a language. 

For details of the full festival programme, visit www.imram.ie.  

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