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Dublin: 11°C Monday 23 May 2022

A Czech Gaeilgeoir tells us why people should go to this Irish-language festival

A performance of Cluiche na Corónach, an Irish-language translation of Game of Thrones, is also planned as part of the literature festival.

Image: IMRAM

RADVAN MARKUS, WHO is from the Czech Republic, started learning Irish early on in his life.

Although it was traditional music that first drew him to Irish culture, he was also attracted to Irish literature – in particular, An Béal Bocht by Brian Ó Nualláin, or Flann O’Brien as he’s better known.

When he learned that courses were available in the language, he seized the opportunity and enrolled, and it wasn’t long before he began translating works by the Irish-language greats to Czech - L’Attaque by Eoghan Ó Tuairisc and short stories by Pádraig Ó Conaire amongst them.

As part of the Irish-language literature festival IMRAM, new translations of both Czech- and Irish-language works by Markus will be available – including a translation of the remarkaable Cré na Cille, which The New Yorker called “The Irish novel so good people were afraid to translate it“.

A reading of this new Czech translation is one of the many events that is part of IMRAM – the Irish-language literature festival, which begins today.

What’s the festival about

The first IMRAM festival was set up in 2004 by the director of the festival Liam 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 that funding has increased 1000% in the 10-12 years the festival has been in operation.

The festival name means ‘a voyage of discovery’ and what we’re asking people to do is come with us and discover the Irish language.

“For translations of famous songs – such as translations of David Bowie’s songs this year – we have the lyrics projected up on a screen so people can sing along. And the amount of people who come up to me to say they’re astonished at the amount of Irish they can understand.”

It aims to reveal the strength and diversity of modern literature in Irish through a variety of mediums and with a mixture of international cultures.

Part of this year’s festival is Markus’ special bilingual gala night of Czech and Irish literature, featuring Czech poetry and extracts from Hašek’s The Good Soldier Švejk translated into Irish, with Irish language works such as Cré na Cille rendered into Czech (which Markus says show similar types of humour).

Markus says learning Irish has helped him explore the Irish literary landscape in great depth – as well as being a great tool for meeting new people.

Blaise den fhéile/ A taster of what’s on offer

Of course, Markus’ poetry readings are just one of the events that are part of the festival.

Irish poet Séamas Barra Ó Suilleabháin will read from his début collection to the backdrop of traditional Czech music, which is described by Carson as “sean-nós meets Playstations and zombie films”.


Réaltnach features Irish language versions of Bowie’s best work, transcreated by Gabriel Rosenstock, performed by Liam Ó Maonlaí and The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra. The show includes screen projections by Margaret Lonergan – Bowie’s stage personas included Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane.


A dramatic multi-media performance based on Oisín Ó Muirthile’s translation into Irish of Game of Thrones. Seán T Ó Meallaigh and Sinead Ní Uallacháin of Raidió na Gaeltachta will read to a special musical backdrop arranged and performed by Caitríona O’Leary (vocals), Nick Roth (saxophone), Matthias Loibner (hurdy-gurdy) and Francesco Turrisi (frame drums and keyboard). Margaret Lonergan has created visuals drawing on medieval sources.


In 1941, the city of Leningrad is under siege by the German Army. The Russian citizens strive to cope with bombardment, severe cold and famine. In her bare little flat, the poet Anna Akhmatova tries to entertain a visitor, the ‘absurdist’ Daniil Kharms. They are interrupted by a nosy neighbour, who may be a police informer.

This play explores how two real-life Russian writers might have used their creative imaginations in terrible circumstances. For one, it is a way of coping with reality. For the other, it is a way of escaping from reality.


Publisher Pádraig Ó Snodaigh called Caitlín Maude an ‘elemental force’, saying she believed that ‘all art is written or created using the head, the emotions, the body, and one’s sexuality. And if these four elements aren’t present, the work isn’t complete’.

This exhibition celebrates the work of this famed poet and political activist – who, were it not for her early death, would have gained greater notoriety for her poetry. 

IMRAM runs from the 6 to the 16 October and has 18 different events on across Dublin (as well as regular events during the year). For more information visit imram.ie

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