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Bardic Festival 2020


Saturday March 14th Stand and Deliver!

Voice Coaching with Priscilla Donovan €12.50.

10 a.m. to 12 in The Seanchaí Centre, Listowel.

Priscilla Donovan has been a performing artist and singer for 50 years. She has thorough knowledge of how to communicate verbally and has taught singing, drama and recitation for the past 20 years. She is also an author with a published book of short stories, Simple Gifts.

Saturday March 21st – Thatch Bar, Lisselton.

Advanced Poetry with John W Sexton,

10 am. to 12.30, 1.45 to 4.15. €25.00

Multitalented John W. Sexton is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Petit Mal (Revival Press 2009), The Offspring of the Moon (Salmon Poetry 2013) and Futures Pass (Salmon 2018). A chapbook of his surrealist poetry, Inverted Night, came out from SurVision in April 2019. His poem The Snails was shortlisted for the 2018 An Post / Listowel Writers’ Week Poem of the Year Award.

Poetry and Prose for Beginners with Gabriel Fitzmaurice 9.30 to 12 noon. €12.50.

Gabriel has been described as “the best contemporary, traditional, popular poet in English” He has published more than 60 books including collections of poetry in English and Irish, as well as several collections of verse for children.

History Forum on Hedge Schools in North Kerry. Lisselton School. 1.30 to 4 pm. Free! All welcome.

With Historian Declan Downey and poet/historians Gabriel Fitzmaurice and Dónal O’Connor.

Saturday March 21st – Tomáisín’s Bar

Learn to do The Brush Dance (and more!) with Miriam Costello, 2 pm to 3.30.  €10/€5.

A wonderful Sean-Nós and Set-Dancing Teacher from Lisselton, Miriam has 13 County titles, nine Munster titles and an All-Ireland to her name.

Festival Launch Friday 20th 

8 pm in The Thatch Bar with Joe McGill

 Grand Concert Saturday 8 pm

In Tomáisín’s Function Room

with Donal Murphy and Breaking Trad!

€15/€5 Bookings at 087 625 7705


Fabulous Raffle Prizes!

Thursday March 19th in St.Teresa’s Parish Church, Ballydonoghue 7.30

Beautiful Bilingual Mass with Hymns and Traditional Music, dedicated to Students of the Parish, past and present.

Maidin na mBard

De Domhnaigh,11 a.m. go 12.00.

Caifé & Comhrá,

Filiocht & Craic

 i dTí an Tuí (The Thatch Bar!)

Míc Oscailte – 12.00 go 2 pm.

Competitions – Deadline Feb 29th


Poem – (50 lines max) Robert Leslie Boland Award.

Short Story – (2,500 words max) Quiet Man Maurice Walsh Award.

Dán – (50 línte ar a mhéad) no Gearrscéal (2,500 focal ar a mhéad) as Gaeilge.

Duais Phádraig Liath Ó Conchubhair.


Poem – (50 lines max) or Short Story (1,000 words max) in English – The Chrissie Nolan Creative Writing Award.

Dán – (50 línte ar a mhéad) no Gearrscéal (1,000 focal ar a mhéad) as Gaeilge.

Entry Fees: Adults €10, Children €5 for up to two entries in any combination.

Prizes: Adults €150, €100 and €50 in each category; Children €100, €75 and €50 in the form of Book Tokens

Bardic Festival 2020

The Ballydonoghue Bardic Festival seeks to honour the memory of Pádraig Liath Ó Conchubhair, who was born in Lisselton in 1745 and died around 1820.  He was a Hedge Schoolmaster, Poet and renowned Academic who established The Lisselton Bardic Court, known as ‘Cúirt na Súagh’, The Court of the Wise.

A Brief History of the Ballydonoghue Bard

There are lots of famous people from Lisselton, writers, footballers, ambassadors, soldiers, teachers, priests, nuns and many others. In this last group are the poets. It’s not often we hear about the poets from this area but they’re here now, and at one time Lisselton was famed for the standard of its poetry and of the schools of poetry around here. At that time there was great respect for poets and poetry, for alongside of poetry, they were well versed in literature, science and Latin.

Pádraig Liath Ó Conchubhair was born in 1745 and died around 1820. He was married to Eibhlín Ní hArtnain. Pádraig was highly intelligent and well-read, an outstandingly skilled teacher and leader of a group of master teachers of similar skills and disposition. He was also a native Irish speaker.

Pádraig instituted an annual Court for poets in Lisselton. Famous people from far and near attended these assemblies, people like Micheál Óg Ó Longáin. The Court was known as ‘Cúirt na Súagh’, The Court of the Wise. In 1803, the title Príomh-Ghiúistís, Cumann na mBard, (Chief Magistrate, Bardic Association) was bestowed on Pádraig Liath Ó Conchubhair of Cúirt na Súagh in Lisselton. A great honour indeed!

When you think about people like this man and the history Lisselton has in poetry, isn’t it a pity we don’t have a statue in his memory and as an influence on young people today. I use the term ‘influence’ because specialists in this field assure us that Pádraig and the schools he founded had a huge influence on the famous writers that have come out of North Kerry over the years. As I’ve said, Pádraig was a man of learning who used his native language in his poetry and in educating the people.

What then brought that era to an end in Lisselton, you ask? The introduction of The National School System in 1833 is probably one answer. The Great Famine of 1845 to 1849 contributed also.

But courage springs eternal in Kerry and in the years that followed, poets began to write again, in no small way due to the seed that was planted by Pádraig two hundred years ago, the same seed that still flourishes in Lisselton today.

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