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International Poets Head to Strokestown!

Visitors to the 20th Anniversary Strokestown International Poetry Festival this year are in for a treat – more than 70 poets will be reading over the course of the weekend, with Manchester’s Lemn Sissay MBE headlining on the Saturday evening (May 5th), and performance poet Tony ‘Longfella’ Walsh at the official Festival opening on

Friday, May 4th. And don’t miss a night of craic with The Poetry Divas on Thursday 3rd.

The Festival takes place over Bank Holiday weekend, May 3rd – 7th, when there will be the results of six competitions, three exhibitions, two film screenings, seven book launches, two workshops, plus street entertainment and music – you won’t want to miss any of it!

Lemn Sissay is probably best known as the first poet to be commissioned to write for the Olympics, held in

London back in 2012. He is Chancellor of the University of Manchester and most recently has been selected as a judge for the 50th anniversary Man Booker prize. As a broadcaster and performance poet he has written moving accounts of his experiences as a black teenager with no family, growing up in foster care in Northern England.

Tickets, priced at just €10, are expected to go quickly for the Saturday evening poetry and music event at the Percy French Hotel, which includes readings from Roscommon favourite, award-winning poet Jane Clarke, and music from renowned fiddle player Danny Diamond. To buy tickets and see the programme go to:


Earlier in the day another award-winning poet, Rita Ann Higgins, will give readings at Strokestown Park House before the launch of Duais de hÍde-The Douglas Hyde Irish Language Poetry Prize.

Tony ‘Longfella’ Walsh, best known as a community activist and slam poet from Manchester, will be performing from Bawn Street to local schools in Strokestown on Friday, May 4th. His poem, ‘This Is the Place’, captured the response of Mancunians after the terror attack last year in which 22 concert-goers were killed at an Ariana Grande concert. He will read at the official opening of the Festival at the Percy French Hotel on May 4th.

Along with book launches, music and dozens of poetry readings, including street performances from the Hermit Collective, there is a hectic schedule of events planned to mark Strokestown’s 20th Anniversary.

Most of the weekend’s events happen in and around Strokestown Park House and the Percy French Hotel, with street performances throughout the town, with plenty going on in the local schools and other venues.

International Poetry Competition Judges Moya Cannon and Harry Clifton introduce the shortlisted poets and award the €2000 prize to the overall winner on Sunday, May 6th.

Lookout for the detailed programme and tickets – many events are free to attend, and everyone is welcome:

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