Friday, May 20, 2022

Author Michael Smith (of Tom Crean fame) will be among the many acclaimed writers taking to the Lismore Heritage Centre stage bewteen June 16 and 19. 

THE Immrama Festival of Travel Writing will return from its three-year, pandemic-related hiatus to Lismore from Thursday, June 16 to Sunday, June 19.

“We are delighted to announce the return of the festival,” said Edward Lynch, who is one this year’s event organisers.

“The theme of the 2022 festival is ‘Big lives in small places. Roots in small towns’ and all of our speakers will share their insights of their global journeys and those of others who left their small towns to go on great adventures and return with tales of life discoveries. It’s exciting to have Immrama return again – just as it is exciting to have travel return again. We hope that the festival speakers will excite and inspire audiences.”

The festival will open at the Lismore Heritage Centre on Thursday, June 16 (8pm, €15) with a talk from journalist and five-time author Des Ekin, who will talk about Ireland’s Pirate Trail, 30 true-life pirate stories collected from travelling around the Irish coast.

On Friday, June 17 (8pm, €20), Michael Smith, author of ‘An Unsung Hero’, the superb biography of the great Irish explorer Tom Crean, will talk about his latest book ‘Lost And Found’, the story of Irishman, Captain Francis Crozier, and the Franklin expedition disaster of 1846.

The expedition, led by Sir John Franklin, led to the deaths of all 129 crew members aboard two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror when the ships became trapped in the frozen Arctic. All events this year, the Literary Breakfast aside (at Lismore Golf Club on Sunday, June 19), will be held at the Heritage Centre.

On Saturday, June 18 (10am, free) Historian Donald Brady will make a presentation on Temple Lane – Mary Isabel Leslie (1899–1978) who was the daughter of John Herbert Leslie, Dean of Lismore (1930-34). Donald will share the story of her fascinating life and career.

At 12:30pm (€10), Charlie Piggott, one of the founding members of music group De Dannan, will share a talk of musical travels.

Come 2:30pm (€25), Ralph Riegel – whose journalistic career began with the Waterford News & Star – and now the Southern Correspondent for Independent Newspapers will take to the Heritage Centre stage.

Ralph, who has authored 10 books, will talk about travelling as a reporter across many countries. He’ll be joined by travel writer Thom Breathnach who will talk about the paradox of sustainable travel and social media’s current travel trends.

At 8pm (€15), journalist, broadcaster and barman Billy Keane will share “travel stories from within and outside the head”. Billy wrote a popular Irish Independent for the 21 years, many of which were devoted to the Munster Rugby team which played in four European Cup Finals, winning in both 2006 and 2008.

Son of John B, Billy has written two novels, the latest being ‘The Ballad of Mo and G’. No doubt, Billy will have a wonderful memory or two to share with the Immrama audience.

On Sunday, June 19 (8:30am; €30), the traditional Literary Breakfast returns to Lismore Golf Club where author and historian Turtle Bunbury will talk about Women of Munster – The Adventures Lola Montez, Eliza Lynch and Nellie Cashman’.

Following the Literary Breakfast, there will be a double book launch with Molly Twomey and Grace Wells.

Molly grew up in Lismore and graduated from UCC in 2019 with an MA in Creative Writing. She has been published in Poetry Ireland Review, Banshee, The Irish Times, Mslexia and The Stinging Fly. She has been chosen for Poetry Ireland’s Introductions series and was awarded an Arts Council Literature Bursary in 2021 and an Agility Award in 2022. Molly will launch ‘Raised Among Vultures’, (Gallery Press), her debut poetry collection, that morning.

Grace Wells is an award-winning eco-poet and environmental writer. Nature, spirit-of-place and ecological concern have been large themes in her writing since the publication of her debut children’s novel ‘Gyrfalcon’ (O’Brien Press). On June 19, Grace will launch her third collection of poems ‘The Church of the Love of the World’, published by Dedalus Press.

For further details, visit or call (085) 8628445

Lismore’s Molly Twomey will launch her debut book of poetry at this year’s Immrama Festival of Travel Writing’s Literary Breakfast. 

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