Leaves Festival


Leaves Festival of Writing & Music presents

LEAVES ON AIR  link to website http://www.leavesfestival.ie


Dunamaise Arts Centre and Laois County Council Arts Office are delighted to present a revised version of the annual Leaves Festival of Writing and Music with a new chapter for 2020 in the form of LEAVES ON AIR from 4th to  7th November.


Exploring the power of the human imagination in Lockdown, from 11am on each day of the On Air festival, audiences can enjoy readings from critically acclaimed and bestselling authors including Hilary Fannin on Wednesday 4th November, Anne Griffin on Thursday 5th November, Marianne Lee on Friday 6th November and Carlo Gébler on Saturday 7th November in conversation with novelist, playwright and poet Dermot Bolger which will be complimented with music by renowned piper, David Power.  


Now in its 13th year, the Leaves Festival of Writing and Music faced challenges set by Covid 19 Level 5 restrictions. For this year, writers and audiences cannot gather together in large numbers at Dunamaise Arts Centre and other beautiful locations across lovely Laois. Festival Curator and Writer Dermot Bolger, Temporary Arts Officer Mary Brady and the venue team at Dunamaise Arts Centre were very keen to find a way to continue to celebrate the literary arts and music in Laois and decided to broadcast Leaves instead and present all events in the form of podcasts on www.leavesfestival.ie . Through these podcasts, Leaves On Air will celebrate writing and music in a different way in 2020 and allow people to enjoy contemporary Irish writers, the art of conversation and wonderful music, from the comfort of home.


“We wanted to land on some certainty for the writers engaged for the festival and for the audiences with whom we wanted them to connect. We wanted to make sure that, while scaled back, a small but perfectly formed festival could be presented. So, we are delighted to present Leaves On Air’ – a short series of podcasts which will take place over the Leaves Festival weekend of 4th to 7th November 2020”, said Michelle de Forge, Director of Dunamaise Arts Centre.


This programme of authors readings and interviews will be available, for FREE, as audio downloads for a limited time period from www.leavesfestival.ie .


The Leaves On Air Festival is proudly supported by Dunamaise Arts Centre and Laois County Council Arts Office.



For further media information please contact:

Lorraine O’Callaghan, PR & Marketing Manager, Dunamaise Arts Centre.

Tel: 086 6003484 or email: lorraine@dunamaise.ie

www.leavesfestival.ie | www.dunamaise.ie


A Review – Leaves Festival 2019 – A Celebration of Writing and Music

The Leaves Festival of Writing and Music 2019 took place in Laois from the 5th to 10th November and impacted and engaged with an audience of young and old, delivering a rich and diverse programme of the very best of literature, music, theatre and film.  Festival curator Dermot Bolger, one of Ireland’s best known writers, was instrumental in making the programme very special this year.

There were many highlights to choose from throughout the run of the festival, including a wonderful evening with the Irish Legend, John Sheahan of the Dubliners fame. On Saturday evening the beautiful St Peters Church of Ireland, in Portlaoise was the perfect setting for a conversation with Dermot Bolger that had poetry readings, humorous and nostalgic stories and some well-loved tunes, including a beautiful rendition of the Marino Waltz and John’s personal story of how he came to compose this iconic piece of music.  Local author Niamh Boyce read from her wonderful new book ‘Her Kind’ and also described the historical background to her work.

Friday evening at the Dunamaise Arts Centre saw award winning authors Joseph O’Connor and Christine Dwyer Hickey read most eloquently from their books and conversations with Dermot brought out some really fascinating insights into their work and lives.  The evening was made extras special with a performance by sean nós singer Sibéal Ní Chasaide, who mesmerised the audience with the haunting quality of her voice, accompanied by musicians Ódhráin Ó Cassaide, Mike Nielsan and Eamon de Barra. 

Funded by the Creative Ireland Laois programme, earlier in the week, Manchán Mangan brought another unique event to the festival with his bi-lingual play, Arán agus Im. Manchán baked bread and made butter on stage while offering insights into the wonders of the Irish language. On Tuesday evening Arán agus Im was such a huge hit with the audience they literally did not want to leave as they enjoyed the bread and butter and chat. He performed it for schools on Wednesday.

The Dunamaise theatre programme included wonderful plays such as the National Theatre Live presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Verdant Productions presentation of the play Class. 

Another highlight of the programme was a very rare public conversation with the master photographer John Minahan. John regaled the audience with stories of his eventful career photographing some of the modern day greats to a backdrop of the iconic images of Samuel Beckett, Princess Diana and Francis Bacon and many more.


A number of successful writing workshops were lead by poet Enda Wyely and Dermot Bolger, for children, second level students and adults. Laois Libraries hosted an array of events including the launch of local author Dr Arthur Broomfield’s new book, as well as readings and storytelling workshops.


The finale event was held at Ballintubbert House and Church on Sunday, to celebrate the theatrical, literary and history of the area. Writer John McKenna and members of the Laois Writers Group performed and enjoyed an evening of readings, music and food remembering poet Laureate Cecil Day Lewis, whose father once ministered and lived there.

Thanks to Laois County Council, the Arts Council, the Dunamaise Arts Centre, Laois Partnership, Laois Tourism and Big Idea, for the great media programme this year and to all who helped in making the festival a success.

The festival is organised annually by The Arts Office, Laois County Council. For more info E:  artsoff@laoiscoco.ie or visit www.leavesfestival.ie