Leaves Festival


The annual Leaves Festival of Writing and Music is just around the corner. Leaves celebrates the diversity and richness in today’s writing, spoken word, music, theatre and film scene. Leaves aims to excite and engage with audiences young and old.

This year the weekend-long programme will be held in the Dunamaise Arts Centre and St Peter’s Church of Ireland. At the recent launch of the Leaves Festival Festival Curator, Muireann Ní Chonaill said, “celebrating its tenth anniversary, the Leaves Festival is a great opportunity to enjoy hearing contemporary writers and  musicians, the art of conversation, film and theatre.”

Opening the weekend in the Dunamaise Arts Centre, on Friday night 9thth November, at 8.00pm, is spoken word artist Stephen James Smith and features musician, Enda Reilly. A Dublin poet and playwright central to the rise of the vibrant Spoken Word scene in Ireland today, Stephen’s poetry videos have amassed over 2.5 million views, including 2017’s ‘My Ireland’.

Stephen was the Laois Artist in Residence earlier this year; commissioned by the Laois Arts Office, he facilitated poetry workshops in Laois secondary schools, the prison, and youth services. His poetry has been recently added to the Leaving Certificate syllabus and has been translated into multiple languages. Join him for readings from his debut collection, Fear Not.


We are very pleased to welcome London based writer, Helen Cullen. Helen who grew up in Portlaoise, has had great success with her debut novel, ‘The Lost Letters of William Woolf’. It was published earlier this year by Penguin in the UK and translated into several languages.   ‘The Lost Letters of William Woolf’ is the Irish Times Book Club Choice for the month of October 2018. She will share her wisdom and experience at a special workshop for adult writers. The Board Room in the Dunamaise Arts Centre is the venue for Helen’s Saturday morning writing workshop and it runs from 10am-12.00pm on Saturday 10th November.

The Dunamaise Art Gallery in the venue for a double book launch on Saturday afternoon.

Growing Pains and Growing Up, is an anthology of essays and articles by John Whelan and it represents a journalistic memoir to mark 40 years of his working in media. The book will resonate well beyond Laois as it addresses many of the major political, social and cultural issues of the past half century, featuring many of the major personalities of the era.

Midland audiences will have the opportunity to also celebrate the launch of Helen Cullen’s debut novel The Lost Letter of William Woolf.

Saturday evening’s programme will take place in the beautiful surroundings of St. Peter’s Church of Ireland, Portlaoise. Built in the late-eighteenth century to the design of James Gandon, architect of Emo Court, Dublin’s Four Courts and Custom House, the evening promises a wonderful combination of conversation, music and readings by Helen Cullen, Barry Keenan, Dermot Bolger, music by Seán Ryan and Kathleen Loughnane. It takes place at 8.00pm

There will be a spoken word evening of remembrance for those who lost their lives and fought from the Mountmellick area in World War One on Sunday 11th November in Mountmellick Library at 7.30 pm. The evening will consist of poetry, prose, newspaper articles and narratives about those who fought in the war.

Schools events include an Irish event at the Laois Shopping centre. Gaeilge Tamagotchi is a performance installation by Manchán Magan.  Members of the public are invited to adopt an endangered Irish word and become a guardian of Gaeilge. Barry Keegan, the creator of the graphic novel, The Bog Road will visit a number of schools and children’s writer Caroline Busher will also visit a number of schools.

The Laois Library Service has appointed Simone Schuemmelfeder, as Reader in Residence. Simone is an international storyteller and she will host a master class and workshop session on storytelling in Portlaoise Library on Thursday 8th November from 4.30-7.30pm. Using her rich knowledge of European and Irish folk tales, the workshop is for anyone wishing to improve their storytelling skills with children and other audiences. Simone will also host a children’s session with school children in Rathdowney Library  on Friday  10th of November at 12noon

All are welcome but booking essential-at laoislibrary@laoiscoco.ie

The Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise has scheduled events for Leaves, including cinema;The Happy Prince, which chronicles the last days of Oscar Wilde and   a play by Eoin Colfer entitled Holy Mary.

Booking Box Office: 0578663355 or online at www.dunamaise.ie

Follow us on Facebook at Leaves. For more information please contact the Arts Office, Laois County Council Portlaoise, Co Laois. Email artsoff@laoiscoco.ie Web www.laois.ie