Hinterland Festival 2021

Fáilte go dtí an cúigú feile Hinterland. Buíochas as teacht agus páirt a glacadh san ocáid agus comhluadar seo.

Welcome back to an unusual Hinterland Festival, but one not as out of the ordinary as the 2020 version. We have moved back from the pandemic-stricken online festival of 2020 to an ‘in person’ event this year. Not a total return to normality but a step in the right direction. This year we have our usual mix of literature, history, music, drama, magic and craic. We’ll be highlighting the music of David Bowie, staging a couple of ambitious theatre projects, meeting some of the hottest new Irish authors as well as some old friends and reflecting on the surreality of the last eighteen months.

Bí pairteach linn, le do thoil.

Hinterland Festival Team

Put next year’s dates in your diary: 23-26 June 2022.

All events are fifty-five minutes in duration and all venues are within a few minute’s walk of each other. 

The Eirgrid Stage is located in the Kells Theatre on Kenlis Place (St Vincent de Paul Hall). The Merriebelle Irish Farm, O'Brien's Supervalu, Meath County Council Stages and Eureka House are all located in the grounds of the old Eureka Convent secondary school on the Navan Road, opposite the Heritage Centre.

You can also find a host of other things to do during the Festival here.

Louise Nealon

Snowflake: A Reading

Event  18 
Venue: Eirgrid Stage

Snowflake has, without doubt, been the Irish novel of 2021. Louise Nealon’s debut ‘coming of age’ story follows a young woman’s transition from a dairy farm in rural Kildare to the decidedly urban and relentlessly urbane surroundings of Trinity College in Dublin. Normally applied condescendingly by Baby Boomers to millennials the term ‘snowflake’, according to the book’s blurb, refers to someone who is ‘sensitive, complicated, intense, flawed’.  

Snowflake is clever, witty, wryly elegant and full of emotional truth’. (Irish Independent)
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Louise Nealon

Marian Keyes

In conversation with Liz Nugent

Event  19 
Venue: Merriebelle Irish Farm Stage
There is no greater success story in Irish fiction than the national treasure who is Marian Keyes. Her novels have sold in their millions in more than thirty languages. She has written, with verve, humour, poignancy and tenderness on topics as diverse as alcoholism, depression, addiction, domestic violence, divorce, drug abuse and debilitating illness, all without managing to be downbeat in her writing. She will be in conversation with her good friend, novelist Liz Nugent. This one should fairly crackle.
NB minimum purchase of 2 tickets due to Covid social distancing measures
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Marian Keyes

Robbyn Swan

9/11 – Twenty years on

Event  20 
Venue: O’Brien’s Supervalu Stage
Anyone over the age of thirty remembers what they stopped doing at around 2.15 p.m. Irish time on 11 September 2001. They stopped doing it to turn on their televisions and watch the drama and tragedy of the Al Qaeda attacks on the United States play out, with, in particular the spectacular destruction of Twin Towers. Robbyn Swan’s investigation of those events, The Eleventh Day: The Full Story of 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden, written with her husband, Anthony Summers, won the Crime Writers Association’s Gold Dagger for Non-fiction, and was a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for History.
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Robbyn Swan

Manchán Magan

Thirty-two words for field: Lost words of the Irish landscape

Event  21 
Venue: Eirgrid Stage
In a book permeated by his love for the Irish language and his attachment to landscape – an hommage to Irish topography - Manchán Magan sees Irish place names as 'portals through which you can access other eras or access the Otherworld that was always only a thin veil away.' Join him on this journey and you might discover the different meanings of Geamhar and Tuar. Both are words for field – the former is a field of corn-grass, the latter a field for cattle at night.
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Manchán Magan

Tony Bucher

Taking It to the Streets - a whirlwind tour of the music of 1970s California

Event  22 
Venue: Merriebelle Irish Farm Stage
Unfortunately since the programme brochure went to press Tom McEnery has been forced to cancel his visit to Hinterland. This event will not now go ahead.

From gritty street funk and cracker blues to gay disco divas, from street jams to slick arena rock and punk rock - the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s had it all.  Come enjoy an era highlights reel with a child of the madness that was 1970s Northern California.  Experience the heterodox products of an era of unbridled and unhinged innovation that produced some of the greatest sounds in American musical history.
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Tony Bucher

Gerry Daly

Event  Y4 
Venue: O’Brien’s Supervalu Stage

In this interactive and fun event join Gerry Daly on an adventure to explore the wildlife of the Atlantic Ocean and the Skellig islands. There are many creatures to meet from Finn’s First Song - A Whaley Big Adventure about a baby humpback whale learning to sing, and from Where Are You, Puffling? about a curious and very helpful little puffling. Children will love this event with puppets, live illustration demonstrations and engaging reading sessions.

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Gerry Daly

Hizzoner: Running an American city

Event  23 
Venue: Meath County Council Stage
Unfortunately since the programme brochure went to press Tom McEnery has been forced to cancel his visit to Hinterland. This event will not now go ahead.

For eight years Tom McEnery was mayor of the growing city of San Jose, the capital of Silicon Valley. He was also an influential person in the Democratic party and played host to Presidents and Presidential candidates alike. He has taught at Santa Clara and Stanford and now is a businessman, who sometimes writes, but he hasn’t voided his opinions on modern American politics - or Irish - and will have plenty to say about it. Tom will be in conversation with Myles Dungan.
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Hizzoner: Running an American city

Éanna Ní Lamhna

How does our wild world work?

Event  24 
Venue: Eirgrid Stage

Éanna Ní Lamhna is on a mission to open our hearts and minds to our wonderful, wild world – to help us find the balance between our needs and the future of our precious planet. 

Éanna helps us look at the challenges that face our natural world, and why we need to understand it, in order to save it, and ourselves. An entertaining and fascinating interview with Ireland’s favourite force of nature! Éanna will be in conversation with Deirdre Hurley.
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Éanna Ní Lamhna

Luke O’Neill

The Great Irish Science Book – an event for children

Event  Y5 
Venue: O’Brien’s Supervalu Stage

Join Professor Luke O'Neill as he asks: How do we measure the universe? Why do we need plants? How do our bodies repair themselves when we are ill? What species will exist on earth in a million years' time? Discover the answers to these questions (and a lot more besides) as the author of The Great Irish Science Book takes his audience on a journey of fascinating facts and points out a load of experiments you can do yourself. Do try this at home!

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Luke O’Neill

Tom McEnery

The Springtime Assassin – a rehearsed reading

Event  25 
Venue: Meath County Council Stage
Since hanging up his San Jose mayoral chain Tom McEnery has channelled energy into the historic San Pedro Square, the NHL San Jose Sharks and writing his play, A Statue for Ballybunionabout President Clinton's visit to Kerry. It has been performed at  the O’Reilly Theatre in Dublin. The Springtime Assassin is the story of Mick McDonnell, the first leader of The Squad (the assassination unit maintained by IRA GHQ) in the Anglo-Irish war. Surprisingly in late 1920 McDonnell went to the USA where he worked for Tom’s father John P. 'Big John' McEnery in the family's historic Farmers Union and San Pedro Square. The play, a ‘work in progress' is a two-hander. The parts will be read by Kellie Hughes and Myles Dungan.
Presented by Hinterland Festival on behalf of Meath Arts Office under the Local Live Performance Scheme.
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Tom McEnery

Melatu Okorie

This Hostel Life: Readings

Event  26 
Venue: Eirgrid Stage
This Hostel Life is one of the few positive things to emerge from the appalling manner of our country’s treatment of political refugees. It tells the stories of migrant women in a hidden Ireland. From a day in the life of women queuing for basic supplies in an Irish direct provision hostel, to a young black woman’s depiction of everyday racism in Ireland. In places the book even features its own dialect, an invented Nigerian pidgin English patois. This Hostel Life has been adapted into an operatic work by Irish National Opera.
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Melatu Okorie

Paul Howard

Aldrin Adams and the Cheese Nightmares

Event  Y6 
Venue: O’Brien’s Supervalu Stage
In Paul Howard’s new book for 8-12 year old adults (let’s call a spade a spade) Aldrin Adams has a really cool superpower. When he eats cheese before going to bed, instead of having nightmares of his own, he can enter into the dreams and nightmares of others. He’s a sort of cheesy dreamcatcher, albeit dreamcatchers are cheesy enough in their own right. What Aldrin doesn’t realise at first is that he’s up against a slumber supervillain, Habeas Grusselvart, a retail nightmare manufacturer. Find out more from the author himself.
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Paul Howard

Matthew Spangler and Kellie Hughes

Striking Back

Event  27 
Venue: Meath County Council Stage
Playwright Matthew Spangler is joined by co-author and director Kellie Hughes for a masterclass on the process of adapting for the stage Mary Manning and Sinead O'Brien's book Striking Back, about the 1980s Dunnes Stores strike. The playwrights will discuss the process of co-writing and will edit a passage of the play in real time, asking for your input. Hinterland staged a rehearsed reading of Act1 of  Striking Back in 2019 and hopes to follow up with Act 2 next year. The audience will be brought into the conversation, so here is your chance to influence a stage adaptation.
Presented by Hinterland Festival on behalf of Meath Arts Office under the Local Live Performance Scheme.
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Professor Luke O'Neill

Never Mind the B#ll*cks Here’s the Science

Event  28 
Venue: Eirgrid Stage
With a book cover that resonates with the Sex Pistols punk album which doubtless inspired the title, in Never Mind the B#ll*cks Here’s the Science Professor Luke O’Neill, one of the most credible and authoritative voices during the COVID-19 pandemic, grapples with life’s biggest questions and tells us what science has to say about them: Do we have control over our lives? Must we vaccinate our children? Are men and women’s brains different? Will we destroy the planet? And much more.
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Professor Luke O'Neill

Oisín McGann

A Short Hopeful Talk About Climate Change

Event  Y7 
Venue: O’Brien’s Supervalu Stage
'In this lively and light-hearted session, Oisín uses storytelling techniques to look at some of the fascinating facts around climate change, and how so many different parts of our world are connected with each other. For the first time, we are starting to act as a species for the good of our planet, and he wants to show what climate change is teaching us about the environment that makes our world so beautiful and unique.'
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Oisín McGann

EMBARGO by Deirdre Kinahan

A reading of Deirdre Kinahan’s 2020 Dublin Theatre Festival success

Event  29 
Venue: Meath County Council Stage

Three souls caught up in the violent winds of change.... In September 1920, during the War of Independence, dockers and railwaymen refused to transport any armed troops, or to handle any weapons arriving from Britain. Embargo is a muddy, complicated, poetic, bloody, and heroic tale of a politically motivated industrial action, in which three characters deal with a pivotal moment during the Irish war of independence. These are our ghosts, their story is our story.

Embargo by Deirdre Kinahan was originally produced by Fishamble: The New Play Company as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2020.
Presented by Hinterland Festival on behalf of Meath Arts Office under the Local Live Performance Scheme.
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EMBARGO by Deirdre Kinahan

Paul Howard

Ross O’Carroll Kelly, his times and his latest autobiographical tract, ‘Normal Sheeple’

Event  30 
Venue: Eirgrid Stage
How has lockdown treated one of the great ‘what ifs’ of Irish rugby? How has Ross dealt with a stable of unstable parents and in-laws, not to mention influencer/daughter Honor and the Triplets From Hell? Was he ever in danger of pigging out on banana bread? Why won’t Sorcha let him go to Magaluf to celebrate his Leaving Cert results? All questions best addressed to Ross’s primary collaborator Paul Howard.
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Paul Howard