Thursday, 19th October 2017
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Multi award winning author Colm Tóibín, humanitarian and author Terry Waite CBE, journalist and author Des Ekin, writer and documentary maker Tom Feiling and adventurer and author Andre P. Sykes are some of the world-renowned writers who are about to set their compass for Lismore in County Waterford this June 15th to 18th for the fifteenth annual Immrama Festival of Travel Writing. The theme of the 2017 festival is ‘Emigration, Exile and Slavery’.

Speaking at the launch of the 2017 festival programme Mayor of Waterford Councillor Adam Wyse, said, “It is an honour to launch the 15th annual Immrama Festival of Travel Writing programme, the theme of the 2017 festival ‘Emigration, Exile and Slavery’ sadly reflect issues which are as relevant today as they were during the era of Colm Tóibín’s ‘Brooklyn’ and Des Ekin’s ‘The Stolen Village’ of the 1600’s. The Immrama festival is always brave and topical in the development of its themes; continually proving to be innovative in its programming. It is this type of approach which has proven hugely successful for the festival ensuring that each June, Lismore in a hub for international tourism.”

One of the keynote speakers Colm Tóibín will take to the stage in the heritage town of Lismore on Saturday, June 17. Tóibín is the author of eight novels including Blackwater Lightship, The Master and The Testament of Mary, all three of which were nominated for the Booker Prize, with The Master also winning the IMPAC Award, and Brooklyn, which won the Costa Novel Award. He has also published two collections of stories and many works of non-fiction. His most recent novel is Nora Webster.

Joining Colm as a keynote on June 17th is Terry Waite CBE. 30 years ago this year Terry was taken hostage in Lebanon and kept in captivity for almost five years. Terry worked most of his life in most of the world’s conflict zones in the area of international affairs. Whilst living in Uganda, he negotiated directly with the late General Amin for the release of hostages; and as a member of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s private staff was successful in aiding the freedom of hostages in Iran, Libya and Beirut. It was in Beirut that he was captured and spent almost five years in solitary confinement. He has written several books ranging from a serious account of his years in captivity, Taken on Trust, to a comic novel, The Voyage of the Golden Handshake.

Journalist and author Des Ekin opens the festival talks on the evening of Friday, June 16th. His bestselling book The Stolen Village (2006) was shortlisted for the Argosy Irish Nonfiction Book of the Year Award and also shortlisted for Book of the Decade in the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards, it detailis the 1631 Barbary pirates kidnapping of the inhabitants of Baltimore in West Cork and their subsequent sale into the slave market. In 2014 The Last Armada, accounts the Spanish invasion at Kinsale, was nominated for Nonfiction Book of the Year.

On Saturday afternoon adventurer and author Andrew Sykes will tell of his travels on his bicycle ‘Reggie’ on epic journeys across all of Europe. With two previous European cycling adventures already under his belt, Andrew’s most recent expedition was a journey from Tarifa in Spain to Nordkapp in Norway – from Europe’s geographical south to its northernmost point.

Also on Saturday afternoon Historian Donald Brady will host a talk on Katherine Cecil Thurston 1874-1911: New Woman Author and Ardmore Resident.

Tom Feiling will host the famous literary breakfast at Immrama at 8.30am on June 18th. This writer and documentary maker lived in Colombia before making Resistencia: Hip-Hop in Colombia, which won numerous awards at film festivals around the world. The film serves as an introduction to Colombia’s 40-year-old civil war, as seen through the eyes of those directly affected by it. In 2009, Penguin published his first book, The Candy Machine: How Cocaine Took Over the World, which was based on over 60 interviews with those involved in all aspects of the cocaine business. Tom’s most recent book is The Island that Disappeared: Old Providence and the Making of the Western World (Explore Books, 2017), looks at 400 years of British imperial history, as seen from a little known former British colony in the Caribbean.

The travel writing festival is also hosting a young travel writer’s competition; students are now invited to write an 800-word short story about their favourite air journey and where it took them. The closing date for entries is May 20th and submissions can be made via

On the final day of the festival ‘Family Fun Sunday’ will take place at the Millennium Park, the Lismore Farmers Market will be on the castle avenue plus a Sunday evening event with focus on sport and travel is set to take place.

Full details of the festival programme and for event tickets for the Immrama Lismore Festival of Travel Writing 2017 see or call (058) 53803.


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