The past few years have shown us the power of story. Stories used well are empathy machines, the best way to understand another human life. But we know too that a different type of story can be used by the powerful to incite fear and violence.
The best way to combat those stories, the ones that flatten and reduce our humanity, isn’t to turn our back on story — we can’t, humans are story-making machines! Instead, we must endeavour to tell more stories, different stories, deeper, more expansive stories.
Luckily, we have some world-class storytellers at this year’s festival.
Our Bolton Lecturer is Lara Marlowe, whose body of work shows in a powerful way how empathy can be driven by story. Lemn Sissay is one of Britain’s most celebrated poets and authors and another powerful storyteller.
In a play commissioned for the festival, we are excited to have Cashel native Eoin Gleeson perform Me, Twice.
Our visual arts are all a deep dive into story, from Joe Lee’s film season to Kate O’Shea and Deirdre O’Mahony’s work, which combines story, songs, printmaking and clay to look at ideas around land and agriculture in Tipperary along with the Artisans writing project in collaboration with Clonmel’s Applefest.
Music this year includes Kris Drever in St John the Baptist Cathedral, continuing our tradition of bringing beautiful music to this stunning location. We also have Immram at the Rock, turning Irish myths first into poetry and setting them to music.
Close Act, who brought us Saurus in 2018 is back with White Wings. The Friday night parade has been a highlight for many years and we are so happy to be back, experiencing this as a community.
And this is only a portion of what’s on offer this year. There are workshops, monks and nuns, dance, choirs performing, drumming and much much more.
But stories only work when there are people there to hear them and we look forward to welcoming you for this, our twentieth anniversary! The festival is now part of the fabric and life of the town — a part of its story. Hopefully, together, we will create new, exciting stories along the way.
Claire Fox, Chairperson