Achill Island Arts Weekend Heinrich Böll Memorial

Heinrich Böll Memorial Arts Festival

The 2024 Heinrich Böll Memorial Weekend takes place from Friday 3rd to Sunday 5th May. Scroll down for details

Friday 3rd May

St. Thomas’ Hall, Dugort

Registration open from 7pm.

7.30pm: Chairperson’s Opening Address
Dr. Kathleen Smyth

Opening remarks: Mr Christian Resch
(Deputy Head of Mission of German Embassy) Christian Resch, M.A. Counsellor Born on 3 August 1976 Married, three children. University Education 1996-2001 Political Science, Medieval and Recent History, Public, European and International Law at Rheinische FriedrichWilhelms-University Bonn (Germany) and University of Birmingham (UK). Work Experience: 2001-2002 Bosch Trainee Year in International Affairs in co-operation with the Studienstifung des Deutschen Volkes; 2002-2006 Desk Officer at Médecins Sans Frontières (Berlin, Germany), the German Foundation for World Population (Hannover, Germany), the German Federal Foreign Office, Berlin, Germany) and the UN Development Programme (New York, US); 2006 Entry into the German Foreign Service, Diplomatic Academy; 2007-2009 Embassy Khartoum; 2009 opening of the German Embassy Office, Juba; 2009-2013 Federal Foreign Office, Div. 201 (NATO) and 202 (CSDP); 2013-2016 Embassy, Nairobi, Deputy Ambassador to Somalia; 2016-2023 Federal Foreign Office, Div. S01 and S02 (Crisis Prevention, Stabilisation, Humanitarian Assistance – Strategies and Co-ordination, Budget); Since August 2023, Embassy Dublin, Deputy Head of Mission.

Student Essay Presentation

Anne Walsh Donnelly. Originally from Carlow, Anne Walsh Donnelly now lives in Mayo. She writes poetry, prose and plays. Anne explores the rural Irish experience and is not afraid to take risks in her writing. She is the author of He Used To Be Me, published by New Island in 2024. The novel tells the story of Matt, a Mayo man who wanders the streets of Castlebar looking for claw marks. In lyrical prose, Anne explores the complex workings of Matt’s inner life. Poetry Ireland, in conjunction with Mayo Arts Office, appointed her as Poet Laureate for the town of Belmullet, Co. Mayo, in 2021. Her poetry collection, Odd as F*ck, was published in 2021 by Fly on the Wall Poetry Press. They also published her poetry chapbook, The Woman With An Owl Tattoo, which is a poetic memoir of her coming out journey in her fifties and was awarded second prize in the International Poetry Book Awards in 2020.

The Bulwark of Freedom: Reporting today’s wars
Lindsey Hilsum is Channel 4 News International Editor. She has covered major conflicts including the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2011, she reported on the uprisings in Egypt and Bahrain, as well as Libya. She has also reported extensively from Iran and Zimbabwe, and was Channel 4 News China Correspondent from 2006 to 2008. During the 2004 US assault on Falluja, she was embedded with a frontline marine unit and, in 1994, she was the only English-speaking foreign correspondent in Rwanda when the genocide began. Before becoming a journalist, she was an aid worker, first in Latin America and then in Africa. Her first book, Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution, published byFaber in the UK and by Penguin in the US, was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award (2012). Her second book, In Extremis: The Life and Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin, was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the US and by Chatto & Windus in the UK. This book was shortlisted for the 2019 Costa book prize in the biography category.

Followed by reception in Masterson’s Bar (F28 K6X2).

Saturday 4th May

10am Guided Walk with Micheál Ó Briain
Meet old quarry car park beside lake on road to Valley pier (54.017745, -9.963275)
Sruhill Lough, between the Valley and Dooniver, is one of the most important wetland habitats and best places for wildlife on Achill. Micheál Ó Briain is passionate about nature and its conservation in Ireland and across the European Union. Following his studies of Brent geese in Ireland and Canada for his PhD at University College Dublin, he worked for the Irish Wildbird Conservancy (now BirdWatch Ireland), initially as its first Conservation Officer, then as National Director. He then spent almost 30 years working for the European Commission on EU and international nature and biodiversity policies, particularly on setting up Natura 2000, the EU wide network of protected areas. He has a long term interest in the birds and other wildlife of Achill which he has been recording over the past 16 years. Since retiring at the end of 2021, he has been largely based on the island and continues his journey of discovery of its special nature. Through his wildlife photography, he aims to celebrate, promote awareness of and appreciation for this wonderful part of Europe’s natural heritage.

Lunch in Valley House (F28 D8F7)

14:00 – 17:00 Heinrich Böll Cottage open to public (F28 CC96)

14.00 Writers Workshop
Venue: Valley House (F28 D8F7)
Anne Shannon Memorial Writers Workshop with Lindsey Hilsum, with a special focus on the craft and style of journalistic writing.

14.00 John Gormley
Venue: St. Thomas’s Hall, Dugort (F28 H320)
John Gormley was a founding member of the Irish Green Party and wrote The Green Guide for Ireland in 1990. He was a Green Party public representative from 1991 until 2011 and served as a councillor, Lord Mayor of Dublin, TD,and Minister for the Environment. As Minister, he introduced a number of new laws and reforms, including the first ever carbon levy and the Bike to Work scheme, which continues to this day. After leaving politics, he did an MSc in digital film production and has since served as chair of Screen Producers Ireland. He is currently the chair of ScreenGreening, the umbrella group dedicated to environmental sustainability in the broadcasting and film sector. He is also the chair of Dublin Community Television and is on the board of management of Green Foundation Ireland, a sister organisation of the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

15.00 Richard W. Halperin
Venue: St. Thomas’s Hall, Dugort (F28 H320)
Richard W. Halperin holds American-Irish dual nationality and lives in Paris. His work is part of University College Dublin’s Irish Poetry Reading Archive. Since 2010, he has published four poetry collections via Salmon/Cliffs of Moher, and sixteen shorter collections via Lapwing/Belfast. In Spring 2024, Salmon will bring out a Selected and New Poems, with an introduction by Joseph Woods, on the occasion of Mr Halperin’s 80th birthday. His poems, written in the pared-down language for which he is known, deal with love, friendship, death and hope. Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin has described his poetry as ‘intelligent protest.’ Mr Halperin holds a Ph.D. in English literature, 1969, from the City University of New York, under the mentorship of the Renaissance scholar Sears R. Jayne. After briefly teaching at Hunter College, New York, Mr Halperin worked in humanitarian education administration from 1976 – 2005, first for the Board of Education of the City of New York, then for UNESCO, Paris, where his last job was as Chief, Teacher Education. Retirement and poetry followed. ‘I learned to write working in an office.’ To date, over 550 poems have been published in magazines and journals, mainly in Ireland – over thirty in Cyphers, over twenty in THE SHOp before it closed. The first poem in Macdara Woods’s last collection, Music from the Big Tent, is entitled ‘For Richard Halperin.’

16.00 Film: Caillte san Úcráin
Venue: St. Thomas’s Hall, Dugort (F28 H320)
Two years on from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a TG4 documentary, Caillte san Úcráin (Lost in Ukraine), investigates the story of Achill Island native, Finbar Cafferkey, who died on the frontline in Ukraine. The current affairs documentary is presented by investigative journalist Kevin Magee, who travels to war-torn Ukraine to find out more about the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Cafferkey, 45, who was killed in Bakhmut on April 19th last year. The documentary examines the reasons behind his decision to enlist in a fighting unit in Ukraine and shows the impact of his passing on his family in Achill Island. Mr Cafferkey died along with two other foreign fighters, former US Marine veteran Cooper Andrews (26), from Ohio, and Russian anarchist Dmitriy Petrov. Mr Cafferkey and Mr Petrov had previously fought with the YPG, a left-wing Kurdish militia who fought against the Islamic state in northern Syria. Ukrainian frontline soldiers interviewed for the documentary tell of the difficulties of serving in the Bakhmut region where Mr Cafferkey was killed. Finbar Cafferkey was the eldest in a family of five children and grew up in Cashel on Achill Island.

20.00 Evening Speakers
Venue: St. Thomas’s Hall, Dugort (F28 H320)
Chair Professor Gisela Holfter studied in Cologne, Cambridge and St. Louis, worked as an Assistant Teacher in Belfast and as a Lektorin at the University of Otago, New Zealand, before joining the University of Limerick. She is Associate Professor in German and Director of the Centre for Irish-German Studies in Limerick and a Fellow of the Centre for British Studies at the Humboldt Universität of Berlin. Her research interests include GermanIrish relations, German literature, exile studies, migration and intercultural communication. She has published many articles and edited twenty books, most recently Unions, Break-Ups and Special Relationships – Aspects of Irish-German-UK Relations (with P. Carmichael; WVT, 2022); Irish-German Diplomatic Relations (WVT, 2020), Ireland in the European Eye (with B. Migge; Royal Irish Academy, 2019) and Exploring Connections between the GDR and Ireland (with D. Byrnes; J. Conacher; WVT, 2019). Her monographs include Erlebnis Irland (WVT, 1996), Heinrich Böll and Ireland (CBS, 2011, paperback 2012) and An Irish Sanctuary: German-speaking Refugees in Ireland 1933-1945 (with H. Dickel; de Gruyter, 2017, paperback 2018).

Żanna Słoniowska (born in Lviv) is a Ukrainian-Polish novelist. She won the Znak literary prize for her novel Dom z witrażem (The House with the Stained-Glass Window) in 2015 and the Conrad prize for the best Polish literary debut of 2016. The novel was also short-listed for the Nike award in 2016. “Few novels will engage the heart and mind as cohesively as this emphatic performance that triumphs through its depiction of the human stories overshadowed by history,” Eileen Battersby, The Financial Times. The novel has been translated into ten languages so far, among them English, French, and German. Zanna Sloniowska was a guest of various literary festivals in Europe, South Africa and India. She is the author of theatrical plays and books for children. She also writes reviews for newspapers, e.g. New York Times, L’Express, and Gazeta Wyborcza, and teaches at the Department of Polish-Ukrainian studies, Jagiellonian University, Kraków.

Victor Erofeev is a widely acclaimed Russian author who published several significant works in the 1980s glasnost period and continues to write in Moscow today. Born in Moscow in 1947, Erofeev was the son of a high-ranking Soviet official (one of Stalin’s personal interpreters). He spent many of his childhood years in Paris where he gained exposure to literature that had been banned in the Soviet Union, while simultaneously studying great writers such as Vladimir Nabokov and the Marquis de Sade. After completing his undergraduate schooling in Moscow during the late 1960s, Erofeev began working with the Institute of World Literature. Erofeev was extremely familiar with the strict USSR censorship policies. He made his first major literary contribution in 1979 when he helped complete a scandalous almanac called Metropol, but Soviet officials deemed the compilation as “pornography of the mind” and refused to publish it in the USSR. To make matters worse, Erofeev was targeted as a dissident after his father had to resign from Stalin’s crew, and so the Soviet government censored all of his work. Erofeev became the editor of the first Russian edition of Nabokov’s work, as well as several other Russian literature anthologies, and he frequently writes for The New Yorker. In the past decade he has also published an autobiography called Khoroshii Stalin (The Good Stalin) and a collection of stories called De Profundis. It has been said that of all Russian writers, Victor Erofeev has made among the most notable attempts to secure creative freedom and expand the limits of literature.

Maren Wurster (with Goethe Institute Dublin) is a writer, essayist and curator. She studied Philosophy and Film Studies in Cologne, and Creative Writing in Leipzig. Her prose is autobiographically motivated and linked to socio-critical issues. Her novel A Casual Decision tells the story of a woman who abandons her child and a boy who grows up motherless. In the memoir The Stagger and the narrative non-fiction book The Wake, she deals with saying goodbye to her own parents. With the artists’ collective Writing with Care/Rage, she took a critical look at care and creative work. In 2022, Maren invited other writers to create an Archaeology of Loss, which premiered at the Volksbühne Berlin. Also at the Volksbühne, she is currently curating the literature project Ost|West|Frau*. Among other awards, Maren received the annual scholarship of the German Literature Fund.

Music by Laoise Kelly, Diarmuid Gielty and John Butler

Sunday 5th May

10.00 Guided Walk in Landscape with Eoin Halpin
Meet along Atlantic Drive 53.888891N -9.985770W
‘Carrowgarve, the other deserted village’
Located facing the wild Atlantic, close to Ashleam Bay, this largely forgotten settlement was first recorded in the mid-17th century. It is, in fact, like the better known Slievemore Deserted Village, three interconnected villages, with the largest Baile as t-Sruthain surviving best. Following its decline, it ended as the booley of Mweelin, north of Dooega. The walking tour will explore the surviving remains of the settlement as well as the archaeology of the surrounding area. The terrain in the area is relatively rough, so appropriate clothing and footwear is a must. Eoin Halpin is Operations Manager with Archaeology and Heritage Consultancy Ltd. He graduated from University College Dublin with an Honours Degree in Archaeology, is a member of the Chartered Institute for Field Archaeologists and a member of the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland, for which he has acted as chairperson. He has over 35 years of experience working on all aspects of development led archaeological projects, including large scale infrastructural projects, and has lectured and published widely.

Lunch – Venue TBC

13.00 Readings from the Achill Writers Group
Venue TBC
With music by Laoise Kelly, Diarmuid Gielty and John Butler

Book online at

Full weekend: €130

Individual events: €30