Achill Island Arts Weekend Heinrich Böll Memorial

Heinrich Böll Memorial Arts Festival

The 2023 Heinrich Böll Memorial Weekend takes place from Thursday 27th April to Sunday 30th April. Scroll down for details

Thursday 27th April
St. Thomas’ Hall, Dugort. From 8.00pm

Poetry Day Ireland in association with Mayo Arts Office and the Heinrich Böll Weekend Achill Island presents

“Years ago I went to Achill for Easter”, Eavan Boland, ‘A Kind of Scar’

In 1989, Eavan Boland published her famous essay, ‘A Kind of Scar’, setting out her vision for poetry in an Ireland that had previously been hostile to women writers, using Achill Island and an old woman that she met there as the starting point of her argument about ‘the difficulties for a woman poet within a constraining national tradition’. Over three decades later and as part of the programme of events for Poetry Day Ireland 2023, which is also the third anniversary of Eavan’s death, a panel of writers and commentators come together on Achill Island to perform their own work and to discuss Eavan’s legacy and the landscape for women poets in Ireland in the 21st century. The event will be chaired by Nessa O’Mahony, Writer in Residence at the Heinrich Böll Cottage and editor of Poetry Ireland Review 138, the special tribute issue to Boland. Participants include other contributors to the special issue: poets Moya Cannon, Geraldine Mitchell, Mary O’Malley, and harpist Laoise Kelly. This event takes place as part of the Heinrich Böll Weekend, with support from Poetry Ireland / Éigse Éireann.


NESSA O’MAHONY was born in Dublin and lives there. She won the National Women’s Poetry Competition and was shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Prize and Hennessy Literature Awards. She is the recipient of three literature bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland, the most recent being in 2018. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from Bangor University and teaches with the Open University and the American College in Dublin. She has published five books of poetry: Bar Talk (1999), Trapping a Ghost (2005), In Sight of Home (2009), and Her Father’s Daughter (2014). The Hollow Woman on the Island was published by Salmon Poetry in May 2019. Her first work of historic crime fiction, The Branchman, was published by Arlen House in 2018.

Moya Cannon is an Irish poet. She was born in Co. Donegal and now lives in Dublin. In her poems history, archaeology, pre-historic art, geology and music figure as gateways to a deeper understanding of our mysterious relationship with the natural world and with our past. Migration is a central theme, the migrations of people, of birds and of culture. A recurring preoccupation is the web of connections between us, the land and sea of our endangered planet and the vast variety of lifeforms that the earth sustains. In 1990, Moya’s first book (Oar, Salmon Press, Galway) won the Brendan Behan Award for the best first collection of poetry published in Ireland in the previous year. It was subsequently republished by Poolbeg Press and Gallery Press. She has since published five further collections. In 2001 she received the O’Shaughnessy Award from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota. Her 2011 collection, Hands, was shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Prize. Her Collected Poems was published by Carcanet Press in February, 2021.

Geraldine Mitchell is an Irish writer and poet who was born in Dublin and, since 2000, has been living on the Co. Mayo coast, close to the town of Louisburgh. She has a degree in English and French from Trinity College Dublin and a Masters in English Literature from the University of Aix-en-Provence. She has published four collections of poetry with Arlen House, World Without Maps (2011), Of Birds and Bones (2014), Mountains for Breakfast (2017) and most recently Mute/Unmute (2020). She is also the author of two novels for young people: Welcoming the French (Attic Press, 1992) and Escape to the West (Attic Press, 1994). In 1997 her biography of Muriel Gahan, Deeds Not Words, was published by Town House and launched by the late Margaret MacCurtain. In 2008, she won the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award.

Mary O’Malley was born in Connemara in Ireland and educated at University College Galway. She lived in Lisbon for eight years and taught at Universidade Nova. She served on the council of Poetry Ireland and was on the Committee of the Cúirt International Poetry Festival for eight years. She was the author of its educational programme. She taught on the MA programmes for Writing and Education in the Arts at NUI Galway for ten years, held the Chair of Irish Studies at Villanova University in 2013, and has held Residencies in Paris, Tarragona, New York, and NUI Galway, as well as in Derry and Belfast. She is active in environmental education, specifically marine. She is a member of Aosdána and has won a number of awards for her poetry, including the 2016 Arts Council University of Limerick Writer’s Fellowship. She was the Trinity Writer Fellow at the Oscar Wilde Centre for 2019. She writes and broadcasts for RTÉ Radio regularly.

Laoise Kelly is regarded as “the most significant harper of her generation”. She has pioneered a new style of driving instrumental harping showcased in her three critically acclaimed solo albums Just Harp, Ceis and Fáilte Uí Cheallaigh. She recently directed the first, highly successful, Achill International Harp Festival, encompassing her role as musical director of a newly commissioned suite Sraith Oileán Acla for a 15 piece ensemble. Throughout her solo career she has recorded on over 60 albums with many of Ireland’s foremost artists including Seamus Heaney, The Chieftains, Christy Moore, Sharon Shannon, Dónal Lunny, Tommy Makem, Matt Molloy, Tommy Peoples, Mary Black, Maighread and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill, as well as Kate Bush and American country/bluegrass icon Tim O’Brien. She has toured and performed globally and at festivals such as Womad, Celtic Connections, Celtic Colours, Tonder, Dranouter, Lorient, Milwaukee, Armagh Piping Festival and all major harp festivals in Europe. Her latest album release is ‘Ar Lorg na Laochra’ with Monaghan uilleann piper Tiarnán Ó Duinnchinn.

Friday 28th April
Official Opening
St. Thomas’s Hall, Dugort. From 6.30pm

From 6.30pm Registration

7.30pm Chairperson’s Opening Address
Dr. Kathleen Smyth

Official opening: Address by Ambassador Cord Meier-Klodt German Ambassador to Ireland

Cord Meier-Klodt born 1958 in Hamburg. Studied Romance Languages and Philosophy in Grenoble, Hamburg and Paris / 1985 – 1987 Diplomatic School of the German Foreign Service / 1987 – 1990 German Embassy Accra, First Secretary, Consular and Legal Affairs /1990 – 1992 Federal Foreign Office, Political Desk officer, Central and Eastern Europe / 1992 – 1995 Consulate General Saint Petersburg, Deputy Head of Mission, Head of Economic Relations and Press /1995 – 1998 Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations in New York, Counsellor, Disarmament and Security /1998 – 2001 Federal Foreign Office, Deputy Head of Task Force Global Issues / 2002 Nato Defense College, Rome / 2002 – 2005 German Embassy Moscow, Head of Press and Public Relations. 2005 – 2008 Federal Foreign Office, Head of Policy Planning of Foreign Cultural and Education policy / 2008 – 2011 German Embassy London, Head of Culture and Education / 2011 – 2014 German Embassy New Delhi, Deputy Head of Mission / 2014 – 2015 Federal Foreign Office, Director Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia / 2016 Special Representative of the German OSCE Chair for the Transdniestrian Conflict Settlement / 2017 Appointed Ambassador to Ireland in July 2021, previously German Embassy Bucharest (2017 – 2021).

8.00pm Micheál Ó Briain: ‘Achill’s rich natural heritage – a valuable link in the special places for biodiversity in Europe’

Micheál Ó Briain is passionate about Irish and European nature and its conservation. He spent almost 30 years working in the European Commission on the development and implementation of EU and international nature and biodiversity policies. Given the European context, he will place the special biodiversity of Achill in a broader EU/European setting – this would also draw upon his experience of working with the different EU countries, including Germany, on setting up a network of protected areas for high value nature (Natura 2000), which includes important Achill sites on land and in the marine environment. He will illustrate some of the special wildlife of Achill, touch upon some of the key challenges necessary to ensure their conservation and describe what action is needed to safeguard this precious heritage, while also noting what is happening across Europe.

As Senior Expert and Deputy Head of the Nature Unit of its Environmental Directorate, Micheál played a leading role in the establishment of Natura 2000, the largest co-ordinated network of protected areas in the world. This includes areas of high biodiversity importance on Achill Island that are home to rare habitats such as machair, blanket bogs, and wet and dry heaths, as well as rare species such as otters, choughs and the great yellow bumblebee. Prior to working in Brussels, he was National Director of the Irish Wildbird Conservancy (now Birdwatch Ireland). Micheál is a graduate and former research associate of University College Dublin where he completed a PhD in Zoology, studying the ecology and behaviour of Brent geese in Ireland and Canada. He has a long term interest in the birds and other wildlife of Achill which he has been recording over the past 15 years. Since retiring at the end of 2021, he has been based full time 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.

9:30pm Art Ó Súilleabháin. Dánta grá – grá don saol, don nádúr agus don duine. (with translations)
Art Ó Súilleabháin was born in Corr na Móna, Co. Galway, and spent some years in Boston USA. He worked in Dublin and Mayo as a teacher, in Castlebar as Director of the Mayo Education Centre and lectured at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC as a Fulbright scholar before returning to Ireland and Corr na Móna in the north Connemara Gaeltacht, in Dúiche Sheoigheach. He has published a number of collections of poetry as Gaeilge for children. He won North West Words Poetry as Gaeilge in 2017 and he has been featured in Poetry Ireland Review, Writing Home (from Daedalus Press), Hold Open the Door (from The Ireland Chair of Poetry), InTouch, Vox Galvia, Beneath Western Skies, Trees (from Cinnamon Press (UK)), The Mayo Anthology, Reality Magazine, and The Haibun Journal (haiku), The Farmers Journal and others. His first collection of poetry in English (Mayflies in the Heather) was published by Revival Press in 2021. Art has read a number of pieces for Sunday Miscellany on RTE Radio. He won Duais Phádraig Ó Conchubhair in the Bally Bard Festival in 2022 for a poem as Gaeilge. Art has been selected for Poetry Ireland Introductions in 2022 and subsequently read as Gaeilge at the Dublin International Literary Festival. He is working towards a collection of poetry as Gaeilge for adults and a new collection in English.

Followed by reception in Masterson’s Bar, Dugort.

Saturday 29th April
Guided Walk in Landscape with Micheál Ó Briain
10am, meet at Achill Rovers F.C. Pitch, The Valley

‘Climate Change, Coastal Erosion and Achill’

The walk looks at the effects of coastal erosion on a number of sites along the northern coasts of Achill, starting with the submerged pine forest at Dugort and the peat deposits exposed by the tides. From there we will head out to Caraun Point, beyond the Golden Strand, and look at the effects of rising sea levels on a possible Early Medieval enclosure, a Kileen or children’s burial ground and a 18th century settlement.

Lunch at Masterson’s Bar, Dugort. 1pm.

2pm – 5pm Heinrich Böll Cottage open to public

2pm Writers seminar with Mary O’Malley
St. Thomas’s Hall, Dugort

3pm Environmental Panel Discussion
St. Thomas’s Hall, Dugort


Pádraic Fogarty. ‘Biodiversity and the climate crisis’. Society has begun to wake up to the gravity of the climate crisis but there is a risk that we fail to notice the wider issue that encompasses not only greenhouse gases, but the collapse of biodiversity and the pollution of air, water and soil. In May 2019 the Dáil declared a climate and a biodiversity emergency but biodiversity struggles for notice even within the relatively low level of debate around the climate crisis. Yet our entire civilisation rests upon biodiversity and the collapse of natural ecosystems in Ireland has left us ill-equipped to deal with the intensification of climate breakdown. Biodiversity loss also represents a vanishing of heritage and economic opportunity as well as a rupture with our age-long connection to nature. This talk will look at why we cannot address the climate crisis without nature and why the biodiversity crisis represents its own crisis that is deserving of its own solutions. Pádraic Fogarty is an ecologist and the campaign officer with the Irish Wildlife Trust, a national conservation charity. He is author of the 2017 book ‘Whittled Away: Ireland’s Vanishing Nature’ and is editor of ‘Irish Wildlife’ magazine.

Jan Philipp Albrecht, Heinrich Böll Foundation. Since June 2022, Jan Philipp Albrecht has served as Co-President of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, headquartered in Berlin. Previously, he was Minister for Energy Transition, Agriculture, Environment, Nature and Digitalisation of the State of Schleswig-Holstein in the Günther cabinet, since 1 September 2018. As a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Jan Philipp Albrecht represented the citizens of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein from 2009 to 2018. As MEP, Jan Philipp Albrecht was Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Home Affairs and Justice, as well as a Substitute Member of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. From 2003 to 2008, Jan studied law in Bremen, Brussels and Berlin, specialising in European and international law. Supported by a scholarship from the Heinrich Böll Foundation, he completed his studies with the first state law examination. Prior to his election to the 7th European Parliament in 2009, Jan specialised in IT law at the Universities of Hanover and Oslo within the framework of a DAAD-funded postgraduate master (LL.M.).

Saoirse McHugh. A native of Achill Island, Saoirse McHugh has been an environmentalist for as long as she can remember. Throughout her life she has worked on agricultural projects around the world, volunteered with environmental NGOs and completed a Masters in sustainable agriculture. Frustrated with a lack of progress on environmental issues she ran for the Green party in the European and general elections and, although unsuccessful, her vision for a just and ecologically sound society has earned her widespread acknowledgment. She works closely with various environmental and social justice organisations to fight for a better future for all.

Seán Lysaght. Nature Writing. Seán will give an account of the background to his nature writing, and how he turned to prose in recent years as he explored the wild landscapes of Mayo, his adopted county. His talk, illustrated with many of his own photographs from his walks in remote places, will celebrate the people, scenery and wildlife he encountered since his first visit to north Mayo almost thirty years ago. In Eagle Country, he explored the history and heritage of eagles in Mayo and the west, up to the time of their reintroduction; as he revisits that book, he will describe the research that shaped it, and consider the outlook for eagles in the future as they return to Mayo’s skies. He will read extracts from his walks on Achill, where eagles were a familiar sight up to the end of the nineteenth century and where the association with eagles is still cherished. In the case of Wild Nephin, Seán will talk about many adventures in north Mayo’s wild places, and will discuss the rewilding project now underway in the Wild Nephin National Park. Sean Lysaght grew up in Limerick and taught for many years at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in Castlebar, Co. Mayo. He is the author of several volumes of poems, including The Clare Island Survey (1991), Scarecrow (1998), The Mouth of a River (2007) and Carnival Masks (2014) from Gallery Press. He has also written a biography of the naturalist Robert Lloyd Praeger and two prose accounts of the wild landscapes of Mayo and the west of Ireland, Eagle Country (Little Toller Books, 2018) and Wild Nephin (Stonechat Editions, 2020). He won the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Poetry Award in 2007 and his Selected Poems appeared from Gallery in 2010. He lives in Westport, County Mayo.

5.00pm Reading by Judith Mok The State of Dark
St. Thomas’s Hall, Dugort

Judith Mok was born in Holland and studied at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague. She has toured the world as a classical soprano, moving to Dublin in 2002. She writes in both English and Dutch. Her publications include the novels De Beul (2000) and Gael (2006) and poetry collections Het Feestmaal (1997) and Gods of Babel (2011). She has received bursaries from the Irish Arts Council, and also the Patrick and Kathleen Kavanagh Fellowship. In 2022, she published her fictional memoir, The State Of Dark (Lilliput Press), which has been widely acclaimed:

At this particular point in history with the rise of authoritarian regimes, this crucially important book reminds us of how it went last time. Courageous, brutally honest and uniquely profound, you will find nothing else like it on bookshelves this year. Liz Nugent
Possibly the most powerful book to be published in Ireland this year…unforgettable’. Dermot Bolger, Sunday Business Post
This brilliant book is a tapestry, interweaving glowing strands chronicling lives replete with learning and literature and song, with the unbearably dark story of how those lives were brutally ended during the Holocaust. The contrast is heartbreaking and it is impeccably conveyed. Mok is an impressive writer. We should be grateful to her for not staying stumm. If you read only one Irish book this year, let it be this superb and unique memoir.’ Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Irish Times
Remarkable’ Dearbhail McDonald, RTÉ Radio 1

8.00pm Reading by Roman Ehrlich
St. Thomas’s Hall, Dugort

All attempts to save the Maldives from rising sea levels have failed. Package tourists have sought new destinations, and most of the population has had to leave the islands. At the same time, the run-down capital Malé has become the destination of all those looking for an alternative to living in the gentrified cities of the West. And so, for the short time until its demise, the island becomes a projection screen for dropouts, adventurers and utopians, a place between euphoria and nightmare, where new forms of solidarity are tested and people disappear untraceably. With Malé, Roman Ehrlich captures the complex mood of our time and weaves the stories around the longings and failures of his characters into a reflection of all the contradictions that make up life at the beginning of the 21st century. Roman Ehrlich, born 1983, studied creative writing in Leipzig and contemporary German literature in Berlin. He mainly publishes novels and short prose. In 2015, he also began a collaboration with visual artist Michael Disqué for a series of photo-text-essays. His latest publications include the novel Malé (2020) and Überfahrt (Crossing, with M. Disqué, 2020, Spector Books). Roman Ehrlich received several prizes and scholarships for his work, most recently the Kunstpreis Berlin for literature in March 2022.

9.00pm Discussion: Joyce / Böll Europeans
St.Thomas’s Hall, Dugort

Introduction by Ambassador Cord Meier-Klodt, German Ambassador to Ireland.
Chair, Professor Kerstin Mey.
Panel: Gisela Holfter, Michael O’Loughlin, Sujata Bhatt, Michael Augustin.


Professor Kerstin Mey studied for an MA equivalent in Art, and German language and literature at Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany, and obtained a PhD in Art Theory and Aesthetics there. She held academic positions in universities in Germany and the UK before she joined the University of Limerick (UL) as Vice President Academic Affairs and Student Engagement and Professor of Visual Culture in 2018. She was given responsibility as Interim President of UL in September 2020 and was appointed to the role of President in October 2021. Over the past 30 years, Kerstin Mey has built a track record of successfully initiating and implementing pioneering academic and research initiatives and cultural projects in higher education.

Gisela Holfter studied in Cologne, Cambridge and St. Louis, and worked as an Assistant Teacher in Belfast and as a Lektor at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, before coming to Limerick in 1996. She is Senior Lecturer in German and co-founder and Joint Director of the Centre for Irish-German Studies. Her research interests include German Irish relations, German literature (19th century to contemporary writing), exile studies, migration and intercultural communication. She has co-edited a dozen books, the latest being Reflections on Reunification and on the Legacy of GDR Literature (2018, Brill) and Exploring Connections between Ireland and the GDR (WVT 2019; both books edited with D. Byrnes and J. Conacher). Her monographs include Erlebnis Irland (1996, WVT), Heinrich Böll and Ireland (2011, paperback 2012, CBS) and An Irish Sanctuary: German-speaking Refugees in Ireland 1933-1945 (with H. Dickel, 2017, paperback 2018, de Gruyter).

Sujata Bhatt was born in India. She grew up in India and in the United States. She received her MFA from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. To date, she has published nine collections of poetry with Carcanet Press. She received the Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Asia) and the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award for her first collection, Brunizem (1988). Subsequent collections include Monkey Shadows (PBS Recommendation, 1991), The Stinking Rose (shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Prize, 1995), Point No Point: Selected Poems (1997), Augatora (PBS Recommendation, 2000), A Colour for Solitude (2002), Pure Lizard (shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Prize, 2008), Collected Poems (PBS Special Commendation, 2013), and Poppies in Translation (PBS Recommendation, 2015). She received a Cholmondeley Award in 1991, the Italian Tratti Poetry Prize in 2000, and the German Literature Award, Das neue Buch, in 2008. In 2014 she was the first recipient of the Mexican International Poetry Prize, Premio Internacional de Poesía Nuevo Siglo de Oro 1914-2014. She has translated poetry from Gujarati and German into English. She has been a Lansdowne Visiting Writer at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, a Visiting Fellow at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, as well as Poet-in-Residence at the Poetry Archive in London and at the Heinrich Böll Cottage. In spring 2020, she was the inaugural writer in residence at the Bauhaus Foundation in Dessau, Germany. Her work has been widely anthologised, broadcast on radio and television, and has been translated into more than twenty languages. Currently, she lives in Germany.

Michael Augustin was born in Lübeck in 1953. He studied Irish Literature and Folklore at University College Dublin and the University of Kiel. He lives in Bremen with his wife, Indian poet Sujata Bhatt. He worked as a broadcaster with Radio Bremen for almost forty years and directed the international literature festival Poetry on the Road. He writes poetry, mini drama and short prose. His collages and drawings have appeared in magazines worldwide. His most recent book in German, Das Aquarium bleibt heute geschlossen, a poem for children illustrated by Andrea Ringli, was published in 2023. Immer was zu knabbern, a selection of his old and new poems will be published on the occasion of his 70th birthday in June, as well as a collection of his visual work: Die Rückkehr der Buchstabensuppe. His work has been translated into many languages, and he has read at poetry festivals around the globe. Augustin is a recipient of the Friedrich-Hebbel-Preis and the Premio Casa Bukowski Internacional de Poesía. He is a member of PEN. Mickle Makes Muckle, a selection of his drawings and his writings in English translation is available from Dedalus Press in Dublin. A Certain Koslowski – The Director’s Cut, a collection of his prose miniatures was published by Arc in England. Six volumes of his visual poetry are available from Achill based publisher REDFOXPRESS: Das System hat keine Krise (2016), Without Prior Warning (2018), Hurly-Burly (2020), Dr. Frankenstein’s Patchwork Catalogue (2020), Herring & Smelt (2021) and Your Poem Here (2022).

Michael O’Loughlin was born in Dublin in 1958 and studied at Trinity College Dublin. In the late 1970s he was involved with Dermot Bolger in setting up Raven Arts Press. In 1980 he moved to Barcelona for some years. After this, he lived in Amsterdam until 2002, where he worked mainly as a translator. He has translated over a hundred books from the Dutch, including Hidden Weddings: Selected Poems of Gerrit Achterberg. In the 1990s he concentrated on screenwriting and had a number of feature films produced. Since returning to Ireland in 2002, he has been Writer in Residence in Galway City and County, as well as Writer Fellow at Trinity College, Dublin. He has received many awards, including the Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship. As well as his five volumes of poetry, the most recent of which is In This Life (2011), he has published many essays and reviews.

Sunday 30th April

10.00am Guided Walk in Landscape with Eoin Halpin

‘Loughannascaddy – an Achill Crannog’

The walk will explore what, for Achill, is a unique site, the crannog on Loughannascaddy. Crannogs were found in Ireland during the Iron Age and early Christian periods, though some homesteads were inhabited during the Late Bronze Age and in some cases were still being occupied as late as the 17th century. In addition to the crannog, the walk will explore the surrounding bogs and we will examine the exposed peat profiles and discuss what they can reveal about past climate change.

Eoin is the Operations Manager with Archaeology & Heritage Consultancy Ltd (AHC), where he works on all aspects of development led archaeological projects and has extensive experience in both the planning phase and the archaeological resolution phases. He has worked as the archaeological consultant on numerous large infrastructural schemes. In recent years he has led guided archaeological and geological themed walks for the Heinrich Böll Weekend and has also led guided walks in and around the Mournes and Slieve Croob in Co Down, and Carlingford in Co Louth, as well as numerous guided walks for local cultural heritage societies. The main theme of these ‘walk and talk’ sessions is the environment, concentrating on the geology and geomorphology of the surrounding landscapes and how these have influenced the local archaeology. Eoin is a member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and a member and former chair of the Institute of Archaeologist of Ireland. His work has appeared in numerous publications in academic journals, historic society journals and monographs.

1.00pm Lunch in Valley House, Valley

2.00pm Reading: Eoghan Daltun An Irish Atlantic Rainforest

‘The stories are absorbing, the writing charismatic and the ideas thoughtprovoking’. – Irish Independent
‘Fascinating … a manifesto for saving our own corner of the planet through letting things be’. Irish Times, The Gloss
‘Daltun writes with passion and purpose of the way we should live now’. – RTÉ Guide

On the Beara peninsula in West Cork, a temperate rainforest flourishes. It is the life work of Eoghan Daltun, who had a vision to rewild a 73-acre farm he bought, moving there from Dublin with his family in 2009. An Irish Atlantic Rainforest charts that remarkable journey. Part memoir, part environmental treatise, as a wild forest bursts into life before our eyes we’re invited to consider the burning issues of our time: climate breakdown, ecological collapse, and why our very survival as a species requires that we urgently and radically transform our relationship with nature. This is a story as much about doing nothing as taking action – allowing natural ecosystems to return and thrive without interference, and in doing so heal an ailing planet. Powerfully descriptive, lovingly told, An Irish Atlantic Rainforest presents an enduring picture of the regenerative force of nature, and how one Irishman let it happen.

Eoghan Daltun is a sculpture conservator, a farmer and, above all, a rewilder. Reared in Dublin, he has travelled widely (hitchhiking alone to Istanbul and back at the age of 20, sleeping in fields along the way, for example), as well as living abroad in London, Paris and Prague. He spent seven years studying sculpture in Carrara, Tuscany. In 2009 he sold the cottage in Kilmainham he had rebuilt mostly single-handed from a ruin – dating back to at least the 1750s – using the original stone. The proceeds went to buy a long-abandoned 73-acre farm overlooking the Atlantic near Eyeries on the Beara Peninsula, West Cork. Much of the land was covered in wild native forest which, although very beautiful, was ecologically wrecked by severe overgrazing and invasion by a host of alien plant species. Over the years since, Eoghan has brought life in all its explosive vibrancy back to the land, with new temperate rainforest spontaneously forming where previously there was only barren grass. Restoring such an incredbly rich ecosystem has taken him on a fantastic journey of discovery, lifting a curtain to reveal a whole universe of wonders beyond. Rewilding most of the land, and High Nature Value farming the rest, there has been plenty of time to reflect deeply on the ecological crisis unfolding at terrifying speed all around us, and its solutions. He lives on the farm with his two sons, Liam and Seánie, their collie dog, Charlie, and three Dexter cows: Maggie, Nelly and Minnie.

Followed by discussion with Saoirse Mc Hugh / Jan Philipp Albrecht / Pádraic Fogarty


Readings from the Achill Writers Groups
Music by Laoise Kelly, Diarmuid Gielty and John Butler

Book online at

Full weekend: €100

Individual events: €20 (€30 including lunch)