Saturday 27th June

11am A series of Lectures on Tolkien in the 20th Century

Dr Liam Campbell                                 Mirror of the Age: Tolkien and the 20th Century

Abstract: Many critics have dismissed Tolkien’s tales as elegiac, escapist fantasies that have nothing to say to or about the modern world. This talk seeks to assert that far from being an ‘escapist’ writer of fantasy, Tolkien was a writer primarily concerned with the defining issues of the twentieth century: an age that bore witness to humanity’s most horrific wars, the rise of the machine and a systematic assault on the green places of the world. The paper argues that all of this is observable in the arc of Tolkien’s fiction and as such he was a writer whose work is a valid and vital mirroring of the challenges of the contemporary world.


Dr Patrick Curry                                   The Two Faces of Faerie in Tolkien’s Work

Abstract: This talk will consider the vital importance and meaning of Faerie or enchantment in Tolkien’s work. It is a value and a concept which faces two ways: ‘in’ to his literary fiction, as symbolised especially by the Elves,  and ‘out’, where ‘the disecnhantment of the world’ (in Max Weber’s famous phrase) steadily gathered pace throughout the twentieth century. The paper  will try to identify some specific characteristics and dynamics of enchantment in both cases, and show how it has resulted in Tolkien’s books paradoxical modern status: extraordinary popularity and determined marginalization.


Professor John Gillespie                       Tolkien, Lewis and the Inklings: Christian Creativity in Action?

Abstract: C S Lewis and the Inklings played a key role in the development of Tolkien as a writer. This paper will examine the dynamics of their relationships and how their shared Christian faith affected his literary creations.


Dr Allan G Turner                                 Landscape Comes Alive

Abstract: A particularly memorable image in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is that of the shadowy army of trees marching down the slopes to attack Isengard. However, many others of his landscapes also convey a sense of life and movement. This is because, in addition to purely naturalistic descriptions, Tolkien describes many of the features in such a way that they seem to have a life of their own, although in many cases it is done so subtly that the reader may not be consciously aware of it. I want to explore the stylistic devices by which Tolkien makes his characters appear to move through an animate landscape which is one of the great attractions of Middle-earth.

Location: The Burren College of Art, Ballyvaughan                  Time: 11am                           Cost: 15pp* cost includes refreshments

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2.30pm Creative writing workshop

Writer, painter, and filmmaker Frank Golden will lead afternoon workshops that will challenge participants with a series of writing prompts focusing on the main elements of the short story – setting, protagonist, conflict/problem/dilemma, climax and resolution. One or two classic fantasy short stories will be explored in an effort to illustrate variant approaches to the genre. By the end of the session, participants should have an outline of frank_golden_2015at least one story they want to write, plus the story opening, and one or two scenes.

Frank Golden is a Clare-based poet, novelist, and painter. He has published four books of poems, the most recent of which is In Daily Accord (Salmon Publications). His first novel, The Two Women of Aganatz (Wolfhound Press),was well received, described by Carol Coulter in The Irish Times  as  “uncomfortable, but compellingly and poetically described by a powerful imagination”. 2015 has seen his return to the novel form with the publication of The Night Game (Salmon Publications).

He has received bursaries and awards from the Arts Council of Ireland and the Irish Film Board, including a bursary in literature in 2014. In 2012 his film, A Room in Air, filmed in the auxiliary workhouse in Ballyvaughan, was premiered at the Burren College of Art, where Frank

Location: The Burren College of Art, Ballyvaughan                  Time: 2.30pm                       Cost: 15pp

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3pm Afternoon Tea at Gregan’s Castle with readings by Barry McGovern

Barry-McGovern_WebTake tea, as Tolkien did, in the library of the McCorkendale residence – now the drawing room of Gregans Castle Hotel – while Barry McGovern reads to you.

Barry McGovern is one of Ireland’s best known actors. His most recent stage appearances were in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Abbey and The Price at the Gate. His two one-man shows I’ll Go On and Watt have toured worldwide. On TV he has played in Game of Thrones , Vikings, The Tudors, Dear Sarah and The Treaty. Films include Joe Versus the Volcano, Billy Bathgate, The General, Braveheart, Waiting for Godot and My Name is Emily. Later this year he will be teaching at Notre Dame University for a semester and next year he will be playing in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles.

Location: Gregan’s Castle, Ballyvaughan                                   Time: 3pm                             Cost: 29pp

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7pm Evening Feast @ The Burren Food Emporium with a special display and demonstration by Claiomh 

Demonstrations at 4pm and 9pm

A feast of Tolkien-inspired culinary delights, libations and music

Location: The Burren Food Emporium, Lisdoonvarna              Time: 7pm                             Cost: 35pp

Booking: Not required


Festival Contact details: +353 (0)97 3160772