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Liverpool Irish Festival 2023 makes anniversary memories


Liverpool Irish Festival brings 10 days of events to the city this month including talks, walks, theatre, films, workshops and exhibitions.

This year’s festival - the largest arts and culture-led Irish festival in the UK - runs from October 19-29 and has the theme of Anniversary as it marks its own 21st.

Since the festival was first launched in 2003 it has played host to hundreds of writers, artists, dancers, musicians, filmmakers, actors, activists and academics at spaces across Liverpool and beyond, and has created a programme of diverse events to platform a variety of voices, to provoke discussions and to entertain.

Emma Smith, festival artistic director and chief executive, says: “Liverpool Irish Festival brings Liverpool and Ireland closer together using arts and culture. We create spaces that build cultural connections between Ireland, Liverpool, the Irish diaspora and neighbouring communities.

“It’s perhaps not surprising that anniversaries are on our mind this year, with us turning 21. It’s 10 years since the McAleese inquiry; 15 years since Liverpool became Capital of Culture; 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement; 100 years of Ireland and 175 years since An Gorta Mor.

“#LIF2023 combines stories about Irishness and reveals people searching for - and finding - their identity. Anniversaries are often the markers we use to remember. They connect us with our heritage and mark notable events. We hope everyone will join us, physically or online, as we celebrate and present our 21st Festival and create new memories and milestones together.”

Events during the 2023 festival are set to take place at venues and locations including Liverpool Irish Centre, Bluecoat, the Tung Auditorium, the Museum of Liverpool, the Music Room at Philharmonic Hall and the Everyman Street Café as well as online.

The festival opens on Thursday, October 19 with a launch event at Liverpool Irish Centre in Boundary Lane.

Here is what else is happening where over the 10-day event.


Music and Song

Internationally renowned traditional Irish band The London Lasses celebrate the release of their 25th anniversary album LL25 with a gig at Liverpool Irish Centre on October 19 – their first return to the festival for 13 years.

On October 20, folk singer and actor (pictured) Lisa Lambe presents Nightvisiting (Songs and Stories from the Hearth) at the Tung Auditorium. Meanwhile on the same evening a ‘seisiún’ for musicians will be held at Peter Kavanagh’s in Egerton Street. A second seisiún takes place there on October 27.

Join Maz O’Connor for a song workshop at the Music Room at Philharmonic Hall during the day on October 24, while on October 25 award-winning singer and musician Sue Rynhart presents You, Me or the Wallpaper at Sefton Park Palm House.

Bodhrán master John Joe Kelly will hold two tuition sessions at the Music Room on October 26, one for beginners and one for more experienced or advanced players. Participants will need to bring their own bodhrán and tipper.

And WB Yeats’ poems will be celebrated at Leaf in Bold Street on October 29 when Brandies Band and Factor 7 present Yeats to Music.


Performance, Literature and Poetry

Author Stuart Harrison will be on hand to talk about his book for seven to 11-year-olds, Brave Maeve, at the festival launch at Liverpool Irish Centre on October 19, Family Day at the Museum of Liverpool on October 21, and at the Irish Centre on October 29 as well reading from it at an event at the Williamson Art Gallery in Birkenhead on October 28.

St Helen’s Library at World of Glass hosts the free exhibition Irish Myth and Legend from October 19 to November 24, and award-winning play Green and Blue is being staged at the town’s Chester Lane Library on October 26. It will then run at Liverpool Arts Club in Hope Street from October 26-28.

Irish poet and author Pascal O’Loughlin and National Poetry Librarian Chris McCabe lead an informal writing and reading workshop at the Museum of Liverpool on October 22 inspired by Joyce’s Ulysses.

On October 24 Leaf in Bold Street is the venue for two plays in one evening – A Bolt from d’Blue and then later For the Love of Mary.

The centenary of Brendan Behan’s birth is marked with Brendan: Son of Dublin (pictured) at the Tung Auditorium on October 28.

Meanwhile earlier in the festival, on October 23, there is an online talk by LJMU’s Dr Deaglán Ó Donghaile who will consider Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol.


Film, Art and Animation

Artist jeweller Niamh Grimes is the 2023 festival ‘maker’ and will be exhibiting her work (pictured) at the Bluecoat Display Gallery throughout October.

On October 18, on the eve of the festival opening, IndieCork Film Festival takes over the Box at Picturehouse at FACT to present the UK premiere of Ó Bhéal in celebration of 50 years of hip-hop.

The Box is also the venue for the screening of award-winning documentary musical North Circular on October 23, while The Mersey Mash will be free to watch online on October 30.


Community, Family and Sport

The festival’s annual Family Day takes place at the Museum of Liverpool on October 21 from 10am to 5pm.

The late Tony Birtill will be commemorated in a memorial lecture Comrade and Brother given by his sister Angela and taking place at Liverpool Irish Centre on October 21.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the centre and a Memories Coffee Morning will be held there on October 22, while it will also host the Samhain Ceili on October 29.

Poets, artists and musicians will take part in Cultural Memory and the Good Friday Agreement at the University of Liverpool on October 26.

And John Mitchel’s Pitch in Greenbank Lane is the venue for a Give it a Go Gaelic football event on October 28.

There will also be a number of Liverpool Irish Famine Trail events during the festival.

Liverpool Irish Festival runs from October 19-29. Full details and tickets HERE

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