Speech by Minister Madigan at Dublin Book Festival

Check Against Delivery

Writers, publishers, readers, and friends:

I’m very glad to be here with you tonight to celebrate the opening of the 2018 Dublin Book Festival. In a time where the literary landscape changes year on year and can be unrecognisable after a single generation, the Dublin Book Festival is a wonderfully reliable presence on the Irish writing and publishing scene.

Díríonn an féile seo go speisialta ar scríobhnóirí Éireannacha foilsithe agus cothaíonn sí tallann úr, chomh maith le leabhair agus scríobhnóirí a chur chun cinn nach bhfaighidh aitheantas gan í.

As Maya Angelou famously said;

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

This year the Festival, organised by Publishing Ireland, is ready as always to welcome the season with a new round of events, authors, and books for us to enjoy. I was impressed by the sheer variety of events this year, with walking tours, exhibitions and workshops running parallel to more traditional programming.

I am especially delighted to see the festival’s strong tradition of children’s and schools programming being maintained this year, with a large number of children’s events scheduled over the four days.

This Government, as part of its Creative Ireland Programme, is committed to ‘Enabling the Creative Potential of Every Child’, and the Dublin Book Festival provides pathways for children to engage with literature, arts and culture: a central aspect of this commitment.

Dublin City Public Libraries, in their many years of supporting and engaging with this festival, have worked hard to keep it an accessible and welcoming event that has something for absolutely everyone, regardless of their degree of involvement in Ireland’s literary community.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their work over the years in helping grow the festival and its community to where it is today.

I must also commend the festival organisers this year, Publishing Ireland, who are once more taking the lead with the Dublin Book Festival, thereby carrying on a torch they lit themselves as its original founders. Their commitment to maintaining this Festival and its traditions of diversity and accessibility is wonderful to see, and they have taken the brave step of establishing the festival as an independent entity in order to help secure it for the future. Their efforts on behalf of Ireland’s literary community are admirable.

Dublin has the distinction of being a UNESCO City of Literature, and it is events like this festival that help it continually live up to that designation. With this in mind, my Department is pleased to continue to support the Dublin Book Festival as one of its funding partners and to help it maintain its tradition of promoting and supporting Irish literary voices, both old and new.

The festival’s choice of opening event this evening is particularly appropriate, then, as it celebrates 20 years of The Stinging Fly magazine. The Stinging Fly was founded to publish and promote the best in Irish and international writing, and especially to provide opportunities for new and emerging writers. Much like the Dublin Book Festival itself, The Stinging Fly has become a feature of the literary landscape here in Ireland, and one that – like its namesake – is never placid, dull, or taken for granted.

With this in mind, as the season of autumn comes to an end and winter truly begins, we should appreciate what we have built over the past few decades while always being ready to celebrate the new. Each year will bring new writers and new opportunities for Irish literature.

So it is a comfort to know then that established institutions such as The Stinging Fly and the Dublin Book Festival will be here and ready to support them as they grow.

I think therefore it is fitting to end my few words by quoting the words of the American poet, novelist, and short-story writer Sylvia Plath. She said;

 “Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

Go raibh míle maith agaibh go léir.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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