Looking Back, Looking Forward

11:43am | Wed 10 Apr 2024

The concept of looking back to go forward crosses cultures all over the world. In New Zealand it is summed up by the Māori proverb ‘Ka mua, ka muri‘ (walking backwards into the future), while the French advise ‘reculer pour mieux sauter‘ (draw back to make a better jump). As the Dingle Lit committee are working away in the background to organise the 2024 festival, it seems a nice point to reflect on the success of last year’s festival. We’ve just about recovered from it!

Dingle Lit in November 2023 was the most festive of our festivals yet. After starting out small, then going online during the pandemic, then returning to limited capacity venues, it really had a palpable sense of getting into the swing of things. The 2023 festival was the best yet, with sell-out events, standing room only and celebrity attendee actor Stanley Tucci adding an extra frisson of excitement to the room at all of the talks he attended.

Actor Stanley Tucci at the Dingle Literary Festival 2024

Authors and attendees alike had a blast, with Benners and The Skellig hotels bustling with the crowds, and McCarthy’s, our official festival club bar, hopping as everyone gathered to mingle and chat. Excitement was in the air as writers looked forward to the Irish Book Awards later that week, and many of our line-up were in the running. Dingle is always a place that people love to visit, but it really was the perfect start to the festive season socialising.

John Banville lent suitable gravitas to the closing event of the 2023 festival.

Katriona O’Sullivan, who gave an at times emotional and consistently inspiring talk at Dingle Lit, won Bookselling Ireland Biography of the Year and The Last Word Listener’s Choice Award, for Poor her searingly honest account of growing up in the poverty and addiction, and how education saved her.

Other Dingle Lit alumni who headed up the Dingle to Dublin road to pick up prizes at the Irish Book Awards included Colin Walsh (who won Newcomer of the Year for his thrumming-with-life debut Kala), poet Mary O’Donnell (Poem of the Year for Vectors in Kabul), chef Mark Moriarty (Cookbook of the Year), Sophie White (Popular Fiction Book of the Year).

Beo Ar Éigin podcasters chatted live at Dick Mack’s pub.

As we approach the mid-point of the year – May will mark six months since the festival – it’s time now to finish up those last piles of ‘last year’ books on the bedside table and look ahead to pre-reading in time for this year’s event, which takes place from 15-17 November. The invites to authors have been sent out already and with some great names already confirmed, the festival committee are trying to contain the excitement as we wait to officially launch the programme later in the year.

To get a flavour of last year’s festival, check out our 2023 photo archive, and stay tuned as we will be bringing you more content for book lovers with reviews of the best of new writing in both English and as Gaeilge, announcing the winners of our first ever Short Story Competition, in partnership with Dingle Distillery, and a very exciting summer event.