Festival Speakers

Way With Words is Wicklow's foremost literary festival. We have a wonderful lineup of speakers for 2019.

John Banville

John Banville

John Banville’s latest publications are the novel Mrs Osmond, and Times Pieces: A Dublin Memoir.  He is the recipient of the Man Booker Prize, the Austrian State Prize for Literature, the Kafka Prize and the Prince of Asturias Award.  He has written a number of crime novels under the pen-name Benjamin Black.  He is also a screenwriter, playwright and book reviewer.  He lives in Dublin.

‘Crackles with threat, energy and malice……Astonishing’, Jeffrey Eugenides, The New York Times.

‘Masterly….Banville is a great storyteller.  Full of page-turning suspenses that keep you guessing’ Observer.

Siobhan Berry

Siobhan Berry

Siobhan Berry is Ireland’s top weaning and feeding expert and the founder of Mummy Cooks. She has distinguished herself as a resource for parents by providing simple, realistic and fuss-free advice. Siobhan is also the author of the Baby & Family; cook for family, adapt for baby recipe book and will launch her second highly anticipated book ‘Lunch box made easy’ in April this year.

Siobhan is the first Baby and Toddler ambassador for SuperValu, and the weaning expert at Ireland’s largest parenting site, MummyPages. She makes regular TV and radio appearances as Ireland’s feeding expert.

Moya Cannon

Moya Cannon

Moya Cannon has published five collections of poetry, her most recent being Keats Lives (2015) from Carcanet Press. Her poems reflect preoccupations with landscape and seascape, with archaeology, with music, with language itself and with our visceral attachment to the beauty of the earth. The work sings of deep connections – the impulse to ritual and pattern that, across centuries, defines us as human, a web of interdependences that continue to sustain the ‘gratuitous beauty’ of our endangered earth. Her previous collection, Hands, (Carcanet Press, 2011) was nominated for the 2012 Irish Times/Poetry Now Award. Earlier collections are Carrying the Songs (Carcanet Press 2,007); The Parchment Boat (Gallery Press, 1997) and Oar, (Salmon Press, Galway,1990;  Poolbeg Press, Dublin, 1994; Gallery Press, Meath, 2,000). A bilingual Spanish/English selection of her poems, Aves de Invierno, translated by the distinguished Argentinian poet, Jorge Fondebrider, was published by Editorial Pre-Textos, Valencia, Spain, October, 2015.  She spent her childhood in Co. Donegal, lived in Galway for most of her adult life and now lives in Dublin.  

Marina Carr

Marina Carr

Marina Carr’s plays to date are Ullaloo, 1989; Low In The Dark, 1991; The Mai, 1994; Portia Coughlan, 1996; By The Bog Of Cats, 1998; On Raftery’s Hill, 1999; Ariel, 2000; Woman And Scarecrow, 2004; The Cordelia Dream, 2006; Marble, 2007; 16 Possible Glimpses, 2009.  Her two plays for children are Meat And Salt, 2003 and The Giant Blue Hand, 2004.  The RSC produced the world premiere of her reimagining of HECUBA at the Swan Theatre in September 2015, and in August 2015 the Abbey Theatre produced a major revival of By The Bog Of Cats.  Her reimagining of Anna Karenina played for two months in the Abbey Theatre’s main house  finishing at the end of January 2017.
Her work has been produced by The Abbey Theatre, The Gate, Druid, The Royal Court, Wyndhams Theatre, The RSC, The Tricycle, The MacCarter Theatre, San Diego Rep, Milwaukee rep.

She is translated into many languages and produced around the world.
She also wrote a new, contemporary translation of Rigoletto for Opera Theatre Company, which toured Ireland in 2015, and wrote an original oratorio as part of a commission for Wicklow County Council that brought together choirs from throughout County Wicklow with solo singers and the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra in November 2016.

Prizes include Windham-Campbell Prize 2017 for her body of work, The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, The American/Ireland Fund Award, The E.m Forster Award from the American Academy Of Arts And Letters, The Macaulay Fellowship, The Puterbaugh Fellowship. She is a member of Aosdana.

She has taught at Trinity, at Villanova, at Princeton. Currently she lectures in the English department at Dublin City University. She is published by The Gallery Press, Nick Hern Books and Faber & Faber.

Ross Collins

Ross Collins

On graduating from Glasgow School of Art Ross won the MacMillan Prize for his first picture book. Since then he's illustrated over 130 books for children and written about a dozen or so. Children in over 30 countries seem to enjoy them and several have won enormous glittering awards. Ross' Greenaway shortlisted book 'The Elephantom' was adapted into a critically acclaimed play by those clever people at the National Theatre who made that 'War Horse' thing.

'There's a Bear on My Chair' was also shortlisted for the Greenaway and won the inaugural Amnesty CILIP Honour.

When he's not creating children's books he enjoys working on character development  for animation studios like Laika and Disney. He also likes walking in the Scottish glens with his dog Hugo, who is an idiot and his partner Jacqui, who is not.



William Murray & James Kavanagh gave birth to Currabinny after a discussion on how they could turn their unwavering obsession (food) into a career. William studied & grew his love of food at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Co. Cork - which is headed up by the duo’s food heroes Darina Allen & Rory O’Connell. In Ballymaloe, William nurtured his love of dishes that are unashamedly created with lots of real butter, Maldon Salt & seasonal, fresh vegetables. James comes from the other side of the food world; marketing. Having worked for two of his favourite, Irish brands; Kerrygold & Barry’s Tea, he has learned what goes into making a beautiful product. Witnessing the passion & quality that goes into making a Barry’s teabag and how the perfect grass has to exist in order for Kerrygold Butter to be as delicious as it is, has stuck and influenced his food ethos.

Currabinny is named after the sleepy, picturesque area of Cork William was raised in. With houses right on the water and a warmer climate than most areas of the country, his childhood was surrounded by organic, self-grown food. Mackerel fishing on the pier & vegetable-patch tending is second nature to William.

The Currabinny Cookbook launched late 2018 and won 'Cookbook of the Year' at the Irish Book Awards. The eventual dream is to own cafés in Dublin and Cork – fingers crossed!

Kevin Doherty

Kevin Doherty

Kevin was born in Buncrana, Co Donegal. He came to music through records and radio rather than a handed down tradition. He was though, aware of the power of song - the rapt face of the singer gathered up from the here and now and transported to the romantic heart of the night. In his teens he began playing with a number of successful local bands, as they packed out hotels and halls. Bluegrass, country, folk, rock, blues, jazz, swing and trad all combined on the night. It was here that Kevin learnt to love the ritual of the dance.

In 1991 he was asked to join traditional group 'Four Men and a Dog'. The band was at a formative stage and Kevin was delighted to take up the offer. Countless concert tours followed and six albums were recorded. Two of their records 'Dr As' and 'Long Roads' were recorded in Levon Helm's studio in New York after the band (Four Men and a Dog!) accepted an offer from Levon to come to Woodstock. As he put it himself 'hell it never did Muddy Waters any goddamn harm'. The main facilitator was the excellent producer and musician Aaron Hurwitz. Aaron also produced Kevin's first solo record at Levon's place. That album was 'Strange Weather'. Kevin was joined by fellow 'dog' Gerry O'Connor on the record which also had guest appearances by Levon on drums, and Rick Danko on vocals and bass. At that time Kevin accompanied Rick and Aaron on a number of road trips up and down the eastern seaboard playing club shows, as Rick expounded on the importance of vitamin C in a cold climate, dance nights in Ontario and a detailed description of how Charlie Feathers laced cigarette papers through the strings of his guitar to achieve his trademark rhythmic clatter... 

Peter Donnelly

Peter Donnelly

Peter Donnelly is an award-winning Irish author and illustrator.

His debut picture book 'The President's Glasses' was a No. 1 bestseller and shortlisted for an Irish Book Award in 2017. His follow up 'The President’s Cat' won the An Post Children’s Book of the Year in 2018.

He is currently working on his third book in the series due for release in September 2019.

Peter lives and works in Dublin and is a regular speaker at children’s book festivals and school events.

Peter's events are a lively mixture of storytelling and drawing based on his best selling picture books. He encourages his audiences to interact with him through fun and play... and pigeons...

Arnold Thomas Fanning

Arnold T Fanning

Arnold Thomas Fanning’s short stories, articles, and essays have been published in The Dublin Review, Banshee, the Irish Times, the Sunday Business Post, Crazyhorse Magazine, Hot Press, The Phoenix Anthology of New Irish Writing, gorse, Longreads.com, Paper Visual Art Journal, and The Lonely Crowd.  His work has also been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and RTÉ Radio 1 including for Arena and A Living Word. His most recent play McKenna’s Fort won the Oscar Wilde Award for Best New Writing in the 13th International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, and in 2017 he received an Arts Council Bursary in Literature. Mind on Fire: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery, his first book, was published by Penguin Ireland in 2018 and was shortlisted for the Butler Literary Award and The Irish Book Awards Newcomer of the Year, and longlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize.


Claire Keegan

Claire Keegan

Claire Keegan was raised on a farm in Wicklow. Her story collections include Antarctica, Walk the Blue Fields and Foster (Faber & Faber) are translated into 17 languages and have won numerous awards. Her debut, Antarctica, was a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year. “These stories are among the finest stories recently written in English,” wrote the Observer. Walk the Blue Fields, her second collection, was Richard Ford’s Book of the Year in 2010, and won the Edge Hill Prize, awarded to the strongest collection published in the British Isles. Foster won the Davy Byrne’s Award, then the world’s richest prize for a single story. New Yorker readers chose Foster as their story of the year. It was also published in Best American Stories is now on the school syllabus inIreland. Keegan has earned an international reputation as a teacher of fiction, having taught workshops on four continents.

“Every line seems to be a lesson in the perfect deployment of both style and emotion. –Hilary Mantel

“The best stories are so textured and so moving, so universal but utterly distinctive, that it’s easy to imagine readers savoring them many years from now and to imagine critics, far in the future, deploying new lofty terms to explain what it is that makes Keegan’s fiction work.” -The New York Times

“Every single word in the right place and pregnant with double meaning.” - Jeffrey Eugenides, The New York Times

"Keegan is a rarity, someone I will always want to read.” – Richard Ford

Dr Ciara Kelly

Ciara Kelly

Dr Ciara Kelly is an Award-Winning Columnist with the Sunday Independent and a TV and Radio Broadcaster.

Ciara presents Lunchtime Live weekdays from 12pm-2pm on Newstalk. She was previously the Medical Expert for five seasons on the nation’s leading health show, Operation Transformation on RTÉ.

Ciara began her media career when she first started to write for the Sunday Independent in 2008 and her debut article won a medical journalism award. Her column 'Doctors Orders' regularly gets the Nation talking and often trends on social media.

Martin King

Martin King

Martin King is a Broadcaster with Virgin Media. He co-presents Virgin Media’s evening show, The 6 O'Clock Show with Muireann O’Connell weekdays. The program features news and weather updates, showbiz, fashion, beauty, food, health, lifestyle and celebrity guests. Martin presents his own mid-morning radio slot on Dublin’s Q102 from 9am-2pm.

Martin has been involved in radio since he was fifteen working with some of the more successful pirate radio stations including Big D and Sunshine 101. He spent 9 years working at 98FM as one of their main on-air personalities before moving to TV3. For 10 years until 2012, he had his own show on Today FM called The Saturday Breakfast with Martin King. Martin entertained listeners with the best music, quizzes and chat around.

He is one of TV's most recognisable broadcasters. His personality driven style of weather forecasting has won Martin many awards and he is one of the main features of Virgin Media’s news presentation. With over 1.8 million viewers tuning into Virgin Media News every week it has firmly established itself as a benchmark for solid accessible journalism, creating the ideal blend of news and information that the modern Irish viewer is looking for.

Éanna Ní Lamhna


Eanna is a botanist by profession having learnt her trade in UCD many moons ago. She was responsible for much of the ground breaking species distribution mapping carried out by An Foras Forbartha in the 1970’s and 80’s.She has been a lecturer in sustainable development in DIT for over twenty years.

She is publicly on the side of the environment as evidenced by her stint as President of An Taisce from 2004-2009 and more recently as President of the Tree Council of Ireland. She is the author of several books including Wild Dublin  - O Brien Press and Wild Things at School  - The Heritage Council.

She has been broadcasting on RTE about wildlife since 1988 when she cut her teeth on radio with John Skehan. She has been the mainstay of the Mooney goes Wild programmes since 1995 and their earlier iterations – Green Times, Wildlife TX etc. She has made several Wildlife Radio documentaries including one on the rainforest in Costa Rica which was recorded on location and just lately one on Rats.   She currently has a regular wildlife slot on TV3’s Six o Clock show.

Kathleen Loughnane

Kathleen Loughnane

Kathleen is widely acclaimed for her arrangements and playing of the music of the Irish harpers and the moods in her playing range from the exuberant life of her dance  music to the haunting beauty of her slow airs. In arranging and interpreting the music of the 18th century, her most important reference has been the living instrumental tradition, its technique, ornamentation, and energy. Her own compositions have been informed by her extensive research into traditional sources.

Kathleen, a native of Nenagh, Co Tipperary, has lived in Galway since 1982, is a graduate of University College Dublin and of The London school of Economics in the Social Sciences.

In 1990 she cofounded the group Dordan, whose distinctive mix of Irish traditional and Baroque music led among other honours, to their winning the 1993 traditional Music Award in the Irish Entertainment Awards. Both with Dordan and in her own capacity as a solo musician, she has performed and taught in Ireland and at major festivals in the US, Japan and through out Europe, including the Boston College Gaelic Roots Festival and at the Edinburgh International Harp festival and the Copenhagen Harp festival.

She was invited to play at the World Harp Congress in Dublin in 1995. She composed a piece entitled Lúcháir an Léinn, a suite commissioned by NUI, Galway 1999 in celebration of 150 years of student enrolment. Her arrangements have appeared in various publications and feature on the Harp syllabus of The Royal Irish Acadamy of Music. With Dordan she has released four CDs and she has also released four solo CDs and three books of harp arrangements; Affairs of the Harp, Harping On, Harp to Heart and her most recent The Harpers Connellan, featuring the music of the Connellan brothers (c.1645-1720).

Alvean Jones

Alvean Jones

Alvean, from Dublin, has been very much involved in the Deaf Community, serving on a multitude of committees, and involved with adult and continuing education as a tutor. She teaches Drama, Irish History, and Communications to Deaf people in Dublin.

Heavily involved with the Dublin Theatre of the Deaf as an actor and director, Alvean has years of experience on stage and backstage, from 1994.

Recently, Alvean was in a play by Ailis Ni Riain, called “I used to feel”, with Kate Romano, at the Dublin Fringe Festival in September 2018, repeating a performance that took place in the Cork Midsummer’s Festival in June 2017.

Alvean was also in “Death of the Innocents”, by D'Sign Arts, at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast, and in the Alley Theatre in Strabane, in December 2016.

In her spare time, Alvean enjoys creative writing and making videos.

John McAuliffe

John McAuliffe

John McAuliffe was born in 1973 and grew up in Listowel, County Kerry. He was educated at universities in Galway, Southern Illinois, and Dublin. In 2000 he won the RTE Poet of the Future Award and, in 2002, the Sean Dunne National Poetry Award. He ran the Poetry Now Festival in Dun Laoghaire and established the Irish Times/Poetry Now Award for best collection.

He now lives in Manchester, where he co-directs the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing and edits The Manchester Reviewand the poetry digest The Page and is the chief poetry critic at the Irish Times.

He regularly writes about contemporary poetry and has read and taught at many festivals and universities around Ireland, the UK, the US and elsewhere.  He is also a regular tutor for the Arvon Foundation and The Poetry School and was Visiting Heimbold Chair of Irish Studies at Villanova University in 2010.

He has published three collections with The Gallery Press. His first, A Better Life (2002), was shortlisted for a Forward Prize. His second collection Next Door was published in 2007, Of All Places (a Poetry Book Society Recommendation) in 2011 and The Way In in May 2015.

Manchán Magan


Manchán Magan is a travel writer and travel documentary-maker. He has written books on his travels in Africa, India and South America and two novels. He has written continually for The Irish Times since 2008, with theMagan ‘s World travel column running for 6 years. He writes travel articles for Cara Magazine, the Sunday Times, and has written travel pieces for the Washington Post, the LA Times and the Guardian.

He reports on travel for various radio programmes, including two years as the travel correspondent on Newstalk FM’s  Right Hook Show, and two years  as travel editor on Today FM’s Last Word programme. He presented the Big Adventure travel series on RTE Radio 1 in 2008 and 2009. He is currently the travel expert on the Dave Fanning Show, RTE Radio 2 and on The 6 O’Clock Show, TV3. He has presented dozens of documentaries on issues of world culture and travel for TG4, RTÉ  & Travel Channel. He lives in his oak forest in a self-made hovel in Westmeath.



Siobhan Berry

The Mobile Music Machine (www.mobilemusicmachine.ie) is a group of leading Irish classical musicians, who have come together for the purpose of offering in-house music education to primary school children across Ireland. We are a registered company who operate to the highest professional industry standards.

Originally formed in 2007 by Fulbright scholar Gerald Peregrine and colleague Paul O Hanlon (former co-principal RTE concert orchestra), the group has performed to over 20,000 school children around Ireland.

We are regular performers at the National concert hall, Dublin, where we work with the education and outreach department. We have also formed working partnerships with Music Generation, as well as many local arts councils across Ireland. We currently have active partnerships with Music Generation South Dublin, Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown and Wicklow. We are also partnered with Blackwater Valley Opera festival, delivering a comprehensive 3 year outreach programme to schools in Co. Waterford.

The members of the group are all highly experienced musicians, and are in constant demand as performers both at home and abroad. They regularly perform in Europe, the Americas and Asia. They have a wide range of talents, and are adept at many musical styles. In terms of education, they have given workshops to thousands of children in Ireland and the U.K., France and America, and have years of experience in this field.

The members of the ensemble have a passion for music education, and have experience working in early education classes right up to lecturing at university level (Trinity College, Beijing and Peking Conservatory, Memphis/Florida state universities among others). Between us we have degrees from the most prestigious music colleges in the world (Royal Academy of music (London), Royal College of music, (London) Royal Northern college of music (UK), Limerick university, DIT, Indiana, Texas SMU).