A very sincere welcome to the website of the Lismore Festival Of Travel Writing. The festival is titled Immrama (an old Irish word for journey). Immrama is held in Lismore, County Waterford, Ireland, on a weekend in June each year since 2003. Immrama has been dedicated to the art of Travel Writing, Good Music, and Fine Entertainment since its inception. The Committee with due regard for the history and heritage of Lismore, has, we believe created a festival of outstanding quality and the events listed in the programme should confirm this belief. Over the centuries many people have made journeys to and from Lismore and we hope that you will enjoy your lmmram in Lismore.
On behalf of the Committee we wish to express our most sincere thanks for the generous support, help and encouragement that we have received from day one in bringing this Festival to life. To all those who have come to entertain and be entertained we hope you enjoy your visit to Lismore and all that this very special place has to offer.
The Name Immrama
The word ‘Immram’ [pl. ‘immrama’] derives from the Old Irish im ram meaning ‘rowing about’. In Ireland, there is a long tradition of making journeys and of the ensuing descriptions. The accounts include the early echtraí or outings, voyage tales of a fantastic nature where, for example, a hero travels across the sea to the land, often an island, of eternal youth [Tir na n-Óg] and on return after hundreds of years turns to ashes.
The Blue Sky Bends Over All
The motto ‘The Blue Sky Bends Over All’ is taken from a line in William Makepeace Thackeray’s finer piece of travel liturature, The Irish Sketch Book. He visited Lismore and he includes a description of the town and hinterland in his book published in 1843:
“The church with the handsome spire, that looks so graceful among the trees, is a cathedral church, and one of the neatest kept and prettiest edifices I have seen in Ireland. In the old graveyard Protestants and Catholics lie together- that is, not together; for each has a side of the ground, where they sleep, and so occupied, do not quarrel. The sun was shining down upon the brilliant grass- and I don’t think the shadows of the Protestant graves were any longer or shorter than those of the Catholics? Is it the right or the left side of the grave-yard which is nearest to heaven, I wonder? Look, the sun shines upon both alike, ‘and the blue sky bends over all’.”