Mícheál de Barra

Mícheál de BarraMícheál de Barra was born and reared at the edge of the Burren – his spiritual home – in Co. Clare. After qualifying as a primary school teacher at Coláiste Mhuire, Dublin, he completed a BA Degree and a Higher Diploma in Education at UCD and a Masters Degree in Education at Trinity College. Having spent almost 40 years in education, he is now retired, dividing his time between Spain and Ireland. He has dedicated part of his retirement to writing.

His first book – An Bóthar go Santiago – is the diary of his 900 km walk along the ancient pilgrimage route from Southern France across Northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela and Finisterre. The Camino is one of the three great pilgrimages of the Middle Ages and there are records of intrepid Irishmen and women making this perilous journey going back to the 13th century. James Rice, Mayor of Waterford, made the pilgrimage twice, in 1473 and again in 1483.

‘An Bóthar go Santiago’ – the topic of his presentation – is described by Veritas as ‘an Irish pilgrim’s perspective on an ancient journey. A personal contemporary account of the physical and human landscape which he encounters along the way.’ This book won the Glen Dimplex Irish Language Award.

His second book – Gaeil I dTír na nGauchos – narrates the story of Irish emigrants to Argentina. It was born out of conversations with elderly Irishmen at the Hurling Club in Buenos Aires many years ago. These men spoke with strong Westmeath and Wexford accents

Details of this year’s festival programme can be found elsewhere on this website.

Avi McGourty

Avi McGourtyAvi McGourty – originally from Templemore, Co. Tipperary first discovered her love for singing and entertaining her audiences in Johnny Walsh’s Pub, Lyon, France where she was working as an English Language Assistant. It was from there that her passion grew and took her to more Music Venues and Celtic Festivals in France and further afield, her fondest memory being that of travelling to Norway, Trondheim and Steinkjer. It was journeys like these and more that inspired her to write songs along the way – her songs telling stories of where her paths have taken her.

One of Avi’s most popular songs “Less Than a Second”, written after her 6 weeks of backpacking around Australia, won her 5000 euros with Midlands 103 Radio Station back in August 2003, enabling her to complete her Debut Album “No Alibis, No Lies”. She completed her Debut Album “No Alibis, No Lies “. Winning the Midlands/ Smirnoff Ice Search was an added bonus where she was also awarded recording time with Roseland Recording Studios and primetime advertising on Midlands Radio. Her appearance on the Irish Television Station Tg4 and on Today Fm National Radio Station with Phil Cawley encouraged her to seek more Singer/ Songwriter events as opposed to covering other artists’ songs. Avi has supported some of Ireland’s popular artists like Luka Bloom, Don Mescall, Damien Dempsey, Dickie Rock and even the late Joe Dolan.

This Summer she will be supporting John Spillane for the Clancy Brother’s Festival and Charlie McGettigan at the Clonmel Busking Festival. Avi has spent the months of February and March this year in Lyon, France recording some of her new songs and gigging there too. She was asked by the Jazz band Abigoba to sing for their cover version of “Stairway to Heaven” and to play in concert with them in February and June of this year.

Avi explains – “There has been a gap in the years where I went back teaching French fulltime in Ireland! The longing to entertain and sing my songs was always there and it was extremely difficult to put my whole heart into my music, write, record and sing with a fulltime job. I finally learned I couldn’t do both. The love for singing and writing is too great and so I am working on the music fulltime. It has never felt so good and I know this decision to immerse totally into music is something I will never regret, regardless of how far it will take me.”

Avi’s lyrics come from the soul, her voice exudes both a sense of joy and deep emotion and you can witness this when you come to see her perfom as she talks of her songs and sings with a heartfelt honesty.

Web Site: www.avitunes.com

Details of this year’s festival programme can be found elsewhere on this website.

Mark Graham

Mark GrahamMark Graham discovered his love for festivals while hanging around with various ne’er-do-wells playing music at many of them, a habit he hasn’t managed to kick just yet. As well as publishing the tale of his quest to attend three festivals in Ireland every week for a year, he writes a weekly festival column in The Ticket with the Irish Times every Friday and has been a regular contributor to the John Murray Show on RTE Radio 1. His Year of Festivals Blog has won a couple of awards, but more importantly, during his Year of Festivals he won both the All Ireland Bucket Singing Championship and The All Ireland Conker Championship. It’s quite likely that he’s addicted to festivals, Buckfast and crisps.

A Year Of Festivals In Ireland
Meet Mark Graham, Conker Champion of Ireland, All-Ireland Bucket-Singing Champion and the sixth-best bog snorkeler in Ireland. Rejected by the banks as he looked to start on the journey to home ownership, Mark started in an altogether more interesting and exciting journey to attend three festivals a week for a year.

In this entertaining roller-coaster tour of Ireland, Mark paints a picture not of a broken and maudlin country that lost the run of itself, but of a people with a wealth of character, imagination, generosity, wildness, curiosity, creativity and an insatiable hunger for fun and divilment. The surprising array of weird and wonderful festivals around Ireland are matched and surpassed by the cohort of characters and clients who attend them. Throwing himself into the thick of these gatherings may have nearly killed him, but he survived his year of festivals, enjoyed almost every minute and was left with a tale or two to tell.

Web Site: www.ayearoffestivalsinireland.com
Twitter: @YearOfFestivals

Details of this year’s festival programme can be found elsewhere on this website.

Tim Butcher

Tim ButcherBorn in 1967, Tim Butcher was on the staff of the Daily Telegraph from 1990 to 2009 serving as chief war correspondent, covering all major conflicts across the Balkans, Middle East and Africa. His first book, Blood River, an account of his 2004 journey through DR Congo overland from Lake Tanganyika and down the Congo River, reached Number 1 in the Sunday Times bestseller list and was the only non-fiction title in the Richard & Judy Book Club 2008. It was also shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Dolman Best Travel Book Award and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Best Book award. Tim’s second book, Chasing the Devil, describes a 350 mile trek through Sierra Leone and Liberia following a trail blazed by Graham Greene and recounted in Greene’s Journey Without Maps (1936). Tim is currently based in Cape Town with his family and is a frequent contributor to the BBC radio programme ‘From Our Own Correspondent’ and writes regularly for the international press.

Web Site: www.tim-butcher.com
Twitter: @timbobutcher

Details of this year’s festival programme can be found elsewhere on this website.

Michael Whelan

Michael WhelanMichael is an international expedition leader and mountaineer with 25 years experience, climbing major peaks on 4 continents. He grew up in Waterford City where he trained as a carpenter. On completing his apprenticeship he set out on his adventures which would develop into a passion for mountaineering and a desire to visit remote places Having lived and worked abroad for many years (West Africa, Saudi Arabia, and the UK), Michael returned to Ireland in 1997. Since then he was an active member of the Comeragh Mountaineering Club for eight serving two terms as PRO. In 2006 Michael became the first Irish person to climb The North Face of Mt Damavand Iran.

Some of his past expeditions include:

  • 2014 Mt Toubkal Morocco
  • 2013 Mt Damavand Iran
  • 2012 Mt Blanc France/Italy
  • 2012 Mera Peak Nepal
  • 2009 Mt Ararat Turkey
  • 2005 Mt Aconcagua Argentina

Michael now lives near Dunmore East Co Waterford with his wife Gerardine and daughter Áine. Michael’s talk will focus on his experiences in Iran over three decades, from the Iranian revolution and the outbreak of the Iran Iraq war to his return journeys in 2006 and 2013.

Details of this year’s festival programme can be found elsewhere on this website.

Alannah Hopkin

Alannah HopkinAlannah Hopkin lives in Kinsale, Co Cork. She grew up in London and studied at Queen Mary College, University of London and the University of Essex. She has published two novels (Hamish Hamilton, London) and her non-fiction books include Eating Scenery: West Cork, the People & the Place (The Collins Press, Cork). Her stories have appeared in the London Magazine and the Cork Literary Review, among others.

She has written guides to Ireland for Fodor’s, Insight and Berlitz, and also writes about her own travels in Ireland and abroad for magazines. She is a regular book reviewer for the Irish Examiner, and a tutor on Poetry Ireland’s Writers in Schools scheme. She has led writing workshops up to M.A. level. She is currently working on a collection of stories, and a novel, The Ballydevlin Hauntings.

Web Site: www.alannahhopkin.com
Twitter: @alannahhopkin

Details of this year’s festival programme can be found elsewhere on this website.

Michael Fewer

Michael FewerMichael Fewer was born in Waterford City in 1946. After his studies, he enjoyed thirty years as a practicing architect based in Dublin, winning a number of awards both in Ireland and abroad. He also lectured in the Bolton Street School of Architecture, and was a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland when he changed direction more than a decade ago to spend more time travelling and writing. Since his first book was published in 1988 a further seventeen have appeared, dealing with walking, travel, history, architecture and the environment, including The New Neighbourhood of Dublin with Dr Maurice Craig, Doorways of Ireland, Rambling Down the Suir, and Michael Fewer’s Ireland.

He has contributed to radio and television programmes and over the last three decades has written many magazine and newspaper articles on walking, environment and travels in Europe. His most recent book is T J Byrne: Nation Builder, a biography of Ireland’s State Architect from 1923 to 1939. He is currently working The Battle of the Four Courts, which examines the beginning of Ireland’s Civil War, and Europe’s Western Fringe, a narrative of an exploratory journey along the west coasts of Portugal, Galicia and Ireland. Michael enjoys trekking in the Alps, the Pyrenees and the Appenines, and when not travelling, he divides his time between Dublin and County Waterford.

Web Site: www.michaelfewer.com

Details of this year’s festival programme can be found elsewhere on this website.

Michael McMonagle

Mícheál de BarraMichael McMonagle was born in 1953 and grew up on a small farm. His mother was a Public Health Nurse who travelled to see her patients on a bicycle and his father was actively involved in local drama groups. Michael now lives in Mountcharles, County Donegal with his family. He has a keen interest in planting trees and also likes to travel, sea kayak, cycle, hike, and observe wildlife.
Michael is a graduate of University College Dublin, he has worked in Community Development and as manager of Children’s Services within the Health Service Executive. He is currently involved in a number of community organisations and is a director of the Lifestart Foundation and chairperson of Tir Boghaine Teo.

Michael’s second travel book, ‘Footprints Across America’ published by Orpen Press retraces the route taken by a nineteenth century Irish immigrant on his way to the Klondike Gold Rush. His previous book, ‘Walking the Back Roads’ was published by Appletree Press.

Email: mjmcmonagle@gmail.com

Details of this year’s festival programme can be found elsewhere on this website.

Diana Gleadhill

Diana GleadhillAt school, it was the enthusiasm of my geography teacher, which made the world seem a magical and exciting place, and it was without a doubt, under her tutelage, that the seeds were sown for my wanderlust and curiosity about other peoples and places.

I didn’t get seriously travelling until my children were grown up. Apart from Europe my travels have taken me many times to Uganda and Kenya where my son lived for 20 years.

In 1992 I sailed in a 48 ft yacht with four other friends from Phuket, Thailand, via Sri Lanka, Djibouti, Port Sudan, Port Suez, Alexandria and Malta to Gibraltar. A life-changing experience.

I have also travelled in Russia, Mongolia and China via the Trans-Mongolian Railway in 1994. In Papua New Guinea in 1996 I explored the Middle Sepik River by canoe, staying with the local people in their long houses and learning how to do without most Western “essentials”.

I have been several times to South America, including a river odyssey in Guyana.

Journeying in Kamchatka in 2000 and 2006 gave me the material for my book – “Kamchatka – A Journal and Guide to Russia’s Land of Ice and Fire, and in March 2008, I had the honour of being invited by the Royal Geographical Society to be a member of a panel of “experts” on Kamchatka, after which I was made a Fellow.

Central Asia’s scenery of mountains, deserts, fantastic ancient buildings, and embarrassingly generous hospitality made it one of the most fascinating of my travels. The result of these wanderings was my second book, “Our Fiery Hearts”.

My friend Elise and I travel independently, and will continue our travels as long as we can cope with the strictures of today’s airports!

Details of this year’s festival programme can be found elsewhere on this website.

Manchán Magan

Manchán MaganManchán Magan is a writer and documentary-maker. He wrote the Magan’s World travel column for Saturday’s Irish Times Magazine for 6 years and currently hosts the Right Hook travel slot. His travel documentaries focusing on issues of world culture for TG4, RTE & Travel Channel were shown in 25 territories around the world. No Béarla, his documentary series about travelling around Ireland speaking only Irish sparked international debate. He has written numerous travel books in English and Irish, including, include ‘Angels & Rabies: a journey through the Americas’ (Brandon, 2006), ‘Manchán’s Travels: a journey through India’ (Brandon, 2007) and ‘Truck Fever: a journey through Africa’ (Brandon, 2008). His Irish books include Baba-ji agus TnaG (Coiscéim 2006) and Manchán ar Seachrán (Coiscéim 1998). He has written for the Guardian, LA Times and Washington Post.

His play Broken Croí/Heart Briste was nominated for 2 Irish Times Theatre Awards, the Fishamble New Writing Award and the Bewleys Café Theatre Award. It won the Stewart Parker Irish Language Award in 2010. He was commissioned to write a bilingual play for the Abbey Theatre in 2011. He lives in his oak forest in a self-made hovel in the bogs of Ireland.

Web Site: www.manchan.com

Details of this year’s festival programme can be found elsewhere on this website

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About Lismore Immrama

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. Over the centuries many people have made journeys to and from Lismore and we hope that you will enjoy your lmmram in Lismore.

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