Aspects Irish Literature Festival

The Bangor-based festival comes of age with another stellar line up

Born in 1991, the Aspects Irish Literature Festival has finally come of age. At 18-years-young, it is Northern Ireland's longest running literature festival, and in 2009 celebrates with a legal tipple or two, and a whole lot of wordy acknowledgements.

Friends of the festival, including poet Derek Mahon - a member of the famed Belfast Group that also included Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley - novelists John Boyne and Anne Enright, and a whole host of other wordsmiths will descend upon the harbour town of Bangor, County Down to raise a glass to the festival and join in mass appreciation with fans, friends and festival organisers.

Since its inception, Aspects has remained true to its original ethos, firstly to promote exclusively Irish writing in all its forms, from poetry and prose, to biography and journalism, and secondly to lure big-name writers, best-selling authors, Nobel Prize winning poets right through to the cutting-edge of emerging new talent, and house them all in the intimate of surroundings of the North Down Museum in Bangor (now expanded to include other venues throughout the borough).

As it comes of age in 2009, the festival can reflect upon the wealth of household names that have passed through its doors over the last 18 years (from Seamus Heaney to Marian Keyes, from Jack Higgins to Colin Bateman and Annie McCartney) and present another impressive programme of talks, readings, discussions, workshops and more.

This year’s festival takes place between September 23 and 27, and includes readings from John Boyne (whose New York Times best-selling book The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has sold in excess of 5 million copies worldwide) reading alongside Harry Clifton, introduced by eminent author and Aspects favourite Carlo Gebler; and Fergal Keane, one of the BBC’s most distinguished correspondents. 

Winner of the 2007 Booker Prize Anne Enright will also appear, as will one of Ireland’s finest living poets, Derek Mahon. There will be talks from the only Irish journalist allowed into the inner circle of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign of 2008, Niall Stanage, and also the amateur golfer turned author John Richardson, whose book Dream On is fast becoming the talked-about sports novel of 2009.

Also appearing are Glenn Patterson, Claire Kilroy, Anne Marie Fyfe, Ian Sansom, Sean O’Reilly, Leontia Flynn, Chris Agee, Aidan Matthews, Enda Wyley, Cathal Dallat and Anthony Toner.

The festival also runs a full fringe programme of music and readings at the Ava Bar's Vin Cafe, with music provided by Irish performer Luka Bloom.

The Bloomfield Young Aspects Programme will once again engage with over 1,500 young people from schools in the borough, and in North Down Museum’s Long Gallery the festival hosts a full audio-visual exhibition of the last 18 years of Aspects with posters, programmes and audio recordings of some of the most memorable readings and events.

Click here to download the Aspects Festival 2009 programme, and enter our competition to win tickets to see either Derek Mahon or Anne Enright and Leontia Flynn at this year's festival.