Dublin Book Festival 2023

Dublin Book Festival gear up their biggest festival programme to date

By Brian Bowe

Bookworms, rejoice! This year’s Dublin Book Festival is set to be the biggest one yet, boasting a packed programme of over 100 events celebrating some of Ireland’s finest writers and illustrators. 

From 8th-12th November book lovers can expect to journey across Dublin as this year’s fest looks to take place across a number of exciting venues: buildings, walkways, canals, gardens, bookshops and libraries across the city. The Festival Hub will return to the Printworks in Dublin Castle. But there will be events taking place in a number of partner venues, including the National Library of Ireland, National Botanic Gardens, 1WML in the Windmill Quarter, Glass Mask Theatre, The Wild Duck, Royal Irish Academy and lots more!

Speaking ahead of the festival’s programme launch, Festival Director Julianne Mooney Siron said, “We are thrilled to be presenting our biggest festival to date, featuring Ireland’s authors, illustrators, musicians and artists. The diversity of events is reflective of the publishing industry in Ireland today, with events covering everything from history to nature, crime to poetry, music and much more! DBF 2023 will have over 100 events for book lovers of all ages!”

Family Events: The Dublin Book Festival has always been the perfect event for families, and this year is no different. Kids can immerse themselves in books, venture on treasure hunts, take part in arts and crafts, along with author and illustrator events in the Winter Garden.

Magic Man, Keith Barry (credit: Barry McCall)

One event families should make a note of is Keith Barry’s Mind Magic (Nov 12) which will see world-renowned brain-breaker and mentalist Keith Barry offer up his top tips with kids. He will share anecdotes from his own childhood while imparting life lessons and advice. This event promises to encourage kids to embed a winning mindset that cultivates success, builds their mental strength and unlocks their fullest potential. 

For those who love to explore the city, Walking Tours will take visitors along eye-opening adventures though Dublin’s hidden histories of the streets. Walking tour highlights include:

The Waters and the Wild Walking and Sketching Tour (Nov 9) with Gwen Wilkinson, where Gwen will lead a lunchtime walking and sketching tour around Ringsend Basin and along the Grand Canal towpath, pausing to explore the themes in her book and sketch the surrounding environment. 

All the Way by the Grand Canal (Nov 10), a lunchtime stroll along the canal with Jo Kerrigan, will provide a sense of nature and a step back in time within the urban landscape. 

Radical! Women and the Irish Revolution Walking Tour (Nov 11) will tour the historic neighbourhood of Dublin 8, led by Irish poet Julie Morrissy. Delving into the crucial contributions made by women in the revolutionary period, Morrissy will share poems, stories, and insights about the locations which informed and inspired her book and podcast Radical! Women and the Irish Revolution. 

There will be launches celebrating new books and the latest issues of literary journals, including Winter Papers and Sonder, as well as special events celebrating the works of late poet Brendan Kennelly, and 30 years of great stories brought to you by Dublin-based publisher New Island.  

In Conversation events will take centre stage, as literary luminaries delve into culture, haunted tales, poetry, physics, music, the history of Dublin, and beyond. Among the many In Conversation highlights of the festival are:

Author, John Connolly
(credit: Ivan Gimenez Costa)

Culture in a Time of War (Nov 9), a discussion with Tetyana Teren, Iryna Starovoyt and Olha Mukha which will explore the significance of preserving cultural memory during times of conflict. 

The Unsettling Supernatural (Nov 10), where John Connolly, Sarah Davis-Goff, and Deirdre Sullivan discuss the element of horror in their novels. The Land of Lost Things, by Connolly, is a stirring tale of loss, parenthood. Silent City, by Goff, is an apocalyptic story of a young woman fighting for life and justice in the tyrannical Phoenix City. Wise Creatures, by Sullivan, is a darkly suspenseful psychological horror about how hauntings begin with people, not places.

Aifric Mac Aodha, writer & poet
Aifric Mac Aodha, writer & poet (credit: The Gallery Press)

Additionally, Céadlínte (Nov 10) will showcase a selection of poets writing in both English and Irish. The four poets selected to take part in this prestigious series are Liam Ó hAnnagáin, Laoighseach Ní Choistealbha, Sam Ó Fearraigh and Gormfhlaith Ní Shíocháin Ní Bheoláin. These emerging poets were selected by Dublin poet and writer Aifric Mac Aodha, and will take part in a form and craft workshop with Aifric, as well as a performance workshop with multi-award-winning bilingual writer Ciara Ní É. 

Sure to be a popular event among attendees is PJ Gallagher In Conversation with Aoife Barry (Nov 11). The Dublin comedian is set to regale audiences with his upcoming memoir, Mad House, which delves into his tumultuous upbringing in Dublin, offering readers a glimpse into his chaotic early life.

There will also be Professional Development Events as part of the festival, all designed to celebrate and support new writers, and those working within the literary industry. Highlights to look out for include: 

PJ Gallagher (Photo: Barry Cronin)

Paper Lanterns Writing Workshop for Young Adults: This workshop will cover writing non-fiction essays and book reviews, and submitting to literary journals. Here, you’ll find out how to create an essay proposal on a topic you are passionate about and discover how to make an informative and honest book review. At the end of the workshop, you can showcase some of your writing to the group. 

If you have a question about writing or illustrating for children of all ages and getting published, The Business of Children’s Books (Nov 9) is the event for you! Come with questions and leave with answers. Hosted by some of the country’s leading children writers, including Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, Mary Murphy, Sarah Webb, Aoife Murray, Ivan O’Brien and Matthew Parkinson-Bennett.

The Annual Irish Publishers Conference Trade Day 2023 (Nov 10) with Richard Charkin will be an all-day event that will include a variety of insightful panels and speakers from across the publishing industry, as well as opportunities to meet exhibitors and publishing colleagues. The conference programme this year will cover topics such as the impact of artificial intelligence, the latest legislative and industry developments, sustainability, fever pitch sessions with the Screen Directors Guild of Ireland and more to be announced.

So, don’t miss out on this year’s Dublin Book Festival, a proper literary extravaganza that promises to be the best yet! With over 100 events spread across various captivating venues in the city, readers of all ages are in for a treat. From book launches and in-depth conversations with esteemed authors to engaging walking tours and insightful workshops, there’s something for everyone. 

For a complete list of the festival’s offerings and ticket prices, visit dublinbookfestival.com.