Let the wordsmiths inspire you all to create

For the next few days, Galway is the epicentre of all things literary on this island. Even if you had not been reminded by the massive pencils located here and there in the streets, you would know that there is a heightened sense of creativity. You would get the feeling that there is something on, that the fine china has been taken out, the grass mowed, the sunshine coming west at last.

Cuirt is one of those festivals that has traditionally hidden its light under a bushel. It is only when you look at the breadth of its programme that you see just how influential and ambitious it is. It brings together the shining lights of the industry; it gives them an opportunity to come west to inspire and to educate.

But what do festivals like this achieve beyond an annual get-together?

One would hope that they would result in a synergy of knowledge and experience so that the facilitators of such events can become the motivators of those who have the skills with words and language and hand to create the art that will mirror our lives and tell our stories in the decades ahead.

We have lived through some extraordinary times since 2020 — an unflappable generation well flapped by technology and illness and war and by the world’s willingness to be seduced by the soft tickling language of populism and xenophobia.

Things happened because we allowed them to happen, others happened because they were out of our control. It is that juxtaposition that sits at the crossroads of art and literature and creativity and empathy and integrity and authenticity; that pot pourri that sends scents of inspiration to those who sit with a sharpened pencil guarding the blank vellum that awaits.

Not that any of the past decades were uneventful, but the events globally and more importantly, locally over the past three years have changed us beyond recognition.

It is incumbent on our writers and poets and filmmakers and artists to reflect how the past few years have altered us, what they have taught us about ourselves, and how we can use this to best effect when planning the type of society we want to have for the rest of this century and beyond.

So to all the writers who are guests to our city, we say we welcome you; we hope you will enjoy the hospitality, the openness, the proximity of our place; and in return for the fresh Atlantic air that we will allow you to inhale to refresh the mind, you will do your bit to create, and also to be unselfish in your willingness to inspire others to create works .

Many of those who attend Cuirt as audience members do so because they want to learn. They come to hear from the finest exponents of the craft. I hope that you all too will take on board the responsibility you have to record and create stories and narratives that will tell of this time, long after we have passed.

You are guardians of the words. Remember, it is not writers who are sacred, but the words they carry in a side satchel. These words deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.


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