Official Opening of Allingham 2017

Abbey Arts Centre (map)

Join us at 7pm for a wine reception in the Abbey Arts Centre to mark the Official Opening of the Allingham Arts Festival 2017.

8pm - Mike Mc Colgan in conversation with Sinéad Crowley


Michael Colgan in conversation with Susan Mc Kay

Abbey Arts Centre (map)

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Michael Colgan, former Artistic Director of Dublin's Gate Theatre, will reflect on his career as a theatrical producer, as an actor, and as a film and television producer. Susan McKay, Director of The Glens Centre, Manorhamilton will interview Michael Colgan.

Festival Club


A rowdy open-mic event for festival-goers, guests and irrepressible locals. Time to polish off your party piece!

Fighting Words Volunteer Training

Abbey Arts Centre (map)



Dublin Fighting Words staff will introduce registered volunteers to the programme guidelines for roles and responsibilities, scheduling, materials and child safety.

Fighting Words - Information Session

Abbey Arts Centre (map)



An eye-opening session for everyone interested in the Fighting Words creative writing programme and its potential benefits for young writers. Co-founder Seán Love will sketch the background of Fighting Words, its challenges and accomplishments throughout Ireland.

John Ruddy/Manny Man

Abbey Arts Centre (map)

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Join writer, YouTuber, actor and illustrator John D. Ruddy as he talks about the writing and publishing process and all the joys of being a “YouTube Sensation”. This workshop will be filled with stories, discussions, a Q&A about the creative process and and how technology continues to change ways in which we can be creative.

Jo McCusker

Abbey Arts Centre (map)

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A must for all film, media and sports fans. Award-winning producer Jo Mc Cusker reminisces and illustrates her experiences in producing documentaries on such greats as Muhammed Ali, Andy Murray and many more. Jo, from Letterkenny, was only the second female editor in the BBC Sports department when she joined in 1991, and has gone on to make a name for herself as a ground-breaking editor and producer. This promises to be a fascinating look into the world of elite sports people.

Writing: The Art of Awareness - A Creativity Workshop with Olive Travers

The Abbey Mill (map)

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The Art of Awareness workshop offers a fresh way of nurturing creativity through sharpening the pencils of the senses. 

Suitable for all levels andof value to adults who are interested in all forms of creative expression. It is a fun, experiential and participative workshop, incorporating mindfulness, psychodrama, psychology, and creative writing. 

Dicey Reilly's Brewery Tour

Dicey Reilly's (map)

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Donegal Brewing Company (established 2011) produces wonderful craft beers.  Come see how they are brewed in the family run Dicey Reilly’s Bar and Off Licence.

Wild Atlantic Writers with Mick Delap

Dicey Reilly's (map)


Led by Allingham favourite Mick Delap and featuring readings by Monica Corish, Winifred McNulty and Enda Mc Gloin. A big hit last year. Highly recommended. Mick Delap began to turn seriously to his writing after he had retired from the BBC World Service in 2000. In 2002 he won best First Collection at Listowel Writers Week.  The following year his collection, River Turning Tide was published and in 2015 Opening Time was published by Arlen House, Dublin. Mick has also created the ‘’’Bantry Bay Suite’’ of poems which detail the attempted French landing in 1796. 

Book Launch: 'Songs of the Erne, Vol. 1' by Marc Geagan

Dorrian's Imperial Hotel (map)


Join us in Dorrian’s Hotel as Bundoran man Marc Geagan launches ‘Songs of the Erne Vol. 1’. This collection documents the music of South Donegal and West Fermanagh, including local songs from Paddy Tunney (“Father of Song”), tunes from Ruaidhrí Dall Ó Catháin (composer of Tabhair dom do Lámh and The Hawk of Ballyshannon) and poet/music collector William Allingham.  An accompanying CD features contemporary versions of the collected material by Ulster Fleadh winner Farrah Bogle, Kila’s Seanan Brennan, and others. The book is illustrated by the iconic local artist Barry Britton.

Marc Geagan's 'Songs of the Erne' - A Special Musical Event

St. Anne's Church (map)

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Led by musician/historian Marc Geagan, featuring eight musicians (Marc Geagan, Brian Sweeney, Jessie Solange Whitehead, Seanan Brennan, Donna Harkin, Catherine Barret, Kit Good, Farrah Bogle) and the Bel Canto Choir, “Songs of the Erne” will feature music, spoken word, poetry, dramatic re-enactments and multimedia. Maura Logue will act as MC for the evening. 

Moya Cannon - Poetry Workshop

Dorrian's Hotel (map)

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A workshop aimed at those who have been writing poetry for some time and who need a soundboard for their work. In a supportive and enjoyable environment, the focus will be on the participants’ own poems and how they might be strengthened.  This will involve discussion of the craft and of exploring how to cast about for the external images and rhythms which correspond to and make sense of our inner lives - what the Spanish poet, Antonio Machado described as ‘stitching the inner and outer world together.’

Limited to 10 places.

Participants are asked to send two pieces of work to before October 31st.

Watercolour Painting with Barry Sweeny

Local Hands (map)

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Renowned artist Barry Sweeny will lead a workshop to create your own Ballyshannon cottage watercolour, as Helen Allingham did on her visit to the town in 1891. A relaxed, fun workshop for adult beginners or intermediates. 

Barry Britton's Poster Art

Local Hands (map)

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The artist talks about his posters from 1970 to the present day. Followed by Q&A.

Children's Art with Christine Fox

Colaiste Cholmcille (map)

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Local artist , Christine Fox, returns with her ever popular Art Workshop for children. Enjoyment and learning in a child friendly atmosphere is the hallmark of Christine’s style. There is limited availability so early booking is advisable.

Phone 0863803181 to reserve a place.

Local Hands - Little Hands - Big Hands

Registration in Local Hands (map)

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Kids, bring a big person (Mum, Dad, Granny, Uncle Pat, whoever!) and together we will show them how to build a Fairy House, how to make some cool jewellery, crochet a flower or create an art piece for your home.

The Local Hands Co-Op will create a mini-Craft Village for these exciting workshops for kids and grown-ups to have some crafty fun together. Participants will move from one ‘Craft Station’ to the next trying out some cool crafts that you can bring home.

Registration: Local Hands

€20 includes 4 craft workstations and all materials

Primary School Fiction & Poetry Awards

Abbey Arts Centre (map)

Primary Schools: 12pm – 1.30pm

Secondary Schools: 1.30pm – 3.00pm

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A wonderfully uplifting event. In his own inimitable way, Conor Carney presents the prizes and introduces the winners as they read theirwinning entries. Meet Ireland’s future literary stars!

The Literary Lunch: Dining, Writing Awards and Book Launch

Nirvana Restaurant (map)

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The Literary Lunch

Dining, Writing Awards and Book Launch

Even writers have to eat! Enjoy a delicious lunch in the Nirvana Restaurant, after which the Jim Keane award for Fiction and the Allingham Festival Award for Poetry will be presented to the winners of the Allingham Poetry and Flash Fiction Awards, in thecompany of guest judges Moya Cannon and Paul Lynch.

Book Launch:‘Grace’ by Paul Lynch

The Literary Lunch will also include the launch of ‘Grace’, the third novel by critically acclaimed author Paul Lynch, set in Famine-era Donegal. 


Book Launch: 'Grace' by Paul Lynch

Nirvana Restaurant (map)


Paul Lynch returns to the Allingham Festival for a special Donegal launch of his third novel, 'Grace', set in Famine-era Donegal. 

The book launch is part of the Literary Lunch - public may attend without purchasing €12 lunch. 

Secondary School Fiction and Poetry Awards

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Primary Schools: 12pm – 1.30pm

Secondary Schools: 1.30pm – 3.00pm

A wonderfully uplifting event. In his own inimitable way, Conor Carney presents the prizes and introduces the winners as they read theirwinning entries. Meet Ireland’s future literary stars!

Mike Mc Cormack in conversation with Sinéad Crowley

Abbey Arts Centre (map)

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A unique and fresh voice in Irish writing, Mike Mc Cormack’s novel ‘Solar Bones’ won the Irish Book of the Year award in 2016 and was longlisted for The ManBooker Prize in 2017. A wonderful reader, Mike is sure to inspire and entertain in equal measure.



Sinéad Crowley, the RTÉ Arts and Media Correspondent, will interview Mike in a relaxed setting. A very accomplished writer herself, she has written three well-received crime novels ‘One Bad Turn’, ‘Are You Watching Me’ and ‘Can Anybody Help Me?’.

'For the Right Reasons' - Maurice Lennon's Ireland

Abbey Arts Centre (map)


Fiddle maestro Maurice Lennon turns his multi-talented hands in another direction with this one man show of music, poetry and photographs which celebrates the beauty and wonder of his native country. This will be the premiere performance of a show which is sure to be a hit at festivals for years to come. 

History Ireland Hedge School

Abbey Arts Centre (map)

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William Allingham: 

‘An Irish poet but not a national poet’?

Unlike Ballyshannon’s other famous son, Rory Gallagher, poet William Allingham (b. 1824) spent most of his adult life in his native town before moving to London in 1870. His lyrical and descriptive poetry, while somewhat out of fashion today, was a huge influence on W.B. Yeats and, later John Hewitt. So where does Allingham stand in the pantheon of Irish poets? Was he any good as a poet? 

To discuss these and related matters join History Ireland editor, Tommy Graham, for a lively and unfettered discussion with Anthony Begley, Moya Cannon and Pauric Travers.

Allingham Concert: The Henry Girls with Marie Askin, Eddie Lynch, Lorraine Walls and Claire Breslin

Abbey Arts Centre (map)

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The Henry Girls

We are over the moon (and ‘Far Beyond the Stars’!) to announce that The Henry Girls will headline the Allingham Concert! Karen, Lorna and Joleen are three sisters from Inishowen who have been performing around Ireland and beyond for well over ten years now. Audiences everywhere instantly fall for their gorgeous harmonies, brilliant musicianship (they’re all multi-instrumentalists) and their infectious enthusiasm for music and a bit of craic!

They’ve recently released a new album entitled ‘Far Beyond the Stars’ which has received rave reviews, a great deal of airplay, and was named RTÉ’s album of the week earlier in the year. 

Marie Askin

A native of Ballyshannon, Marie Askin is an exceptionally talented recital pianist who has performed at the Errigal and Bluestacks Festivals, King House in Boyle and was recently selected by the Pianist Magazine to play in the Institue Francais du Royaume Uni in London. Marie is also a winner of the ‘The Launch Pad for London’ competition, which will allow her to develop her career in the UK. We are in for a real treat when Marie plays at the Allingham Concert.

Lorraine Walls

A great favourite with local audiences, especially those who have heard her perform with the West Coast Jazz group this summer, Lorraine shot to fame with Quarterdeck in the 1980s. Since then she has proven her versatility by singing in the local Bel Canto choir, and taking the lead role in a recent production of ‘Hello Dolly’. Guaranteed to be a knockout. Lorraine will be accompanied by Eddie Lynch. 

Eddie Lynch

Bundoran born and long since a resident of Ballyshannon Eddie Lynch is a hugely talented pianist and keyboard player. He has performed on stage and in the studiowith some of the biggest names in the music industry including Dolores Keane, Frances Black, Ray Lynam, Shana Morrison and Georgette Jones, daughter of the great George Jones and Tammy Wynette.

Claire Breslin

We are delighted to welcome such a talented local singer to the Allingham Festival. She is a member of the Irish Youth Choir and Chamber Choir and is currently receiving classical vocal training with leading tenor Alan Leech, Dublin. She’s thrilled to be back on the stage where it all began for her in The Ballyshannon Musical Society productions.

Poetry & Song in the Thatch

The Thatch (map)


A relaxed open-mic session of stories and songs with MC Conor Carney and musicians Barry Sweeny and Sean Gibbons, where everyone is free to recite, tell a story, sing a song, or simply sit and listen to those who wish to compete for the P. J. Drummond Cup for Recitation. Always a wonderful way to spend a lazy Sunday morning. 

Family Film: 'The Jungle Book' (1967)

Abey (map)


With the original and the best ‘Jungle Book’ we continue our tradition of showing classic films from all our childhoods at family affordable prices. Always packed!

Songwriters' Circle

Dicey Reilly's (map)

Led by Colin Gillen of Tenekee Station, this informal session is the ideal way to wind down, or rev up, at the end of a long festival. Hear great tunes from some of the most talented local musicians. Sure to be a hit again this year.

A Musical Evening at St. Anne's

St. Anne's Church (map)

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The traditional ending to the Festival takes place in the historic surroundings of St. Anne’s, William Allingham’s own parish church. This year the musical entertainment will be provided by members of Cor Creevy choral group. Always a delightful evening full of musical surprises.  You might even get a cup of tea and a slice of cake afterwards!