2017 Festival Feedback

Los Gatos Irish Writers’ Festival 2017 – Feedback

From Attendees:

“The 2017 Irish Writers’ Festival exceeded my expectations. The quality of the presenters, the broad range of topics explored and the appealing Los Gatos venues, all contributed to the unqualified success of the Festival. Compelling new voices in Irish literature and poetry, historians, documentary film makers, journalists, artists, musicians and even an Irish American comedienne gathered over four days in October to inform, challenge and delight all who were fortunate enough to attend. An unexpected bonus was the impromptu discussions between and among presenters and audience members alike. Thank you to all who made this festival possible, I look forward to attending again in 2018!” – Michael Ganley, Irish-American festival visitor

“What a fantastic festival you put on. Deepest congratulations! It was a wonderful thing. A truly fab festival! I enjoyed the programs so much – and all such high quality.” Peggy Conaway, Local historian, author, former Director of Los Gatos Library

“I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed this year’s Writers Festival and I think it’s amazing what you’ve accomplished in just two years. I’ve heard from a number of people about how delighted they were with the speakers at the Friends of Library, who were certainly warmly and enthusiastically received. Congratulations for a fine event for the town!” – Mary Ann Cook, Los Gatos Friends of the Library

“Huzzah Catherine! What a fabulous festival. Can’t wait to help you do what you do next year. It would be a travesty to lose this wonderful event in town” – Sandy Decker, former Los Gatos Mayor

From Participants:

Michael Heaney, Writer

From beginning to end, I was very impressed by the festival, both as a participant and a spectator.

I was invited to talk about my father Seamus Heaney at the wonderful Montalvo Arts Center. All events I attended were excellent, covering a broad spectrum of Irish-themed subjects, from literature to history and biography, and from big themes to slightly quirkier events. The events on Northern Irish writers and Irish-Jewish literature were particular highlights, but everything had an interesting hook.The town of Los Gatos is a fine setting, small enough to navigate easily and foster a sense of occasion, but with a large catchment area – I had friends from Berkeley who came to my event but then stayed for three days. There was also evident local interest. Overall, Catherine Barry and her team delivered a very impressive and stimulating festival.

Ruth Gilligan, Author

The Irish Writers’ Festival 2018 was a rich, diverse and hugely rewarding experience and I was delighted to be involved. The organisers curated such a thoughtful and wide-ranging programme, and there was a real buzz about the whole thing. My own panel – Jews in Irish Life & Literature – was completely sold out, and succeeded in celebrating the history of this rich but oft-forgotten community. It was a pleasure to meet with the Irish-American community of the Bay Area, and indeed, to spend a few days in such a glorious part of

the world. The whole thing was well-organised and well-executed, and I only hope to be involved again in years to come.

Tim Fanning, Author

The festival gives young Irish fiction and non-fiction authors the platform to showcase their work to a receptive readership on the West Coast of the United States. This is a part of the world which figures directly in my book, the history of the Irish in Latin America. Catherine Barry and organisers have created an event that is conducive to creative thinking and debate. It not only gave me the opportunity to publicise my book to an importance audience, it allowed me to make important contacts among fellow writers and members of the Irish community in California.

Evelyn Conlon, Author

I was very happy to take part in The Glass Shore reading/discussion and Not the Same Sky reading. Thank you for inviting me. I had my favourite events, among them the opening, which was thoroughly enjoyable, informative, educative and moving. The poetry readings and discussions were terrific, good to have heard younger poets from the North whose work I will now search out, and indeed include in my role as Adjunct Professor at the Pittsburgh MFA. Festivals like yours are also important for the participants who can meet their colleagues in a way not always open to us, as we forge our books in private. I didn’t get to attend every single event but was delighted and stimulated by most that I managed.


Pol O Dochartaigh, Curator

A great event that not only brought diverse aspects of Irish culture to an American audience but also provided a forum for Irish artists to exchange ideas and experiences in a productive setting. The inclusion of two American-Irish-Jewish artists brought a whole new dimension to our Irish-Jewish literature project.


Robert Tracy, UC Berkeley Professor Emeritus. Participant in Heaney event.

This is to say thank you for providing a wonderful experience for Becky and me, and for the care and help you gave us in Los Gatos. The buzz continued, with a showing here of Maurice Fitzpatrick’s film – and tea here with Evelyn Conlon. The sessions we attended were uniformly interesting and clearly went down well with the audience, especially the Jewish panel.

Maureen Langan, Performer, KGO Radio host

What a job you did. Truly spectacular! It was one of the best weekends I’ve had – smart, funny, creative people. People who read and write and think. I loved how easily everyone shared their talents without ego (Ok, I’m sure there was one or two…). I can’t thank you enough for including me.


Jim Walsh, Professor Emeritus San Jose State University

Before the dust settles completely, let me just say that you and your Festival are the best things to hit Los Gatos since elevated property values among the elderly.


Valerie Lapin, filmmaker

I so thoroughly enjoyed the Irish Writers’ Festival. It was so inspiring seeing so much artistic talent in one place. My head was spinning from seeing all the creative work and hearing so many thought provoking ideas. I was honored to be a part of it. It was fun to see old friends, and meet interesting new ones. You are making such a valuable contribution to our community, and I hope that you are finding enough support to continue the festival in a sustainable way.

Ethel Rohan, Author

Hearty congratulations on Year Two of LGIWF. It really built on last year and, from everything I saw, was another wonderful success. It’s extraordinary what you’ve accomplished.


Sinead Gleeson, Author, Moderator

I just wanted to say a huge thank you for inviting me to Los Gatos. It was a wonderful, well-run festival and I

was so happy to take part in various guises. I really enjoyed my time there, as did Steve.


Mark Hull, Author

Thank you for organizing such an amazing event; I can’t find enough good things to say about every aspect of it. I hope my talk was up to the high standard you set. Please invite us back.


Roseanne Lynch, Photographer

The festival gave me access to a whole new audience. It brought a taste of contemporary visual arts and literature from Ireland to an invested public in California. Meeting other participants opened my awareness to how much we have in common, though our mediums of expression are different. I got the opportunity to share ideas for my own professional development with the Irish Consul General and Montalvo Arts Centre and I showed my portfolio to galleries and colleges around the Bay Area. The visit was of great benefit in regard to contacts I made for the programmes I teach back in Crawford College, Cork.

Stephen Sexton, Poet

The extraordinarily kind invitation to visit Los Gatos Irish Writers’ Festival has meant so much to me personally and professionally. It not only gave me the opportunity to perform my work to new and attentive audiences, but it also gave me the chance to meet many other writers and performers, and to develop new relationships.

It was an honour to encounter the wider Irish community in the Bay Area, and to do readings of my work to students at St Mary’s College, and to take part in LitQuake. I’m pleased to have performed to so many — this inspires in me much confidence and joy, and as such, is great encouragement for me to continue developing my practice. I’m deeply grateful to Catherine and her colleagues for programming the festival, for inviting me, and for providing such a warm welcome, a happy stay, and wonderful company. I look back with great fondness, appreciation and pleasure!