Mark Your Calendars - October 17-20, 2019

"There's no better way to celebrate the relationship between our nations, whose histories are so closely intwertwined, than by creating an Irish Writers Festival ..." - Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

2018 Program

More than 20 authors, artists and poets flocked to the Bay Area for the third annual Irish Arts & Writers Festival held in Los Gatos, Berkeley, SF & Oakland, Oct. 11th – 15th. In its third year, the festival once again showcased the best in contemporary Irish arts and literature.

We Have a Winner!

We are pleased to announce Andrea Qureshi, resident of Los Gatos, as the winner of two Aer Lingus roundtrip tickets from SFO to Ireland. Thank you to Aer Lingus for partnering with the Irish Arts & Writers Festival.

2018 Writing Contests

We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2018 Irish Arts & Writers Festival’s Short Story Contest as Zoë Comyns. The winner of the Shirley McClure Poetry Contest is Susan Sample. Special thanks to Paul Muldoon, Declan Meade and our judging team.

Paul Muldoon

Northern Ireland-born Paul Muldoon has been described as “the most significant English-language poet born since the Second World War.” The Pulitzer prizewinner has published twelve major poetry collections since 1973.

Fintan O’Toole

Fintan O’Toole is an op-ed columnist for the Irish Times, as well as an author, literary critic, historical writer, and political commentator. He is the recipient of the AT Cross Award for Supreme Journalism, the European Press Prize, and the Orwell Prize for Journalism.

Caitriona Perry

Journalist, news correspondent, and presenter with RTE, Ireland’s national TV and radio station, Caitriona Perry’s coverage of the 2016 U.S. presidential election resulted in “In America: Tales from Trump Country,” shortlisted for Best Irish Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2017.

Gerald Dawe

Gerald Dawe is an award-winning Irish poet, writer and editor from Belfast. A former professor of English at Trinity College, Dublin, Gerald has published eight collections of poetry and four volumes of essays, and edited several works of poetry and literary criticism.

Jessica Traynor

Writer, dramaturg, and teacher, Jessica’s debut collection ‘Liffey Swim’ was nominated for the 2015 Strong/Shine Award, and other awards include Hennessy New Irish Writer and Listowel Poetry Prize. Her second collection, ‘The Quick’, is due in September.

Melatu Uche Okorie

Nigerian-born Irish resident writer and scholar, Okorie writes about the welfare of asylum seekers and migrant education in Ireland. Her debut collection ‘This Hostel Life’ has just been published by Skein Press. She is currently studying for a PhD at Trinity College, Dublin.

Wendy Erskine

Based in Belfast where she works as a teacher, Wendy has been published in ‘Stinging Fly Stories,’ ‘Female Lines: New Writing by Women from Northern Ireland,’ and will be included in the upcoming ‘Being Various: New Irish Short Stories.’ ‘Sweet Home’ is her first collection.

Nathan Richardson

Nathan is a performance poet and author who has published two collections, and contributed to several poetry anthologies. Nathan brings black history to life on his Frederick Douglass Speaking Tours. He joins Christine Kinealy for a look at Douglass’s time in Ireland.

Christine Kinealy

Christine is an author and historian who earned her PhD from Trinity College, Dublin. She is an authority on Irish history, as well as the founding director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University. Christine’s latest book examines Frederick Douglass’s time in Ireland.

Siobhra Quinlan

Siobhra is an Irish vocalist, composer, and producer. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, she is the founder of sfiiinx, a chamber music ensemble. Her recent performances include The Divil’s Music, as part of the ‘Judging Shaw’ exhibition at the Little Museum of Dublin.

Shana Morrison & Caledonia

Shana Morrison began performing with her father, Van, before striking out with her own band, Caledonia. Her musical style has been called “pop with a side of blues, and a side of rock,” but she deftly adds country, Irish and jazz into the mix.

Tess Taylor

Tess Taylor is the author of The Forage House and Work & Days, which was named one of the best books of poetry of 2016 by the New York Times. She was recently a distinguished Fulbright Scholar at the Seamus Heaney Centre in Queen’s University, Belfast, as well as the Anne Spencer Writer in Residence at Randolph College.

Declan Meade

Declan Meade is the publisher, editor, and co-founder of The Stinging Fly literary magazine, which showcases new and emerging Irish and international writers. He has edited two short-story anthologies and taught modules on the business of publishing at the American College Dublin.

Ethel Rohan

Ethel Rohan’s first novel, The Weight of Him, published in 2017 won a Northern California Publishers and Authors’ (NCPA) Award, a Silver Nautilus Award, won the inaugural Plumeri Fellowship, and was named an Amazon Best Book, among other distinctions.

Stuart Bailie

Stuart Bailie is an Irish journalist, broadcaster, and founder/CEO of the Oh Yeah music centre in Belfast. His book ‘Trouble Songs’ details the history of popular music during the Troubles. He describes it as “an account of how music has been a persuader, agitator and peacemaker.”

Emer Martin

Dubliner Emer Martin’s first novel ‘Breakfast in Babylon’ won Irish Book of the Year 1996. Since then she has published three more novels including the recent highly acclaimed ‘The Cruelty Men.’ Emer lives in Palo Alto.

Stephen Connolly

Representing a new generation of voices in Irish literature, Stephen Connolly is a Belfast-based poet and a postgraduate student at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University. He co-directs the Lifeboat series in Belfast.

Caroline Bracken

Caroline Bracken’s poems have been published in The Irish Times, Hennessy New Irish Writing, Skylight 47, The Clare Champion, The WOW Anthology and The Gathering collection. In 2017, she was awarded in Poetry Ireland/Trócaire’s annual competition.

Kieran Cronin

Kieran has over 14 years’ experience of working in academic and special libraries and currently works at Waterford IT where he manages the Centre for Newfoundland and Labrador Studies. His presentation ‘Paws for Thought’ explores New leads on Irish Genealogy resources.

Manuela Moser

Manuela Moser is a Belfast-based poet and a postgraduate student at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University, Belfast. Along with Stephen Connolly, she co-founded The Lifeboat, an innovative series of readings and workshops in Belfast.

Yvonne Watterson

Originally from Co. Antrim, Yvonne is a writer and blogger now living in Phoenix, AZ. She has been recognized nationally for her work in school reform and for her activism in immigration. She contributes regularly to the Irish Times, offering perspective on issues that affect immigrants living in America.

Dean Rader

Dean Rader’s debut collection of poems, ‘Works & Days’, won the 2010 T. S. Eliot Poetry Prize and Landscape Portrait Figure Form (2014) was named by The Barnes & Noble Review as a Best Poetry Book. His most recent projects include ‘Bullets into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence’. He is a professor at the University of San Francisco.

Rosie McGurran

Rosie McGurran is a prizewinning Irish contemporary artist. Her work consists of semi-abstract and figurative pieces inspired by scenes of Connemara and the work of Gerald Dillon. She is a graduate of the University of Ulster in Belfast, as well as Glasgow School of Art.

Valerie Lapin

Valerie Lapin is a Bay Area filmmaker whose 2002 documentary “Shalom Ireland” explores the Irish Jewish communities of 20th Century Ireland. Valerie’s latest documentary “The Long Ride” follows immigrant activists on their way to the White House.


Eanlai Cronin is a schoolteacher, memoirist, and certified Amherst Writers and Artists Method facilitator. She runs writing groups and retreats in the East Bay for those in recovery from addiction, alcoholism, trauma and abuse, and for anyone longing to return to the well of their own forgotten words and stories.

2017 Festival

Message from Irish Consul

Welcome message by Irish Consul General, Robert O’Driscoll


14 Irish writers, poets and artists flocked to Los Gatos where they were joined by Bay Area writers and presenters for four days of stimulating events

2017 Contest Winners

Thanks to Mike McCormack for judging our short list of submissions. Congratulations winners!


Congratulations to Elaine O’Grady-Coll, the winner of Aer Lingus round trip flights to Ireland.

Thanks to Our Sponsors

Culture Ireland, Irish Consulate, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Ireland Funds, Aer Lingus, Kerrygold, Alice Phelan Sullivan Corporation, Los Gatos Lodge, Whitney Modern, Ranger Pipelines, Irish Literary & Historical Society, Crossroads Irish American Festival, San Francisco Cork Sister City, UICC, Teeling, McTeagues