Strokestown Festival
County Roscommon, Ireland

Well, yes, it is hard to reach - in the 'back of beyond' , nowhere near the usual tourist hot spots, but if you can negotiate all possible means of  transport, magic carpets,etc you may find you have arrived at a  very special festival, rather like a fabulous house party but in touch with real life outside the desmene in the village pubs and main hotel (the Percy French, of whom more, later) 

Strokestown House, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon

 

where the literary readings are held in this delightful homely (not too grand) Georgian country house for a long weekend, and where the possessions of the last owner are still in place as if she had just popped out,

 

where you can relax in the sittingroom before readings, or browse the poets' books for sale in the dining-room.

a few  distractions to the poets' reading may be  the lambs through the window of the library where readings are held 

 

 

One of the delights is the garden tour led by John O'Driscoll, the Head Gardener  who will open the gate to the longest herbaceous border in Ireland

and as an antidote to all this posh country life, there's always the Percy French Satirical Verse event, held in the Percy French Hotel

 

- the mural in the back is, you guessed it, of Percy French (Edwardian singer/song-writer, of songs such as 'The Mountains of Mourne,' ' Phil the Fluter's Ball' etc) born nearby at Cloonyquin, near Elphin) and characters from his songs. For the unfaint-hearted is the late night  craic in Beirne's (out the back of the grocer's) and the last night hoolie in the Victorian kitchens.

 

                                                            Winners and Judges, 2009:                                ,

From left: 1st prize: Padraig Rooney, holding the ashplant which is part of the prize, 2nd, John Wedgwood Clarke ; Judges: Joseph Woods, (sorry, that is not a saucer but a lamp behind his head), Penelope Shuttle and John  Deane