Derry under the spotlight at major Irish-American literary festival

Joe Mahon.
Joe Mahon.

A major Irish-American literary festival taking place in the United States later this month is to turn the spotlight on Derry.

2012 is the fourth year of iBAM (Irish Books, Art & Music) - a festival organised by the Irish American Heritage Centre in Chicago.

Phil Coulter.

Phil Coulter.

This year’s event - which takes place between October 11-14 - is celebrating Derry: the 2013 City of Culture.

The major events at this year’s iBAM include two Phil Coulter concerts with guest appearances by Derry-born TV star Damian McGinty.

Also on the menu is a James Joyce exhibit on loan from the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin with readings by film and stage star Stephen Rea.

A highlight of the event will be a formal black tie dinner where Phil Coulter will be honoured for his achievements in the world of music.

At the same event, Academy Award nominee Stephen Rea will be the recipient of the award for performing awards, Morgan Llewelyn will receive the literary awar,d Matt Lamb - recently deceased - will be recognised with the Art Award and Richard Moore will be presented with the Person of the Year Award.

Derry’s own Joe Mahon - presenter of television’s popular ‘Lesser Spotted Ulster’ series - will compere the evening.

The awards dinner will also have a traditional Irish music session led by Derry men Daithi Sproule, of Altan, and Bernard Heaney, of Aileach.

There will also be a silent auction at the event and many Derry, Donegal and Northern Ireland businesses are contributing items towards this. Shona McCarthy will introduce the City of Culture’s Voices DVD at the dinner.

There will also be panel discussions at iBAM on various topics.

The first, entitled Derry-Londonderry: the New Peace Story, will be moderated by Joe Mahon and the panelists will include Jim Roddy (Centre City Initiative), Seamas Heaney (Old Library Trust), Maureen Hetherington (The Junction), Eamonn Deane (Holywell Trust), the Reverend David Latimer, Chief Superintendent Stephen Martin, PSNI, Richard Moore and Damian McGinty.

The second, Derry-Londonderry: First Ever UK City of Culture, will again be moderated by Joe Mahon and the panelists will be Mayor Kevin Campbell, Shona McCarthy and Grainne Devine (both of Culture Company) and Norman Houston, Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington DC.

The Northern Ireland Bureau will also host private reception on Friday, October 12, prior to the Phil Coulter concert. This reception will focus on Derry and the Reverend David Latimer will pre-launch Bright Brand New Day at this reception.

A number of films will also be screened at iBAM, each of which will be followed with a question and answer session: ‘Boys of St. Columbs’, which will be introduced by Maurice FitzPatrick, ‘Blind Vision’, introduced by Richard Moore, and Margo Harkin’s ‘Far Side of Revenge’, introduced by Eamonn Deane.

One of the main organisers of the event is Derry man Seamus Coyle who lived in the Waterside and Beechwood areas of the city before moving to Dublin to study and, later, to Chicago, where he has lived for some time.