SOLD OUT – Bernard MacLaverty

Bernard MacLaverty read at the very first Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival in May 2000 so we are honoured and delighted Bernard will open this, our 20th edition, of the Festival.

In Midwinter Break, 16 years on from his last novel, Bernard MacLaverty reminded us why he is regarded as one of the greatest living Irish writers.

A retired couple, Gerry and Stella Gilmore, fly from their home in Scotland to Amsterdam for a long weekend―a holiday to refresh the senses, to do some sightseeing, and generally to take stock of what remains of their lives. Their relationship seems safe, easy, familiar. But over the course of the four days we discover the deep uncertainties that exist between them.

In tonight’s event, Bernard will read from his work and discuss a remarkable career in writing.

Doors 7.15pm | Unreserved Seating

Neu! Reekie!

Neu! Reekie! are a prize-winning literary production house based in Scotland with anchors in poetry, music, animation & film, performance and the weird realms in between. Neu! Reekie! curated The Curfew Tower, Cushendall in 2018. This show will reflect this and involve writers that participated including Neu! Reekie! Founders poets Michael Pedersen and Kevin Williamson.

Salena Godden
Salena Godden is one of Britain’s foremost poets whose electrifying live performances have earned her a devoted following. Her latest poetry collection, Pessimism is for Lightweights, was published in July 2018 to wide acclaim.

Bill Drummond – Elvis & Me
In the November of 1992, Bill Drummond, deep into his midlife crisis, formed the belief that it could only be Elvis who had the power to save the world from itself.

Drummond’s course of action to enable Elvis saving the world, was for him, to take an icon of Elvis to the North Pole. Once there this icon of Elvis would be left to leak love, peace and happiness down the longitudes and out across the latitudes and world peace would shortly follow.

This course of action lead to a set of circumstances where Bill Drummond ended up owning The Curfew Tower in Cushendall, County Antrim which he ran as an artist residency for almost 20 years.

As part of this year’s Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and the Neu! Reekie! involvement with it, Bill Drummond will be joining the dots between Memphis, Tennessee, The North Pole and Cushendall, County Antrim. The joining of the dots will have the title Elvis & Me.

Eugene Kelly
Eugene Kelly is a Scottish musician best known as a founding member of the group The VaselinesKurt Cobain was a big fan of the band, with Nirvana covering several Vaselines songs including Molly’s Lips, Son of A Gun and Jesus Don’t Want Me For a Sunbeam.

Kelly’s solo album, Man Alive was released in 2003. Since 2008, The Vaselines have continued to perform around the world and Kelly continues to perform as a solo artist.

Michael Pedersen
Leading the way in new Scottish Writing’, Michael Pedersen is a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship winner, a John Mather Trust Rising Star of Literature, a Canongate Future 40 and much mare. His recent collection, Oyster (Polygon 2017), was illustrated by and performed live with Frightened Rabbit’s lost giant Scott Hutchison.

Kevin Williamson
Writer, publisher, poet and performer of BurnsKevin Williamson has an impressive track record of building a community around his activities. Williamson is also co-founder of the political and cultural publication, Bella Caledonia, and founded and ran the cult literary powerhouse, Rebel Inc, which published early work by authors including Alan Warner and Irvine Welsh.

Doors 7:45pm | Unreserved Seating

SOLD OUT – Marian Keyes in conversation with Roisin Ingle

Marian Keyes is one of the most successful Irish novelists of all time. Though she was brought up in a home where a lot of story-telling went on, it never occurred to her that she could write. Instead she studied law and accountancy and finally started writing short stories in 1993 “out of the blue.”

Though she had no intention of ever writing a novel (“It would take too long”) she sent her short stories to a publisher with a letter saying she’d started work on a novel. The publishers replied, asking to see the novel and, once her panic had subsided, she began to write what subsequently became her first book, Watermelon.

It was published in Ireland in 1995, where it was an immediate runaway success. She has gone on to write thirteen novels and three collections of journalism and short stories, all of which have been bestsellers. Marian is now published in thirty-six languages. Marian’s latest novel, The Break, was published by Penguin in 2017.

Roisin Ingle is a columnist, editor and podcaster with The Irish Times. She is the author of two collections of her columns, Pieces of Me (Hachette) and Public Displays of Emotion (Irish Times Books) and is the co-author of The Daughterhood (Simon and Schuster) with Natasha Fennell which has been published in several languages.

She produces The Women’s Podcast and presents her own podcast ‘Roisin Meets …’ on The Irish Times online.

Doors 12:30pm | Unreserved Seating

SOLD OUT – Visit to the Homeplace and tour of Heaney Country

In what would have been Seamus Heaney’s 80th year (b. 13 April 1939), we invite you to join us for a visit to the award-winning Seamus Heaney Homeplace in Bellaghy, Co. Derry, which celebrates the life and work of the late poet and contributes to his legacy.

Leaving Belfast at 10.00am, the day will consist of a tour of the Centre and lunch followed by a guided tour of Heaney Country by Eugene Kielt.

Eugene’s tours are recommended by the Guardian, the Irish Times, National Geographic and other travel guides.

The bus will return to the John Hewitt at 5.00pm.

Meet at 9.45am outside John Hewitt | Limited capacity on coach

New Fiction: Geraldine Quigley & Jan Carson

Celebrating the release of two great new novels by two of our finest new voices.

Music Love Drugs War.

This astonishing debut novel by Geraldine Quigley is a clever multiple-narrative account of teenage kicks and sectarian strife in early 80s Northern Ireland marking the author out as a writer of rare compassion and humour.

The Fire Starters

This hugely anticipated second novel by Jan Carson is dark, propulsive and thrillingly original. It is a tale of fierce familial
love and sacrifice which fizzes with magic and wonder.

“Gripping, affecting, surprising. I inhaled it.” (Lisa McInerney)

“Spectacular . . . Dark, beautiful, at once grittily real and wildly magical. Insanely alluring.” (Donal Ryan)

Doors 7.45pm | Unreserved Seating

Phil Taggart’s Slacker Guide to the Music Industry

What do Biffy Clyro, Run the Jewels, Charli XCX, and George Ezra all have in common?

Well, aside from selling a truckload of records, and defying all the gloomy predictions about the music industry, they’ve all given up their hard earned wisdom to contribute to the one-stop-shop for everything you’ll ever need to break into the frightening world of being a professional musician – Phil Taggart’s The Slacker Guide to the Music Industry.

With contributions from some of the most successful names in the business, and the behind-the-scenes label bosses, managers, promoters, and marketers who made it happen, BBC Radio 1 DJ Phil Taggart has shared his considerable expertise within the business to give even the most basic beginner a road map that will hopefully lead to success.

But lest you think this is some scam or ‘get rich quick’ scheme, Phil Taggart’s The Slacker Guide to the Music Industryuses the expertise of the people who’ve navigated these difficult waters to ask all the questions you never even knew you had to ask: At what point to you need a manager? What is sync? What does a sound person even do, anyway? This isn’t going to teach you how to write a killer song, or what moves to pull on stage, but it’ll have the invaluable advice that you’ll need when you want to take your career to the next stage.

Phil Taggart is a BBC Radio 1 DJ who specialises in new and alternative music. He has been at the forefront of cutting-edge music since 2012, giving first radio plays to the likes of Royal Blood, London Grammar, Jorja Smith, Years and Years amongst countless others.

He played bass in his band Colenso Parade from the age of 14 and spent nine years working his way through the spaghetti junction of the music industry. Having lived and breathed it on the music-making side, he secured a spot at the biggest new music radio station in the world, and began his career as a critically acclaimed DJ on BBC Radio 1.

Not content with breaking new bands on-air, he started his own record label, Hometown Records releasing the likes of Rat Boy, Rejjie Snow, TOUTS, Yonaka, Rhodes, and many others.

Phil Taggart’s The Slacker Guide to the Music Industry is his first book, and he’s poured all that experience into every page, drawing from the expertise of some of the key names in the business. In music, there’s no certainties. But knowledge is power.

Phil Taggart touches on every aspect of this bizarre but rewarding world. This is the only book you will need to navigate the shark infested waters of the music industry. Find that dolphin and ride it! – SIMON NEILL (BIFFY CLYRO)

I wish Id had a book like this to read when I was starting out. Phil has done a wonderful job of breaking down the whole industry for beginners and experts alike. – FRANK TURNER

‘Phil was the first person to ever play me on the radio. His love and enthusiasm for new music is contagious. This book is an essential buy for anyone venturing into the madness of the music industry. – SOAK

It’s tough when youre starting out and you dont really know where to go to for advice or who to trust in the industry. Well, now new acts have this brilliant new music Bible to turn to for immediate trusty, tested and appropriate advice. Get on it. – BLOSSUMS

What a wonderful idea for a book – this industry is difficult to navigate, there are no fixed routes to success. Philly explores all the different facets of making it’ in music with humour and expertise. – ANNIE MAC

Doors 7.45pm | Unreserved Seating

Rory Gallagher – the man behind the guitar

‘Definitive book about the icon of Irish Rock’ – John Maher, Irish Independent.

Rory Gallagher was Ireland’s first superstar. He was a bluesman, a songwriter and singer and above all, a master of the guitar. He is remembered for the fiery energy of his shows and commitment to his audience. His career began in an Irish showband, followed by four years as the central talent of Taste, regarded by many as the greatest Irish band of the 1960s.

Julian Vignoles has written the most comprehensive account of Gallagher’s life in his recently published book, Rory Gallagher – the Man Behind the Guitar. His years in the Fontana Showband and formative years in Belfast are explored in detail.

The book also reassesses Gallagher’s song writing, suggesting it has been underrated because of his great talent as a musician. This song writing also gives clues to the inner Rory Gallagher.

Vignoles charts how the great musician’s short life shifted between the bright lights of success and the darkness of personal struggle. Though he died at 47 years of age, his musical legacy is increasingly celebrated across the world.

Doors 12:45pm | Unreserved seating

Emma Dabiri – Don’t touch My Hair – Cancelled

From Emma’s agent;

‘For medical reasons, Emma Dabiri is unable to take part in this event. We regret any inconvenience caused.’


Straightened. Stigmatised. ‘Tamed’. Celebrated. Erased. Managed. Appropriated. Forever misunderstood. Black hair is never ‘just hair’.

This book is about why black hair matters and how it can be viewed as a blueprint for decolonisation.

Emma Dabiri takes us from pre-colonial Africa, through the Harlem Renaissance, Black Power and on to today’s Natural Hair Movement, the Cultural Appropriation Wars and beyond.

Dabiri looks at the trajectory from hair capitalists like Madam CJ Walker in the early 1900s to the rise of Shea Moisture today, touching on everything from women’s solidarity and friendship, to forgotten African scholars, to the dubious provenance of Kim Kardashian’s braids.

Doors 4.45pm | Unreserved Seating

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The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival and Out To Lunch are annual festivals of music, comedy, theatre, art and literature which take place in January and May in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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