Musician Colm Begley at a previous Festival in a Van event in Tralee.

Unique touring arts concept to visit Westmeath

Words Move a new concept from Festival in a Van is coming to Westmeath this week. In a collaboration with Poetry Ireland, Festival in a Van is bringing a series of unique performances to ten counties across the country.

Ten poets, ten musical acts, and ten newly commissioned works feature, as each county gets its own flavour of the latest ways in which words can truly move us.

In Westmeath, Festival in a Van will be located at various times during Tuesday, July 20, in the Civic Square in Athlone town centre, Tranquility Park in Mullingar and at Dun na Si Park and the local library in Moate.

After bringing live performance safely around Ireland during lockdown, the Festival in a Van team are putting on their purple Hi Vis and are hitting the road again this summer.

Getting together with the team at Poetry Ireland, Words Move puts ten poets together with ten singer-songwriters to take in ten counties during July and August. Participating poets include Athlone's Jackie Gorman, Victoria Kennefick, Beau Williams, Jane Clarke and Samuel Yakura who will be joined by musicians including, Landless, Farah Elle, Finn Furey and David Hope to play sessions at care homes and community centres as well as a series of public gigs in each county.

The tour will also host ten poet commissions for new works for each county and these poems will be printed by Stoney Road Press, framed and presented to the centres that have been visited as a reminder of a wonderful time everyone is able to gather again, celebrate and enjoy a collective creativity.

Festival in a Van’s Gemma Tipton said, “Last year it was amazing to be able to put on shows, and now as things open up, we’re thrilled to be working with such brilliantly creative people on this tour. I think many of us rediscovered poetry during lockdown, so it feels very special to be putting it centre stage.”

“We are also thrilled with the poets and musicians joining us. Finn Furey played our very first gig in a stubble field in Carlow, David Hope joined us in Limerick last year, while Landless and Farah Elle are new to the Van, but their music is so incredibly moving they’re the perfect people for these gigs,” she added.

Poetry Ireland Director Niamh O’Donnell said: “We’re delighted to partner with Festival in a Van to bring talented poets and musicians, in a safe way, to diverse audiences across the country.

“Partnering with Arts Officers, care homes, community groups, service providers and arts centres, we’re all working together to engage, entertain and inspire people in their own locality with some incredible talents,” she added. Supported by a Touring Grant from the Arts Council, and by Creative Ireland, and kicking off on July 13 in Dublin, Words Move travels to Fingal, Wicklow, Laois, Westmeath, Monaghan, Kilkenny, Waterford, Limerick and Kerry.