Senator Micheál Carrigy (Fine Gael), Deputy Robert Troy (Fianna Fáil), Councillor Paul Ross (Fine Gael), Councillor Mick Cahill (Fianna Fáil), Tánaiste Micheál Martin (Fianna Fáil), Deputy Joe Flaherty (Fianna Fáil).

Large crowds attend special 40th Goldsmith Festival weekend

“Oliver Goldsmith is a reminder that change and evolution has always been part of Irish society,” declared Tánaiste Micheál Martin, as he officially opened the 40th Goldsmith Literary Festival of south Longford and south Westmeath over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Mr Martin congratulated the organisers for maintaining one of Ireland’s longest running literary festivals and for delivering a diverse and engaging programme for its 40th year.

“This festival makes a very valuable contribution to presenting Longford and Westmeath to the wider world as a destination for tourism, but it also plays a vital role as a community activity bringing so many people together."

Pre-eminent Goldsmith scholar Professor Michael Griffin of the University of Limerick told the audience of the important need to secure future interest in Goldsmith’s writings for new generations of readers.

“As we are in the 250th year of his death and the 40th anniversary of this festival, it allows us the time to assess what Goldsmith means to us. There is a vital need to continue to reassess his work constantly and to see how he can still speak to us on our contemporary issues," he said.

Several other leading academics of 18th century literature, including Trinity College Dublin's Professor Ian Campbell Ross and Professor Aileen Douglas and the University of Ulster's Dr James Ward illuminated this message in their lecture contributions at the Goldsmith Library in Ballymahon on Saturday.

A packed bus of countrywide Goldsmith enthusiasts also participated in the literary tour of Goldsmith Country which visited The Three Jolly Pigeons, the Old Schoolhouse, Lissoy Parsonage, Kilkenny-West Church, and the Hawthorn Bush among many other famous sites.

A huge crowd also attended a specially written and produced play called “The Misadventures of Oliver Goldsmith” by Michael J Ford performed in The Bog Lane Theatre and Skelly’s Courtyard over the weekend.

Contributors John Casey, Robin Baird, Niall Nally, Denis Glennon, and Sean Ryan also delivered fascinating contributions as part of the Goldsmith Miscellany event alongside musical accompaniment.

The festival ended with Poetry at Pallas at Goldsmith’s birthplace where dozens of pupils from primary schools in Westmeath and Longford received prizes and certificates for poems they entered in the Goldsmith Children’s Poetry Competition adjudicated by poet Mary Melvin-Geoghegan.

Charlie Flanagan of Empor NS won 1st prize, 2nd place went to Kathryn Kiernan of Empor NS, and third place went to Muhammad Issa Tariq of Tubberclair NS.

The first prize winner of the Goldsmith Adult Poetry Competition, adjudicated by poet Eugene O’Connell, was Glen Wilson of Portadown, 2nd prize winner was Frank Farrelly of Waterford. Aidan Casey was also presented with an award for his Highly Commended entry.

Bringing the 40th Goldsmith Festival to a close chairman Arthur Conlon said: "This year we organised eight separate events and every one of them has been a rip-roaring success. We had brilliant crowds at the different events and we really encourage you to come along again next year.

"We are very grateful for the tremendous support from Longford and Westmeath county councils and from Nally Brothers in Ballymahon. I want to give a huge thanks to our dedicated committee too for all their hard work. Here's to another 40 years of the Goldsmith Festival."