Omagh’s yearly festival, including lectures, readings and performance,celebrating the verbal arts, and the legacy of Benedict Kiely. This years festival takes place on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st October.
Benedict Kiely, one of the most distinguished figures in twentieth century Irish literature, was born near Dromore, Co Tyrone in January 1919 and spent his formative years in Omagh, the county capital. He moved to Dublin in the late 1930s to study at the National University and while still an undergraduate was engaged as a journalist on The Standard, a now defunct Dublin newspaper. He was later to join the staff of the Irish Independent and later still to write for the Irish Press. His first novel Land Without Stars (1946) was the first of ten novels. He was also a prolific writer of short stories, several of which first appeared in periodicals such as The New Yorker. The Collected Short Stories, 49 in all, appeared in 2001. His works of criticism have included The Poor Scholar,
his study of fellow Tyrone writer, William Carleton, Modern Irish Fiction, a review of the novel in mid 20th century Ireland and Raids into Dark Corners. Travel books include Ireland from the Air and All the Way to Bantry Bay. Benedict Kiely was familiar as a broadcaster, largely through RTE’s Sunday Miscellany radio feature, on which he was a stalwart for a quarter of a century from the 1970s to the 1990s. He made his home in Dublin from 1940 on but he frequently came back to his native Omagh and immortalized it in his fiction. The author died in Dublin in February 2007 and is buried in Omagh’s Dublin Road cemetery not far from the centre of town. Stephen McKenna