Beara Arts Festival this August 4th – 12th

David Harmax

Beara Arts Festival opens with the launch of the 25th anniversary Artists in Beara exhibition at Beara Community School at 6pm on August 4th. The exhibition features the work of more than twenty artists resident on the Beara peninsula, including Tim Goulding, Charles Tyrrell, Cormac Boydell, Rachel Parry and Pat Fitzgerald.

Over the following week, the festival features a host of musical, literary and visual arts events, as well as readings and workshops, and screenings of the film The Purple Taxi.

The festival has commissioned two major projects, in music and the visual arts.

David Harmax’s On the Edge of Darkness, a 30-minute composition for piano, strings and electronics, will have its world premiere at The High Tide Club at the Sarah Walker Gallery in Castletownbere at 6pm, Saturday August 5th. The piece is inspired by the various shipwrecks scattered on the seabed around the coast of the Beara peninsula.

Meanwhile, local artist Bénédicte Coleman, a graduate of Crawford College of Art & Design, will work throughout the festival on her Beaches Storage Project. Coleman will direct parties of volunteers in collecting man-made debris along the shore, which will then be sorted into specially constructed metal units at Pallas Strand, Eyeries; Ballydonegan Beach, Allihies; Cahermore Beach; the grounds of the Beara Coast Hotel, Castletownbere; and Rerrin Pier, Bere Island.

Beara Arts Festival will also launch a new audio project, Dursey Island Discs, at Lehanmore Community Centre at 8pm, Tuesday August 8th. Based on Desert Island Discs – the long-running BBC Radio 4 radio series – Dursey Island Discs will feature interviews with eight people from or associated with Dursey, the only island in Ireland connected to the mainland by cable-car. Dursey Island Discs can be heard at Lehanmore Community Centre, and on, for the duration of the festival.

It is 40 years since The Purple Taxi/Un Taxi Mauve – starring Charlotte Rampling, Fred Astaire and Peter Ustinov – became one of the most popular films in the history of French cinema. Based on the novel Un Taxi Mauve, by the late Galway resident, Michel Deon, the film was largely shot in the colourful village of Eyeries, and features many local characters as extras.

The Purple Taxi/Un Taxi Mauve enjoyed a brief run in Irish cinemas in 1977, but has never been screened in Beara before now. Owing to the level of local interest, Beara Arts Festival has organised two showings at The Hall, Eyeries, at 6pm and 8.30pm on Thursday, August 10th. The screenings are free, with donations to Cancer Connect.

This year, Beara Arts Festival has selected Sara Baume as its first ever writer-in-residence. She will stay at Dinny’s Place artists’ retreat in North Allihies for the duration of the festival.

Baume won the 2014 Davy Byrne’s Short Story Award, and in 2015, the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award and the Rooney Prize for Literature. Her debut novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither, was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and is currently being translated into ten different languages. Her second novel, A Line Made by Walking, was published in spring 2017. She grew up in East Cork and now lives in West Cork.

Beara Arts Festival will also feature readings by local poets Leanne O’Sullivan and Annette Skade; artists’ talks by Tim Goulding and Bénédicte Coleman; and workshops by John Eagle, Tina Darb and Alex Barclay, among others.

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