Denise Woods, Artistic Director of West Cork Literary Festival and Frances Humphrys, Festival Director West Cork Chamber Music Festival at the launch of the West Cork Literary Festival and West Cork Chamber Music Festival in Bantry House. Pic: Darragh Kane

SIR Michael Parkinson, Anita Shreve, Paul Muldoon and Anita Desai are just some of the headliners for the 2012 West Cork Literary Festival, in Bantry, West Cork, which opens this Sunday, July 8th and runs to July 14th.

For this year’s festival Artistic Director, Denyse Woods, has also decided to celebrate our maritime heritage with a reading on board the LE Orla while anchored in Bantry Bay, a late night Courtroom Reading with Michael Clifford, Liam Ó Muirthile and thriller duo, Nicci French as well as Theo Dorgan reading from “Sailing for Home” as part of the Bantry Bay Series.

Another theme this year is Writers in Peril so it is apt that Sunday evening’s event is an interview with journalist and broadcaster John McCarthy, who was kidnapped and held for five and a half years on his first foreign assignment to Beirut in 1986. Throughout the week, in association with Amnesty International and the students of Coláiste Pobail Bheanntrai, the festival honours those who risk their lives in order to write, report, blog and tweet for the benefit and enlightenment of us all.

One of the innovations in the 2012 festival is Writer Idol, a fun event which affords aspiring writers the opportunity to submit their work for an on-the-spot assessment by a high-powered panel, featuring Anita Shreve, Marianne Gunne-O’Connor and Suzanne Babaneau.

Other highlights of this annual festival, which has attracted writers with international reputations to the beautiful West Cork town of Bantry will include Dava Sobel; Husband-and-wife crime writing team Edward Marston and Judith Cutler; Noo Saro-Wiwa will speak about her irreverent travel guide to Nigeria, “The Transwonderland Amusement Park”; a reading by Gerald Dawe and invited guests to celebrate the publication of his Selected Poems, and a special night of readings with Romesh Gunesekera and Kevin Barry, who was awarded the £30,000 Sunday Times short story prize earlier this year.

As usual, the festival is hosting a series of diverse workshops, from Flash Fiction to how to write a Comic Novel, Songwriting from Jamie Lawson, poetry with Dermot Healy, Fiction and Novel Writing with Glenn Patterson and Claire Kilroy, Journalism with Lorna Siggins and the Short Story with Tessa Hadley.

The Children’s Festival at West Cork has always been strong with readings, workshops and special events and this year organisers are very proud to present, Anne Fine, a distinguished writer for both adults and children whose novel “Madame Doubtfire” was transformed into a Hollywood hit.

The West Cork Literary Festival, July 8th-14th, is organised by West Cork Music in partnership with the Cork County Library and Arts Service and funded by the Arts Council and Fáilte Ireland. Booking for readings or Workshops is on 027 55987 or 52788 or through westcorkliteraryfestival.ie.