Wednesday, 4 June 2014


Our day 1 report comes from Liz McManus:

Wednesday the 4th June 2014

5am, Dublin airport, Here we are bleary-eyed and decidedly not bushy-tailed: six writers and Valerie, our intrepid guide, setting out on our great adventure.  Bill is arriving separately via Amsterdam. Three hours later we are negotiating a taxi, gathering up our bags and discussing the burning question as we travel to our hotel : to rehearse or not to rehearse.  In the end some do and others are already word perfect and don’t need to but we all scrub up well for our big night at the Irish embassy.

Ambassador Bobby McDonagh
Our Italian sister, Federica Sgaggio
And what a night it is!  The embassy is housed in a stunningly beautiful building, the Villa Spada, which used to be the Irish embassy to the Vatican but has been put to good use as the Irish embassy to Italy. The Ambassador and his wife overwhelm us with hospitality. The guests are a mixture of academics, arts practitioners, business people and old friends like John McCourt who runs the excellent James Joyce School in Trieste.
Sarah Cooney, Second Secretary, William Wall, writer, Valerie Bistany, Director of the Irish Writers' Centre
We all read magnificently as the only the Magnificent Seven can, The audience clap. Valerie opens proceedings with a neat explanation of what the IILE is all about,  Federica - looking like a film star from La Dolce Vita – gives an emotionally charged speech and then we all retire happily onto the terrace to drink and talk into the night.

Writer Mia Gallagher in the Villa Spada
Liz McManus, reading at the Villa Spada

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