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Home > Your Council > Communications Office > Press Release from Jan 2021 > One of a Kind Multilingual Festival Celebrating

21/09/21 - Inaugural Frances Browne Literary Festival



Donegal County Council in partnership with Festival Committee are pleased to announce that the inaugural Frances Browne Literary Festival will run from 7th to 9th October in Ballybofey and Stranorlar, Co Donegal.


Join award-winning author Anna Carey, Dublin journalist and author of five books for young adults, who will give the keynote address in The Balor Theatre, Ballybofey, on Thursday 7th October.


This multilingual three-day festival will feature creative writing and poetry workshops on Friday 8th October in Irish, English and Ulster-Scots, for adults and for school goers, and a lively panel and audience discussion on the concept of Home, Language and Identity with writers Angeline King and Dubhán Ó Longáin. Theatre lovers are in for a treat with performances of two new plays based on the work and life of Frances Browne. Historians will enjoy ‘Life and After Life of a Donegal Saint’, a book launch and talk on St Colmcille by Dr Brian Lacey in Raphoe, Co Donegal. This is followed by the Poetry Competition Awards in Kee’s Hotel, Stranorlar, where the audience can enjoy live music. 


Due to Covid 19 this year’s festival will be a blend of online and in-person events.

“We are delighted to present this unique multilingual festival and are grateful to Donegal County Council who are the main sponsors of the event,” said Celine McGlynn, Chairperson of the Frances Browne Literary Festival Committee.


The Festival's inspiration is Stranorlar born Frances Browne (16 January 1816 – 21 August 1879) who was, at one time, the best known writer of fairy tales in the British Isles and much of the world.  Known as The Blind Poetess of Ulster, she was also a celebrated poet, journalist, and novelist, famed for her children’s short stories, most notably the widely-translated “Granny’s Wonderful Chair” (1856).

“Her poetry evokes the beauty of our landscape, and explores the eternal sense of exile which never leaves the emigrant. This rich legacy has inspired the inaugural festival, which celebrates the inclusive and pluralist culture of Browne’s home and hinterland of Stranorlar,” said Dr Pauline Holland who edited Treasure Each Voice by The Fiach Arts Circle, which includes a section on Frances Browne.


About the Festival

The Ballybofey-Stranorlar area is unique in that it includes large areas where Irish, English, and Ulster- Scots are spoken widely on a daily basis.  Language is culture. Culture is language. If Ireland is to have a peaceful and prosperous future, the national cultures brought together by the Good Friday Agreement must develop models for the truly pluralist, tolerant society we are trying to create. The Finn/Deele Valley in Co. Donegal, where Ballybofey-Stranorlar is located, is becoming widely recognised as a natural pilot project for this pluralist Ireland. The Frances Browne Literary Festival will play a pioneering role in introducing the area as a role model for elsewhere in Ireland.


Frances Browne Literary Festival is supported and funded by Donegal County Council.


Further Details;


On Thursday 7th Oct, the premier of Shirley Anne Bonner's adaptation of Frances Browne's Legends of Ulster will be directed by Kieran Quinn at the Balor Theatre, Ballybofey.


Creative writing workshops on Friday 8th October:- In English with well-known authors Denise Blake, Pauline Holland and Averil Meehan.  In Irish with author Dubhán Ó Longáin.  In Ulster Scots with Angeline King, Writer in Residence of Ulster University.


Children's  Fun and Activity Day on Saturday 9th Oct.


The festival closes on Saturday 9th Oct. with a performance of In My Mind’s Eye by Shirley-Anne Bonner at An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny. This special event will give a taste of the full production planned for the 2022 Frances Browne Literary Festival.



For more information please visit/ follow festival website and social media pages:

Email:[email protected] Facebook/Instagram  @francesbrowneliteraryfestival


O‌r download the PDF brochure here

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