Contributor Michael Conlon filming at the Oliver Goldsmith statue in Ballymahon.

Committee determined to celebrate Goldsmith for 36th year

Oliver Goldsmith Literary Festival 2020

The Oliver Goldsmith Literary Festival will host a special online event this weekend to honour the legacy and works of the iconic midlands novelist, playwright and poet.

Although its original 2020 event had to be cancelled in the summer due to Covid-19, the committee behind the third longest-running literary festival in the country was adamant they would not miss commemorating the famous Longford-born writer.

Arthur Conlon, Oliver Goldsmith Literary Festival chairman, said: “As one of the oldest literary festivals in the country, we didn’t want to go dark for 2020.

“We felt we had to mark the 36th year, but we decided to do things differently, to reach our audience in a new way.

“Almost 250 years after this death, we felt it was time to take a pause and look at the enduring legacy of Oliver Goldsmith. We wanted to remind people why he is still studied, performed, read and talked about.”

The event – entitled ‘Goldsmith the Legacy: The Enduring Member of Longford’s Greatest Writer’ – will feature contributions from an array of decorated speakers including the internationally acclaimed Goldsmith scholar, Professor Michael Griffin of the School of English at University of Limerick, who chronicled Goldsmith’s literary legacy.

Mairead Ni Chonghaile, heritage officer with Longford County Council, will share the remarkable story behind the recently erected Goldsmith statue at his birthplace in Pallas, a parish that straddles the Longford Westmeath county line.

She will also shed light on new research about the prominence of the statue – which is a replica of the well-known John Henry Foley sculpture that stands at the gates of Trinity College Dublin.

Festival founder and committee member Seamus McCormack will look back at the origination of the festival and its importance for the midlands community; committee member and Longford County Council senior engineer Donall Mac an Bheatha will speak on Goldsmith’s legacy in the physical landscape of Longford Westmeath; while Arthur Conlon will speak on Goldsmith’s legacy from Georgian London.

Dramatic readings of Goldsmith’s works will also be delivered by Michael Conlon, and the event will close with a live ensemble of ‘The Three Jolly Pigeons’ – a song from Goldsmith’s renowned play ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ (1773).

Arthur Conlon added: “Our festival has always thrived on social contact and the meeting of minds over a shared passion for Goldsmith’s works. We’re now adapting our environs to the Covid restrictions, so it will be a blend of live and recorded contributions.

“The pandemic will most likely permanently alter the way people engage with cultural events, but we are determined to ensure that Goldsmith’s legacy will continue to live on, be heard and be revered in a new high-tech world.”

The Oliver Goldsmith Festival 2020 will take place online this Saturday, November 28, at 7:00pm. The event is limited therefore pre-registration is essential at olivergoldsmithfestival.com.

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