Last weekend, the annual Lismore Immrama Festival of Travel Writing celebrated a theme of ‘Extraordinary Adventures’ and visitors from all over the country descended upon the heritage town to enjoy a series of events spanning from last Wednesday to Sunday.
Talks took place with Neil Oliver, author, and the presenter of the TV series Coast; explorer and author Sarah Outen took her audience on an adventure around the globe by boat, by bike and by kayak. And festivalgoers travelled through the depths of Africa with author Lerato Mogoathle as she discussed her book ‘Vagabond’, Dr Robyn Rowland shared personal travel tales from Turkey, the Balkans and Australia and author Rosita Boland told of some daredevil moments from her new travel book Elsewhere; one woman, one rucksack, one lifetime of travel.
Earlier in the week, the festival opened with the screening of the documentary ‘Congo – An Irish Affair’ which was broadcast to a full house which included some of the soldiers from what is now referred to as the siege of Jadotville. Historian Donald Brady spoke of Waterford novelist Regina Maria Roche and traditional musician Charlie Piggott took his audience on a journey of musical travels.
The final day of the festival was ‘Family Fun Sunday’ and crowds enjoyed the activities, and atmosphere at the town’s Millennium Park with lots of entertainment on offer from The Booley House.
The winners of the 2019 Immrama Young Travel Writers competition were also announced and presented with their awards by Neil Oliver. Earlier this year budding young writers were encouraged to submit entries based on the theme of ‘Letters to Home’; Secondary school level students in the form of 500 word short stories and Primary school level students (5th & 6th class) 250-word ‘Postcards to Home’. Close to 500 entries were received from schools across Ireland for this years Immrama School’s Travel Writers Competition. The judges for the competition included Stephen Kavanagh CEO Aer Lingus, Pól O’Conghaile, Award-winning Travel Writer Debbie Byrne, MD of An Post Vickie Stephenson Director CX EMEA Airbnb, Phil Cottier CEO The CX Collection.
The winner in the secondary school senior cycle category is Jessica Enright, age 16 from Scoil Mhuire Greenhill, Carrick on Suir who wrote ‘Snails for Dinner!’ Her teacher is Alison Duffy. Jessica won a Chromebook and a €100 Amazon Voucher along with the Immrama Travel Writing trophy and her teacher was awarded a stay at the 5-Star Cliff House Hotel.
The winner in the secondary school junior cycle category is Eadaoin Drumgoole, age 13 from St Louis Secondary School Dundalk who wrote ‘Czech it out!’ her teacher is Deirdre Smith. Eadaoin won a Chromebook and a €100 Amazon Voucher along with the Immrama Travel Writing trophy and her teacher was awarded a stay at the 5-Star Cliff House Hotel.
The winner in the primary school competition is Aisling Brennan, age 12 from St John of Gods National School, Waterford and her teacher is Clare Sheane. Aisling wrote ‘A letter home’ and for this winning entry she won a €100 Amazon Voucher along with the Immrama Travel Writing trophy and her teacher was awarded a stay at the 5-Star Cliff House Hotel.
A special judges award of a €100 Amazon voucher was also presented to teacher Ms Hanley at Athlone Community College.
One of the organiser’s of the competition Phil Cottier says, “The student’s ages ranged from 10 to 18 and the quality and standard of this year’s entries were exceptional. We would like to offer our special thanks to the teachers, the students and our sponsors Aer Lingus and the 5-Star Cliff House Hotel for making this year competitions so special.”
Commenting on the 2019 festival one of the festival’s organiser’s Jan Rotte said, “We are delighted to welcome lots of new faces to Lismore for Immrama this year, the programming this year has been all about adventure, some of the travel journeys we have heard over the weekend have been fascinating. We would like to thank everyone for joining us and making the 2019 festival a great success and indeed to our sponsors and supporters for their ongoing commitment.”