Kiely talk to explore political Irish literature of the 1970s

The 14th Benedict Kiely Weekend takes place from 11-13 September 2015 at the Strule Arts Centre, Omagh

Published: 10th September 2015

A talk by Conor McCloskey, an English teacher at Christian Brothers Grammar School, Omagh, about political Irish literature of the 1970s, will take place on Saturday 12 September 2015 at the Strule Arts Centre, Omagh as part of the 14th Benedict Kiely Weekend.

The talk entitled, ‘Raids into Dark Corners’ will explore a number of key works by some of Ireland’s leading writers in the 1970s including Seamus Heaney, Brian Friel, William Trevor and Benedict Kiely, which addressed the contemporary political situation and ongoing violence in Northern Ireland at that time.

‘Proxopera’, Benedict Kiely’s acclaimed 1977 novel, has been described by Colum McCann in the New York Times Book Review as “One of those secret classics… a perfect piece of literature which encapsulates the sadness and terror of what went on in Northern Ireland during…. ‘The Troubles’,” while the Independent stated “Proxopera is a great anti-war fable, which should have been read and should still be read as a terrible warning. A flawless piece of writing.”  Kiely’s novel will be at the heart of the talk on September 12 about this reflexive literature of the period.

A new paperback edition of Kiely’s ‘Proxopera’ was issued earlier this year by Turnpike Books. Turnpike Books Chief Executive, James Doyle, will also be in attendance to discuss the publishing history of the company and explain why ‘Proxopera’ was such an essential imprint.

The ‘Raids into Dark Corners’ talk is just one part of the Benedict Kiely Weekend programme which includes readings, discussions and workshops with a number of acclaimed authors. Contributors to the Festival include Mohammed Samaana, Yaser Alashqar, Martina Devlin, Colette Bryce, Dervla Murphy, Mark Graham and Michael Harding.

There will also be an exhibition of wood engraving and enamelled copper pieces by artist, Susan Mannion, who is originally from Omagh but who now lives in Boyle, County Roscommon. Susan has taken her inspiration for her first solo exhibition at the Strule Arts Centre from the works of Benedict Kiely and in particular from Kiely’s ‘Proxopera’. The exhibition opens at the Strule Arts Centre on Friday 11 September 2015 and will continue until Saturday 14 November 2015.

Benedict Kiely, who was born in Dromore, County Tyrone in 1919, is recognised as one of the most distinguished figures in twentieth century Irish literature, authoring ten novels and writing scores of short stories.  In his later years Benedict Kiely moved into broadcasting and was a stalwart of RTE’s ‘Sunday Miscellany’ radio feature from the 1970s to 1990s. The author died in Dublin in 2007 and is buried in Omagh’s Dublin Road cemetery.

Organised and funded by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Omagh Arts Committee, the theme of this year’s Weekend is, ‘A Raid Into Dark Corners’ – the title of a critical essay published by Benedict Kiely in 1978 relating to the early work of Seamus Heaney in which he cites Seamus Heaney as stating that ‘poetry is a kind of raid into dark corners.’

The ‘Raids into Dark Corners’ talk starts at 2 pm on Saturday 12 September 2015 at the Strule Arts Centre, Omagh. The full Benedict Kiely Weekend programme is available to download from the related files section on this web page.  Full Weekend tickets cost £85 while tickets for individual sessions are priced at £8, £5 concessionary. To book tickets please visit, telephone the Strule Arts Centre Box Office on 028 8224 7831 or email


Related Files
14th Benedict Kiely Weekend Programme
151 KB | pdf | 10 Jul 2015

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