Welcome to the 2022 John Hewitt International Summer School…

The John Hewitt Society is delighted to announce the annual John Hewitt International Summer School where we will welcome well-known names from the worlds of literature, arts, politics and media.  This year’s International Summer School will take place from 25 to 30 July 2022 with the theme:

Finding the nation: redefining home and country for a shared future

This is my home and country. Later on

perhaps I’ll find this nation is my own…

John Hewitt, “Conacre”, 1943

In this annual summer festival of arts, culture and political discourse, we will set out to address issues of diversity, to explore how much “home”, “country”, “identity” and “nation” matter, or should matter in a shared future, and consider the experience of those who feel excluded from existing political structures.

Contributors drawn from Ireland and elsewhere covering a wide range of topics and genres will include David Park, Val McDermid, and Ardal O’Hanlon in a promising return to live events at our festival base in the Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre Armagh.

The opening address will be presented by Professor Olivette Otele of the University of Bristol. Professor Otele, the UK’s first black female Professor of History, and she will explore the links between history, collective memory and geopolitics and how questions of citizenship, race and identity are addressed. The Society is grateful to the Commission for Victims and Survivors NI for sponsoring this event.

Other talks will feature Andy Pollak, sponsored by The Irish Association, addressing what the Republic needs to do to become more appealing to Unionists, Martin Collins, Co-Director of Pavee Point Traveller & Roma Centre, considering Traveller Equality, Professor Katy Hayward, QUB, will give a talk on the impact of Brexit on North/South and Ireland/UK relationships, and Dr Tara McEvoy will deliver the annual John Hewitt lecture. 

Renowned Belfast born Visual Artist Gareth Reid, who will also speak about his acclaimed portraiture in the Visual Arts Talk, will launch his first solo exhibition in Northern Ireland for a decade in the Gallery, while Bangor based Geraldine Hamoonga Michelo will launch her latest exhibition on the Foyer Walls.

Poetry will again be strongly represented with readings from Queering The Green Anthology, and from poets Richard Scott, Victoria Kennefick, Nandi Jola, Jessica Traynor, John McAuliffe, Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh and Molly Twomey. In a special digital event former Jamaican Poet Laureate Professor Mervyn Morris and poet Professor Edward Baugh will take part in a reading live from the Caribbean Island.

Fiction highlights will feature authors Jan Carson, David Park, Audrey Magee, Louise Kennedy and Una Mannion. Bernie McGill and Wendy Erskine will celebrate the short story, while Kerri ní Dochartaigh, Suad Aldarra, Kevin Doherty, Olivia Fitzsimons and Kathleen Murray will discuss their recent books. Well know local crime writer Stuart Neville will host a Crime Fiction Special with celebrated crime writers Val McDermid and Mark Billingham, and BBC presenter William Crawley will interview Ardal O’Hanlon about his latest crime fiction novel, “Brouhaha”.

There will be two panel discussions, a Slugger O’Toole special with Alex Kane, Lilian Seenol-Barr and Sorcha Eastwood MLA who will join host Alan Meban to consider the theme and a discussion by journalists Gordon Adair, Deric Henderson, Ivan Little, Eric Villers, and David Lynas on their contributions to the latest book, Reporting The Troubles 2

Evening performances include The West Ocean String Quartet, ‘Before’ a one man play by Pat Kinevane, The Mary Anne McCracken show with Jane Cassidy and Maurice Leyden, and a wonderful new Joycean musical, ‘Misses Liffey,’ concluding with An Open Mic Night JHISS Special hosted by Armagh Theatre Group.

With seven Creative Writing Workshop Courses to choose from, new and existing writers can develop their skills, knowledge and confidence as writers, supported by The Open University. The week will end with the annual workshop writers’ showcase when some participants will be invited to read their new work to an invited and assembled audience.

No Alibis Bookstore Belfast will provide their annual book stall in the foyer (with signings by willing visiting authors) and with thanks to The North South Ministerial Council and to The Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge, and Craigavon Borough Council for hosting their receptions.

As in previous years, Summer School will offer a number of bursary awards to enable a wide range of people to attend and appreciate the week’s events. The Society would like to thank those funders and sponsors who have made these awards possible, including The Community Relations Council, Local Authorities, the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: Reconciliation Department, Corporate organisations and individual sponsors.

This week of celebration of the arts, culture and debate is made possible through the continued partnership and support from a wide range of organisations such as; The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Commission for Victims and Survivors, Open University, The Irish Association, The Gallery Press, Poetry Ireland, Slugger O’Toole, No Alibis Bookstore, advertisers, donors  and most especially to our Friends of the Festival, loyal supporters and volunteers who continue to support us year on year. Your generosity is much appreciated at this time.

We look forward to catching up with old friends and new once again in the Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre for an inspiring programme of live events from 25th – 30th July 2022. So if you haven’t been to Armagh in a while, do join us.

Tony Kennedy


The John Hewitt Society.