Belfast Telegraph

Monday 15 September 2014

Happy Days Festival: Beckett, Joyce ... and a dog called Finnegan

Participants in the first full-length public reading of Finnegans Wake at Enniskillen's Samuel Beckett festival this weekend

A dog named Finnegan was one of the more unlikely respondents to a worldwide call for participants for an epic performance of an Irish literary classic.

Finnegans, Finns, Fionas, Finnbars, Fintons and Finnualas were all invited to get involved in what has been heralded as the first full length public reading of James Joyce's surreal and famously impenetrable novel, Finnegans Wake.

The live reading of one of Ireland's best known yet hardest-to-read books will start tomorrow in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, and will run for over a week-and-a-half.

It is being staged as part of an annual festival in the island town to celebrate the life of another of Ireland's literary greats, Samuel Beckett, who was schooled in the Lakeland county.

Part of the Happy Days Festival is dedicated to Beckett's mentors, and this year it is Joyce's turn.

Sean Doran, director of the festival, revealed the diverse response to the call for Finnegans to assemble.

"We have had a very good response, ranging from somebody who wants to bring their dog called Finnegan to three actors," he said. "It's a varied response, beyond your imagination.

"And it's going to be very much an informal and sort of rough and ready reading, that's going to be handled like a relay."

Mr Doran admitted he did not know what to expect from the canine Finnegan.

"We'll put the book in front of him and see how he gets on," he joked.

With around 160 readers needed, the director said he had made preparations if not enough Finnegans turned up.

"When we run out of Finnegans we are inviting artists and audiences and the local community to become a Finnegan for the day," he said.

The festival, now in its third year, kicks off tonight with a performance by Fermanagh actor Adrian Dunbar.

A wide range of events are scheduled over the next 12 days in Enniskillen and beyond, including at the school where the Nobel Laureate Beckett spent his formative years, Portora Royal.

Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

No more waiting for Samuel Beckett as festival gets under way

 

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