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Literary elite put resort’s love of culture on display

The 19th Aspects Irish Literature Festival lit up Bangor last week with new venues and features — but with the same ethos of presenting Irish writing at its very finest. Authors, including Nobel-Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney, the BBC’s Fergal Keane, Chris Binchy and explorer Jonathan Shackleton, informed, entertained and stimulated the minds of all who came to hear their readings. Innovations for 2010 included a stunning new festival marquee, in which Aspects hosted comedian Ardal O’Hanlon, musician Juliet Turner and Dublin-born television presenter Peter Snow, who talked about his latest book To War with Wellington. Crime fiction was represented by the fearsome two-header of Alex Barclay and Declan Hughes being presented by Brian McGilloway. Chef Danny Millar (from the BBC’s Great British Menu) joined two of Northern Ireland’s top chef-siblings Nick Price (Nick’s Warehouse) and Sue Farmer (The Bay Tree, Holywood) to discuss seasonal cooking, slow food and regional produce. Mike Faulkner took audiences on a magical journey round Strangford Lough with his new book and Northern Ireland’s only full-time literary agency, The Feldsteins, presented a session on how to get published. Poetry came from Siobhan Campbell, Katie Donovan, Ciaran Carson and Matthew Sweeney among others, while 1,500 school children in north Down were visited over September by authors, who presented writing-classes on everything from fiction to blogging as part of the Bloomfields Young Aspects programme. The “Over to You” event, hosted by Malachi O’Doherty and including live music from Silhouette, gave emerging authors a chance to read from new work. Alongside all these events, Aspects ran dedicated writing workshops for adults and children alike, all housed in Bangor’s Carnegie Library. Stephen Dunlop, town centre manager, said the festival was “fantastically well received”. “Aspects brought in people from outside who enjoyed coming to Bangor,” he said. “The whole thing was a credit to the festival organisers. The additional marquee was inspiring and substantially increased the number of people coming along. The festival just gets stronger every year, it’s going from strength to strength.” He said: “Seamus Heaney was superb, he was reading a number of his new poems as well as some of his old ones. It was fantastic to have someone of his stature in the literary world.”

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