Ballyscullion Park Book Festival Celebrates Literature, Music and Art in the Heart of Heaney Country

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The inaugural Ballyscullion Park Book Festival, 11- 12 May 2024, has officially launched. Taking place in the historic Ballyscullion Park, situated on the shores of Lough Beg, it is a celebration of literature, music and art in the heart of Seamus Heaney country.  The programme will feature a range of writers, musicians  and historians exploring a wide variety of topics from the 18th century to the present day.

The inaugural festival is inspired by the period in history when the original Earl Bishop of Derry’s Palace was built at Ballyscullion Park in 1787 as well as the current owner’s, The Mulholland family’s connection to acclaimed authors Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë. 

Across the two days, visitors to the festival will enjoy talks and Q&As from eminent writers and historians exploring topics such as the surrounding landscape, gardens, historical personalities, literature, ideas and how people lived.  Authors and talks include international best-selling author Emma Heatherington on the importance of setting in fiction writing, historian Dr Andrew Gailey on Sheridan’s Scandalous Granddaughters,  academic Sophia Hillan on Jane Austen’s Nieces in Ireland, Irish writer, teacher and member of Aosdána Carlo Gébler plus many more.  Authors will be on hand between talks for a chat and to sign copies of their books. There will also be a book shop available to purchase books.

A childhood spent in the beautiful rural landscape around Bellaghy and Lough Beg provided inspiration for Seamus Heaney’s poetry.  As an integral part to the life and literature of the area, his work will play an important part in  some of the sessions. There will also be a celebration, with poetry and music, of WB Yeats winning the Nobel Prize in 1923,  as well as a celebration of the story and music of blind Irish harpist Turlough O’Carolan by Celtic Grace.

Festival events will take place in locations around the beautiful walled garden in the grounds of Ballyscullion House.  Visitors will have the opportunity to explore the grounds with a self-guided map and interpretation explaining the history and architecture of the Bishop’s Palace ruins located in the park. The ruins of the palace were used as a filming location for scenes in Season 3, Episode 2 of Game of Thrones, and is regularly used as a location for wedding ceremonies. Refreshments will be available throughout the festival from a variety of first class food vendors, sited within the walled garden.

Ballyscullion Park is part of the Loughinsholin Tourism Cluster, which aims to develop and promote a range of authentic, sustainable visitor experiences, a sense of place as well as a commitment to preserve and promote the generations of rich heritage and traditions found in the region. The cluster is supported by Invest Northern Ireland through its Collaborative Growth Programme.

Rosalind Mullholland from Ballyscullion Park Book Festival said:
“We are delighted to launch the inaugural Ballyscullion Park Book Festival officially. With the area steeped in a rich history of poetry literature and music, we have been planning for some time to celebrate and recognise this with a festival. Over the two days the festival will bring together a range of wonderful speakers discussing a wide variety  of topics from the 18th century to the present day. Our ambition is for this to become an annual event which will welcome visitors from far and wide into the region.”

Dermot Friel, chair of Loughinsholin Tourism Cluster and owner of Friel’s Bar & Restaurant, added:

“On behalf of the Loughinsholin Tourism cluster, we are proud to support our member Ballyscullion Park with their inaugural Ballyscullion Park Book Festival.  It is hoped that the festival will become a permanent event, encouraging visitors into the region as well as benefiting the Loughinsholin Tourism cluster members. Our aim and focus is to showcase all the businesses involved, work collaboratively on new innovations, and drive ongoing development.  All of this will help us to promote the rich, diverse and authentic experiences that await visitors to this wonderful place.”

Weekend and day tickets available.  For ticket details and nearby accommodation providers visit

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