Country Focus

The Irish Imagination

Ireland, where the printed word is a living presence, has produced many of the world’s greatest craftsmen of literature, including an illustrious list of Nobel, Pulitzer and Booker prize recipients. This year, SWF celebrates the Emerald Isle as the country of focus. Together with partners, Embassy of Ireland Singapore and Nanyang Technological University and sponsor Culture Ireland, we are proud to present a resplendent contingent of fiction writers and poets who will regale audiences with the beauty and richness of the Irish literary minds.



All the events under Country Focus: Ireland are accessible with a Festival Pass. Click here to get yours today!


PERFORMANCE Lyrical Éire: An Irish Night Of Words And Music

Featuring: Gerry Cox, Cat Brogan, Abby Oliveira, Julian Gough, Claire Keegan, Deirdre Sullivan, Paul McVeigh, Deborah Emmanuel, Marc Nair

Moderated by: Jemma Wei

Time: Friday, 3 Nov | 8pm – 9.30pm

Venue: The Arts House, Chamber


The pipes are calling… Irish writers, performance poets and musicians will gather for a bewitching evening of sonorous voices and beautiful turns of phrase. Six Irish artists will be joined by two Singaporean writers as they celebrate the magic of Ireland. The evening will be graced by Irish Ambassador Geoffrey Keating.

PANEL Between Brexit And The Deep Blue Sea: Being Irish In A Divided Europe

Featuring: Cat Brogan, Paul McVeigh, Claire Keegan

Moderated by: Neil Murphy

Time: Saturday, 4 Nov | 11.30am – 12.30pm

Venue: National Gallery Singapore, Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium


The future will see Ireland geographically separated from the rest of the European Union by a post-Brexit Britain. Meanwhile, the refugee crisis and various causes of socio-political unrest continue to put pressure on an increasingly divided Europe. Where do the Irish see themselves in this volatile landscape? Two fiction writers and one performance poet discuss the impact of such upheavals on their writing, and how issues of migration, asylum and integration seep into their works.

TALK Talking Between Worlds

Featuring: Abby Oliveira, Jennifer Anne Champion

Time: Saturday, 4 Nov | 7pm – 8pm

Venue: The Arts House, Living Room


‘Who am I? Where do I fit in?’ These are some questions tackled by two mixed-race performance poets – Ireland’s Abby Oliveira and Singapore’s Jennifer Anne Champion. They may live thousands of miles apart, but encounter similar struggles when it comes to defining their identities across gender, race and social categories.

PANEL Grace In Gravity: The Craft of Characterisation and Setting

Featuring: Claire Keegan, Deirdre Sullivan, Paul McVeigh

Moderated by: Barrie Sherwood

Time: Sunday, 5 Nov | 7pm – 8pm

Venue: The Arts House, Blue Room


A young character survives a difficult childhood and attains actualisation. That is the story at the heart of acclaimed novels and novellas by authors Claire Keegan, Deirdre Sullivan and Paul McVeigh. The three Irish writers will talk about the formal elements of their works, from characterisation to the evocation of mood and setting.

[CANCELLED] PANEL The Silent Power of an Irish Short Story

Featuring: Éilís Ní Dhuibhne

Moderated by: Cyril Wong

Time: Saturday, 11 Nov | 12pm – 1pm

Venue: The Arts House, Blue Room

In a perfect short story, ‘nothing much needs to happen... But the nothing much has to be completely fascinating’, Irish novelist John Boyne once said. Such can be seen in the startling silences and tensions in the fiction of Éilís Ní Dhuibhne and Colin Barrett. Join the two writers as they discuss the craft of their short stories.

PANEL The Indomitable Irishry: Chronicling Ireland Through The Decades

Featuring: Rob Doyle, Gerald Dawe, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne

Moderated by: Neil Murphy

Time: Saturday, 11 Nov | 3.30pm – 4.30pm

Venue: The Arts House, Blue Room


It’s been a turbulent half-century for Ireland, and chronicling it all are Ireland’s writers. Join Gerald Dawe, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne and Rob Doyle as they discuss how their works have responded to the ever-changing socio-political landscape.

PANEL Small Country, Great Literature: What Singapore Can Learn From Ireland

Featuring: Gerald Dawe, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Philip Jeyaretnam, Meira Chand

Moderated by: Neil Murphy

Time: Sunday, 12 Nov | 5.30pm – 6.30pm

Venue: The Arts House, Blue Room


From James Joyce and Samuel Beckett to Colm Tóibín and Anne Enright, Ireland has produced some of the world’s greatest writers, who have won prizes such as the Nobel, the Pulitzer and the Booker. Such achievements are all the more remarkable considering Ireland’s small population of about five million, comparable to Singapore’s. So, what can Singaporean writers and literary associations learn from their Irish counterparts? On this panel, esteemed practitioners from both Ireland and Singapore will share their candid opinions on the states of their countries’ literatures.