Nature Writing Festival

Shaking Bog is for anyone who shares an interest in nature and writing; art and the environment; community and education; connection and conversation.

Shaking Bog Festival - Programme of Events

A diverse range of events celebrating nature and writing: readings & discussion from world-renowned authors and poets; a dramatic presentation at dusk; a bumper day of art and nature events for children at Aurora House; bird watching; a wildlife photography workshop; maybe even a little dancing by the fire.
Click to view event list on Eventbrite

Shaking Bog and Fighting Words present

Shaking At Aurora

(for 4-12 years)

A fun-filled day of creativity and nature for children in the stunning setting of Aurora, Glencree

The Grove, Aurora, Glencree
Sat 22nd, 11.30am – 4.30pm
No Wheelchair Access
Free Event - Booking Required

Whether you enjoy drawing, writing, painting, playing or storytelling this day is for you. Come and explore nature and your own creativity in the beautiful surroundings of Aurora House in Glencree. An exciting range of workshops and other events are on offer, led by well known working artists and Fighting Words mentors. At the end of the day, everyone will gather in the outdoor amphitheatre for fun and storytelling with superstar children’s author Shane Hegarty! So please bring picnics and come along, prepared to spend the whole day.

Scheduled Workshops

(pre-booking recommended for scheduled workshops to avoid disappointment)

11.30am – 2.00pm (6 – 12 years)

Songwriting with talented singer-songwriter and guitarist Colm Quearney.

This workshop is about having fun with music. So feel free to bring along any instruments or lyrical ideas that you might have. Taking inspiration from the stunning landscape of Aurora, children will not only write their own songs, but also perform them with the expert help of Colm on guitar.

Book tickets

1.30 – 3.30pm (8 – 12 years)

Graphic fiction writing with cartoon illustrator Philip Elliott.

Philip is a big fan of fun and humour and he will guide the children through the a’s and b’s of creating their very own piece of graphic fiction. Working as a group and individually, participants will create original, new pieces of graphic fiction with the guidance of Philip and the other Fighting Words tutors.

Book tickets

11.30am – 1.00pm (8 – 12 years)
2.00 – 3.30pm (4 – 8 years)

Under The Trees - A creative art workshop with forest school leaders Liz McMahon and Katie O’Brien

After a scavenger hunt, exploring nature and collecting some of its small treasures, children will be supported to create an artistic work of their own choosing.

Book tickets (8 – 12)Book tickets (4 – 8)

Ongoing Workshops

Between workshops or as an alternative, children, siblings (and parents!) can roam around and enjoy other fun activities that will be taking place throughout the day.

Making Bird and Bat Boxes

with Zef Klinkenbergh

Storytelling in the Leprechaun Graveyard

with actress Brenda McSweeney

Doodling, Drawing and Writing

in the Small Writers Corner

Scavenger Hunts
Playing in the playground
Walking Trails

(and even a Nature Writing Workshop for the parents at 12 noon)

Grand Finale with Shane Hegarty

3.45 – 4.30pm

To round off a fantastic day of exploring and creating, parents and children will all be invited to the outdoor ampitheatre for a final blast of fun and storytelling with bestselling children’s author Shane Hegarty (of the Darkmouth series).

Advice

Come appropriately dressed for the outdoors with sturdy footwear, sunscreen, hats, waterproofs and insect repellent. If it’s overcast then sleeves and full length trousers are advised on account of midges. Coffee, tea and water will be available, but please bring a picnic to keep you fuelled up for a day of creating. Also, please see our ‘Keeping it Green’ policy.

J.M. Synge’s

In the Shadow of the Glen

A Rehearsed Reading

Oak Glen (in the woods)
Meeting in the Oak Glen car park at 4.00pm
Sat 22nd June, 4.30pm
€5 all tickets
No Wheelchair Access

“In most places I can see the straight ending of
the cloud, but above the lake, grey fingers are
coming up and down, like a hand that is clasping
and opening again.”

JM Synge, Glencree from Travels in Wicklow.

The language and landscape of County Wicklow had a profound influence on the writings of playwright John Millington Synge. His renowned short play, In the Shadow of the Glen, is set “at the head of a long glen in County Wicklow” and this is a very rare opportunity to encounter the play in situ in this rehearsed reading at Oak Glen.

Oak Glen is, of course, also forever associated with Synge in his famous love poem To The Oaks of Glencree, the lines of which are carved in stone in the wood:

“My arms are round you, and I lean
Against you, while the lark
Sings over us, and golden lights, and green
Shadows are on your bark.”

The reading will be introduced by renowned Synge scholar - and Wicklow resident - Prof. Nicholas Grene. With Caitríona Ní Mhurchú and Terry O’Neill.
Directed by Alan Gilsenan.

Please note that this event involves a short walk into the woods and we advise suitable footwear.

Book tickets

Pascale Petit &
Paul Durcan: Readings

Marquee, Glencree Centre
Sat 22nd June, 7.00pm
€10 full price/€8 conc.

“Like all women of her generation
My mother had a secret”

Paul Durcan

“I ask: what is my mother now?
and the forest answers
with a letter written
in dew on a leaf”

Pascale Petit

Pascale Petit and Paul Durcan are two of the most individual voices writing poetry today. Brave and vulnerable in equal measure, they both possess a dazzling imagination and breath-taking honesty. Individually, they have fearlessly explored mental illness, the emotional complexities of family and the sense of place. But they also share a profound, almost magical, ability to see the mythic in the mundane.

Paul Durcan, one of Ireland’s most respected and beloved poets, and Pascale Petit - whose recent collection Mama Amazonica won the prestigous RSL Ondaatje Prize - will read from their distinctive bodies of work and, afterwards, explore their work in an informal conversation.

Book tickets

Birdsong, Habitats & Wildlife

A Morning Trail with Declan Murphy

Declan Murphy book cover

Glencree River (meet at Knockree Hostel at 8.45am)
Sun 23rd June, 9.00 – 10.30am
Family Friendly - easy to moderate walk
No Wheelchair Access
Free Event - Booking Required

A gentle walk through the trees with bird expert and nature enthusiast Declan Murphy - author of Life in the Trees: The Great Spotted Woodpecker. Part memoir, this book is a personal account of a family of woodpeckers raising their young, touching on themes of hope, new life, love and death. Declan is an avid birdwatcher who found his place in the world through a deep connection to nature. He is passionate about sharing his experience and expert knowledge with both children and adults - hoping to inspire people to recognise all that nature has to offer.

Experienced nature guide Adrian Nolan will lead the trail down to the banks of the Glencree River as Declan talks about birdsong, wildlife and habitats, whilst also offering some personal insights into his own experiences in nature.

‘As engaging an expression of a true naturalist’s passion as Ireland has produced … So immediate and concerned is [the author’s] account that one comes to live it with him, if spared the scourge of midges that penetrate his dark and humid hide.’

The Irish Times

Book tickets

Wildlife Camera Workshop

with Theo Jebb

Photos by Theo jebb

Knockree Hostel
10.30am – 12.00pm
16+ years
€8 full price/€6 conc.

Despite his young age, Theo Jebb has already established an international reputation as a wildlife cameraman. Having begun working with the award-winning Greystones-based Crossing The Line Films, he has since worked on several award-winning internationally recognised wildlife films. In 2015, he received an Emmy award for Cinematography for his work on National Geographic’s ‘Wild Yellowstone Series’. He has most recently returned from the Arctic Canada where he was filming polar bear mothers and cubs emerging from their winter dens, for a major National Geographic web-series.

During this film-making workshop, Theo will give an overview of his career and demonstrate highly specialised equipment - showing the latest techniques used to capture the natural world.
He will also discuss the current trends within the wildlife filmmaking industry.

The equipment on display will include a slow-motion camera, a 6k digital cinema camera, stabilised camera gimbals and drones. A section of the workshop will take place outside if the weather permits. This is a rare opportunity to gain insight and advice from the magical coalface of wildlife film and photography.

Presented in association with Crossing the Line

Book tickets

In association with Fighting Words

Budding Writers Reading Event

Curtlestown School
Sun 23rd June, 11.00am
Free Event - No booking required

Shaking Bog put out a call to local schools inviting children to submit a piece of Nature Writing. Every child who responded to the invitation will be a winner; all of the work submitted will be displayed at different venues throughout the festival and published on the Fighting Words website.

A selection of young writers will be asked to present their work at a very special reading event in Curtlestown School in the heart of the Glencree Valley. The criteria for selection will be to reflect a wide and varied range of work. Nature writer Declan Murphy will introduce the event and offer the budding writers some words of wisdom and inspiration.

In Memory of Shirley McClure: Jane Clarke & Katie Donovan

Marquee, Glencree Centre
Sunday 23rd June, 11.30am
€5 all tickets

The Wicklow poet Shirley McClure sadly died in 2016. Following her untimely death, her publisher, Arlen House, invited her good friend and poet, Jane Clarke, to edit Origami Doll, New & Collected Poems.

The festival is pleased to celebrate the collection’s publication as well as Shirley’s life and work, in this intimate conversation with readings from her work by Jane Clarke and fellow poet Katie Donovan.

“Quirky and wise, studded with razor-sharp double entendres and droll fantasies, this is a poetry of candour and folly, and ultimately of discovery. Fuelled by a combative curiosity about the underbelly of human relationships, the themes include sexual jealousy, bereavement, and how a woman regards her physical self.”

Katie Donovan on Shirley McClure

Book tickets

Carlo Gebler: How To Believe In The Past

Marquee, Glencree Centre
Sun 23rd June, 2.00pm
€10 full price/€8 conc.

Carlo Gebler is the author of an extraordinary array of novels, plays and non-fiction. As writer-in-residence at Maghaberry Prison in Northern Ireland, he has also displayed a remarkable gift for teaching and inspiring other fledgling writers.

Gebler is, of course, also the son of Edna O’Brien. But far less is known about his elusive father - Ernest Gebler - who was also a writer and with whom Carlo had a complex, if fascinating, relationship. In this special event, Carlo will reflect - in his inimitable way - on this relationship and on his father’s relationship with County Wicklow.

As Carlo writes:

Many many years ago, my father spent a lot of time in Wicklow. Many years afterwards he wrote about those experiences. At the time he was writing about his time in Wicklow he had early onset Alzheimer’s, and when I found the pages he had written and wanted to use them as the basis for a memoir about our relationship (subsequently published as The Projectionist), I didn’t believe what he’d written. But then I went back Wicklow and discovered, as it turned out, he was surprisingly accurate.
Book tickets

John Lewis-Stempel: In Conversation

Marquee Glencree Centre
Sun 23rd June, 4pm
€10 full price/€8 conc.

We are delighted to welcome John Lewis-Stempel to the inaugural Shaking Bog Festival.

Lewis-Stempel is one of the finest nature writers and historians working today. But he is probably better described as a chronicler of the countryside, because the countryside is where his heart really lies and where his boots are firmly placed. For Lewis-Sempel is a working farmer, tending the Herefordshire farm that has been in his family since the 13th century. His many beautifully written books are intimate hymns to the physical world around him, often in diary form, but imbued with clarity, insight and deep affection.

His book Meadowland - which won the Thwaites Wainwright Prize for nature writing - was described
by Fiona Reynolds, chair of the judging panel, as:

“An utterly captivating book, we found Lewis-Stempel’s narrative original and inspiring. Bewitchingly beautiful, honest and effortless, this is a book that should make us all want to explore the wonders and realities of nature on our doorstep.”

John Lewis-Stempel will be in conversation with journalist Sylvia Thompson, who writes on nature and the environment for the Irish Times.

Book tickets

Shaking It Out - Concert

In Memory of John Louis Goor (1939-2018)

St Kevin’s Church, Glencree Centre
Sun 23rd June, 7.00pm
€20 full price/€16 conc.

It is a rare and special privilege to welcome the artists and musicians who will be appearing in this concert to the Glencree Valley. To mark the end of the festival weekend, these artists - some of them world-renowned - will, create a memorable night of celebration. Music will be interwoven with personal readings of favourite extracts of nature writing. The concert will feature Liam O'Maonlai and other guests including; Wicklow's songstress Mary Coughlan, writer John Lewis-Stemple, The Square Pegs blues band, garden designer and broadcaster Diarmuid Gavin, singer Flo McSweeney, poet Katie Donovan, the Fugato Quartet and more.

You are invited to arrive some time before it starts to enjoy a drink in the beautiful setting of Glencree and soak in the atmosphere.

Book tickets

Ancillary Events

Straw Boys

Glencree Centre
Saturday 22nd, 8.45 approx.
Free

Shaking Bog welcomes the local Straw Boys to Glencree on Saturday night, for some fireside music and dancing. Party pieces might even be welcome.
*Immediately following Pascale Petit & Paul Durcan. Limited availability on a first come first serve basis.

Magic of Moths

Knockree Hostel
Sunday 23rd, 8.15 - 9.15am
Free

A fascinating opportunity to engage with the magical world of moths. A rare opportunity to see and learn more about them at close quarters - with local naturalist Kieran Finch.
*This event will end in time for the nature trail with Declan Murphy

Forest Therapy

Oak Glen Wood
Sunday 23rd, 9.15 - 11.15am
Free (meet in car park)

Kerry Walker, a Forest Therapy Guide, will lead a gentle guided walk into the woods - incorporating some nature poetry - that will enhance wellbeing through a sensory connection to nature.
*If you would like to go on this walk please book on Eventbrite as places are limited - adults only

Find Forest Therapy on Facebook @foresttherapygalway

Book tickets