From 23 – 26 June 2016, the town of Kells, in County Meath, presents the fourth Hay Festival Kells.

This year's Festival brings more new imaginings from our most diverse programme yet of writers, artists, musicians, politicians and personalities.

The 2016 line up includes some of the best known names in contemporary literature. British writer Hanif Kureishi CBE (My Beautiful Laundrette, The Buddha of Suburbia, Love and Hate) joins us, and contemporary Irish writers speaking include Patrick McCabe (The Butcher Boy), Kevin Barry (Beatlebone), Lisa McInerney (The Glorious Heresies) in conversation with Sinead Gleeson (The Long Gaze Back anthology), Jax Miller (Freedom’s Child), Liz Nugent (Unravelling Oliver), Oona Frawley (Flight) and Vanessa Ronan (The Last Days of Summer).

For politics fans, the former leader of the Labour Party, Eamon Gilmore will discuss life Inside the Room, and John Bruton, former Taoiseach and EU Ambassador to the US will talk about life in international politics. Chelsea Garden Show winner Mary Reynolds will discuss sustainable agriculture and food production. Hotelier and TV personality Francis Brennan and investigative sports journalist and cyclist Paul Kimmage will also take the Hay stage.

2016’s history strand will commemorate the Battle of the Somme, with lectures from Brian Ervine and Myles Dungan. This year also sees events marking the centenary of 1916 Rising with Caitriona Crowe, Padraig Yeates, Sinead McCoole, Gene Kerrigan (The Scrap) and Joe Duffy (Children of the Rising).

A brand new strand, The Image, will see graphic and visual effects artists explore the art of the graphic novel and modern game design. Talks and workshops feature Rhianna Pratchett (Tomb Raider), Paul Bolger, Maeve Clancy, Allan Cavanagh, Damien Marshall, Maura McHugh, and Michael Carroll (Judge Dredd).

Children can learn about the creation of a book – from idea to publication, in a workshop led by newly-appointed Children’s Laureate and renowned illustrator PJ Lynch with former Laureate Siobhán Parkinson. Along with a Cartoon Saloon workshop into animated character design, a visit of the Book Clinic and Cowboy Conor – there is plenty for the Young at Hay this year.

For music fans, Dublin duo The Lost Brothers, and Mary Black will play, the Hay Sessions will combine poetry, music and the written word and Bar Room Banter and Blues features just that, as part of the evening line up. And closing notes will featue a music gig from Kells native Michael Brunnock, joined by very special guest Colm Mac Con Iomaire.

With over 80 events including screenings, music, walks and exhibitions the Festival Programme is well worth a look - click here for full details.

For those who’d like to support the Festival’s work, becoming a Friend of Hay Festival Kells means you can contribute directly to the Festival, and enjoy invitations to special events and access to priority seating.

Hay Festival Kells
  • Kevin Barry at Hay Festival Kells 2016

    Kevin Barry

    John just wants to spend three days alone on his island - but getting there isn't easy. Kevin Barry's BEATLEBONE is a portrait of an artist at a time of creative strife, and is a sad and beautiful new comedy from one of the most gifted stylists at work. One of the most acclaimed novels of the year, it has already won the Goldsmith's Prize. In the New York Times, Steve Earle wrote - "Books like this come along once in a generation."

  • Francis Brennan at Hay Festival Kells 2016

    Francis Brennan

    The essence of good hotel keeping is hospitality and Francis Brennan has practiced this with distinction for decades. Owning the Park Hotel Kenmare, the hotel has become one of the most acclaimed hotels in Ireland regularly reaching the top of international polls. Francis from his life and hotel experiences has written two books It’s the Little Things and Counting Your Blessings. He looks forward to discussing love, life and happiness in Kells.

  • Patrick McCabe at Hay Festival Kells 2016

    Patrick McCabe

    After his outstanding 1992 success with Booker Prize nominated The Butcher Boy Patrick McCabe probably could have retired undefeated and forged the career you suspect he cherished just as much that of writer, as a singer in a band. Instead he chose to create a literary sub-genre – the Guardian calls it ‘Bog Gothic – and write more masterpieces, like Breakfast on Pluto. There is no ‘voice’ like his. His vision is anarchic. His humour is crow-black. Weaned on Hollywood noir, he has successfully managed to inject the dark dye of that filmic genre into his cinematic novels.

  • Rhianna Pratchett at Hay Festival Kells 2016

    Rhianna Pratchett

    Her website describes her, self-deprecatingly, as a ‘general narrative paramedic’. But Rhianna Pratchett is much more than a mere script doctor. Best known as an accomplished writer of video games (Heavenly Sword, Overlord, Mirror’s Edge) Rhianna has also taken in hand the re-vamping of the Tomb Raider franchise and the re-invention of the feisty and uncompromising Lara Croft. She has contributed to several books on games writing and authored numerous comics and short stories. She is currently working on the adaptation of Wee Free Men and a number of her own TV and film projects.

  • Kells Type Trail

    Kells Type Trail

    The Type Trail celebrates letters and the modern art form of typography. Each year one word is reimagined and recreated in 20 public art installations around Kells. RISE will be reinterpreted in multiple forms by local artists the 2016 Type Trail, weaving its way around the town’s historic streets.

  • Accommodation at Hay Festival Kells


    For listings of Fáilte Ireland Approved Accommodation in and around Kells, please visit or


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Hay Festival Kells