WFU Press announces schedule for 8th annual Irish Festival

The Morris Family

The Morris Family

Wake Forest University Press, the premier publisher of Irish poetry in North America, invites the Triad community to celebrate Irish culture at the 8th Annual Wake Forest Irish Festival March 12 and 15 – 18 at Wake Forest University. Unless otherwise noted, all festival events are free.

The festival was created as a way for the community to celebrate Irish culture and as a way to increase the awareness of the work of Wake Forest Press.



This year’s festival will kick off March 12 with Community Day from 12 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Davis Field on Wake Forest’s campus. The event, which has drawn crowds of more than 3,700 people in the past, offers a wide variety of Irish cultural activities, including music by the Morris Family and Gaelwynd, dancing by the Rince Na h’Eireann (Triad Irish Dancers), storytelling by Andrew Leslie, and crafting activities for young and old.

Items for sale at the festival will include, poetry books, gifts, jewelry, children’s items, Irish music and instruments as well as Irish food, such as scones, smoked salmon and capers, ham sandwiches and beverages.

In the event of rain, the community day will be moved inside to the lobby of Scales Fine Arts Center.

On March 15 at 7 p.m., the festival will continue off campus into the community with “Across the Ocean, into the Mountains: An Irish/Appalachian Evening.” The event will feature an evening of live music, dance and stories at The Garage in downtown Winston-Salem.

Performers will include Rince na h’Eireann Irish Dancers, Rhythm Masters Cloggers, the Morris Family and Appalachian storyteller Glenn Bolick. The Garage is located in the Arts District on W. Seventh Street. Admission is $5. Food and drink will be for sale.

On March 16, the festival will feature a concert titled “Joyce and the Art of Song” at 7:30 p.m. in the Choral Performance Room, M208, of Scales Fine Arts Center. The concert will include songs composed to the texts of James Joyce sung by mezzo-soprano Sandra Cotton accompanied by pianist Scott Klein, an associate professor of English at Wake Forest.

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, the festival’s annual Irish Poetry Recitation Contest will be held in Shorty’s at Benson University Center from 11 a.m. to noon. The public is encouraged to come listen to or recite poetry.

In past years, students, professors, community members and even home-schooled children dressed in Irish outfits have participated. All those who recite receive a free lunch, and prizes will be awarded.

At 7:30 p.m. that evening, Reynolda House Museum of American Art will also host the festival’s Irish Poetry Reading. Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, one of Ireland’s most prestigious poets, will read from her work. Ní Chuilleanáin is cited as the foremost female poet now writing in Ireland and Great Britain. She is the associate professor of English, dean of the Faculty of Arts (Letters) and a fellow of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

A reception and booksigning will follow the reading.

The festival will conclude at Wake Forest on March 18 with a colloquium from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at DeTamble Auditorium in Tribble Hall titled “‘A Green Leaf of Language’: The Poetry of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin.” This roundtable discussion will include Irish scholars: Anne Fogarty of the University College Dublin School of English; Helen Emmitt of Centre College in Danville, Ky.; and Nicholas Allen of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Raffle tickets for an authentic Celtic harp will be sold at all festival events. Val Apple, a High Point resident and owner of, has donated instruments for the raffle for the past four years as a way to help the festival and thank the organizers for their efforts.

The festival is sponsored by Wake Forest University Press.

For additional information about the festival, call the Wake Forest University Press at 336-758-5448 or visit

To arrange coverage, contact Pam Barrett at 336-758-5237.

Categories: Arts & Culture, Events