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  • The Dalkey Book Festival

    In increasingly challenging economic times, communities are starting to take matters into their own hands to stimulate tourism trade. Read an account of how Dalkey, a town in south Dublin, did just that with the launch of an annual book festival.


    Reading at Dalkey Book FestivalThe Dalkey Book Festival was launched in 2010 to celebrate and foster the wealth of literary talent in and around the town. The idea for the festival was born from discussions within the Dalkey Business Group and the community’s desire and need to tackle the problem of dwindling trade in the recession.

    Renowned journalist and broadcaster David McWilliams, who visited the group, had written about the idea of local communities fighting back in his weekly column in the Irish Independent. Following an overwhelmingly positive response, he suggested that one of the valuable resources unique to Dalkey might be all the writers who live there and have experienced the town in one shape or form over the years. And so, the Dalkey Book Festival was created.

    Its success in its first two years is down to the co-ordinated collective collaboration of its founders David McWilliams and Sian Smyth, a superb team of volunteers, and the goodwill of the Dalkey community and local businesses who have offered support and provided venues for festival events. Not forgetting, of course, the authors and performers without whom there would be no festival.


    From the outset, the festival was deemed to be a family event. Children were included as an audience, as well as active participants.

    At the 2011 festival there was a full day of events specifically for children, with talks and workshops from renowned writers including Roddy Doyle, John Boyne, Gordon Snell, Niamh Sharkey, Sarah Webb, Don Conroy, Gillian Perdue, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, Mary Kingston, Nicola Pierce, Conor Kostick, John Newman and Judi Curtin. Storytelling, illustration, drawing and dance workshops, as well as readings from the best of Irish writers for children from three years old to teenagers also formed part of the programme. Throughout the festival, there were lots of opportunities for children to be engaged, entertained and involved on the streets of Dalkey with music, facepainting, puppet shows and cookery demonstrations.


    Communities can develop tourism trade in their area by teaming up to work to their destination's strengths.

    Read our tips for working with local partners