This year’s Writers Week Festival began this evening with the opening ceremony in the function suite of the Listowel Arms Hotel. The evening kicked off to the wonderful voice of Eliza Buckley. Mr. Noel Twomey introduced the three dignitaries to the stage: Sean Lyons, Chairman of the Festival, Colm Tobin, President of the Festival and Paul Durcan, one of Ireland’s foremost poets, who officially opened the 43rd Writers Week Festival . In his speech Mr. Durcan expressed his love for Listowel and said Listowel was the place to meet interesting people. Following Mr. Durcan’s speech, Mr. Bernard Farrell was the very proud recipient of the John B. Keane Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in the arts. This award is in memory of the founding members of Listowel Writers’ Week. A new award was introduced this year – the inaugural Pigott Poetry Prize for a book of poetry by an Irish Poet, and it was received by Matthew Sweeney. The first prize of Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award 2014 was presented to Eimear McBride for her novel “A Girl is Half-formed Thing”. Shortlisted novels included: “ Time Present & Time Past by Deirdre Madden, “Transatlantic” by Colm McCann, “Arimathea” by Frank McGuiness, “The Thing About December” by Donal Ryan.