Tipperary woman to speak at International Readership Conference

Foras na Gaeilge, the North/South Irish Language Promotional Body, today announced details of the international Conference on Readership (Comhdháil faoin Léitheoireacht) that will be held in the Marino Conference Centre in Dublin on the 21st and 22nd of September 2012. Minister for State for Gaeltacht Affairs, Mr Donnchadh Mac Fhionnlaoich, TD, will open the conference that will host some of our most talented writers and publishers, editors and critics and will showcase the best of Irish language publishing for children and adults.

The issues that will be discussed over the two days will include the current state of the Irish language literature sector, challenges facing writers and publishers, reader development work in the UK, how Irish language books are reviewed in the media and the distribution and marketing of these books.

The conference will look at international models that have been used successfully to increase readership of books in other languages. The keynote speaker at the conference will be Rachel Van Riel, who is synonymous with the term ‘reader development’. She is founder and director of Opening the Book, an organisation that led the growth of the reader-centred ideas that are now embedded in UK libraries. This is the first time that the concept of reader development will be discussed in the context of Irish language books and reading.

Mr Oriol Izquierdo from Barcelona, Director of the Institute for Catalan Literature, will also discuss models that have been successful in increasing readership for books in a minority language.

Aedín Ní Bhroin is Director of Clár na Leabhar Gaeilge, a department of Foras na Gaeilge that promotes Irish language publishing, writing and reading. She hopes that this conference will answer some vital questions in relation to Irish language readership as well as develop a strategy towards securing a healthy future for Irish language publishing.

“Comhdháil faoin Léitheoireacht gives us the opportunity to discuss the needs of writers, publishers and readers, helping us to ensure that proper supports are put in place in order to allow this creative sector to grow” says Aedín.

Other speakers will include writer and RTÉ broadcaster, Cathal Póirtéir; Máire Uí Shíthigh from Oidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne in the Kerry Gaeltacht; Éamonn Ó Dónaill of ClubLeabhar.com; Liam Carson of IMRAM literature festival; Jane Alger, Director of Dublin UNESCO City of Literature; Gareth Cuddy, CEO of leading ebooks distributor ePub Direct which is based in Cork; and Eithne Kennedy and Pádraig Ó Duibhir from St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra.

Breandán Mac Craith of ÁIS (Foras na Gaeilge), the main distributor of Irish language books is speaking at the conference. He says it’s vital to consider the future of Irish language publishing and examine ways to not only increase sales but also encourage readership of Irish language books amongst adults and children:

“Comhdháil faoin léitheoireacht will discuss how Irish language publishing can survive and compete with its limited resources, limited audiences and limited sales” says Mac Craith. “The ultimate question is; how do we use these limited resources to support the sector? How do we do more with less? If Irish language publishing begins to thrive, it will have a knock-on effect for readership levels as well.”

The Minister for State for Gaeltacht Affairs, Mr Donnchadh Mac Fhionnlaoich, TD, will perform the official opening of the conference at 9.30 am on Friday, 21st September.

This two-day free event, organised by Foras na Gaeilge is open to the public. For more information, see www.leabhar.ie.

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