Wilde Talks


The Socialism of a Man's Soul

Written by Will Self delivered by Adrian Dunbar

The Soul of Man under Socialism was Wilde’s last essay and is generally regarded as his best; in fact it is often considered one of the greatest essays in the English language.  It was prompted by a public meeting Wilde attended, at which the main speaker was George Bernard Shaw; Wilde’s essay is a response to what Shaw said that evening. 

In The Socialism of Man’s Soul, Will Self in turn responds to Wilde’s essay by arguing that it’s precisely because of the collaborative nature of consciousness itself that socialism of the kind he envisaged can never be realised.

Will Self is one of the most acclaimed, provocative, challenging and entertaining writers at work today.  His books include Umbrella (which was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize), Walking to Hollywood and The Book of Dave.

The Socialism of Man’s Soul will be delivered at the festival by tbc

“…I always cleave to what Oscar Wilde said: “When the critics are divided the artist is in accord with himself.”  You really want a book to arouse ambivalence, because that way you know it can’t be assimilated (and therefore neutralised) by the evanescent cultural mulch.”   –  Will Self

The Regal (capacity 250)

Friday May 1, 6.30pm

£8 & £6

duration 60 mins


Wilde School Days with Jarlath Kileen and Heather White

The relationship between Portora Royal School and Trinity College, Dublin dates back to the early eighteen century.  Both of course were attended by Oscar Wilde and in this introductory talk, Jarlath Killeen and Heather White offer a revealing insight into Wilde’s life and education during those years.

Jarlath Killeen is an Associate Professor at Trinity College, Dublin and an acknowledged expert on Oscar Wilde.  His published monographs include The Faiths of Oscar Wilde (2005) and The Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde (2007).  Heather White has also written extensively on Wilde, including Forgotten Schooldays: Oscar Wilde at Portora and Wildefire: the story of Oscar Wilde’s half-sisters.

Portora Royal School (capacity 50)

Saturday May 2, 10.30am

Free of Charge

duration 60 mins


The Trial of Oscar Wilde - Toby Carson, Owen Dudley Edwards and Eibhear Walshe

The trial of Oscar Wilde is an example of the power of myth over fact.  His grandson, Merlin Holland, described it as ‘one of the very first celebrity trials’ but how well do we actually know the truth of what happened?

Toby Carson, Owen Dudley Edwards and Eibhear Walshe discuss the background to the case, the drama of the proceedings and the role of Edward Carson, the future leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, in leading the defence for the Marquess of Queensberry.

Toby Carson is the grandson of Edward Carson.  Owen Dudley Edwards is a renowned scholar and Honorary Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, and Eibhear Walshe is a literary critic and novelist, whose most recent novel, The Diary of Mary Travers, reimagines her secret connection to Oscar Wilde.

Masonic Hall (capacity 90)

Saturday May 2, 2pm

£8 & £6

Duration 60 mins

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Neil Bartlett in conversation with Eibhear Walshe

When The Picture of Dorian Gray was first published the reviews were terrible and the sales poor and it took years before Wilde’s only novel was recognised as a work of extraordinary imagination.  Neil Bartlett discusses with Eibhear Walshe the hold that this story of a Faustian pact has had on us ever since.

Neil Bartlett is a director, performer, translator and writer.  His novels include Skin Lane and The Disappearance Boy and in 2012 he adapted The Picture of Dorian Gray for the stage as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival.

Reread today, however, The Picture of Dorian Gray is a wonderfully entertaining parable of the aesthetic ideal (art for art’s sake), and a sneak preview of the brilliance exhibited in plays such as The Importance of Being Earnest and Lady Windermere’s Fan.                 

Robert McCrum in The Guardian’s The 100 Best Novels.

Masonic Hall (capacity 90)

Saturday May 2, 4pm

£8 & £6

duration 60mins

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Culture in Wilde's time - Robert Hewison

In two recent films, Mike Leigh’s Mr Turnerand Emma Thompson’s Effie Gray, the critic John Ruskin has been controversially portrayed, some might say denigrated. But Ruskin was one of the great figures of the Victorian era, a period that also included Walter Pater, William Morris, and of course Wilde himself. At the heart of all this was the question of what art was for; the Aesthetic movement believed that art was there to give pleasure whereas Ruskin argued that it existed to redeem the world. Robert Hewison discusses the cultural cross-currents of this extraordinary period and the extent to which these ideas are still relevant today.

Robert Hewison is a critic and cultural historian. He is an expert on John Ruskin, having written on various aspects of his ideas and thinking, and co-curated the Ruskin centenary exhibition at Tate Britain in 2000. His most recent book is Cultural Capital: the Life and Death of Creative Britain.

Masonic Hall (capacity 90)

Sunday May 3, 12pm

£8 & £6

duration 60mins

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Alan Hollinghurst in conversation with Carlo Gebler

In April of 1895, whilst Oscar Wilde was in Holloway prison awaiting trial, the entire contents of his house in Tite Street were sold to appease creditors.  Amongst the contents were the books of Wilde’s library, his manuscripts and private letters.  The books were sold in job lots; first editions, beautifully bound editions of his mother and father’s work, presentation volumes from ‘almost every poet of my time’ were all sold for a pittance.  When Wilde heard of the sale he was inconsolable.

Alan Hollinghurst is one of the most acclaimed writers at work today.  His novels include The Swimming Pool Library, The Line of Beauty (which won the 2004 Man Booker Prize) and, most recently, The Stranger’s Child.

“I can think of no other novelist of the present day, and precious few of the past, who could catch human beings going about the ordinary business of living with the loving exactitude on display here. “  – John Banville on The Stranger’s Child

Ardhowen Theatre

Sunday May 3, 2pm

£10 & £8

duration 60 mins

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Ralph Steadman – Live from his Studio

In the year following Oscar Wilde’s arrival at Portora, Alice In Wonderland was published and just as Lewis Carroll was inspired to write the Alice stories by the young Alice Liddell, so Wilde in later years would write fairy stories for his own sons.  In special live video link-up from his studio, Ralph Steadman talks about his own illustrations for Alice In Wonderland which received such acclaim when they were published in the 1970’s, gives us a tour of his studio and answers audience questions.

Ralph Steadman has illustrated a number of other literary classics, including Animal Farm, Treasure Island, and Fahrenheit 451.  He also illustrated Hunter S Thompson’s best-known work, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas and Steadman’s imagery was adapted for the 1988 film of the same name.  His work has appeared in countless publications and he has also created cover art for records by the likes of The Who, Frank Zappa and Slash.

Ardhowen Theatre

Sunday May 3, 5pm

£8 & £6

Family Ticket £20 (2+2)

duration 60 mins

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Three Fairytale Concerts


Festival Opening Concert - Mahler Des Knaben Wunderhorn

Gustav Mahler’s settings of the folktales and fairytales collected together for Des Knaben Wunderhorn.

Marcus Farnsworth (baritone), Dorottya Lang (mezzo soprano), Julius Drake (piano)

Enniskillen Methodist Church (capacity 200)

Friday May 1, 8pm

£10 & £8

Duration 60mins

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Photo Marco Borggreve

Saturday Concert

Schumann Märchenbilder op 113 for viola and piano

Janacek Pohadka for cello and piano

Ravel Mother Goose Suite for four hands


Grieg Lyric Pieces (selection) for piano solo

Ireland Fantasy sonata for clarinet and piano

Schumann Märchenzählungen op 132, clarinet, viola and piano

Julius Drake (piano), Charles Owen (piano) , Tim Orpen (clarinet), Rachel Roberts (viola), Louise Hopkins (cello)

Enniskillen Methodist Church (capacity 200)

Saturday May 2, 7pm

£14 & £12

Family Ticket £40 (2+2)

Duration 100mins (with interval)

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Strauss on Sunday

Strauss Four Songs op 10
Strauss Sonata for cello and piano

Strauss Four Last Songs

Katherine Broderick (soprano), Louise Hopkins (cello), Julius Drake (piano), Charles Owen (piano)

The Graan Monastery  (capacity 250)

Sunday May 3, 7pm

£14 & £12

Family Ticket £40 (2+2)

duration 100 mins (with interval)

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Fable to Fairytale Film Festival


Alice in Wonderland

Inspired by  Lewis Carroll’s 1865 fantasy novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its 1871 sequel, Through the Looking-Glass. A real visual treat! 



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Classic Disney fairytale collides with modern day NY city. A witty dialogue, lots of laughs and sure to delight children and adults alike



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The Selfish Giant

Starkly emotional and beautifully directed, this contemporary fable is based on the story of the same name by Oscar Wilde.



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I Am Legend

A mesmerising performance by Will Smith as the last man on earth, as he struggles to survive while fending off the infected survivors of a devastating vampiric plague.



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A well loved classic fairytale, featuring the late Robin Williams in a star turn as the genie



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Readings, Plays, Dinners and Garden Walks


Oscar Wilde at Home (Florence Court)

Oscar, Constance, Speranza (and Bosie) are “at home” in the exquisitely beautiful Florence Court House this Mayday weekend. House guests will include Jack, Algy, Gwendolen and Cecily from The Importance of Being Earnest, (not to mention the redoubtable Lady Bracknell), Lord and Lady Windermere, and the precocious Dorian Gray. Visitors will be conducted throughout the house, upstairs and downstairs, where a range of short scenes from Wilde’s most popular works will be performed live by actors in each of the principal rooms. Is it life or is it art? Come and decide for yourself as we welcome you to the witty, complex and contradictory world of Oscar Wilde. Conceived and directed by David Grant. Ticket price includes access to Florence Court Gardens. The performance lasts approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Florence Court (capacity 40)

£14 & £12

Family Ticket £40 (2+2)

duration 75 mins.

Friday May 1 – 2.30pm & 4.30pm

Saturday May 2 – 10.15am, 1.15pm & 4.30pm

Sunday May 3 – 10.15am, 1.15pm & 4.30pm

Monday May 4 – 10.15am, 1.15pm & 4.30pm

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The Decay of Lying

Directed by ADRIAN DUNBAR and starring Allan Corduner and Juha Sorola

The Decay of Lying is a brilliant critique of the so called moderne couched in an often hilarious attack against Nature. The influence of Joris-Karl Huysman’s A rebours (which Wilde made a text book for Dorian Gray) can only be guessed at and is conspicuous by its absence. The Decay appears to be Wilde going totally against the tenor of the times in criticising savagely some of the sacred cows of literature and the visual arts while at the same time suggesting that it is Art that influences Life and not the other way around. This dialogue between Cyril and Vivian (the names of his two sons) shows Wilde at his brilliant best. With incredible scope and ease he manages to throw the vast net of his genius over the whole history of Art. It is also a man who is about to produce his greatest works declaring how he feels about the artistic world from a position of great breadth and understanding. Its confident, humorous, cutting, clever and highly entertaining .

Castle Coole, The Morning Room (capacity 25)

£8 & £6

duration 45mins

Friday May 1 – 4.30pm

Saturday May 2 – 10.30am & 4.30pm

Sunday May 3 – 11am & 3.00pm

Monday May 4 – 12pm & 3.00pm

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Memorial by Alice Oswald and Narrated by Ciaran McMenamin

Oscar Wilde was passionate about ancient Greek literature and had a great love of Homer.  In Alice Oswald’s long poem, Memorial, she strips away the story of the Iliad and focuses instead on the brief ‘biographies’ of the minor war-dead, most of whom are little more than names, but each of whom lives and dies unforgettably – and unforgotten – in the copiousness of Homer’s glance.  In the extraordinary setting of the Magho Cliffs above Lough Navar (not unlike the original setting of the siege at Troy), the festival stages a one-off reading of Oswald’s great poem, narrated by the actor Ciaran McMenamin.

Ciaran McMenamin was born in Enniskillen.  His films include To End All Wars, Sunday and The Last Confession of Alexander Pearce and his television credits include Primeval, Silent Witness and Jericho.

“The Iliad is an oral poem. This translation presents it as an attempt – in the aftermath of the Trojan War – to remember people’s names and lives without the use of writing. I hope it will have its own coherence as a series of memories and similes laid side by side: an antiphonal account of man in his world … compatible with the spirit of oral poetry, which was never stable but always adapting itself to a new audience, as if its language, unlike written language, was still alive and kicking” – Alice Oswald

“Oswald has achieved a miraculous feat. She’s exposed a skeleton, but found something magnificently eerie and rich. She has truly made, to borrow a phrase from Stephen Spender, a ‘miniature Iliad’, taut, fluid and graceful, its tones knelling like bells into the clear air, ringing out in remembrance of all the untimely dead.” – The Guardian

Lough Navar Magho Cliffs (capacity 150)

Saturday May 2nd , 8.15pm

£8 & £6 (doesn’t include coach fare) Duration 75 mins

Bus Departs 7.30pm prompt from Castle Museum Car Park

Returns time 10.15pm (approx)

Tickets  £4 return

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De Profundis

DE PROFUNDIS (lit.from the depths) is recorded in the Bible and is the name publisher Robbie Ross gave the deeply confessional letter that Oscar Wilde wrote from the depths of his despair in Reading Gaol.  The essay provides a kind of dramatic monologue where Wilde declares an evolution in his character and a new awareness of who he really is. At times like a profoundly thoughtful and intellectual treatise on the awakening of the Self this powerful work will be read across three evenings by actor Stanley Townsend culminating each evening in a single song from Mahler’s Ruckert Lieder sung by Ruby Philogene.  There is to be experienced a real excitement in the confidential quality and delivery of this deeply personal and moving declaration of self-realisation and rebirth in the midst of great trauma, imprisonment

Narrator Stanley Townsend

Singer Ruby Philogene

Set Alan Milligan

Director Adrian Dunbar

St. Michael’s Church (capacity 700)

PART 1 Friday May 1 9.30pm

PART 2 Saturday May 2  9.45pm

PART 3 Sunday May 3 9.15pm

£3 per part reading. £6 for all 3 readings.

Duration 1hr

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The Happy Prince

A theatrical reading featuring a Special Guest narrator, local ‘charity children’ and other voices curated by Sally Rees. 

Oscar Wilde’s fairy stories were inspired by the birth of his sons, Cyril and Vyvian.  The Happy Prince tells the story of a gilded and jewelled statue standing high on a pedestal and of a swallow who, left behind in the reed-beds when the rest of the flock fly off to Egypt, tells the statue of all the suffering that he can see about the town.  And so, at the statue’s request, the swallow removes all the gold and jewels that adorn it, bit by bit, and distributes them to those in need.  It’s a story about love, friendship and the cost of beauty and is as relevant today, perhaps even more relevant, than when first published.

Cole’s monument in Enniskillen and the reed-beds at the edge of town bear an uncanny resemblance to the geography of Wilde’s story; was he perhaps inspired by memories of his time at Portora?

“Since JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, children’s literature has been repositioned as central, not peripheral, shifting what children read, what we write about what children read, and what we read as adults. At last we seem to understand that imagination is ageless. Wilde’s children’s stories are splendid. In addition, it seems to me that they should be revisited as a defining part of his creative process.”  –  Jeanette Winterson

A share of the proceeds will be donated to Horizon West Children’s Hospice Killadeas

St. Macartin’s Cathedral (capacity 400)

Sunday May 3, 3.45pm

£8 & £6

Family Ticket £20 (2+2) Duration 40mins

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The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Written following his incarceration for homosexual offences, The Ballad of Reading Gaol evokes Wilde’s experience of imprisonment –  the longing for that ‘little tent of blue which prisoners call the sky’, the slow death of hope and the loss of self.

118 years later around the world men and women set locks upon their lips and make their face a mask in fear of similar or worse fates. All for the sake of love.

In this immersive theatre experience we call upon the voices of the past to echo with our own, as we proclaim the fact of love as a human right, not the question of whose love is right.

When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realising what I am that I have found comfort of any kind.

Directed by Paula McFettridge, Kabosh Theatre

Old Gaol – Central Hall South West College (capacity 120)

Saturday, 1.30pm

Sunday, 10.30am

£8 & £6

duration 45mins

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For Alfonso

The event in question was the booking of a hotel room in Brighton in September 1895 by Oscar Wilde and a young newspaper seller, Alfonso Conway. During the course of the evening Wilde read Conway his children’s story The Remarkable Rocket. Though Wilde wanted to keep the tryst a secret, the Marquess of Queensberry hired detectives to track down Alfonso Conway. Out of these details, Neil Bartlett has created his own wonderful response. For Alfonso was first performed at the Brighton Festival. In this one-off staged reading the role of Wilde is played by Risteard Cooper.

The Regal

Saturday, 2 May


£10 & £8

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Secret garden

The Unselfish Gardens

A tour of secret gardens in the greater Enniskillen area. Explore and enjoy festival actors reading from Oscar Wilde.  

“It was a large lovely garden, with soft green grass. Here and there over the grass stood beautiful flowers like stars, and there were twelve peachtrees that in the spring-time broke out into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them. ‘How happy we are here!’ they cried to each other.” – The Selfish Giant

This event will involve some walking, occasional steps and will be dependent upon weather conditions on the day.  It will conclude with afternoon tea.

Departing Quay Lane North Carpark

Sunday 3 May 3pm

£10 & £8

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Dinner in the dark

On his lecture tour of America, Oscar Wilde took time out to enjoy a late-night supper at the bottom of a silver mine in Leadville, Colorado. He hoped that he’d proved to the dozen miners who hosted him that ‘art and appetite could go hand in hand’ and in a letter he described how, in the mine’s dim light, he had lit a cigar, the smoking of which the miners ‘cheered till the silver fell in dust from the walls of the room onto our plates.’ Whilst the festival can’t offer a meal at the bottom of a mine, it can offer something equally intriguing, an opportunity to eat and drink in pitch darkness. On arrival, diners will be given blindfolds and, when dinner and dessert are brought in, the lights will be turned out and the diners can remove their blindfolds. If you’ve never eaten in the dark before, a whole new experience awaits!

Upper Atrium, Blakes of the Hollow

Cuisine by Cafe Merlot Sunday, May 3rd



Limited Capacity

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