As soon as I tweeted the new name of the festival, a large number of people came back to me, asking why the festival name has changed. I think this is best explained in the words of Festival Director, Pat Cotter;
“In the early years of the festival great writers from all over the world read with us including Richard Ford, Alasdair Gray, Ludmila Ulitskaya, the last of the Irish old guard such as James Plunkett and Hugh Leonard; and newer names such as Anne Enright and Claire Keegan. American academics delivered lectures on what made O’Connor great, Irish academics such as Declan Kiberd were provoked to re- examine him, archived filmed interviews were dusted off and seminars on subjects such as O’Connor and censorship were held. Gradually O’Connor’s reputation was revived and a new generation of young Irish academics chose to turn their attention to him. Also in these years we established the award in his name and discovered that we were an integral part of the international revival in the literary genre he was most famous for. Over the years as O’Connor’s reputation grew we emphasised more and more the contemporary writing aspect of the festival until we reached the point where O’Connor is now the subject of separate dedicated academic conferences and we can concentrate on delivering a festival of the best in contemporary practice in short fiction. Our festival’s new name reflects that reality.”
In short, the festival ethos remains the same; it still celebrates and rewards talented short story writers on a national and international scale. Personally, I can’t wait to be in the company of such talented writers in this extremely tricky and often overlooked genre.