Celebrating the life of Lurgan born AE Russell

Jim Conway at the newly-erected AE plaque at St Peter's GAA Club.
Jim Conway at the newly-erected AE plaque at St Peter's GAA Club.

A festival in honour of Lurgan-born George ‘AE’ Russell will take place next week.

Now in its third year, the Lurgan and North Armagh George Russell Festival will celebrate the life of Russell - who was, among other things, a poet, artist and writer.

The festival will be launched at Brownlow House on Monday, April 8, at 2.45pm. Throughout the week, events will be held in a number of venues across the town.

One talk - exploring Russell’s work and its influence - will be delivered at St Peter’s Parochial Hall on the Monday evening, while Lurgan Town Hall is the setting for another on the Saturday, ‘AE the Mystic’.

On Wednesday night, an Open Mic Night will be held at the Vintage Bar, and will feature poetry readings and live music.

Jim Conway, chair of the Lurgan and North Armagh George Russell Festival Society, said he has recognised the growth of the festival in its early years.

“The festival has been going from strength to strength and there’s been a lot of interest this year and we have big expectations,” he said.

On Russell’s overall legacy, Mr Conway added: “History hasn’t been kind to AE Russell. In fact, a lot of the academics seem to have written him out of history and we’re trying to redress that balance.”

This year’s festival - which will run from Monday, April 8, to Saturday April 13 - is being supported by the Lurgan Townscape Heritage Partnership, with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, under the auspices of the Townscape Heritage Scheme.

Mr Conway added: “The festival committee would like to take this opportunity to thank all our funders.”

An exhibition of Russell’s art and writing will be on view at Brownlow House throughout the week, while a new book containing new information on Russell and his family will be launched to coincide with the festival.

Russell - also a political thinker and pacifist - has influenced a number of key figures in the world of politics, the arts and literature. Russell left Lurgan when he was eleven years old and relocated to Dublin.

For further information on the festival, visit the Lurgan & North Armagh George Russell Festival Society Facebook page.