To The Mountain

Ailie Blunnie - Michael Harding - Róisín Kelly - Alice Lyons - Patrick McCabe - Stephen Murphy - Seamus O'Rourke

'To The Mountain' is a series of commissions of Leitrim artists by The Iron Mountain Literature Festival and Leitrim County Council made possible through the support of The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport & Media under the Local Live Performance Programming Scheme 2021.


This scheme was established to support the work of artists and bring live performance back to audiences around the country. As well as being presented live at an event in Carrick on Shannon, each commission was filmed in a site specific location appropriate to each commission.

​Celebrated American author Jeanine Cummins and Afghan-Canadian author, journalist and filmmaker Nelofer Pazira were among the guests for the 2021 Iron Mountain Literature Festival. 

Cummins is best-known for her bestselling novel American Dirt which traces the journey of a Mexican woman and her young son from Acapulco across the Mexican-US border as they flee from a drug cartel, their journey mirroring the experience of thousands of migrants who try to cross into the US from Mexico each year. Here she reads from her work and discusses the social and political background to the themes of ‘American Dirt’, a novel which Oprah Winfrey described as ‘magnificent’ and the Observer classed as ‘urgent’ and ‘politically relevant’.


Afghan-Canadian writer and film-maker Nelofer Pazira pays tribute to her late husband, the journalist and writer Robert Fisk, who had accepted an invitation to be a guest at The Iron Mountain Literature Festival and who died in October ’20. The documentary film This is not a Movie, which traces Fisk’s work in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine, has yet to be screened in Ireland. Pazira, who was one of the producers of that documentary, talks about her experience of growing up in Afghanistan and moving with her family as refugees to Pakistan and Canada. She considers the current situation in her home country and discusses her role in the feature film Khandahar and her work on several other documentary films about her home country. She also reads from her memoir A Bed of Red Flower: In Search of My Afghanistan.​


Rita Ann Higgins reads from her work, including her most recent book Pathogens Love a Patsy which dissects the last 18 months of life in Ireland during the Covid-19 crisis with her trademark wit and insight, and considers the life and story of Hanna Greally, author of Birds' Nest Soup, a searing account of her wrongful and long incarceration in an Irish psychiatric hospital.

Actor Stephen Rea reads from the work of John McGahern and shares his memories of the great Leitrim writer, while novelist Eoin McNamee reads from a work-in-progress in advance giving the annual John McGahern Memorial Lecture to a public audience in Carrick-on-Shannon later in the year.

Kerri Ní Dochartaigh reads from her work and discusses her experience of growing up in Northern Ireland and making a home and new life in Mayo. Her publication Thin Places combines memoir, nature writing and history to make quite a unique book of place and personal testimony, survival and hope, praised by the English nature writer Robert McFarlane as ‘a remarkable piece of writing’.

This year’s festival also features seven new pieces of writing (prose, poetry and song) specially commissioned for the Iron Mountain Festival and Leitrim Live Performance Programme, curated by festival director Vincent Woods and filmed on location by Edwina Guckian. The featured writers are: Ailie Blunnie, Michael Harding, Róisín Kelly, Alice Lyons, Patrick McCabe, Stephen Murphy and Seamus O’Rourke. The videos of the seven new works will be streamed the final day of the festival.