County Library, Abbey Street, 24th March 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen, TDs, Senator, Councillors, Colleagues, invited guests, I would like to welcome you all here this morning on behalf of Roscommon County Council to the County Library for this the sixth incarnation of the SiarScéal Festival. I would like to extend a special welcome to the Mayor, Cllr Eugene Murphy for accepting our invitation to officially launch this Festival programme. I would like also on behalf the County Manager, Mr Frank Dawson and Director of Services, Kathleen Martin of Roscommon County Council to offer their congratulations to all involved in bringing this festival to fruition.
When we set out a few years ago to build on the further development of the Library Services one of the primary objectives was to place the service as key supporting component and an equal pillar with the economic and social and cultural planning within the County. With the further alignment of our Community, Libraries, Arts, Culture, Heritage and Tourism in the local authority environment we are bringing an ever increasing focus, direction and development to these broad cultural services. This Festival is an integral part of that programme.
Public Libraries contribute significantly to the quality of life of their communities and are a means of enrichment both through the material and information they provide and the space they make available for cultural activities of all kinds. Today’s event is a great example of that policy, which nourishes cultural expression in a local area and builds on the libraries’ core strategies in promoting reading, fostering intellectual freedom and enabling independent and lifelong learning.
Not just words but something we believe very strongly in so that the Library is not just seen as a facilitator and space for cultural activity but performs a more proactive approach in putting forward and furthering its own vital cultural agenda. This is something that is now more important than ever as we must remain resilient in our commitment to these values and finds means and methods of delivering services during a changing and difficult climate for Public Libraries.
This particular festival is testimony to that approach in that it set out to engage with and encourage participation beyond our traditional association of what the Library Service role is. This is in order to keep it alive, relevant and meaningful and that it has a place and fulfils a function.
It was established initially as part of Poetry in the Library activity and I am delighted to see that such a strong poetry influence remains part of the programme. It is important in order for a festival/event to remain vibrant and relevant that it moves on each year, adding value to its programme, embracing new concepts and trying different approaches. Support is contingent upon the capacity of people and groups to organise such events and get people involved and engaged and in that regard we have to pay recognition and to organisers and in particular Gwen Bond for her unstinting and dedication to the festival delivery.
The local authority and the Library Services are therefore pleased to be in a position to support this annual event again this year and we are equally delighted to support and see the publication of the Siarsceal Anthology 2012: Roscommon in Reflection. We considered it important to record some of the new writing that has emerged.
It is also an essential and key occasion within the calendar in providing an informal platform to showcase, energise, nurture and broaden the arena in which greater participation in the arts in all its formats can occur.
It is though your participation, interest and support that these events and programmes survive and remain relevant. I hope you all can take something from today and wish you well in the future.