On September 1, 2009, the Committee of The Hopkins Festival voted, for a number of reasons, to move the Festival to Newbridge, to Newbridge College. It was a big decision, not taken lightly, after 22 years, but there were many serious considerations, logistical and other, and so, the decision was made.
Another great success of the Festival has been the Youth Programme, developed through the dedication of its director, Derek Egan. It has now become so popular that places have to be limited. The impact of the Hopkins Festival can be seen around Monasterevin. There is now a Hopkins Garden; a Hopkins Lane (opened by the American Ambassador); a Hopkins Walk; Hopkins Haven; a Hopkins Bar - and of course, the wonderful Hopkins Monument, a master-work of one of the great Irish artists. The Hopkins Monument alone has been valued by an expert at over €100,000. Not everyone in Monasterevin appreciates it, however and there has been growing disquiet about the almost continual vandalisation which it has suffered. Perhaps, the worst vandalisation was the least noticed: a sand-blasting operation which aged the faces by one hundred years and spoiled much of the fine work put into it by James McKenna. Some - including McKenna executor - are uneasy about the vulnerability of this outstanding work of art and consideration is being given to the question of moving it to a safer environment somewhere safer in Kildare.
Paula Campbell catches the excitement of the move in The Leinster Leader.
Paula Campbell, The Leinster Leader
The Gerard Manley Hopkins Festival is picking up sticks and moving from Monasterevin to Newbridge this Summer.Now in its twenty-third year, the festival, which celebrates the life and the works of the esteemed poet, attracts devotess from around the world,so much so, tha tit has outgrown Monstereivn. "We just got too big for the place," said festival founder nad poet, Desmond Egan. "It got too demainding with150 or 200 people attending every year so we had to look elsewhere. Newbridge is nearer to Dublin and it has a terrific rail and bus service in comparison to Monasterevin. Hopkins had many connections in Kildare. He wrote some of is poetry in Clongowes Wood. He often rode through Newbridge and he used to go on retreat down to Emo. The Kildare connection with Hopkins is very important not only the Monasterevin connecti."
The move was decided on by the committee in view of the continuing success and growing demands of what has been described by the Editor of the Oxford Companion to Irish Literature as "the best literary festival in Ireland".
And according to Mr. Egan, Monasterevin may not even notice that the festival will no longer be located there. "I don't think they (Monasterevin) will miss us too much," he siad. "We've done our bit for Monasterevin and they now have a Hopkins Lane; a Hopkins Garden; a Hopkins monument worth €100,000, a pub, a walk and the Hopkins Haven. They didn't overwhelm us with support so I don't think they will miss us and we needed more resources. Monasterevin was awkward to the people coming from around the world. The issue is not that we are moving but that we didn't move a lot sooner. This is the second oldest poetry festival in Ireland and it becomes more and more of a headache in a small place. Nearly all the committee are form Newbridge and they were keen on the move but we won't lose the connection with Monasterevin. The monument, by the late sculptor, James McKenna, has been defaced many times already. This is a major work of art and it has been vandalised and not much has been done about it." Organisers are now hoping that the festival will create much excitement in the Newbridge area during the last week of July 2010. The last 22 years have marked great achievements over a wide spectrum of the arts including poetry, lectures; film; theatre; visual arts and live music. "A particular achievement of the Hopkins Festival has been its development of a Youth Programme," he added. "This came about through the dedication of its Director, Derek Egan. The Youth Programme is geared toward the needs of young people and non-specialists; it has become so popular that places have had to be limited to 40. Hopkins faced up to the darkness and refused to give up to despair. He has lasted through the years with me and his poetry has tremendous depth and sincerity. He was a master of master of language. Very few can match him much less better him. He would be my desert island choice - there is nourishment in every line."
The Hopkins Committee Celebrate 21 years in Arus an Uachtarain
The move to Newbridge celebrated with Trip to Dail
Friends of The Hopkins Society
FAQs on The Hopkins Society
Gerard Manley Hopkins and Monasterevin
The Gerard Manley Hopkins Committee