The 2019 Kilkenny Arts Festival takes place from 08 - 18 August.

About the Festival

Since its foundation in 1974, Kilkenny Arts Festival has gathered many of the world’s finest musicians, performers, writers and artists in Ireland’s medieval city each August.  For ten days, the city’s historic churches, castle, courtyards, townhouses and gardens offer a magical setting for unique collaborations and intimate encounters between audiences and artists. 

From the beginning, classical music has been at the core of the programme, featuring globally acclaimed artists such as Victoria de los Angeles, Alfred Brendel, Jordi Savall, Steven Isserlis, Dawn Upshaw, Nigel Kennedy and Joshua Bell among many others.  Poetry has also featured prominently since the early years in the 1970s, when Seamus Heaney acted as literary curator and brought some of the world’s finest poets to Kilkenny, including Robert Lowell, Sorley Maclean, former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins, Kate Tempest and Robert Pinsky.

In recent years the Festival has further enriched its music programme with major series focussing on a single composer, and also through The Marble City Sessions, a new cross-genre series of unique musical collaborations featuring a range of artists-in-residence, hosted and co-curated by the great Irish traditional musician Martin Hayes.  

The Festival is governed by a Voluntary Board of Directors.

Board of Directors

Emer Foley is a solicitor and a partner in Reidy & Foley Solicitors, Kilkenny. The firm has been in practice for almost thirty years.
Emer has also been involved with the following arts organisations in Ireland: Butler Gallery and Barnstorm Theatre Company.

Emer joined the Board of Kilkenny Arts Festival in 2007.

Conor is an Irish artist who has received awards from ‘American Illustrator’ and ‘Communication Arts. Clients include The New Yorker & Rolling Stone magazine.

Conor is also a member of the Langton family who run 4 star Langton House Hotel, which was established in 1938. The hotel includes Langton Room restaurant, The 67 bar, Tea & Wine Rooms. Langton House Hotel is renowned for its impeccable service, genuine hospitality and has won numerous awards over the years, namely the Black & White Pub of the Year four times in a row, the Black & White Super Pub of the Year along with ample food and service awards.
The Langton family in 2009 constructed "Set Theatre" a state of the art venue which can hold 252 people seated and 380 standing/seated. A multipurpose room which can cater for music acts, comedy, film and conferencing amongst others.
The visually stunning interiors along with tasteful furnishings speak volumes about how greatly expanded the Langton brand has become over the years. Designed by the David Collins Studio in London this is their flagship theatre and have pulled out all the stops to make it the most beautiful and talked about venue in the country.

Conor joined the board of Kilkenny Arts Festival in 2007

Anna O’Sullivan is the Director and Chief Curator of the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny, Ireland where she also manages the Butler Gallery Permanent Collection. Prior to joining the Butler Gallery in 2005, O’Sullivan spent over twenty years in New York, first as curator of Performance Art at the avant-garde arts venue Franklin Furnace and then as Director of the Robert Miller Gallery where she curated several successful exhibitions. O’Sullivan has worked with many internationally-renowned artists and artists’ estates to realize projects and exhibitions including Alice Neel, Eva Hesse, Lee Krasner and Patti Smith at the Robert Miller Gallery and Marilyn Lerner, Bob and Roberta Smith, Hans Op de Beeck, Ian Burns, Louise Bourgeois, Werner Herzog, Tony O’Malley, Barry McGee, Jeanne Silverthorne, and Eve Sussman at the Butler Gallery. O’Sullivan has written numerous catalogue essays and published catalogues on Irish artists including Tony O’Malley, Barrie Cooke, Michael Beirne, Gypsy Ray and Stephen McKenna. In 2013, she was the Commissioner and Curator of the Irish Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale with Richard Mosse as the artist representing Ireland. She has been a visiting lecturer at various third level institutions and served on many artist review panels including the Arts Council and Culture Ireland. O’Sullivan graduated from the National College of Art & Design Dublin and also studied at the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program, New York and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Whilst in New York, she was a member of ArtTable Inc. and served on benefit committees for non-profit art spaces such as Art in General and the New Museum of Contemporary Art (1995-2005).

Anna has been on the board of the Kilkenny Arts Festival since 2005.

Michael O'Toole is one of the leading guitarists in Ireland and has toured extensively throughout Europe and America. He has collaborated with composers such as Philip Glass and Ian Wilson and has played with the Dublin Guitar Quartet, The Carducci Quartet, and many others, including a duet with pipa virtuoso Liu Fang which led to the release of a successful cd in 2008. Michael was artistic director of the Waltons guitar Festival of Ireland (2004-2007) and the Chord Guitar Festival in Ennis (2008).

Michael joined the board of Kilkenny Arts Festival in 2006.

Tom O’Toole (B. Comm., MBS, PhD, FMII, FIAM)

Tom O’Toole is Head of the School of Business at Waterford Institute of Technology.  As dean, he has executive responsibility for the strategy and operations of the School.  Currently, he is also vice president for international relations at the Institute.  Tom is a widely published author in the area of business relationships and networks with over 70 peer reviewed publications with a focus on collaborative innovation, entrepreneurial firms’ capability building, and relationship strength.  Tom is heavily involved in regional development.  He has been recognised for his contribution to marketing practice in Ireland by being awarded a fellow of the Marketing Institute of Ireland (2005), and for his contribution to management education in Ireland, in 2012, by being made a Fellow of the Irish Academy of Management.  Tom was a Fulbright Scholar in 2013. 

Tom is a member of the Kilkenny Arts Festival Board since 2007 and is its secretary.

Isabell Smyth has worked in communications since joining Parliamentarians for Global Action in New York in 1996 where she held an editing and research post.  In 2003, following a stint with Bord Gais, the Dublin Film Festival and An Taisce, she joined the staff of the Heritage Council in Kilkenny taking on the education and the communications brief. During this time she has overseen the development of National Heritage Week, the Heritage in Schools Programme, wide ranging research on Ireland’s heritage as well as a number of publications including Heritage Outlook, opinion pieces and PR initiatives.  She has a BA in Political Science from City University of New York and an MA in International Relations from Dublin City University. 

Isabell joined the board in 2007.

Brian is a retired Bank of Ireland  official. He was treasurer and board member of Kilkenny Arts Festival from 1991 to 95. He also helped organise the classical music programme during that time.  For a few years he ran a weekly classical music slot on K C L R. Since then he has been involved with Music in Kilkenny and various local organisations.  

Brian re-joined the board in 2016

Originally from South Africa, Lorelei has lived in Ireland since 1979. She is currently Editor of Arts, Factual and Drama for RTÉ Radio 1. Previously Lorelei has worked as Commissioning Editor of Documentaries for RTÉ Radio 1 and during the course of her career in RTÉ has established a number of important programme strands such as the internationally acclaimed Documentary on One, the award-winning Drama on One as well as the annual Michael Littleton Memorial Lecture. Lorelei was also responsible for the setting up of RTÉ’s Independent Radio Productions (IRP), tasked with managing RTÉ’s relationship with the independent radio sector, and she has worked closely with European Broadcasting Union (EBU) colleagues, serving as Chairperson with responsibility for the organisation of the annual International Features Conference, in a consultative capacity to the EBU Radio Cultural Group, and as a member of the Steering Committee of the Prix Europa. Recently, Lorelei has been responsible for projects as diverse as RTÉ Radio 1’s World War 1 on RTÉ content and RTÉ’s Culture Night activities.

Lorelei joined the board in 2016

Festival Team

Festival Director Olga Barry
Festival Administrator Valerie Ryan
Marketing & Development Manager Nollaig Healy
Box Office Manager Celine Reilly
Production Manager Aidan Wallace