In his three decades as a BBC correspondent, Fergal Keane has reported on conflicts all over the world, from Northern Ireland to Rwanda, earning acclaim for his deep compassion and eye for detail, and winning countless awards including a BAFTA, the Orwell Prize for political writing and an OBE for services to journalism. He is now Africa Editor of the BBC, travelling and reporting on the continent. 

In recent years he has turned his attention to older conflicts, writing acclaimed books on everything from the siege of Kohima during World War Two to his grandmother’s experiences in North Kerry during the War of Independence and the Civil War. 

In this year’s Hubert Butler Lecture, Keane draws on a lifetime of frontline experience to reflect on the nature of war. What makes people decide to take up arms, how does the act of killing reverberate through the generations, and is it possible to achieve a more peaceful world?

The Hubert Butler Annual Lecture was established by the Festival in 2007 to honour the Kilkenny writer, historian and broadcaster whose remarkable consistency of vision and clarity of mind made him unique among 20th-century essayists.