Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to headline 2024 Percy French Festival  

Will deliver keynote address on how a United Ireland might look

In a major coup for the festival organisers, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has been confirmed as the  keynote speaker at the 16th annual Percy French Festival, taking place from July 17th-19th at Castlecoote House, Castlecoote, Co Roscommon.

This year’s festival, themed ‘Our Great Disconnect’, will explore a variety of topics from historical, social, political, and artistic perspectives.
Ahern, who served as Taoiseach from 1997 to 2008, will discuss the prospects for a United Ireland in his address to the annual festival in Castlecoote. He will attend on Thursday, July 18th.

While Ahern’s political career ended in controversy, the major role he played in the Northern Ireland peace process has been widely hailed, and his perspective on

the prospects for a United Ireland – and how such a ‘new Ireland’ might look – will be eagerly awaited and promises to be the highlight of this year’s conference.

As always, musical performances and recitals will also feature during the festival, with the renowned Don Baker among the musicians performing.

Peace process and a united Ireland 

Bertie Ahern’s role in achieving a ceasefire in Northern Ireland following his election as Taoiseach in 1997 was vital in reaching the subsequent Good Friday Agreement which led to peace on the island of Ireland and brought an end to The Troubles.

At a time when the prospect of an agreed United Ireland has been brought into focus in recent years, it is fair to say that Bertie Ahern is uniquely qualified to speak on the current and future landscape.

Presidential speculation

Since his readmission to the Fianna Fáil party at the end of last year, speculation of a potential presidential bid in 2025 by the former Taoiseach has continued to grow, with many commentators noting that Ahern is exhibiting all the signs of a man ready to re-enter public life. Since leaving Government in 2008, Ahern has dedicated his time to conflict resolution causes and is actively involved with many groups around the world.

Line-up

The 2024 Percy French Festival will feature a line-up of distinguished speakers, including Dr Brian Griffin, Tony McCarthy, Dr Pauric Travers, Dr Pádraig Lenihan, Dr Michael Hardiman, Dr James Bradshaw, Pearse O’Shiel, Dr Kevin Kiely, Dr Eve Watson, Louise Lennon, and Dr Margaret Daly-Denton (who will give this year’s Sean Freyne Memorial Lecture).

Additionally, attendees can look forward to musical performances, with Don Baker confirmed as one of the performing artists.

*More in forthcoming issues. More information about the 2024 festival will be available soon on PercyFrench.ie, where information about past festivals can also be found.