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Festival to celebrate Lurgan born poet, artist and mystic AE Russell begins

A festival to celebrate Lurgan born poet, artist and mystic AE Russell starts this week with a variety of events.

It is the sixth annual festival celebrating the life of George William Russell, returning for the first time since 2019.

While there was no festival in 2020 last year saw a successful series of events held online.

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An exhibition, in William Street where AE Russell was born, will run throughout the week.

The AE Russell Festival in Lurgan is running all this week. At the exhibition is Lurgan man Jim Conway who is involved with the group running the festival. Photo by Donagh McKeown.

Russell was one of the early leaders of the co-operative movement in Ireland and a forceful voice during the Dublin Lockout of 1913.

It is claimed he influenced global figures such as Gandhi and Franklin D Roosevelt.

There will also be talks in the Jethro Centre (Wednesday, April 6, 7.30pm) and the community centre in Kilwilkie (Thursday, April 7, 12.45pm), an open mic night in the Vintage bar (Thursday, April 7, 8pm), and a guided walking tour of sites linked to Russell (Saturday April 9, 10am and Sunday, April 10, 2.30pm).

Jim Conway, chair of the AE Russell Appreciation Society - Lurgan, the group behind the festival, said: “AE Russell was a remarkable man. One of the greatest men Ireland ever had. We are trying to bring his memory to the people - and give it greater attention.

“The people of Lurgan will be astonished to see the art of AE, his poetry and the significance of the man, not only nationally, but internationally.

“The festival will be great fun and people will get a lot out of it. We hope everyone will enjoy it.”

Irish historian Brian McKernan added: “AE was a unifying figure and the voice of reason during Ireland’s most turbulent social and political period from the 1890s to the 1930s. Although he was also an internationally celebrated writer, poet and painter, he was Ireland’s intellectual powerhouse at this time. AE’s total opposition to conflict and division, coupled with his ability to problem-solve and his service of others, makes AE’s life and legacy something the whole world can embrace.”

The festival runs until April 10 - AE’s birthday. All events are free.

For more information and details of events, visit the AE Russell Appreciation Society - Lurgan Facebook page.

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