Northern Ireland

Enniskillen goes Wilde for Irish wit Oscar

An actor as Oscar Wilde
Image caption A play, Oscar Wilde at Home, is being performed at Florence Court House with actors playing short scenes from his most popular works

Enniskillen is going Wilde this weekend for a festival celebrating the life and works of the Irish writer.

A Wilde Weekend by Lough Ernest is the first of its kind in the world and celebrates the wit, writing and philosophy of Oscar Wilde through poetry, theatre, talks, music, films and even garden tours.

Oscar Wilde was a pupil at Portora Royal School for seven years from 1864 to 1871.

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Image caption The festival organisers believe the lakeland landscape provided inspiration to the young Oscar Wilde

The festival's founding director Sean Doran has no doubt that the time spent there provided inspiration to the imagination of the young Wilde.

"It was a very substantial, formative years he had and it inspired actually one of his most famous stories, The Happy Prince, when he looks out of his dorm windows to the statue on Cole's Monument," Mr Doran said.

"We're gilding that [statue] as part of the festival to last for several months, with gold flakes blowing off and going through the kitchen windows of the households right through Fermanagh."

Image caption The statue on top of Cole's Monument in Enniskillen is thought to have inspired Wilde's Happy Prince and is being gilded in gold by local sculptor Alan Milligan

He hopes that visitors and local people will have come and have some fun - for, as Oscar said: "Life is far too important to be taken seriously."

'Inspirational'

The festival line-up includes local actor Ciaran McMenamin, who says that everybody has an Oscar Wilde quote in their head.

"What Oscar Wilde went through in his life and his struggles to be the person he was and to be the great writer he was, I think can only be inspirational for everybody still," he said.

The Wilde Weekend follows the success of the Happy Days Enniskillen Beckett Festival, dedicated to the works of another former Portora pupil, Samuel Beckett, and is helping to establish Fermanagh as Northern Ireland's literary destination.

Image caption Oscar Wilde was a pupil at Portora Royal School from 1864 to 1871

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