Goldsmith Summer School was founded in 1985, and has enjoyed 30 successive successful events, making it the third longest established cultural event of its kind in the country ranking after only Yeats and Merriman.

The Goldsmith reading room in the refurbished Ballymahon Library is the venue for lectures and discussions on Saturday and again on Sunday for a highly enjoyable Sunday miscellany programme. Outside the library there is a bronze statue of Oliver Goldsmith that was commissioned in 1999. It is indeed a fitting tribute. The Bog Lane theatre is an excellent venue for talks, poetry readings and dramatic presentations and has been frequently used during the festival.

Further enjoyable events during the weekend include poetry readings and wine and cheese tastings at idyllic leafy Pallas, a bus tour of Goldsmith sites mentioned in some of his work and a nights rousing revelry with barbecue, music and song in “The Three Jolly Pigeons Tavern.”


Oliver Goldsmith was born near Ballymahon, Co Longford in 1728. After a misspent youth, an undistinguished academic career in Trinity College Dublin, Edinburgh University and finally Louvain University he travelled on foot in France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy relying for survival on the benevolence of those for whom in return he played the flute and danced as a journeyman musician and entertainer.

In 1756 Goldsmith arrived in London. Poverty stricken and on the verge of starvation for many months, he finally found employment as a journalist. His work as a hack writer and his prodigious output ensured a meager survival while his real talents developed.

The play “She Stoops to Conquer” first produced in 1773 is timeless and staged on a regular basis. A production of this great work took place at The Abbey Theatre Dublin in January 2015. Goldsmith excelled at the three great disciplines of creative writing, as poet, novelist and playwright and indeed his genius was recognised by his contemporary literati.

Oliver Goldsmith died in 1774 but in his short lifetime his published work identified him as an outstanding mellifluous novelist, a lyrical poet “sans pareille”, and a romantic humorous playwright whose dramatic work was predicted to stand the test of time, and indeed has done so. Samuel Johnson at his graveside oration said of Goldsmith that “he was indeed a very great man”.

Artist Orla Kelleher, Ballymahon native, at work on a painting of Oliver Goldsmith, a commission from Niall Nally, Ballymahon, of the Goldsmith Society. Orla’s is a painting after one that hangs in The National Gallery of Ireland, a portrait of Oliver Goldsmith by the highly acclaimed and influential artist of the time and close friend of Goldsmith – Joshua Reynolds 1723 – 1792. The portrait is said to be highly flattering of the man, who was not known for his social ease or good looks!

“No man was MORE FOOLISH when he had not a pen in his hand, or MORE WISE when he had.”

– Samuel Johnson on Oliver Goldsmith

Goldsmith Literary Festival