A conversation with Rónán Hession and Willy Vlautin

Appeared in - 2022

Rónán Hession is an Irish writer and musician based in Dublin. His debut novel Leonard and Hungry Paul was shortlisted for a number of awards, including the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year and the British Book Awards. Leonard and Hungry Paul was selected by Dublin City Council as the 2021 One Dublin One Book.

Ronán’s second novel Panenka was published in May 2021 and was shortlisted for the An Post Irish Novel of the Year.

As Mumblin’ Deaf Ro, he has released three albums of storytelling songs. His third album Dictionary Crimes was shortlisted for the Choice Music Prize for Irish album of the year.


Willy Vlautin has been a regular visitor to Kilkenny since 2004 with his band, Richmond Fontaine, and in recent years with The Delines. He has published six novels, the most recent being The Night Always Comes.

“Willy Vlautin is one of the bravest novelists writing. It takes real courage to write a novel about ordinary good people. They don’t fit into the cynic’s little boxes — they’re way too big. The guy working two eight-hour jobs who still can’t meet the mortgage but won’t let his kids down, the hospital night nurse coping with her crazy mean father and trying to rescue a lost girl — common people, the ones who never get the breaks, the ones who need, and know, compassion. An unsentimental Steinbeck, a heartbroken Haruf, Willy Vlautin tells us who really lives now in our America, our city in ruins.” Ursula K. Le Guin

This is a unique opportunity to explore the common ground and differences in their music and writing.