Return of annual festival to celebrate Lurgan’s literary talent ‘AE’ Russell

Various locations across Lurgan and Armagh





As ever, the AE Russell Festival features a wide range of events catering for all ages and interests. These include an AE exhibition in 12 William Street, Lurgan – AE’s birthplace – as well as expert talks and panels, along with bus and walking tours, mystical explorations and lots of poetry, song, music and art.

One highlight this year will be the Lurgan Town Centre cross community Festival Parade where everyone is welcome to take part or to just come along and join the fun. While most events are in Lurgan or Armagh City, a new feature this year is a trip to Slieve Gullion – AE’s mystical mountain which he climbed with writer, George Moore among others. This event along with the ABC Literary bus tour have to be booked in advance – but nearly  everything else is FREE – just turn up and enjoy!

Although Lurgan boasts many distinguished sons and daughters, George Russell ‘AE’, in the opinion of many people, is the most accomplished of them all. His remarkable life as writer, poet, artist, thinker, reformer and mystic as well as his overall contribution to improving the lives of others is very much worth celebrating. His exemplary life and legacy can serve as a means of bringing communities together and instilling civic pride.

Click here to read the full programme of events

Who was AE Russell? 

George Russell ‘AE’ is one of the most accomplished figures in all of Irish History. He was known best as ‘AE’, a handle he picked up when a printer mistakenly shortened his favourite penname ‘Aeon’ at the foot of an influential published article. There was much subsequent discourse about the ‘Article by AE’ and Russell allowed the abbreviation to stick. It appears most famously in Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ where James Joyce acknowledges his indebtedness to Russell by declaring “AEIOU”.


Born in William Street Lurgan in 1867 in the era of a booming linen industry and the famous greyhound, Master McGrath, George Russell was christened in Shankill Parish Church and attended the Lurgan Model School to the age of 11. Although his family moved to Dublin thereafter Russell maintained his connections with Armagh.

From around 1890 to 1930, AE was a leading figure in every aspect of Irish life leading the cultural revival, spearheading rural reform and, as a pacifist, coaxing Ireland out of the era of turbulence toward a new peaceful State. Russell was also a champion of womens’ rights – one of the few major male figures to support the vote for women – and he championed the cause of workers both urban and rural. Beyond these campaigns, the confirmed vegetarian and teetotaller delighted the cultural world with his unique poetry and paintings.

Alongside all of this, AE held down a busy day job working for the Cooperative movement first as an organiser of agricultural cooperatives all over the country. and then as editor of the Movement’s influential journals “The Irish Homestead” and “The Irish Statesman”.

In these organisations, he was first to publish James Joyce, Patrick Kavanagh and the author of ‘Mary Poppins’ Pamela L Travers and many others.

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