It is always one of the most eagerly-anticipated (and most in-demand) events of the arts festival calendar, and this year’s Hubert Butler lecture is unlikely to be any different – with yet another illustrious speaker confirmed for the event in St Canice’s Cathedral.
Both Robert Fisk (2010) and Morgan Kelly (last year) sold out the festival’s most voluminous venue, and this August, distinguished journalist and historian Misha Glenny will have the honour of joining the inimitable Olivia O’ Leary on stage. Crowding into the imposing 13th Century building with 800 other people is an annual pilgrimmage for some; for others, it will be their first Hubert Butler lecture.
Mr Glenny’s subject matter is Sarajevo and the war that surrounded it, as this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the longest siege in modern warfare. On 5 April 1992, Serbian forces of the Republika Srpska surrounded Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
For nearly four years, the Serbian army bombarded the city with artillery, tanks, rocket launchers, mortars and sniper fire. The siege killed an estimated 12,000 civilians and wounded 56,000.
“Not since [World War II] had a professional army conducted a campaign of unrelenting violence against the inhabitants of a European city,” said the prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Mr Glenny was the Central Europe Correspondent, first for the Guardian and then for the BBC.
He chronicled the collapse of communism and the wars in the former Yugoslavia. He has won several major awards for his work, including the Sony Gold Award for outstanding contribution to broadcasting, and his book ‘The Balkans’ is regarded as the definitive history of the region.
Mr Glenny will consider what caused the war, what made the conflict so bloody, and why the international community was so slow to react.
The Hubert Butler Annual Lecture was established in 2007 to honour the Kilkenny writer, historian and broadcaster, whose work evinced an unsurpassed moral, political and literary integrity. It has become a highly-anticipated annual event.
Misha Glenny is the author of The Balkans (1999), McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld (2008), and most recently, DarkMarket: Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You, published last year.
The Hubert Butler lecture takes place on Friday, August 17 at 6pm in St Canice’s Cathedral. Tickets are €18/€15.50.