The Happy Days International Beckett Festival will not return to Enniskillen this year, it has been confirmed.

In an interview with this newspaper, the festival's founder and Artistic Director, Seán Doran, confirmed the news.

Mr. Doran said: “I wanted to come back this summer with the Beckett [festival] in a new format, but I couldn’t get the funding last year. At the end of the day, dreams are dependent on the funding, simple as.”

However, he is hopeful that the festival can return, albeit in a new format.

“The new model we have for it is called 'The Beckett biennially', so we have made the decision that we go every two years, and concentrate the resources into two years.

“We did our tenth [festival] anniversary, which was lovely, but in the last few years we have had less and less funding. Our Fermanagh funding dropped by 60 per cent, and we haven’t had Arts Council funding since 2016, so we had to come up with a new model.”

However, Mr. Doran has ambitious plans. “What Liam [Browne, Artistic Director] and I are going to do under our company, DoranBrowne, is we are going to commission productions internationally in New York, Berlin, wherever.

“The productions will go internationally first so we can bring them to Enniskillen as part of the Beckett biennially, and they are already financed.

"We want to do much more commission-driven new projects.”

Another new element will be the inclusion of a location in the Republic of Ireland as part of the festival.

It’s also going to be a North-South festival, including Wicklow.

"They [Fermanagh and Wicklow] are the two rural regions associated with Beckett. He was brought up with Wicklow on his doorstep at Foxrock, where he would walk in the mountains and the hills."

Mr. Doran teased that Arts Over Borders plans to revive the festival themed around Oscar Wilde.

“We want to bring Wilde back, and we are aiming for October 2025, and building on the 'Happy Prince' theme.”

In other news, Happy Days: Enniskillen International Beckett Festival has been awarded further funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to design new community-led approaches to Enniskillen’s literary and cultural heritage.

After completing the first phase – the EXPLORE Phase - of a three-phase Heritage Innovation Fund programme, this second phase of funding (the TEST Phase) will allow Happy Days’ volunteers to become advocates and activists for cultural heritage in the town.

Dr. Paul Mullan, Northern Ireland Director for The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: "We are delighted that Happy Days Enniskillen is one of 17 projects progressing to the next stage of Heritage Innovation.

"The cohort approach has already led to some impressive development of skills, confidence and capabilities - we are excited for what they come up with next."

The co-Chair of the Happy Days’ Board of Trustees, Paul Sternberg, said: It is a great vote of confidence to be the only Northern Ireland organisation to be awarded this second phase of funding as part of the Heritage Innovation Fund.

"Our volunteers hold transformational experiences which have brought a ‘lived’ dimension to the giants of world literature, Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde, and ways we can celebrate their formative years in Enniskillen."

Building on the ten years of international festivals, art installations such as the Flight of the Little Golden Swallow, the Isle of Enniskillen Beckett Chess Set, and education programmes, Happy Days Enniskillen is now launching a Co-Creators’ Forum inviting volunteers, schools, local businesses, and community organisations to participate.

As part of this Co-Creators’ Forum, Happy Days will invite specialists to work with volunteers to co-create prototypes, and seek new ideas and insights which can then be debated, published, and brought to life.

These prototypes will then have the potential for additional funding as part of the GROW Phase, the third phase of the Heritage Innovation Fund.

Volunteers and members of the community are invited to join the Co-Creators’ Forum, the first meeting of which will be held on Tuesday, April 30 at Fermanagh House, from 6pm-9pm.

To participate, contact Sally Rees at: