Welcome to Creative Writing at UCC

This site is a road map to the world of creative writing at UCC.  The School of English offers creative writing at undergraduate, Masters and PhD level. See what we do – check out our blog written by students, see the major names in literature who visit our campus, and explore the numerous courses we offer that redefine and broaden what it is to be a 21st century creative writer. 

News and Events

Whodunnit at UCC?

Three of Ireland’s leading female crime writers, Julie Parsons, Liz Nugent and Alex Barclay will read together in the first event of the School of English’s annual reading series coming up on November 14. The readers represent a 20-year tradition and several generations of Irish crime writing.

Julie Parsons' first thriller, Mary Mary came out in 1998 and was described by the New York Times as a “first novel of astonishing impact”.  Her sixth novel, The Therapy House, was published earlier this year.

“Julie Parsons was Irish crime fiction before there was Irish crime fiction,” says novelist and critic Declan Hughes. “Before domestic suspense was a thing, before Girls had Gone on Trains or anywhere else, Parsons was writing intelligent, nuanced psychological thrillers under the spell of the two weird sisters of mystery, Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell.”

At a recent event, our second reader Liz Nugent paid tribute to Parsons, saying that her books had “really showed me how to do it”. Nugent's first novel, Unravelling Oliver, won Crime Fiction Book of the Year when it was published in 2014 and her follow-up, Lying in Wait, won a Richard and Judy Award, and a Listeners Choice award at the Irish Book Awards 2017.

Castletownbere-based Alex Barclay is the author of eight crime thrillers.  Her first novel Darkhouse featuring NYPD detective Joe Lucchesi, appeared in 2005 and was a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller, followed by a sequel, The Caller.

She has written six more books in the Ren Pryce series - Blood Runs Cold, Time of Death, Blood Loss, Harm’s Reach, Killing Ways and The Drowning Child.






Flying the flag for Kinsale

MACW graduate Adrian Wistreich (class of 2014/15), above left, is one of the  driving forces behind Words By Water, Kinsale's new literary festival which runs October 5 - 8. There's a strong UCC presence in the inaugural run of the festival with Associate Director of Creative Writing Mary Morrissy reading with Alannah Hopkin, on Friday, October 6 (4pm, The Methodist Church) and newly appointed lecturer in creative writing, poet Leanne O'Sullivan on stage with Theo Dorgan on Sunday, October 8 (2.30pm,The Blue Haven).

PhD candidate, poet and fiction writer Niamh Prior, above right has been busy running a community writing project in five primary schools in Kinsale in association with the festival. She has been working with 5th and 6th class pupils, as well as transition year students, over the past weeks as part of the festival's community brief.  "It's important to me that the local community be involved in a literary festival held in the town - especially the next generation of writers, for whom reading and writing is cool, thanks to the work of J.K. Rowling, David Walliams and Michael Murpurgo, to mention a few of their favourite writers,"  Niamh says.

Niamh will also be offering workshops during the festival along with Leanne O'Sullivan and another MACW alumna, fiction writer Madeleine D'Arcy (2013/14).

Some of the young participants in Niamh's school workshops will have the opportunity to read their work at the festival, joining a host of well-known names including Dermot Bolger, Paul Howard (Ross o'Carroll Kelly) , Billy O'Callaghan, Rita Anne Higgins, Matthew Geden, Sara Baume, Mia Gallagher, Eileen Battersby and Carol Drinkwater. 

For full information go to : https://www.wordsbywater.ie/

Welcome to new faces

Here in Creative Writing, we're lucky to have visiting writers every year who add to the diversity and richness of our programme and we're about to celebrate them!

The Frank O'Connor International Fellowship in the Short Story is awarded annually by Cork City Council through the Munster Literature Centre.  The Fellow offers workshop and mentoring to local writers and teaches a course on the Creative Writing Masters programme. This year it's Philadelphian writer Marie-Helene Bertino whose debut collection of stories, Safe as Houses, won the 2012 Iowa Short Fiction Award and a Pushcart Prize, and was long-listed for The Story Prize and The Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize. Her debut novel, 2 AM at the Cat's Pajamas, which was nominated a Best Book of 2014 by NPR, is forthcoming from Picador UK.

This year's UCC's Writer in Residence  - an annual position, jointly sponsored by the Arts Council -  is Welsh-born short story writer Thomas Morris.  Thomas's debut collection, We Don’t Know What We’re Doing (Faber, 2015) was chosen as a Book of the Year by The GuardianThe Observer, The SpectatorThe Irish Times, and The Irish Independent. It won the 2016 Wales Book of the Year, The Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award, and The Somerset Maugham Prize.  Thomas is also a working editor and is currently a contributing editor with The Stinging Fly journal.

We're also really pleased to announce that UCC alumna, former writer-in-residence and acclaimed west Cork poet Leanne O'Sullivan has been appointed a lecturer in creative writing after several years working with the creative writing programme.

The School of English will host a welcome event for these writers and other new staff, postdoctoral fellows and post-graduate students in the  Staff Common Room, Wednesday, September 27, at 6pm.

Meanwhile in spring 2018, the inaugural International John Montague Fellow in Poetry will be war poet Brian Turner. Brian Turner earned an MFA from the University of Oregon before serving for seven years in the US army. His first book, Here, Bullet, chronicles his time in Iraq.


Writing the self into fiction

Director of Creative Writing, Dr Eibhear Walshe, gave a lecture at Wellesley College, Boston, last week on the subject "Writing Myself - From Biography to Memoir to Fiction."

Dr Walshe spoke about his writing in these different genres, discussing the link between the forms and the value of life writing as a source and inspiration for creating fiction.

More news…