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

Our students make Cork Words

Congratulations to our MA in Creative Writing students who feature prominently in this brand new  anthology of Cork writers and writing,  edited by Liam Ronayne,  and published by Cork City Library.

Betty O'Mahony, Cathy Ryan, Daniel Johnson, Debra Fotheringham, Elaine Desmond, Margaret O'Driscoll  and Nejla Gaylen, all currently completing their MAs, appear alongside well-know names including Alannah Hopkin, Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh, Billy O'Callaghan, Billy Ramsell, Cethan Leahy, Danielle McLaughlin, Doireann Ní Ghriofa, Gerry Murphy, James Harpur, John FitzGerald, Kathy D'Arcy, Madeleine D'Arcy Lane, Mary Leland, Mary Noonan, Matthew Geden, Patrick Cotter, Paul Casey and William Wall.

The volume is intended to be the first of regular editions to highlight Cork as a writers' city, and to draw attention to its four significant literary festivals (Cork International Poetry Festival, Cork World Book Festival, Cork International Short Story Festival and the Winter Warmer Festival) as well as the key hubs, O'Bhéal and Fiction at the Friary as well as other literary venues.

Poetry translation winner announced

Coyau / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The winner of our "Creative Corona" poetry translation competition is Martina Ní Mheachair for her English version of  Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhaigh's poem, "einín/francach".   She is a UCC alumna and is currently a research fellow at the Sabhal Mòr Ostaig University in Scotland.

The competition attracted 40 entries and Ailbhe,  who adjudicated the competition, was very impressed by the high standard of the translations. "It was a pleasure to read the various interpretations of "einín/francach," she said.  

But what impressed her about "bird/rat", the winning entry, was its handling of competing elements. "A translator of poetry has to wrestle with content, tone and form, all the while  wavering between faithfulness and flair. While many of the entries were strong on fidelity or ingenuity, the winning translation balanced these elements with commendable elegance."

Dr Ní Mheachair will win E100 and a copy of Ailbhe's latest volume, a bilingual collection entitled, The Coast Road, from Gallery Press. 

Two runner-up places were also awarded to Laura Ryan and Joanne McCarthy, who will each receive copies of Ailbhe's book.

The competition was run in conjunction with "Creative Corona" an online platform that ran throughout April on this site - http://creativewritingucc.com/www/creative-corona-day-1/  -  with selected writings from students, graduates and writers associated with the MA in Creative Writing at UCC.  

Here is the  winning entry: 

bird / rat

starting in the bush is that a bird – or a rat

a staycation or internment being stuck in the flat

will the sea continue to ebb and to flow

will we ever see the summer’s glow

had you best cover your face to show compassion

is it true that face masks are now the fashion

do you listen to buds as they bloom

are you obsessed with the latest from the newsroom

have you brought with you your ration book

will you share with me what you cook

your next-door neighbours, are you able to say

if they’re flouting regulations night and day

avoid the old, beware your nephew and niece,

careful now of this fragile peace

dancing at home to blinding lights

numbers of patients reaching new heights

have you Insta'd your sourdough with a grin

and  practised yoga for a personal win

does the anxiety manifest as a weight in your chest

are you ready for the disaster with which we’ll contest

was Chicken Licken right after all

or is the sky not going to fall

– o creature, o man, will you be my downfall?

Martina  Mheachair


éinín / francach


an éinín atá ag bíogadh sa sceach – nó francach

an staycation é seo nó tamall sa charcair

an leanfaidh an mhuir ag tuilleadh is ag trá

an gcífear go brách an samhradh bán

an fearr do ghnúis a chumhdach feasta

an bhfuil masc aghaidhe anois sa bhfaisean

an éisteann tú le bachlóga ag péacadh

bhfuilir gafa le bratbhuamáil an nuachta

ar thug tú leat do leabhar ciondála

an roinnfeá liom sciar den cháca

an dream béal dorais, ar thugais faoi deara

iad ag sárú rialacha oíche is maidin

seachain seanóirí agus seachain aosánaigh

fainic anois an tsíocháin bhradach

sáil agus barraicín timpeall an tí

bardaí an ospidéil ag cur thar maoil

bhfuil pictiúr den sourdough in airde ar Insta

is do chleachtas ióga ina údar gaisce

an luíonn an imní mar ualach ar d’ucht

bhfuilir ullamh don tubaiste atá le teacht

an raibh an ceart ag cearc an phrompa

nó an bhfanfaidh an spéir in airde tamall eile

– agus an baol dom thú a chréatúir, a dhuine?

Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh





Writers who have what it takes

We may have been in lockdown, but there's still plenty of publishing news from our students and graduates to report. Here's  a round-up of their achievements. 

Tadhg Coakley's first crime novel, Whatever it Takes, comes out in June with Mercier Press.  Because of COVID-19 it will only be available as an ebook initially, but once restrictions are lifted you'll see it in the bookshops.  Featuring a tough and sometimes unorthrodox detective, name of  Collins, and his drug warlord, arch-enemy, Molloy, Whatever it Takes, is set firmly in Cork and promises to be the first in a series.  Tadhg graduated from the MA in 2016, and this is his second novel.

Molly Twomey, graduate of last year's MA, was chosen as one of 12 poets whose work featured in Isolation Poem Postcards by Dedalus Press. "As Light" appeared in April as did another poem of hers, "Fionnuala", in Poetry Ireland Review.   

Poet and fiction writer Alison Driscoll, another MA alumna, was named as the Molly Keane 2020 Writer in Residence just before the lockdown, while Sophie Stein, who graduated in 2017, has  won a fully funded place on an MFA at Indiana State University. 

Alison McCrossan who graduated last year and Debra Fotheringham, a current MA student, both had poetry featured in the Headstuff Poetry network recently. -  https://www.headstuff.org/culture/literature/poetry/poem-of-the-week/.

Alison's poem "On Being High" appeared on January 20, Debra's "Utah Lake" and "Steady" featured as poems of the day on April 17.

Some of these students and graduates also contributed to "Creative Corona" on this site - an online platform of writing from the MA for the month of April.   

Warm congratulations to all of them. 


Creative Corona: Day 30

Coyau / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The last word in the series goes to poets Matthew Geden and Christina Hession.  Matthew is based in Kinsale, the author of three collections, the most recent entitled Fruit from Sur Vision Books (2020). He teaches poetry to undergraduate writers and on the MA in Creative Writing at UCC. Christina Hession graduated earlier this year with an MA.


Second Chance

The last day drags down the narrow lane,

crosses a stream of cheap champagne,

stumbles out to the headland navigating

the gorse. Wild yellow furze, clusters


of suns at the centre of small-scale solar

systems unaware of the self-isolation

in another world. Nothing is lost

but what we lose for ourselves,


memories buried beneath the paper-

work. There’s an end to it, he says,

washing his hands. But the truth

is you have taken a winding path


ascending into the mist which advances

in on breakers, subdued splash on the rocks

far below. The wanderer in you is forever

hopeful, hastens now to climb above


it all into the final seconds of a second

sunset, relive the warmth, resurgent

birdsong amongst the ghosts of tractors,

last loitering light and a fingernail moon.

Matthew Geden




Suspend the squalls of the heart,

Stow them with circled calendar dates,

must do lists,

and under stairs detritus

till mañana.


Sit seiza-style

in a faux fur saucer chair.

Pick up a spine-cracked

paperback, and inhale

the perfume of passion

- the aroma of vanilla

and almond.


Savour a marshmallowy

hot chocolate,

perched perilously

on your patella.

Watch flames frolic

in the fireplace,

taking solace from the seething sky,

and whining wind.


is a clean, though imperfect slate.


Christina Hession

Today is our last posting of "Creative Corona", a month-long platform of writing from students, graduates and writers associated with the MA in Creative Writing at UCC.  A special word of appreciation goes to all the writers who made this project possible.  Their work was donated free of charge and represents a great generosity of spirit in the service of creative commons at a time when conditions for writers are so imperilled.   Many thanks to all.

Mary Morrissy, Associate Director of Creative Writing






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