Author Archives: Mary Morrissy

Reminder ! A Journey Called Home; UCC Readings – Tuesday, 5th February

A Journey Called Home


Multilingual readings from this anthology by writers from across the world  

Tuesday 5th February at 6.30pm

Social Area, Block B, Floor 1, O’Rahilly Building.



Cork City Libraries in association with Ó Bhéal made a call for poems and short prose about Cork city experiences, from writers living in Cork who are not originally from Ireland, inviting them to write in their own languages.  This project is one of the Cork City Council Creative Ireland Programme initiatives for 2018.  The book includes thirty images from three Cork-based photographers who have migrated to Ireland – Azem Koleci, Silvio Severino and Jed Niezgoda. 

Edited by Paul Casey, the anthology presents original works from sixty-two writers in twenty languages, along with translations into English, including Croatian, German, Urdu, Portuguese, French, Shona, Russian, Spanish, Hungarian, Chinese, Kurdish, Filipino, Galician, Polish, Dutch, Ndebele, Romanian, Italian and Somali. 

This event features contributors currently connected to UCC. 


Very much looking forward to our next reading event on Monday 11th February , 6;30 with  Liz Quirke, Paul Casey and Elaine Feeney !

The Trumpet Shall Sound!

Eibhear Walshe, Director of Creative Writing here in UCC,  is publishing his new novel, The Trumpet Shall Sound this month, with a launch on 7th February in the Handel House Museum in London, and then in Dublin at the Royal Irish Academy on 21st February.

A date for the Cork launch will be announced soon.

the_trumpet_shall_sound_cover final

It is 1742 and the celebrated composer Georg Handel is in Dublin for the first performance of his new work Messiah. Once the most successful composer of opera in London, and fêted by aristocracy and royalty alike, Handel is now nearly penniless, recovering from a debilitating illness and out of favour and his exile in Dublin a sign of his fall from grace. With him and due to sing in his Messiah is the celebrated young actress, Susannah Cibber, the subject of scandal and public disgrace, on the run from an abusive husband and considered with suspicion by the musical elite of Dublin. 

‘A plausible, sensuous coming-of-age story about a genius wrestling with love and ambition across eighteenth century Europe.’ Emma Donoghue

‘Eibhear Walshe brings us into Handel’s world with such precision, clarity and beauty that it seems real and unforced, the work of a true artist. The story of a truly memorable event in the cultural history of Ireland, this fine novel is also a profound meditation on creativity itself, told with imaginative audacity and tempered by scholarly scruple. An immensely enjoyable read.’ Joseph O’Connor

Danielle’s book of evidence

Join our writer-in-residence, Danielle McLaughlin – turned editor- for the launch of Counterparts, a new collection of fiction by lawyers turned writers, on Wednesday December 5, Crawford Art Gallery @ 6pm.

The book, described as a “synergy” of literature and the law, is published by The Stinging Fly Press and features, among others, some familiar Cork names such as creative writing MA alumna Madeleine D’Arcy, local solicitor Catherine Kirwan, whose debut crime novel comes out in January,  poet John Mee who lectures in law at UCC and his brother Michael Mee, a former lecturer in law who is a comedian and prose writer.

All funds from the book will go towards the Peter McVerry Trust. 


Remembering John Montague

Poet John Montague’s 90th birthday will be celebrated at a special event co-sponsored by Triskel Arts Centre, Poetry Ireland and UCC next month.  Pulitzer prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon will host the evening of poetry and music along with Paddy Moloney and Triona Marshall of The Chieftains. John Montague enjoyed a close association with UCC and the School of English in particular, where he taught for many years and influenced a whole generation of Cork poets.  

Story before study

Is the past unknowable?  MA student Mairéad Willis writes about the latest School of English reading, where award-winning writers Paul Lynch and Carys Davies discussed how to approach history when writing fiction.

Paul Lynch’s Grace and Carys Davies’s West are novels with historical settings, but Lynch wants you to remember that so-called “historical fiction” actually speaks to the modern world.

Lynch,  the author of two previous novels, and Davies, who has written two previous short story collections, read from their latest works in the Boole Library Tuesday night as part of the School of English reading series.

Grace follows the titular character, a 14-year-old girl travelling on her own during the era that the reader knows to be the Great Famine, although the book never names it. West takes place during the expansion of the U.S. government into Native American and French lands at the beginning of the nineteenth century. It tells the story of mule breeder Cy Bellman as he searches for the living specimen of a massive beast whose bones have been discovered in Kentucky.

Neither author set out to write a work of historical fiction. While answering questions after the readings, Lynch explained that fiction set in the past can comment on the present through “refraction,” an idea about which he has written recently on the LitHub website. (See link below.)

Davies was inspired to write the story that became West when she learned that the first Americans to discover mammoth bones believed that the creatures might be alive somewhere. She pointed out that characters written in the past are compelling because “they don’t know what they’re living through, but we do”.

Neither novel is typical of the escapism the term “historical fiction” might imply.  Both authors ask their readers to consider aspects of the human experience that remain constant over time: the quest for meaning and the struggle to survive.

The readings revealed that Lynch and Davies use different writing approaches. The style of Grace is ornate, reflecting Lynch’s attempt to bring the reader as close to Grace’s own experience as possible. In contrast, Davies’s prose is much sparser, inviting the reader to consider what might lie in the silences between what the characters say.

One question that often troubles prospective writers of fiction with a historical setting is the research required to recreate the past, but Lynch and Davies both claimed that story comes before study when writing. Davies wrote a draft of West before conducting much research, although she spent months afterward editing the novel to make it true to history. Lynch stressed the importance of understanding the sociopolitical world of the novel, but he, too, often lays only a thin foundation in research before he begins writing.

When an audience member asked whether they ever came across a new historical detail that changed their story completely, Lynch and Davies differed from one other in their answers. Davies commented that although later research did change her story, the changes were improvements. She cited as an example that reading treaties in which the American government traded goods like beads and cloth for Native American lands dramatically shifted the way she approached the story of the novel. 

Lynch, on the other hand, said that once the narrative has set a course, he is hesitant to stop it. While writing, he knew that many people living through the famine saw it as an act of God and therefore renewed their commitment to the Catholic. Church. He was more interested, however, in the idea that such fear of God may also have led to the rise of independent preachers with small, fervent followings. He learned from an historian that there had been such groups post-Famine, and so he decided to include that in his novel instead of focusing on the more prominent, but also more obvious, influence of Catholicism.

Lynch and Davies’s powerful novels serve as reminders that although the past may seem like another world, the events of history have profound resonance in modern life. As different from their ancestors as modern people may imagine they are, these books force readers to engage the past with empathy. The technological and sociopolitical scenes may change, but the questions at the heart of human experience never really do.

 Paul Lynch’s LitHub article on historical fiction:

Paul Lynch’s website:

Carys Davies’s website:



UCC flavour at the Friary

Associate Director of Creative Writing, Mary Morrissy –  – will be the guest at this month’s Fiction at the Friary this coming Sunday, November 25.  This will be an occasion with a strong UCC flavour. 

Fiction at the Friary is a free monthly event which features a guest reading, open mic and a writing component for those interested in flexing their muscles.  It’s the brainchild of Madeleine D’Arcy, – – author of Waiting for the Bullet, a collection of short stories, and an alumna of the inaugural MA in Creative Writing in 2013, and Danielle McLaughlin, who’s our current UCC Writer in Residence. 

Danielle’s debut was Dinosaurs on other Planets, and her short fiction has been published widely. She is the editor of the just published Counterparts, from Stinging Fly Press, a compendium of fiction by legal eagles, with all proceeds going to the Peter McVerry Trust. –

Farewell to Carys

The 2018 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Fellow, Carys Davies, left above, with  Associate Director of Creative Writing, Mary Morrissy and right, novelist Paul Lynch at last night’s School of English reading event, “Mining the Past”.

Carys and Paul read together from their latest fictions – Carys from her debut novel, West, set in the American Frontier in the early 1800s,  and Paul Lynch from Grace, his award-winning Famine novel.

The reading marked Carys’ last official engagement as Frank O’Connor Fellow.  During the semester at UCC she has taught on the MA in Creative Writing and mentored two local writers as part of her fellowship. We wish her the very best for the future.



Win a summer of writing!

Want to have a subsidised summer writing, with a reading at the end of it?

Why not apply for the Eoin Murray Memorial Scholarship, in memory of the late Eoin Murray, poet and UCC student. The scholarship, now in in its second year, offers a prize of €1,500 to enable the winner to devote the summer to writing.

Last year, poet  Ali Bracken Ziad, pictured above, a final year student in the BA in English, won the award and performed from his work at an annual tribute night reading in Eoin’s memory. 

The scholarship is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students registered in UCC’s College of Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences.

The closing date for applications is 31 January 2019. 

See for details.