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 :

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.

Roll up, roll up!

UCC’s creative writing students and faculty will be all over the Cork International Short Story Festival which begins next week.  Here’s a chance to see what we really do in our spare time!

Our 2017 International Frank O’Connor Fellow,  Marie-Helene Bertino will be giving masterclasses and reading at the festival (Thursday, Sept 14th, 10pm, Firkin Crane) while adjunct professor Conal Creedon and associate creative writing director Mary Morrissy will be reading at an event celebrating UCC’s Quarryman journal – so ably sustained by our English Society, and in particular, Alison Driscoll, whom we’re delighted to have in our incoming MA class this year.

PhD student Fiona Whyte will be reading at the Long Story Short  Journal event ( Thursday, Sept 14th, 4.30pm, Central Library) while her colleague  Laura McKenna  will be participating in the Banshee Journal reading ( Friday, Sept 15th, 2.30pm, Central Library).

Recent MA graduate Tadhg Coakley (and now signed-up author!) will read his winning story in the From the Well anthology (Wednesday, Sept 13th, 4pm, Central Library) and Madeleine D’Arcy, from our inaugural MA course, will read with Danielle McLaughlin (Wednesday, Sept 13, 7.30pm, Nano Nagle Place) followed by a special Fiction at the Friary event which she and Danielle host throughout the year in Cork. Not to be missed!

Finally, our new writer-in-residence Thomas Morris will be participating in the “Short Story: State of the Art” panel discussion (Saturday, Sept 16th, 4.30pm, Firkin Crane)  with Nuala O’Connor, Danielle O’Laughlin and Rob Doyle.

Full programme here:

Book deal for MA graduate

MA graduate Tadhg Coakley  – – has landed a book deal with Mercier Press for his “novel in stories” collection, The All-Ireland. The interlinked narratives set in 2014 tell the story of a fictional All-Ireland hurling final between Clare and Cork.  (No spoilers – we won’t say who won!)

Tadhg submitted part of the book for his thesis last year for which he received a first class honours and earlier this year The All-Ireland was shortlisted for the inaugural Mercier Fiction Prize.

Tadhg has been previously published in Quarryman and Silver Apples and in the 2017 From the Well anthology. The All Ireland is due to hit the shelves next year with three other fiction titles from Mercier.—mercier-press-announces-decision-to-publish-fiction-/.

Congratulations to him from all on the MACW.

The show goes on!

Photographed at their graduate show “Thar Cailc: Unconfined” at the Dlight Studios in Dublin on Thursday night (August 24), are Uversity students (front from leftEmma Austin, Laura Cummins, Ana Vallejos Cotter, (back from left), Shelly Harder, Daniel McNamara and Luisa Geisler.

Emma, Ana and Luisa took several modules on the MA in Creative Writing at UCC to complete their Uversity Masters programme. Uversity facilitates international students to combine creative courses at a number of Irish universities in the same academic year that go towards a Masters in Creative Practice. Last year, UCC hosted two students, Sam Lai and Julian Munoz, under the Uversity programme.

The 2017 Uversity  graduate show, a showcase of student work undertaken during the academic year, is a mixture of installations, performance and live readings and can be viewed on the Uversity site –

MA student novel on Bridport long-list

Congratulations to creative writing MA student Thomas Moore, whose historical novel made the long-list for the Peggy Chapman-Andrews First Novel Award, part of an annual suite of awards under the Bridport Prize banner. Tom’s novel, A Fatal Mercy, about the American Civil War, was among 20 novels on the long- list for the award, which is for previously unpublished authors.

US-born Tom liked UCC so much that he followed a history MA with an MA in Creative Writing (2016/17) and part of  A Fatal Mercy was submitted for his thesis this month.

The 2017 Chapman-Andrews award is judged by The Shock of the Fall author, Nathan Filer, who has won a Costa Book of the Year Award and the National Book Award for Popular Fiction.  In his mission statement he said he was looking for “a novel that grabs my attention from the first page and refuses to let go until the last “.

Though Tom’s novel didn’t reach the short list  – announced today, August 25, 2017 – – we think that’s a pretty high criterion for any novel to meet. Dare we say our work here is done?



More published voices

Bridget Sprouls (MA class 2013/14) has just won the fifth Fortnight Prize, sponsored by indie publisher, Eyewear, which offers a poetry prize every two weeks, as the name suggests. Eyewear’s Fortnight New Poem prize “is meant to celebrate poetry in a fast-paced digital world, where too often prizes are entered with interminable waiting times between submission and result”.

Bridget’s poem, “Chatter”,  was praised both for its “fluent, intelligent, skilful, and wonderful writing. A poem to share with friends and fellow poets, as a way to do poetry, thinking on one’s verbal feet…” and for its ending with its “knowing echoes” of Robert Frost and John Crowe Ransom.

You can read it here:

Meanwhile, current MA student Mona Lynch’s work with young travellers as part of the Cork Prison School exhibition currently on display on Spike Island.

Mona led a writing workshop as part of her Business of Writing module, and her students produced a booklet of their creative work entitled “Voices,”  which is on show on the historic island site.

Her classmate, Sue Dukes, has a memoir piece published this month in the Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine,  a bi-annual online publication from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, North Carolina –



Up, up and away

We often boast here about student success in the literary world but some of our students also go on to further educational opportunities, building on their experience on the MA in Creative Writing at UCC.

Poet Alyssandra Tobin, on our current MA programme, will shortly be winging her way to New York where she’s won a place on the prestigious MFA programme at NYU, which is rated among the top ten graduate programmes in the US. Faculty includes Anne Carson,  Joyce Carol Oates, Yusef Komunyakaa, Deborah Landau and Sharon Olds, so Alyssandra will be in very good company.

Fiction writer Mark Kelleher graduated last year and has been awarded a full four-year PhD scholarship at Dublin City University.  Mark will be conducting research on the post-modern novels of David Markson, Thomas Bernhard, Dennis Cooper and Tom McCarthy.  

Congratulations to both of them.   

Meanwhile, three of our current students performed at UCC ‘s Creative Writing Showcase at the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry last week, which is fast becoming an annual event at the festival. Introduced by the course director, Dr Eibhear Walshe, fiction writer Eileen O’Donoghue and poets Paul Asta and Una Ni Cheallaigh read from works in progress.

And finally, their classmate Jacqui Corcoran has been developing a sideline career in sports journalism since winding up her MA course work.  In the past month, her features on cliff diving, female teenage drop-out rates in sport, and a Waterford football club with a disabilities programme have appeared in the Irish Examiner.