Category Archives: News

AWP showcase for UCC’s creative writing

Niamh Prior reading from her work at the University of Tampa, Florida

UCC’s creative writing programme made a splash at this year’s AWP Conference in Tampa, Florida.   Director of Creative Writing, Dr Eibhear Walshe and PhD candidates poet Kathy D’Arcy and fiction writer Niamh Prior read from work in progress on a panel entitled “Out From Under the Influence: Irish Writers Reach Beyond Post-Colonialism.”  They were joined by the 2014 winner of the Frank O’Connor Prize,  Colin Barrett.

The AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programmes) Conference & Bookfair is the largest literary conference in North America and a linchpin of the cultural year for  professional writers, teachers of writing, students, editors, and publishers. Over 12,000 people attend, with over 2,000 presenters and 550 readings, panels, and craft lectures.

The book fair hosts 800 presses, journals, and literary organisations from around the world. 

After the conference, Kathy D’Arcy, Niamh Prior and Colin Barrett went on to give a reading at The University of Tampa to an audience of faculty, students and members of the public and visited Dr Kathleen Ochshorn’s Irish literature class where they read from their work and discussed the theme of writing and “Irishness”.

Kathy D’Arcy, Colin Barrett and Niamh Prior at the reading in the University of Tampa, Florida.





Allihies inspires enterprising students

Creative writing MA students M.F.Whitney and Claire Zwaartman  are the leading lights behind a totally new west Cork festival of food and literature.  The inaugural “Allihies Inspires” festival which will take place July 6-8,  is an eclectic mix of workshops, readings, walks, music and food and is being run in conjunction with the Allihies Coastal Education Hub.

Writers Claire Keegan, Leanne O’Sullivan, Theo Dorgan, Paula Meehan, Tony Curtis and Anita Brohail will be reading and artists Tim Goulding, Sheena Dempsey and Bill Griffin will be talking about their work.  There will be writing workshops and guided tours, including the historic Allihies Copper Mine, pictured above, plus several lunches and seafood suppers

M.F. and Claire dreamed up the festival as part of the Business of Writing module, which requires students to do a placement with a literary/cultural organisation during their MA.  They’ve gone one better – they’ve started their very own event. We hope it becomes a fixture on west Cork’s  cultural calendar. 

For further programming details see :


Breda Joyce wins Aronson contest

Anne and Vivien Ridler, as photographed by Judith Aronson, in a moment celebrated in Breda Joyce’s poem

Congratulations to MA student Breda Joyce whose poem, “Free Fall” was selected as the winner of a creative writing contest in association with Likenesses: Portraits of Literary and Cultural Genius, an exhibition by American photographer and academic Judith Aronson, which was on touring display in the Boole Library earlier this semester. 

The exhibition was accompanied by Aronson’s book, also called Likenesses, in which the subjects of the photographs, often writers and artists, wrote about one another.  Inspired by this, UCC students were  invited to write a piece in response to one of Aronson’s photographs. 

Breda Joyce

Aronson has been taking photographs of writers, academics and artists for over 30 years. LIKENESSES explores the intimate and ranging relationship between photographer and subject in a series of double portraits, where the sitters are also related  Novelists Saul Bellow and Salman Rushdie, poets Seamus Heaney, Greg Delanty and Derek Walcott, actors Ralph Richardson and Joan Plowright are among the people Judith has photographed.

In her poem, Breda chose to focus on an image of the late scholar and Printer to Oxford University, Viven Ridler and his wife, the poet Anne Bradby. 

Free Fall

(response to photo of Anne and Vivian Ridler, Oxford 1994)


All week they had been harvesting what they planted,

moving among a labyrinth of fruit bushes and hedges.

Today they are at ease while Sunday sun plays

upon their faces. Anne points heavenwards

as if an English sky could call down Daedalus

to fashion wings and carry them above the limits

of these garden walls; that they might soar together

beyond a telescopic lens to where the earth

lies open, ripe and ready to welcome them in free fall.

Breda Joyce

Publication bonanza!

Students on the MA in creative writing Media module have had a bumper year in terms of publication. Their writing has appeared  – or will shortly – in the Irish Examiner, the Evening Echo, Headstuff website, The Tangerine literary journal, the Holly Bough, as well as on the UCC international student page, and the student blog on the creative writing website – – and that’s before the semester has officially ended.

You’ll get a chance to see fictional serials by two of their number, M F Whitney and Siobhan Ryan-Bovey in the Evening Echo come the summer – under the summer soap banner.  Watch out for them in July and August.


The Icewoman cometh!

The Arctic Circle Barquentine ship in full sail. . . . Photograph: Barbara Puttnam

PhD candidate Maeve Bancroft has won a place on the prestigious Arctic Circle residency programme –  – which takes the form of a month-long expedition on a Tall Ship to sail the waters of Svlabard, an Arctic archipelago just 10 degrees latitude from the North Pole.  Participants will also get the chance to go ashore with guides.

The voyage will bring together international artists of all disciplines, as well as scientists, architects, and educators. The aim is to provide a shared experience for the participants to develop professionally through fieldwork and research, interdisciplinary collaborations, exhibit opportunities, and public and classroom engagement.

The residency also allows participants to pursue personal projects and create new work on board.

Maeve’s PhD project is an historical novel about the Famine Irish who fled to Canada and charts a sea voyage to Grosse Ile in severe weather conditions with icebergs and plunging temperatures, much like those encountered in the Arctic. Maeve’s creative practice is informed by “walking the land” of her characters trying to replicate their experiences – to that end, she has walked many of the Famine trails in Ireland.  The Arctic adventure will give her an extreme psycho-geographic experience that will no doubt inform her writing.  Maeve will join the ship in September 2019.

Meanwhile, we’re proud to announce that one of our MA students, M F Whitney, right, has been shortlisted  – out of over 700 entries – for the 2018 Fish Short Memoir prize, in association with the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry upcoming in July.   


Alison opens the book on Cork World Fest

Photograph: Gerard McCarthy/Irish Examiner 

MA in creative writing student Alison Driscoll – and also a leading light in UCC’s Quarryman  literary journal – added her joie de vivre to preparations for Cork World Book Fest at the Cork City Library, as captured on  the front page of the Irish Examiner last week –   Alison will be volunteering with the Triskel Arts Centre team to bring a huge range of readings, recitals, exhibitions and workshops to the city during the upcoming  festival – now in its 14th year. 

Alison’s placement with Triskel is part of the MA’s Business of Writing module, where students work with local and regional literary/cultural organisations, and naturally, write about it afterwards!   She will be joined by her classmate, Anna Sheehan, who will also be working at the festival. 

Cork World Book Fest  begins on April 23 – and will feature Jo Shapcott, Julie Parsons, Maurice O’Riordan, Sarah Clancy, Jamie O’Connell and Shane Hegarty, among many more.  For more details see –  




Joseph O’Neill reads with Leanne O’Sullivan

“Unknown Territories” is the final event in this year’s School of English Reading Series and will feature Pen/Faulkner prize-winning author Joseph O’Neill and poet Leanne O’Sullivan, who is a valued member of our creative writing faculty. 

Joseph O’Neill is a Cork-born, New-York based novelist and memoirist, the author of four novels, including the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning novel, Netherland, a leading post-9/11 narrative – and bedside reading of former US President Barack Obama. His most recent novel, The Dog, is set in the high-flying world of Dubai and he has a collection of short stories forthcoming.

Leanne O’Sullivan is a Cork poet, Rooney Prize-winner and author of four collections, her most recent, A Quarter of an Hour, which was published in February, and charts the recovery process of her husband  – our colleague Dr Andrew King – from a coma. 

The reading takes place on Tuesday, April 17, 6.30pm, Creative Zone, Boole Library.  Admission is free and all are welcome.  

A body of work

Congratulations are due to PhD creative writing candidate, poet Kathy D’Arcy – – the editor of Autonomy, a women-led collection of creative writing on the theme of bodily autonomy, just published by New Binary Press. 

The anthology features poetry, essays and fiction from over 50 women writers, including Nuala Ni Dhomnaill, Ursula Barry, Angela Carr, Eleanor Hooker, Sarah Clancy, Elaine Cosgrove, Grace Wilentz, Sinead Gleeson, Tina Pisco, Emer Martin, Claire Hennessy and Anna Foley.

Kathy D’Arcy

The idea for Autonomy, Kathy sayscame from her experiences of teaching creative writing, and working with silenced communities and especially with women. “I’ve seen the power of story and human experience to change hearts where anger and even facts do not.  I believe that anyone who reads these stories about real people struggling to be true to themselves and their values, to survive for their families, to take back their bodies, will come to understand that.”

The Irish Times described the book as a “fine and surprising collection of voices: academics, journalists, playwrights, poets and fiction writers of LGBT+, Traveller and migrant communities”.

Profits from the sale of Autonomy will go to support those working to ensure that “all women have access to the full range of reproductive healthcare, including safe, legal abortion”, according to New Binary Press. –

Autonomy: A Book About Taking Our Selves Back  will be launched  in the School of English Social Area, O Rahilly Building, Thursday, April 19th@ 5pm.  All welcome.




Shooting Ezra Pound!

Congratulations to newly-graduated MA student, poet  Úna Ní Cheallaigh whose poem with the intriguing title, “Shooting Ezra Pound, Gresham Hotel, 1956”, has been published in the Irish Times.  The poem concerns Pound’s visit to Dublin, and a moment captured by Úna’s photographer-cousin Eddie Kelly for the Irish Times.  The photograph, featured above,  wasn’t published in the newspaper at the time, but the memory lives on in Úna’s poetic imagination.

The poem was part of Úna’s thesis collection for her MA.

Shooting Ezra Pound, Gresham Hotel, 1956 

(i.m. Eddie Kelly, Irish Times)

Not the photo-shoot you expected

but perfect for you who loved to be still –

Portrait of a poet who refused to speak,

a silent subject, not lying in state

but sitting in a foyer waiting to leave.

No questions to be asked – that was his way and yours –

holding back in stillness with an open Leica lens,

slow catlike, your one eye focused on his face,

listening as he for that crucial line break.

You draw the eye to look,

see in profile a grey-haired man

gazing beyond the frame, shoulders hunched.

You pull me in deeper and deeper still

into the lines of his bearded face,

looking for what’s unsaid.

All the dark weight sinking down

like an old galleon on your shore

waiting for that perfect angle,

that light connecting image;

to capture more than passing ships,

to wait,

yes wait

for Cantos sung in silence.


Resident writers take the stage

The fifth event in UCC’s School of English Reading Series features our two resident writers on campus – the inaugural John Montague International Poetry Fellow, Brian Turner, and UCC Writer-in-Residence, fiction writer Thomas Morris.

Brian Turner is an American poet and essayist.  He is the author of two poetry collections – Here Bullet – based on his experiences as a serving soldier during the Iraq war, and Phantom Noise, which was short-listed for the T.S. Eliot Award.  He published a memoir in 2016 – My Life as a Foreign Country.

Thomas Morris  – –  is a Welsh-born short fiction writer – his debut collection We Don’t Know What We’re Doing won the 2016 Wales Book of the Year, The Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award, and The Somerset Maugham Prize.  He edited the award-winning Dubliners 100, an anthology to celebrate the centenary of the publication of Joyce’s short story collection, and he is a contributing editor to The Stinging Fly magazine.

The reading takes place on Tuesday, April 10, 6.30pm, West Wing 9.  Admission is free and all are welcome.