Category Archives: News

Reasons to be cheerful

Good news on the publishing front for Diarmuid Hickey, whose story “Ambulance Man” is to appear in the September issue of Banshee –  Diarmuid is currently an MA student completing his thesis.  Robert Feeney, MA graduate (2015/16) and now signing up for a creative writing PhD, has also had a story, “Tessellation”, which was part of his MA thesis work, published in  issue 19 of the Five 2 One magazine. 

Meanwhile Tadhg Coakley’s debut novel, The First Sunday in September, will be launched on August 16, coming from Mercier Press. This is the first novel to come out of the MA course so we’re excited and proud about that.  Tadhg’s book will be launched at the Triskel Arts Centre.

Tadhg, who graduated in 2016, has been busy on the work, a novel in stories, part of which he presented for his thesis under the supervision of writer and MA alumna Madeleine D’Arcy. 

Death of John Rodgers

It is with great sadness that we note the death of John Rodgers, one of our MA in Creative Writing students (2017/18).  John, pictured above with fellow student Nora Kirkham,  had just started semester 2 when he was diagnosed with a serious illness and he didn’t get a chance to finish his course or complete his thesis, although he continued writing till the end.  His work was featured in the MA showcase event held in the Triskel Arts Centre in early May, read by his son Fionnbharr.

John was an enlivening presence on the MA, thoughtful, trenchant, with a dry wit, loved and respected by all; he will be greatly missed.  Originally from Newry, John was based in Rostrevor, Co Down, but he had made his own of Cork. Both students and faculty on the MA take this opportunity to sympathize with his family and friends, in particular his son Fionnbharr, who became, through sad circumstance, an honorary member of the 2017/18 MA group.

Meanwhile, a friend of John’s, Eamonn Rafferty, plans to collect John’s writings for publication as a tribute to the work John did both on the MA and outside it.


Visiting writers for 2018 announced

We’re delighted to announce the appointment of two visiting writers who will teach on the MA this coming academic year.  Welsh writer Carys Davies will be the 2018 Frank O’Connor International Writer Fellow, a Munster Literature Centre initiative  funded by Cork City Council.  This is the third year of the fellowship which runs through the first semester.  

Our UCC/Arts Council Writer-in-Residence this year will be Cork author Danielle McLaughlin, who will teach on the MA and offer workshops to undergraduates and staff during her year-long stay with us.

Photograph:  Jonathan Bean

Carys Davies is the author of two collections of short stories, Some New Ambush (Salt, 2007) and The Redemption of Galen Pike (Salt, 2014), which won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize. She is also the recipient of the Royal Society of Literature’s V.S. Pritchett Memorial Prize, the Society of Authors’ Olive Cook Short Story Award, a Northern Writers’ Award, as well as a Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library.

Her first novel, West, has just been published in the UK by Granta, in North America by Scribner, in Australia by Text, with translations coming in seven languages. Born in Wales, she now lives in north west England.

Danielle McLaughlin’s stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines such as The Stinging Fly, The Irish Times, Southword, and The New Yorker, and in various anthologies.  Her debut collection of short stories Dinosaurs on Other Planets was published in Ireland by The Stinging Fly Press in 2015, and in the UK (John Murray), US (Random House) and Slovakia (Inaque) in 2016.

In 2017, she was a Visiting Fellow at the Oscar Wilde Centre, Trinity College, Dublin, where she led workshops for students on the M. Phil in Creative Writing. Together with writer and MA alumna Madeleine D’Arcy, she co-runs Fiction at the Friary, a free monthly fiction event in Cork which takes place at the Friary Bar, North Mall, on the last Sunday of every month.

MA student wins J G Farrell Award

Great news for UCC’s MA in Creative Writing.  Deirdre Collins, (writing as M F Whitney) has just been announced as the winner of the 2018  J. G. Farrell Award in association with the West Cork Literary Festival at Bantry. 

Deirdre who is currently an MA in Creative Writing student completing her thesis in fiction, won the contest  – awarded for the opening chapter of a novel in progress by a writer resident in Munster – with an extract from her novel, The Lonesome Boatman, about a teenage girl with psychic powers.     

Judge of the contest, American novelist and non-fiction writer, Katharine Weber  described Deirdre’s work as a “stand-out” among the many submissions. “From the opening lines, as we are introduced to the narrator’s family history and claims of uncanny talents, we are also immediately seized by the confiding, possibly unreliable voice of this story. We don’t know if this character will tell the truth, but even before the end of the first page, we can settle in, trusting the author to tell us a good story.” 

Katharine Weber is the author of six novels (Still Life With Monkey, True Confections, Triangle, The Little Women, The Music Lesson, Objects in Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear) and a memoir (The Memory of All That: George Gershwin, Kay Swift, and My Family’s Legacy of Infidelities). She has held the Richard L. Thomas Chair in Creative Writing at Kenyon College for the past six years and is an editor-at-large for the Kenyon Review. 

Deirdre’s prize includes a place on Katharine Weber’s Novel Writing workshop, during  the  West Cork Literary Festival (July 13 – July 20). 

The award is offered annually in memory of J.G. Farrell who was born in Liverpool but resident in west Cork where he died tragically at the age of 44, when he was swept into the sea while fishing from rocks near Kilcrohane. His novel Troubles won the Faber Prize in 1971, and in 2010 was awarded the Lost Man Booker Prize. The Siege of Krishnapur, Farrell’s novel about the Indian Mutiny of 1957, won the Booker Prize in 1973.

Many congratulations to Deirdre from all on the MA! 

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 –