Category Archives: News

Colum McCann to read at UCC

The distinguished Irish writer Colum McCann will read at UCC in the first event of the Department of English’s 2020 Reading Series.

McCann, who was born in Dublin, is the author of seven novels, including Transatlantic and Let the Great World Spin, and three collections of stories. His international honours include a National Book Award, the International Dublin Literary Award (formerly IMPAC) and a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government.  He is a member of Aosdána and the American Academy of Arts.

His fiction has been published in over 40 languages.  He lives in New York and teaches on the MFA programme in Hunter College, New York.  His new novel, Apeirogon, will be published in February.   

The reading takes place on Tuesday, January 28, West Wing 5 @6.30pm.  Admission is free and all are welcome.


UCC’s first Choctaw scholar

Jessica Militante is the first recipient of a Choctaw Ireland Scholarship, created to commemorate the historic connection between the Choctaw and Irish people created during the Great Famine.  Here she writes about her Choctaw – and Cork – roots.

When I think of my Choctaw ancestors, the first word that comes to mind is resilient. My people are the embodiment of the word. In 1831, the Choctaw people were forcibly removed from their land in the southeast of the United States due to President Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act.

The Choctaws were the first nation to endure the march, which began in an exceptionally harsh winter and continued for several months, for over a thousand miles, to what is now Oklahoma. The unfathomable conditions, lack of resources, and the widespread of disease during the Trail of Tears lead to thousands of Choctaws’ deaths. Yet the Choctaw people did not allow this incomprehensible trauma to destroy them. They persevered.  

Resilient is also a word that I associate with my Irish ancestors. The people of Cork endured the catastrophic event of the Great Famine a few years later, between 1845 and 1852. The scarcity of food was extreme, and the residents of Cork were starving and suffering from famine-related diseases. They were hungry and scared, and yet they too persevered.

These two resilient nations of my ancestry came together in the most remarkable way. In 1847, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma heard of the great hardship the people of Cork were facing and felt compelled to assist them. They raised $170, today’s equivalent of over $5,000, to aid the city of Cork in their time of need. The Choctaws gifted this money to Cork not from a position of wealth but from one of empathy. Having just lived through their own unimaginable tragedy, they identified with the suffering happening in Cork and, out of pure generosity and love for humankind, wanted to help. 

This immeasurable act of humanity has never been forgotten by the people of Cork. It is the reason that there is a gorgeous sculpture of nine, twenty-feet, stainless steel eagle feathers in the town of Midleton. It is also the reason that I am able to study at University College Cork.

I am the first recipient of the Choctaw Ireland Scholarship, a scholarship created to commemorate the beautiful connection between the Choctaw and Irish people. Ireland is showing that same generosity and love for the Choctaw nation with this scholarship which is allowing me to study for my master’s in Creative Writing here at UCC.

The second term of my one-year master’s programme starts this week, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my past five months in Cork. Last semester, I had the pleasure of having afternoon tea with UCC’s president, Dr Patrick O’Shea, along with the recipient of the George Mitchell Scholarship, Minhal Ahmed.  We spoke about the motivation behind the Choctaw scholarship, fun places to visit around Cork, and, of course, the weather! Having been born in and lived the majority of my life in California, Irish weather has certainly been an adjustment.

My five roommates are all from various places in Ireland which has made it so easy to learn more about Irish culture. Between them and my Cork classmates, it’s clear to see that generosity and human kindness is still very much alive in Ireland. 

I have been to visit the Kindred Spirits sculpture in Midleton twice now, once with my mom and once with a fellow Choctaw student, Chayla Rowley, who is studying in Dublin as a Fulbright scholar. Each time that I go, I stand in the middle of the circle, my Choctaw flag wrapped around my shoulders as the eagle feathers stretch towards the sky around me and I am overwhelmed by the strength and love I feel.

Further developing my creative writing at UCC is helping me toward achieving my goal of publishing a young adult novel. Throughout my own childhood and adolescence, I strongly connected with the trials and triumphs of the characters I read about which I feel played a vital role in my desire to become a writer. I want to provide other young adults with the same joy of representation in the novels they read and hope to inspire a similar desire to share stories as the novels I read did in me.  

I have yet to decide where I plan to live after graduating from UCC. In addition to California, I have previously lived in England and Japan, but Cork has been as welcoming as if I had lived here my whole life. All the possibilities are quite exciting, and I look forward to what my future holds for me.

I am so honoured to receive this opportunity and proud of both my Choctaw and Irish ancestors for their immeasurable acts of resilience and generosity. Such acts are so rare, and I am thrilled to help in some small way to keep this connection strong.    

Jessica Militante with UCC president, Dr Patrick O Shea, and Minhal Ahmed, recipient of the George Mitchell scholarship for 2019/20.


No jackets required

Coats hanging on the Ha’penny Bridge Dublin today. Photo:

Coats left for the homeless last week on Ha’penny Bridge, Dublin, were later removed by Dublin City Council for causing ‘congestion’.  Here is MA in Creative Writing graduand, poet Molly Twomey’s timely response, featured on Broadsheet – 

Zip It

We ask you to kindly halt
leaving your parkas and jackets
to warm the homeless

for we cannot have tourists
distracted from their whiskey
lattes and Aran jumpers.

They’ll stop taking selfies,
we’ll have nothing left
to post on Lovin’ Dublin.

We have given your coats
to Oxfam for students
to buy, resell, repay their loans.

Your woollen hats and mittens
are a real congestion issue.
People are bumping

into each other like scabies
on a child’s elbow.
If they really want a home,

they’d apply for the HAP
scheme on their iPhones.
Look, we can’t build more shelters

or estates, we just gave 23 million
to a rafting course; kayaking,
water polo. We don’t mind

stags and hens pissing
down Camden’s Place, snorting
coke off Molly Malone’s tits.

At least they’re not setting up
tents like whack-a-moles
outside the church,

making it hard to stomach
our tuna melts. Feeling guilt
when we tuck in

the bathed skin of our children
under plastic moons
and glow in the dark stars.

Molly Twomey

Fair Day for Laura!

Congratulations to our newly conferred doctor in creative writing, Laura McKenna, who has just been announced as one of twelve finalists in the Irish Writers Centre Novel (IWC) Fair  2020.  (

This year’s winners were selected by author-judges Christine Dwyer-HickeyNiamh Boyce and Kevin Curran. The finalists will have the opportunity to pitch their novels directly to some of the top names in publishing across Ireland and the UK at an event in the IWC in February.

Laura’s submission to the Fair is her doctoral  novel, Words to Shape my Name.  An historical novel, it’s based on the life of Tony Small, an escaped slave who journeyed to the heart of revolutionary Ireland in the late 18th century as the manservant of Lord Edward Fitzgerald.

The novel has already been long-listed for the Bath Novel Award 2019, and an article drawn from the critical research portion of Laura’s thesis has been accepted for publication in History Ireland in 2020.

Now in its ninth year, the Novel Fair has resulted in 20 success stories, giving aspiring writers the chance to kick-start their literary career.  Last year, five of the 12 finalists secured publishing deals. Previous Novel Fair winners include Catriona Lally who was recently awarded the prestigious Lannan Literary Prize worth $100,000.



Resident Writers take the stage

Our final reading in the School of English Reading Series for 2019 will feature our two resident writers on campus – the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Fellow ( sponsored by the Munster Literature Centre and Cork City Council) Sara Maitland, and our Arts Council/UCC Writer-in-Residence Danny Denton.

The reading takes place on Tuesday, November 26, at the Creative Zone, Boole Library, @6.30pm

Sara Maitland, the fourth Frank O’Connor Fellow to teach at UCC, has been busy all semester with our MA in Creative Writing students and mentoring local writers.  She was born in London and attended Oxford University, where she read English. Her first novel Daughter of Jerusalem won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1979. Since then she has written five more novels and several collections of short stories, the most recent in 2013,  Mosswitch and Other Stories. 

In 2004 she moved to Galloway in Scotland and built herself a house on the moors above Stranraer where she now lives. Since then she has produced an eclectic range of non-fiction including  A Book of Silence, (Granta, 2008) part cultural history, part memoir about her own search for silence, Gossip from the Forest: The Tangled Roots of our Forests and Fairytales (Granta, 2012), and How to be Alone (Picador, 2014).

Danny Denton is a writer from Passage West, Co. Cork, with a BA in English & Philosophy from UCC, and an MA in Writing from The National University of Ireland, Galway. His first novel, The Earlie King & The Kid In Yellow, was published by Granta Books in 2018, and nominated for ‘Newcomer of the Year’ at the Irish Book Awards. Among other publications, his work has appeared in The Stinging Fly, Southword, Granta, Winter Papers, The Dublin Review, Tate Etc, The Guardian, The Irish Times, Architecture Ireland and The Big Issue. Since December 2018, he has been literary editor of The Stinging Fly literary journal. 


Montague Poetry Fellow announced

We are delighted to announce that the American poet, Paula Bohince, has been appointed as the 2020 John Montague International Poetry Fellow.  Every year the Fellowship allows an international poet to reside in Cork for three months to focus on her / his writing, as well as enjoying and contributing to the literary life of the city.  

Paula Bohince is the author of three poetry collections, all from Sarabande: Swallows and Waves (January 2016), The Children (2012), and Incident at the Edge of Bayonet Woods (2008). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Granta, POETRY, The TLS, The Irish Times, Australian Book Review, and elsewhere.

She has taught at New York University, the New School, The Poetry School, and elsewhere. She lives in Pennsylvania.

Ms Bohince will be teaching on the MA in Creative Writing from January – April and will also be giving a reading at the University (date to be announced).  She will also be taking part in the Cork International Poetry Festival (March 25-28 2020) and will be mentoring two emerging poets over the course of her residency.  

The fellowship is an initiative of the Munster Literature Centre and funded by University College Cork. It’s named to honour the great Irish poet John Montague who lived in Cork and taught at UCC for many years. 

– Find out more about Bohince from her website
– Read her poems in POETRY and Granta

Eibhear Walshe at the Friary

Last Sunday, our Director of Creative Writing, Eibhear Walshe was the guest reader at Fiction at the Friary, run by Madeleine D’Arcy, a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing, and Danielle McLaughlin, who was last year’s Arts Council Writer in Residence in the Department of  English. Eibhear read from his new novel, The Trumpet Shall Sound.

Next Monday, November 4, will see him reading and discusssing the novel at the Cité Internationale Des Arts, Paris.

John Banville to read with Billy O’Callaghan

Our second event in the Department of English’s Reading Series features UCC’s Visiting Professor of Creative Writing, the internationally renowned Booker Prize-winning novelist John Banville.  He will be reading with Cork author,Billy O’Callaghan

The reading takes place on Tuesday, November 5 @ 6.30pm at WW5.

John Banville is the author of over 20 works of fiction, including the 2005 Booker Prize-winning The Sea.  He has written travel literature, memoir, adaptations of the German dramatist, Heinrich Von Kleist and numerous screenplays.  This will be the first of two public readings he will give as part of his visiting professorship. 

Under the pseudonym Benjamin Black, he has published seven crime novels, the first three of which were adapted for a BBC TV series, Quirke, starring Gabriel Byrne. A new novel under the Benjamin Black moniker, The Secret Guests, will be published in January.

Banville has won numerous international awards including the Franz Kafka Prize, the Austrian State Prize for European Literature and the Prince of Asturias Award for Letters.  

Billy O’Callaghan was born in Cork in 1974, and  is the author of three short story collections: In ExileIn Too Deep  and The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind, which won  a Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Award and was selected as Cork’s One City, One Book for 2017.

His first novel, The Dead House, was an Irish best-seller, and his second novel,  My Coney Island Baby, came out earlier this year.  A new short story collection, The Boatman,  is forthcoming in 2020, the title story of which was a finalist for the 2016 Costa Short Story Award.





Christie on song with her sonnets

Christie Kannapel (MA 2018/19) has been busy since she handed in her thesis in September and returned to her native Utah.  Her sonnets  “On the Edge” (the title poem of her thesis) and “The Fall”  were finalists and semi-finalists respectively for the prestigious Atlanta Review’s Dan Veacher Prize for Young Poets. (

Three of her poems, “Little on Shore”, “Tower Ravens” and “Echo”  have been included in Provo Utah’s Poemball Machine initiative. 

And upcoming in December, her sonnet “Almost” will be featured on the Irish-founded cultural website Headstuff in the “New Voices” poetry blog.

Christie was also one of two MA students whose fictional serial, “One Summer in Cork”, appeared in the Echo in July under the Summer Soap banner, an ongoing liaison between the MA’s Writing for Media module and Examiner publications.



Remembering John Rodgers

A memorial book of the late John Rodgers‘ writing, Deadlines,  – a title chosen by John himself  with typical mordant wit – will be launched at this year’s Rostrevor Literary Festival on November 23. 

John was a much admired student on the MA in Creative Writing 2017/18 when he was diagnosed with terminal  lung cancer.  Although he never got to complete his studies, he continued writing, as he had done for over 30 years.  One of the earliest poems in this volume dates back to October 1980; the latest was written on a hospital trolley during his final illness. 

Born in 1957, John worked as a chartered building surveyor for 30 years, many of them in London, before returning to Ireland to settle in Rostrevor, Co Down.  His son Fionbharr and his lifelong friend, Paddy McGuinness, have selected and edited the work that appears in  Deadlines, a publication that had been planned before John got sick.  

Deadlines will be available for purchase at the Rostrevor Literary Festival.