Creative Writing Facilitators


  • John MacKenna

    John MacKenna - Irish Writers School
    Course Title:            Memoir – Finding the Self.


    Course Description

    An exploration of the routes to writing memoir. Using memory; photographs; music and the natural world, these workshops will investigate the roads we can take towards assembling material and writing memoir that is true to our experiences.

    Bio – John MacKenna

    John MacKenna is the author of seventeen books – memoir; poetry; novels and short-story collections. He is also a playwright and a winner of the Irish Times; Hennessy; C Day Lewis and Jacobs Awards. His novel Clare will be republished in Spring 2014 and his new novel Joseph will be published in the autumn 2014.

  • Leanne O’Sullivan

    Irish Writing School
    Course Title:             Making a Poem

    Course Description

    This workshop is for those who would like to begin to write poetry or those who would like to develop poems they have already started. Leanne will talk about the ‘riddle’ in the poem – how language, imagery and voice allow a poem to slowly reveal itself. Through reading and discussion the workshop will consider how poems work when they show rather than tell and how that kind of poem can engage readers and audiences.

    BIO - Leanne O’Sullivan

    Leanne O’Sullivan comes from the Beara peninsula in West Cork. She has published three collections, all from Bloodaxe: Waiting for My Clothes (2004), Cailleach: The Hag of Beara (2009), winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 2010, and The Mining Road (2013). She was given the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary Award in 2009 and the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Irish Poetry in 2011, and received a UCC Alumni Award in 2012

  • Nuala Ní Chonchúir

    Nuala Ni Chonchuir Irish Writers
    Course Title - Writing the Short Story


    Course Description

    Author Amy Bloom has said the short story writer must ‘entice, seduce, enter, and alter the reader’. This workshop aims to help writers achieve that by illustrating ways to make their short story shine to editors, competition judges and publishers. It is done by being mindful of every element: presentation, spelling, title, beginnings, language, story, character, POV, dialogue and endings.

    Using story samples, quotes and examples, this workshop will show participants how to get their short stories working from start to finish. This class is suitable for the first-time writer as well as those who have been writing for a while and will provide a structured guide to short fiction writing. Participants will receive a daily handout and in-class exercises. We will also have an opportunity to discuss writing competitions, publishing opportunities, agents etc.

    BIO –  Nuala Ní Chonchúir

    Nuala Ní Chonchúir was born in Dublin in 1970; she lives in East Galway. Her fourth short story collection Mother America was published by New Island in 2012; The Irish Times said of it: ‘Ní Chonchúir’s precisely made but deliciously sensual stories mark her as a carrier of Edna O’Brien’s flame.’ Her début novel You (New Island, 2010) was called ‘a gem’ by The Irish Examiner and ‘a heart-warmer’ by The Irish Times. A chapbook of short-short stories is forthcoming in the US in September 2013 and Nuala’s second novel will be published in spring 2014.

  • Mary O’Donnell

    Mary O'Donnell - Irish Writers School

    Course Title                Shaping up to Shaping your Novel


    Course Description: The Novel, an Introduction

    Among the things I wanted to know but was not sure of when I began to write a novel some twenty years ago included the question of how to sustain the basic story once I had begun, how to hold the reader’s interest, and how to make it to the end. My strategies were very much a case of trial and error, but I found a few, and finally made it to the end of my first novel, which was published and became an Irish literary best-seller.

    If you decide to write a novel, you know in your gut that you have opted to write and tell a compelling, interesting story. Ideas are flying through your head, strategies present themselves only to disappear again, and the question that arises is how to control this mass of material and organise it into a good story. This introductory course hopes to address decisions you might want to take as you go along, among them what to do when an idea strikes; the practicalities of beginning; if you begin, how often should you write; at what point, and how, does plot ‘happen’; how to create memorable (not necessarily ‘nice’) characters and the way their dialogue can help to advance plot. We will look at point of view, and the question of the time-frame and the structuring of a novel. Participants are encouraged to bring along outlines, beginnings, or samples of the work, if they have them. However, it is definitely not necessary to have written anything. It does help though, if you are already a practised reader. Finally, the course will be your introduction to methods that will build the psychological stamina that keeps most writers going, it will be oriented to the contemporary practicalities of writing in language that is also contemporary. You will also be encouraged to work on various ideas, my aim as facilitator being that you feel equipped to continue your novel as you leave the course.

    Bio – Mary O’Donnell

    Mary O’Donnell is the author of eleven books, both poetry and fiction, and has also co-edited a book of translations from the Galician (See Books Published). Her titles include the best-selling literary novel “The Light-Makers”, “Virgin and the Boy”, and “The Elysium Testament”, as well as poetry such as “The Place of Miracles”, “Unlegendary Heroes”, and her most recent critically acclaimed sixth collection “The Ark Builders” (Arc Publications UK, 2009). She has been a teacher and has worked intermittently in journalism, especially theatre criticism. Her essays on contemporary literary issues are widely published. She also presented and scripted three series of poetry programmes for the national broadcaster RTE Radio, including a successful series on poetry in translation during 2005 and 2006 called ‘Crossing the Lines’. Today, she teaches creative writing in a part time capacity at NUI Maynooth, and has worked on the faculty of Carlow University Pittsburgh’s MFA programme in creative writing, as well as on the faculty of the University of Iowa’s summer writing programme at Trinity College Dublin. In 2011, she received the President’s Alumni Award at NUI Maynooth.

    Her first novel ‘The Light-Makers’ was named the Sunday Tribune’s Best New Irish Novel in 1992. Since then published fiction includes the novels ‘Virgin and the Boy’ and the critically acclaimed ‘The Elysium Testament’ (Trident Press, 1999). Her recently published compelling novel ‘Where They Lie’ is widely available.
    A collection of short stories, ‘Strong Pagans’ appeared in 1991 followed by the collection ‘Storm over Belfast’ in 2008. These stories were long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.
    Her fiction has been widely published in anthologies such as ‘Fiddlehead Review’ (Canada),‘The Irish Eros’ (Gill & Macmillan, ed. David Marcus), ‘Irish Short stories’ (Brandon, 1998), ‘Phoenix Irish Short Stories, 2000’ (ed. David Marcus), ‘The New Younger Irish Writers’ (Sceptre, 1994, ed. David Marcus), Moments (Hodder), Scéalta (Telegram Books UK), The Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction, The Clifden Anthology, Cutting the Night in Two (ed. Evelyn Conlon). Work has also appeared in ‘The Mail on Sunday’ and ‘The Irish Times’.

    Winner of the 2011 Fish International Short Story Competition, she has received a Hennessy Literature Award, an Allingham Award, Listowel Writers’ Week Fiction Award, and was a prize-winner in the V.S.Pritchett Short Story Competition.
    She received the James Joyce Award in 2001, which brought her to Australia to participate in the Sydney Writers’ Festival, and to China as a guest of the Chinese Writers’ Union.
    She has also published seven collections of poetry, and co-edited the anthology ‘To the Winds our Sails: Irish Writers Translate Galician Poetry’, (Salmon Poetry, 2010). A selection of her poetry appeared in Hungary in 2011 and she was the co-winner of the 2013 Jelen Konyvek Translation Award. In 2011 she received the President’s Alumni Award at NUI Maynooth.
    A member of the Irish arts organization Aosdana, she lives near Straffan Co. Kildare, teaches Creative Writing at NUI Maynooth and is an Adjunct Professor of Fiction with Carlow University Pittsburgh’s Irish Residency at TCD.