Listowel Writers’ Week 2015 Festival Dates: 27th May – 31st May 2015 Literary Workshops

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Listowel Writers’ Week 2015
Festival Dates: 27th May – 31st May 2015
Literary Workshops
Welcome to Listowel Writers’ Week – home of the Creative Writing Workshops. Each year we gather the finest and most inspiring teachers to run our literary workshops. In a supportive and creative environment, they guide and motivate the course participants to new realms of creativity. It is an opportunity not to be missed.

In addition to our exciting array of 3-day workshops which take place on Thursday 28th, Friday 29th and Saturday 30th May 2015, this year we are introducing Three 2-day workshops: Short Fiction by Patricia O’Reilly, Screenwriting by Shane Connaughton and Songwriting by Declan O’Rourke. These will take place on Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st May 2015.

Seán Lyons

Literary Workshops 2015
Short Fiction 3-Day
Director: Nuala Ní Chonchúir
Biog: Nuala Ní Chonchúir is a short story writer, novelist and poet. Her critically acclaimed second novel The Closet of Savage Mementos was published in April 2014. Her third novel Miss Emily will be published in 2015.

Her short fiction awards include the Jane Geske Award (USA), the Francis MacManus Award, the Cúirt New Writing Prize, the inaugural Jonathan Swift Award and The Cecil Day Lewis Award. Nuala has taught masterclasses and workshops in the short story in Ireland and in the USA.

Course Theme:

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 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.

Creative Writing - Getting Started 3-Day
Director: Martina Devlin

Biog: Martina Devlin is an author and journalist. Her seven books include Banksters, Ship of Dreams and The Hollow Heart. Her eighth book, a historical novel: The House Where It Happened, was published in September 2014. She writes a weekly column for the Irish Independent and has been named Columnist of the Year by the National Newspapers of Ireland. Short story awards include the Royal Society of Literature V.S.  Pritchett Prize and a Hennessy Literary Award.

Her website is   

Course Theme:  Martina will help aspiring writers to find their voice. Choosing the right topic is the first hurdle to cross. But discipline is needed to finish a piece of work and the course will examine how to work towards achieving that goal.

Questions addressed will include how to blend plot and character and how to draw in readers. Participants won't go home with a novel at the end of the session – although they may go home with a viable idea for one, or with a short story.

Creative Writing – Advanced 3-Day

Director: Lucy Caldwell
Biog: Lucy Caldwell was born in Belfast and is the author of three novels: Where They Were Missed, The Meeting Point and All the Beggars Riding. She has also written several stage plays and radio dramas.  Her short stories have been published in various anthologies: Belfast Noir, Beta-Life, The Faber Book of New Irish Writing and also broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4.  Her writing has won numerous awards including the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the George Devine Award, the Susan Smith Blackburn Award, the Imison Award, the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and a Major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.  She is currently working on her fourth novel, her first crime novel and her debut collection of short stories. 

Course Theme: Love, Sex and Death: writing the moments that matter.

We’ll spend a day looking at the most important moments in our and our characters’ lives. On the first day we’ll consider what makes a love story and how to write a love story that will break your readers’ hearts. The second day will be spent looking at the nitty-gritty of writing compelling sex scenes – because, of course, when you’re writing a sex scene you’re really writing so much more – and on the final day we’ll look at death in fiction, at how and why you might kill your characters off and the implications of doing so.

This workshop is for writers who have previous experience of writing workshops.

Novel - Getting Started 3-Day

Director: William Wall
Biog: William Wall is the author of four novels, a volume of short fiction and three poetry collections, the most recent of which is Ghost Estate. His novel This Is The Country was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2005 and shortlisted for The National Book Awards. His poetry and short fiction have won numerous prizes including several Listowel Writers’ Week prizes, The Virginia Faulkner Award and the Sean O’Faolain Award. His work has been translated into many languages and he translates from Italian. More information at
Course Theme: Opening, voice, imagery, to plot or not to plot, envisioning an ending, first reader, considering the market, where to start and other matters.

Novel – Advanced 3-Day
Director: Alex Preston

Biog: Alex Preston was born and continues to live in London. His first novel This Bleeding City was an international bestseller, won the Spear’s and Edinburgh First Book Award and was selected as one of Waterstone’s New Voices 2010. His second, The Revelations, was shortlisted for the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize. In Love and War is his third novel. Preston writes and reviews for GQ, the Observer and the New Statesman and appears regularly on BBC television and radio. He is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Kent.

Course Theme: Richard Russo said that ‘writers have to recognise and accept an essential artistic paradox – that the more specific and individual things become, the more universal they feel.’ Over a series of in-depth, immersive sessions, Alex Preston will discuss the art of description and characterisation in novels and short stories, showing how to bring your fictional world vividly to life. Using numerous examples from writers such as Richard Ford, Shirley Hazzard, Gustave Flaubert and Flannery O'Connor, Alex will give his students a wide range of tools to help them construct more convincing characters and to paint richer and more evocative landscapes. Alex will use a mixture of teaching, discussions and informal seminars to give his students vital insights into these crucial areas of the novelist's craft.


Poetry - Getting Started 3-Day

Director: John McAuliffe
Biog: John McAuliffe grew up in Listowel and now lives in Manchester where he teaches poetry at the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester. He writes a monthly poetry column for the Irish Times and his four books with the Gallery Press include Of All Places
and a new collection The Way In which will be launched at this year's festival.

Course Theme: Some poems discover new ways of writing. They create sounds or tones which generate updates, responses and repudiations from their future poet-readers. In this workshop you will explore, and add to, the reverberations of Christopher Marlowe’s The Passionate Shepherd, CP Cavafy’s Waiting for the Barbarians, Elizabeth Bishop's Sestina, Louis Mac Neice’s Snow, John Clare’s Mouse’s Nest and others, asking how and why they have inspired or acted as a central reference point for poems by other writers. By tracking the way poems influence and react to one another, we will ask what we can learn from them as we make our own new poems. 

Poetry – Advanced 3-Day

Director: Peter Fallon

Biog: Peter Fallon is a prize-winning poet whose books include News of the World: Selected and New Poems, The Georgics of Virgil, The Company of Horses and Strong, My Love.
Founder of The Gallery Press, he has edited and published more than four hundred books of poems and plays by the country's finest established and emerging authors.
Peter Fallon was the inaugural Heimbold Professor of Irish Studies at Villanova University and a member of Aosdána. He is Adjunct Professor of English at Trinity College, Dublin. He was Burns Scholar at Boston College. He lives with his family in Loughcrew, County Meath.

Course Theme: The Assembly of a Poem


Through a series of writing and reading exercises, this workshop focuses on the way a poem grows, or is assembled and on techniques, those strategies by which ideas and feelings are translated into and conveyed by language. It pays detailed attention to the participants' own work and considers also a wider assembly - a poem's relationship with other poems, with the community in which its author lives, and with the tradition it extends.

Travel Writing 3-Day
Director: Mary Russell
Biog: While studying for an MA in Conflict Resolution, Mary Russell’s research took her to Southern Africa. The following year she travelled to Sudan, Palestine, Georgia and the Sahara.  In between she island- hopped around the Eastern Caribbean.  Her latest book is My Home is Your Home: A Journey Round Syria. Recently she has been walking some of the old butter roads of Cork and Kerry as well as following a route in Palestine that ended in a Bedouin encampment.

Course Theme: Everything we do is part of a journey. If you've ever made a journey or reached a destination that you've wanted to tell someone about, then this is the course for you. We'll be looking at how to engage the reader in that first important sentence. We'll do a Jan Morris and write about a place that doesn't exist. We may even write about a journey that has terrified us. What's certain is that when you've finished this workshop, you'll go home wanting to write more. When you sign up, you'll be invited to send in 500 words about a recent journey you've made.

Writing for Theatre
Director: Jimmy Murphy 3-Day
Biog: Jimmy's plays include Brothers of the BrushA Picture of Paradise and The Muesli Belt. His other plays are: The Kings of the Kilburn High Road, The Castlecomer, The Hen Night Epiphany, Jukebox, Perfidia and What's left of the Flag which was nominated for Best New Play 2010 Irish Times Theatre Awards. Jimmy has just completed Of This Brave Time, adapted from the book Rebels: Voices from the Easter Rising by Ferghal McGarry, for the Abbey Theatre as part of their 1916 centenary commemorations.   A new one act play The Kiss, will be premiered by Bewley's Cafe Theatre in 2015.

Course Theme: This workshop will look at completing the first draft of a full-length play and where to send it, as well as looking at how to structure and end acts one and two.

Non Fiction & Memoir 3-Day

Director : Dr. Eibhear Walshe

Biog: Dr Eibhear Walshe is a senior lecturer in the School of Modern English at University College Cork. His biography Kate O’Brien A Writing Life was published in 2006 and he edited numerous anthologies and reviews. His other publications include the edited collections Ordinary People Dancing: Essays on Kate O’Brien; Sex, Nation and Dissent, Elizabeth Bowen Remembered and The Plays of Teresa Deevy. His memoir Cissie’s Abattoir was published in 2009 and he edited Elizabeth Bowen’s Selected Irish Writings for Cork University Press in 2011. Oscar’s Shadow: Wilde, Homosexuality and Ireland was published in 2012 and A Different Story: the Writings of Colm Tóibín was published in 2013. His first novel The Diary of Mary Travers was published in 2014.
Course Theme: Autobiographical writing is now one of the most popular and exciting forms of creative writing and this short course will provide an engaging and enjoyable introduction to the genre. In this course he will lead a series of workshops around the whole process of life-writing. Participants will examine extracts from celebrated autobiographies. Building on discussions of these writings, participants will be given an opportunity to develop their own memoir-writing skills with a series of short exercises in memory recall and creative writing, supported by group discussion and feedback.

Introducing our new 2-day Weekend Workshops

Screenwriting 2-day Workshop 2-Day
Director: Shane Connaughton
Biog: Shane trained as an actor at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Acted in rep. at various national and international theatres and acted in films by Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and Gillies MacKinnon. He scripted Every Picture Tells A Story, Dollar Bottom (Oscar Best Short), The Playboys for Sam Goldwyn, The Run Of The Country for CastleRock, My Left Foot (Oscar nomination) O Mary This London and Tara Road. His novel A Border Station was shortlisted for the GPA Literary Award. His other novels are: The Run Of The Country, Big Parts and A Border Diary.
He has tutored in the screenwriting department at the National Film School, England and

appeared in his own play The Pitch at Listowel Writers’ Week in 2011.

Course Theme: The workshop will deal with traditional storytelling narrative. How to begin your script, what happens in the middle and how you are going to end it and why. Relevant sections of a well-known film will be shown and its structure analysed.
Short Fiction 2 – Day Workshop 2-Day
Director: Patricia O’Reilly
Biog: Patricia writes both fiction and non-fiction. Her latest novel The Interview received rave reviews and A Type of Beauty was longlisted for Historical Novel Award 2013. Other titles are Time & Destiny, Felicity’s Wedding and Once Upon a Summer. Non-fiction includes How-to Manuals on Writing. She has come the route of print journalism, radio documentaries and plays, and her short stories are published in magazines and anthologies. Her course - Writing Fiction is a stable of UCD’s Adult Education programme. She also edits, mentors and provides on-line support for writers.

Course Theme: Writing fiction is an adventurous act best served by nudging aside reality one word at a time. The focus of this 2-day course is to bring participants on this adventure. The course is tailor-made towards writing fiction to appeal to today’s dynamically changing market.

We will create the essences of successful short fiction: gripping storylines and themes, page-turning characters and evocative locations as well as working on style and technique.

The core strengths of this course are: analysis of writers’ work, group participation and discussion.
Songwriting Workshop 2 – Day Workshop 2-Day

Director: Declan O’Rourke
Biog: Declan has achieved critical acclaim for his songwriting, singing and performance. A consummate and versatile performer, his songs mesmerize regardless of whether performed solo, with a band, string quartet, full orchestra, or as a trio.

Such was the critical and commercial success of his debut album Since Kyabram in Ireland that it opened doors for him internationally, earning him plaudits from the likes of Snow Patrol, Kate Rusby and DJs:Jonathan Ross and Edith Bowman. His other albums are Big Bad Beautiful World & Mag Pai Zai. Galileo his debut single, has been recorded and performed by numerous artists including Josh Groban, and performed by Paul Weller and Chris Rea.

Course Theme: A chance to participate in a unique, intensive songwriting workshop with acclaimed singer and songwriter, Declan O'Rourke.  Over this two-day course, participants will be given insights into O'Rourke's process, including a Q&A-style discussion of the work involved in writing some of the songs from his catalogue.  In addition, those in attendance will be invited to begin a new composition, working solo, or in pairs, under O'Rourke's guidance.

Book a Workshop!

Each 3-day Workshop will run from 9.00am – 12.30pm:

Thursday 28th May, Friday 29th May and Saturday 30th May, 2015.

Each 2-day workshop will run from 9.00am – 12.30pm on Saturday

30th May and Sunday 31st May, 2015

Places are limited to 15 per workshop.

Workshop Fee: €175.00 for each three-day workshop

€140.00 for each two-day workshop.
Each transaction is subject to a €3 booking fee.
Bookings are now being taken:

  • Online: /

  • By Phone:  +353 (0)68 21074

  • By Post: Cheque / Postal Order [Ireland Only] –

Payable to Listowel Writers’ Week Ltd.

  • In Person: Call to Listowel Writers’ Week Festival Office,

24 The Square, Listowel, Co Kerry, Ireland.


Office Hours 10.00am – 5.00pm Monday to Friday.
Credit/Debit Card - Please Tel: +353 (0) 68-21074

Literary Competitions
When Patrick Kavanagh penned the words, ‘there is the source from which all cultures rise, there is the pool in which the poet dips.’ He could well have been referring to the literary competitions at Listowel Writers’ Week. The competitions are the opportunity to add to the well of culture, to dip into that pool and to give wings to your creativity. ‘It takes courage to be a writer’ John B Keane often said. It takes courage to present your writing for adjudication and it takes nerves of steel to await the outcome of that adjudication. It is all part of the journey of the writer. We at Listowel Writers’ Week invite you to share that journey with us and take part in our internationally recognised competitions.
Seán Lyons - Chairman


The Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award

Prize: €15,000 for a published Novel by an Irish author.

  • Novel must be published between 1st February 2014 and

1st February 2015.

  • 6 Copies of each novel should be submitted to Listowel Writers’ Week Office, 24 The Square, Listowel, Co Kerry

  • NO Application Form Required.

  • Please see website for eligibility criteria.

Adjudicators: Eileen Battersby & Gerald Dawe

Sponsor: Kerry Group Plc

Entry Fee: Free

Pigott Poetry Prize in association with Listowel Writers’ Week
Prize: €5,000 for a published Collection of Poetry by an

Irish poet.

  • Collection must be published between the 1st February 2014 and 1st February 2015.

  • 4 Copies of each book should be submitted to Listowel Writers’ Week Office, 24 The Square, Listowel, Co Kerry

  • NO Application Form Required.

  • Please see website for eligibility criteria.

Adjudicators: John Boland & Gillian Clarke
Sponsor: Mark Pigott KBE and the Pigott Family
Entry Fee: Free

Closing date for receipt of competition entries:

2nd March 2015

The Bryan MacMahon Short Story Award

This long-standing award celebrates the art of short story writing.

(Maximum word count 3,000 words) Please inlcude word-count.
Prize: €2,000 Enter online:
Adjudicator: Eilís Ní Dhuibhne
Sponsors: Kerry County Council
Entry Fee: €10.00 with each entry submitted.

Duais Foras Na Gaeilge Enter online:
Duais: €1,200
Categóirí: Dán gearr (níos lú ná 70 líne)
Moltóir: Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
Táille: €10.00 ar gach iontráil
Urraitheoir: Foras na Gaeilge

Eamon Keane Full Length Play

Listowel Writers’ Week have teamed up with Siamsa Tíre, home of the National Folk Theatre as part of the Eamon Keane Full Length Play Award 2015.

The winning play will not only receive a Prize of €1,000 but will have a Professional Staged Reading as part of the New Voices Platform at Siamsa Tíre, Tralee.
Prize: €1,000 plus a Professional Staged Reading in Siamsa Tíre, Tralee.
Adjudicator: Billy Roche
Entry Fee: €20.00 with each entry submitted
Sponsor: The Family of Eamon Keane.
Plays submitted should be for stage presentation only and should not have previously been staged. One-act plays are not eligible. Plays can be submitted only once for this competition. Re-submissions will be disqualified.

The Single Poem Competition Enter online:

Prize: €700 for a single poem (maximum 70 lines)
Adjudicator: Harry Clifton
Sponsor: Listal Ltd.
Entry Fee: €10.00 with each single poem submitted.

The Poetry Collection Competition

Dedicated to the memory of Joni Costelloe
Prize: €1,500 for the best collection of poems.
Entry: 6–12 individual poems OR an equivalent longer single work, which may be in sections or in the form of a sequence. This competition is open only to those who have not yet published a complete book of poems. (Individual pieces may have received prior publication but not previously received an award).
Adjudicator: Moya Cannon
Entry Fee: €20.00 with each Poetry Collection submitted.
Sponsor: Tim Costelloe, Profile Developments

Writing in Prisons Competition

Prize Fund: €1,700
Adjudicators: Listowel Writers’ Week Editorial Board
Sponsors: Irish Prison Service & Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas
Entry Fee: Free (All Entries must be submitted to The Art Development Worker for the Prison Education Service)

The Irish Post New Writing Competition

Category: Short Story
Prize: €500
Adjudicators: The Irish Post Editorial Board
Sponsor: The Irish Post, UK

Entry: This competition is open only to Irish Residents in the UK.
Details of this competition will be advertised in “The Irish Post” Newspaper in the UK from the 18th January 2015.

Entries should not be sent to Listowel Writers’ Week but should be submitted to Siobhán Breatnach, Editor, The Irish Post, Suite A, 1 Lindsay Street, Smithfield, City of London.ECIA 9HP.

The Nilsson Local Heritage Writing Competition

Prize Fund:      €750
Sponsor:          The Nilsson Family
Adjudicators:  Listowel Writers’ Week Editorial Board
Entry: Free
Entry Details:  Each book submitted must be published between 1st March 2014 and 1st March 2015 and written about heritage from a local area.


Please submit 2 copies of each book to the Listowel Writers’ Week office by the 2nd March. 2015.
Listowel Writers’ Week Originals Competition

Prize Fund: €750 Enter online:

Categories: Short Story (maximum word-count 1,500)
Humorous Essay (maximum word-count 750)
Short Poem (maximum 70 lines)

(Please include word-count on each entry)

Adjudicators: Listowel Writers’ Week Editorial Board
Sponsor: McDonald’s Restaurants, Kerry

Entry Fee: €10.00 with each entry submitted
Con Houlihan Young Sports Journalist Award
Prize: €100 Plus winning entry published in the Irish


Sponsors: The Irish Independent & Radio Kerry
Adjudicators: Listowel Writers’ Week Editorial Board
Entry Fee: €5
Entry Details: Open to anyone aged 20 years and under.

Entries submitted to Listowel Writers’ Week may be in the form of a report or feature piece on a sports topic or sports personality of your choice. (Max word-count 500) Please include word-count.

Kerry County Council Creative Writing Competitions for Youth
Prize Fund: €1,500
Creative Writing for 9 years and under. (Max word-count 300).

Creative Writing for 12 years and under. (Max word-count 500).

Creative Writing for 14 years and under. (Max word-count 500).

Creative Writing for 16 years and under. (Max word-count 1,000).

Creative Writing for 18 years and under. (Max word-count 1,000).

A Limerick for all age groups up to 18 years.

(Please include word-count on each entry)
Submissions may be in the form of poems, short stories or essays. One entry per person, the name, address, age and school should appear on each entry. Where a school is submitting a number of entries from various students, the name, address, age and school should appear on every entry.
Entry Fee: Free
Adjudicators: Listowel Writers’ Week Editorial Board
Sponsor: Kerry County Council

Creative Writing for Special Educational Needs

Prize Fund: €200

Categories: Short Story or Short Poem

  • 14 years and under

  • 18 years and under.

Adjudicators: Listowel Writers’ Week Editorial Board
Sponsor: Robert Pierse
Entry: Free
This section is open to anyone who is receiving Special Education at school.

General Competition Rules
The Closing Date for receipt of entries for The Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award and The Pigott Poetry Prize is: 3rd February 2015.
(Eligibility Criteria for these awards is available on:
The Closing Date for receipt of all other competition entries is: 2nd March 2015.

  • Entries can now be submitted online at with the exception of the Eamon Keane Full-length Play Award, the Poetry Collection and Creative Writing for Youth Competitions.

  • Entries cannot have been previously published.

  • All Entries must be typed with the exception of the Writing for Youth Competitions.

  • Please retain a copy, as entries will not be returned.

  • No critique on entries shall be given due to the high volume of entries received.

  • Please submit your name and contact details on a separate sheet. The entrant’s identity must not appear on the competition entry (with the exception of The Creative Writing for Youth Competitions).

  • Entries may be in Irish or in English / Is féidir iontrálacha a bheith i mBéarla nó i nGaeilge.

  • Please identify the specific competition for which you are entering on the front of the envelope, for example ‘The Eamon Keane Full Length Play Award.’

  • The appropriate fee must be included with the entry or a reference to payment if previously paid by credit card or online, otherwise the entry will not be adjudicated. (See below for payment options.)

  • An unlimited number of entries per person may be submitted for the competitions with the exception of The Kerry County Council Creative Writing for Youth Competition where only one entry per student may be submitted.

  • The adjudicators’ verdict is final and no correspondence shall be entered into regarding individual competition entries. Winners only will be notified.

  • Awards may not be presented where an appropriate standard is not achieved.

  • Listowel Writers’ Week reserves the right to withhold or to publish winning entries in the publication Winners’ Anthology 2015.

Paying for Competitions

Payments can be made:

  • online at submission stage.

  • by cheque, payable to Listowel Writers’ Week Ltd (Overseas cheques & postal orders are not acceptable)

  • by Credit / Debit Card (Please note Booking Fee is €3 per transaction).

Tel: +353 (0) 68 21074. Email:

Please do not send cash.

Submit Entries To:
Competition Title” (e.g. The Eamon Keane Full Length Award)

Literary Competitions

Listowel Writers’ Week Limited

24 The Square, Listowel, Co. Kerry

Winners’ Anthology 2015
A selection of the prize-winning entries including extracts from the shortlisted novels for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award and the Pigott Poetry Prize will be included in a special publication which will be available for purchase during Listowel Writers’ Week 2015.

Festival Ticket
Listowel Writers’ Week Festival Ticket entitles the holder to:
Admission to all literary events including Lunchtime Theatre but excluding Evening Theatre, Music Events and Bus Tour.
120 per ticket
Daily Ticket entitles the holder to: Admission to all literary events including Lunchtime Theatre but excluding Evening Theatre, Music Events and Bus Tour.
40 per ticket

Patrons’ Club
If you would like to join our Patrons’ Club or become a Sponsor, please contact Listowel Writers’ Week office for further information.

+353 (0) 68 21074 or email

Contact Information:
Enquiries regarding competitions, entry to workshops and all other information should be addressed to:
Listowel Writers’ Week Ltd

24 The Square


Co Kerry
Telephone: +353 (0) 68 21074


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