The weekly herding: back at it

Tentatively dipping a toe into 2017, The Weekly Herding is a look at all the shiny writing-related news I’ve stumbled across over the last week. And what I’ve been struck by recently is a number of exciting writing opportunities for Irish writers.


Fiction at the Friary

Cork-based writers may be interested in a terrific new initiative by Madeleine D’Arcy and Danielle McLaughlin. Fiction at the Friary is a free (free!) monthly event open to all, with writing exercises, an open mic and the chance to meet fellow scribblers (so important). There will also be guest speakers dropping in – the first of whom is novelist, poet and short story writer William Wall.

It kicks off on January 29, 3-6pm at The Friary pub, North Mall, Cork (bottom of Shandon Street and just across the river from the Gate cinema). You can follow them on Twitter @FictionFriary or via their Facebook page. Best of luck to Madeleine and Danielle – I really hope this catches on.


Residential courses in Ireland

Startup Stock Photos
Like a holiday – but with words

The Story House is a new residential writing retreat based on The Arvon Foundation model which is so successful in the UK. The first of its kind in Ireland (correct me if I’m wrong), it has been set up by Margaret O’Brien and Nollaig Brennan with the aim of running five-day creative writing workshops at different scenic locations around the country. Following a couple of try outs to iron out any glitches, they’ll be kicking off properly with ‘Writing for Young People’, which takes place February 20-25 at Lisnavagh House in Co Carlow. The tutors are children’s fiction writers Sheena Wilkinson and ER Murray, with Patricia Forde as the midweek guest.

Workshops will cost €700 all-in (ie. full board and accommodation, one-to-one consultations as well as group work, plus creative ambience aplenty). There’s a maximum capacity of 12 participants.


Brewery Lane Writers’ Weekend 2017

Another great opportunity for short story writers is the Brewery Lane Writers’ Weekend 2017, taking place in Carrick-on-Suir on April 21-23. Facilitated by award-winning novelists Lia Mills (author of Fallen, the Dublin/Belfast: Two Cities One Book selection for 2016) and Catherine Dunne (The Years that Followed, The Things We Know Now, among others), it will be a mixture of workshops  and one-to-one sessions. I can certainly recommend Catherine, with whom I did a highly rewarding novel workshop in the past, and Lia is also a very experienced workshop facilitator. 

Places are limited to 12 and it costs €175, with an early-bird offer of €160 for decisive types who book and pay by February 19.


Short story competition


The deadline is fast approaching for the Doolin Writers’ Competition 2017. Part of the Doolin Writers’ Weekend, there’s a short story, poetry and flash fiction category, with a prize fund of €2,500. Poet Rita-Ann Higgins will judge the poetry competition, editor of The Glass Shore and The Long Gaze Back editor Sinead Gleeson the short story category and novelist EM Reapy the flash fiction. Competition winners will be invited to attend the prize-giving (accommodation generously provided) and will get to read from their winning work as part of the programme.

This little festival, held annually in the wilds of Co Clare, punches well above its weight in terms of the names it attracts, and this year they’ve confirmed appearances by Mike McCormack (Solar Bones), Sara Baume (Spill Simmer Falter Wither), Stinging Fly editor Declan Meade, literary agent Sallyanne Sweeney and commissioning editor of Harper Collins Anna Kelly, with more to be announced. It takes place on February 3-5.

So brush off the mince pie crumbs on your keyboard, polish up your finest words and get your entries in by January 13.


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