Full Scholarship for the 2022 MFA in Playwriting


The Patricia Leggett Scholarship which has been offered at The Lir Academy for the past six years.

This bursary is open to writers resident on the island of Ireland to support them to complete a one-year MFA in Playwriting at The Lir Academy, commencing later this year. The value of the support is up to €12,000.

This is a great opportunity for a budding playwright to train under the expert guidance of tutors Graham Whybrow, Karin McCully, Gavin Kostick and Thomas Conway.

For more information on our MFA in Playwriting, please follow this link.

In order to apply for the scholarship, applicants must be:

  • Qualified to degree level
  • Resident in Ireland or Northern Ireland.

Applicants can submit a 45-minute-long complete play to info@thelir.ie by Friday April 8th, 2022.

Chalk Dust – New Poetry Collection from Noel Monahan

This new collection, by award winning poet, Noel Monahan, searches for identity and belonging, in the shifting shadows of modern Ireland. The section on sonnets seeks a spiritual uplift out of the darkness and poems written in Irish, with English translations further the quest for meaning. “Chalk Dust”, the stunning title poem, portrays an Irish Catholic boarding school, where sons of strong farmers and rural shopkeepers are placed in the ivory hands of priests, to be educated. This long dramatic prose poem is episodic and follows the calendar of a school year, where trapped male energy erupts, under the strains of collective living and time alone allows the Chalk Dust to settle.


Noel Monahan was born in Granard, Co. Longford. He has won numerous awards for his poetry and writing. His awards include: The SeaCat National Poetry Award, organised by Poetry Ireland, The RTE P.J. O’Connor Award for drama, The ASTI Achievements Award, The Hiberno-English Poetry Award and The Irish Writers’ Union Poetry Award. He has read his work on Sunday Miscellany, RTE 1, on a number of occasions.

His poetry was prescribed text for Leaving Certificate English, 2011 & 2012. “Chalk Dust” , is Noel Monahan’s eighth collection of poetry. “ Opposite Walls”, was published in 1991, “Snowfire”, in 1995, “ Curse of The Birds” in 2000, “ The Funeral Game” in 2004, “ Curve Of The Moon” in 2010, “ Where The Wind Sleeps” 2014, published by Salmon. “Celui Qui Porte Un Veau” , a selection of French translations of Noel Monahan’s work was published by Alidades in 2014. A number of his poems have been translated into: Italian, Russian, French and Romanian. His most recent plays include “ The Children of Lir”, performed by Livin Dred Theatre and “ Lovely Husbands”, a play for young people, based on the work of Henry James. For twenty six years he has worked with Heather Brett as co editor of Windows Publications.

Recently, he has had work included in the following anthologies: Windharp, edited by Niall McMonagle and published by Penguin, Tra Una Vita E L’Altra, published by Guanda, Italy, Lost Between, New Island Press, Everything To Play For, published by Poetry Ireland, Even The Daybreak, published by Salmon, Reading The Future, New Writing From Ireland, Arlen House. Noel Monahan holds an M.A. in Creative Writing.

From Beatrix …….to Harry

from beatrix to harryFor a considerable number of years Longford County Council’s Arts has developed projects the purpose of which have been to encourage creative writing skills and an appreciation of literature among Longford’s primary and secondary school students.

The process has yielded some highly innovative and imaginative projects not least of which have been, the children’s collaborative novel; All Because of a Toothbrush in which over three hundred students in over thirty primary schools actively co operated to develop the story line and the characters of a charming children’s novel.

Another milestone in the nurturing of children’s creative writing was the development of our De-scribe programme. De-scribe was a two year pilot programme designed to develop and test a highly original approach to developing the creative faculties of even the very young primary school children. The development of the De-scribe programme also resulted in the establishment of four children’s writing groups in the county.

These are just two examples of an extensive, year-round programme of supports organised to encourage children’s creative writing. Through the high level of activity in this area The County Arts Office has forged an extensive network of partnerships with various stake holders in the sector such as; school’s staff and principals, parents, artists and administrators.

We therefore decided to utilize this locally based reservoir of experience and expertise to assist us in exploring new structures and techniques in the development of our writers and readers of tomorrow. Rather than going down the route of devising a work plan or schedule, which we felt was too prescriptive and rigid an approach, we decided to form a focus group from our pool of partners and to ask the group to assist us in generating a set of guidelines or reference points for the future development of our work in this area. With the financial assistance of the Arts Council we engaged the facilitator Anne Gallagher to motivate and guide the work of the focus group and we would like to take the opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to Anne and all the members of the focus group for their effort commitment and enthusiasm.

View report

Launch of the King of the Back of the Hill

Last March we, in the Ardagh Creativity Centre, hosted a very interesting evening with the archaeologies Adel Coleman who told us of the findings of her research in Ardagh. The results of a 1967 archaeological dig had been languishing in the National Archives for decades so Adel decided to writer them up.

We were so inspired by the talk that night we put out a call for writing and art inspired by the dig and the story of the skeleton of the King of the Back of the Hill alleged to be King Maine of Teabhta, son of Niall of the Nine Hostages

We were delighted with the response which includes art, photography, poetry, short stories and factual writing from adults and children.

Launch of De-scribe

This week sees the launch of the latest and possibly the most innovative creative writing project to emerge from Longford County Arts Office. The Describe project demonstrates new and exciting methods of developing creative writing both with children and adults.

The project techniques have been designed and piloted over the past three years in primary schools and public libraries in County Longford and according to Fergus Kennedy Longford county Arts Officer the reaction of parents and teachers to the project has been overwhelmingly positive with a total of 35 primary schools participating in the project. Schools are already incorporating the describe approach into their toolbox for creative writing and “Author and Scribe” family writing sessions, using the Describe method, are established, regular events in branch libraries.

The creative / educational process draws on a scribing technique which, according to Chris Thompson who has designed the technique and facilitated the project, “takes a partnership approach to creative writing. It is a technique that allows very young, reluctant or disadvantaged children to develop literacy skills creatively and enjoyably but it has many other appropriate applications for adults and children working together”. Scribing involves one person, acting as active listener and recorder of the author’s orally recounted story.

Fergus Kennedy points out that; “the beauty of the techniques developed through the De-scribe project is that it is flexible enough to be applied in a wide variety of contexts from the formal group context of a school room to the informality of a family kitchen. Because the project offers the means through the attractive and original user-manual and multi-media CD-ROM, to train interested adult facilitators or Scribes, and provides all the resources necessary to begin Scribing, the process is highly cost-efficient and thus sustainable over time.” Resource materials are included on the CD-ROM.

View a demo of the De-Scribe CD-ROM

Cork International Short Story Festival

The Cork International Short Story Festival is taking place from 13 – 16 September, and it’s shaping up to be another dynamic year with readers including June Caldwell, David Means, Nuala O’Connor, Billy O’Callaghan and many more. Online tickets are now available for purchase!

There are two opportunities to inspire your own writing: a fiction masterclass with Claire Keegan, as well as a writing workshop with this year’s Frank O’Connor Fellow Marie-Helene Bertino. Both classes will run for the four mornings of the festival, from 9.30am to 12.30pm at the newly renovated Nano Nagle Place in Douglas Street.

Claire Keegan’s masterclass is 200 Euro, and the Marie Helene Bertino workshop is 150 Euro.

Full descriptions of the courses are available at our website here: http://corkshortstory.net/workshops.html .

For more information, please contact Jennifer at The Munster Literature Centre: info@munsterlit.ie or 021 431 2955 .

Poetry Workshop in Cavan

An eight week poetry workshop will be facilitated this Autumn by Kate Ennals on Tuesday evenings from 3 October to 28 November (with a break on Tuesday 24 October for AT The Edge, Cavan) between 7pm and 9pm in Swellan, Cavan Town.

The workshop will be based on a mix of themes and forms. Kate will provide poems for inspiration, discussion, and assignments each week. The group will workshop the poems of each participant. The aim is to explore and write new poetry and bring together local poets/writers to stimulate and develop their work. There will be a limit of 8 participants allocated on a first come, first served basis.

For further information and to register, contact Kate Ennals on 0863737847 or email kateennals@live.co.uk.

Kate Ennals is a poet and writer and has published material in a range of literary and on line journals (Crannog, Skylight 47, Honest Ulsterman, Anomaly, Burning Bush 2, Poets meets Politics, The International Lakeview Journal, Boyne Berries, North West Words etc). Her first collection of poetry At The Edge was published in 2015. She has lived in Ireland for 25 years and currently runs poetry and writing workshops in County Cavan, and organises At The Edge, Cavan, a literary reading evening, funded by the Cavan Arts Office.

National Poetry Day in Longford

On April 27th Ireland’s love of poetry was celebrated in every town in the country. In Longford we enjoyed a relaxed informal evening of poetry by some of our many local poets.

National Poetry Day celebrations were held in the Backstage Theatre where writers and audience were casually seated in a cafe style setting enjoying light refreshments while poets took turns to read from their work or perform their pieces in tandem.

Why not enjoy some brief excerpts from the evening?

Maria Edgeworth Literary Festival

Edgeworthstown: The Town of Great Writers

In 1782, Richard Lovell Edgeworth decided to move his family from his home in England to the family estate in Edgeworthstown, County Longford. This was to begin a long tradition of literary creation in the town.

His daughter Maria Edgeworth went on to have an illustrious career in writing, and produced many works, some of which are to be found in print today. Her most famous novels were ‘Castle Rackrent’ and ‘The Absentee’.

Longford went on to produce many acclaimed writers including Padraic Colum, Vona Groarke, Belinda McKeon, Alan McMonagle and Noel Monahan, to name just a few, and the Edgeworth Literary Society endeavours to maintain the Edgeworth legacy through its annual Festival. The Society continues to promote the work of writers through its annual competitions, and the awarding of the Deirdre Purcell perpetual prize.

It also endeavours to keep alive the legacy of the Edgeworths through its programme of events.

2017 will be no exception with this year’s festival from May 5 to 7, 2017 featuring a varied line-up, sure to pique the interest of literary fans of all ages and tastes.

This will include children’s storytelling, with Heritage in Schools expert Eamon Brennan, while John Beddoes a direct decedent of the Edgeworth Family, will discuss the poetry of Anna Edgeworth.

Professor Iggy Mc Govern, Physicist and Poet, will give a poetry workshop on the Saturday morning and will discuss the link between science and poetry in an evening session. Dr Susan Manly of St Andrew’s University, an authority on 18th century literature and the author of a new biography on Maria Edgeworth, will look at the legacy of Maria Edgeworth.

There will be lots of local talent too, including participation from the local members of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Corrine McCormack-Bushell, the O’Reilly family and many more.

As part of the heritage trail walk, Octavia Tulloch will give a talk on ‘hedgerow’ medicine and plants at the Gardens in the Manor, and visitors will be able to visit places of interest on the guided walk, ‘St Mary’s to St John’s and Beyond’, with refreshments being served at the rectory.

Arguably the highlight of the weekend will take place when a new portrait of Maria Edgeworth, created by Ballymahon artist Orla Kelleher, is unveiled, meanwhile, the weekend concludes with a trip to Tullynally Castle, which will include a guided tour of the Castle and Gardens, and a talk by Thomas and Valarie Pakenham.

Details of the festival can be attained from the festival office on 043 6671801 or by visiting  www.edgeworthstown.net/festival

Killoe Group Takes on the One-act Circuit

Well known in Longford for their ambitious productions and talented casts, Cilleo Yew Tree Players took on a new challenge last winter – performing on the All-Ireland one act circuit.

A fixture in the local drama scene since the late 1980s, the group has a membership of approximately thirty, from school age upwards.

“Usually once a year, we would normally do a full length play in March or April,” explained group Chairperson and Director of their one-act offering ‘Brenton vs Brenton’, Damien Bennett.

“We had talked about going on the one-act circuit for a long, long time, so we applied for as many festivals as we could.”

Giving the reason for their show selection, Damien revealed; “We had done farce before in the group, so it seemed suitable to do it.”

A cast of six also meant that more people got to take in the experience of the circuit.

The group learned a lot from their first foray into the competition, Damien admitted. With an extensive set, and a large cast, the experience was often a difficult one, but one which they greatly enjoyed, nonetheless.

They had remarkable success at the festivals too. They performed at five festivals, earning second and third place in Cavan and Manorhamilton, respectively for the American spoof, which is set in an advertising agency in Chicago.

Paul McCarthy, meanwhile, was awarded ‘Best Actor’ in Carrigallen, and received numerous nominations. Sharon Finneran was nominated for ‘Best Actress’, while the rest of the cast, including Damien himself, Mary Mahon, Mick Dunne and Carmel Kennedy put on a memorable performance. Damien was also quick to praise the crew for their invaluable input.

“Without them we wouldn’t have been able to do what we did.

“We’ll absolutely try again,” Damien continued. “The overall consensus was that it was a very enjoyable and very worthwhile experience.”
Attention now turns to the group’s 2017 production, ‘Belfry’, which will take to the stage in the first week of April, directed by Micky Kenny.

Majour Longford Children’s Literary Event

The Maria Edgeworth Literary Festival has grown in stature and national recognition since its inception. It serves several notable purposes: preserving the name of the Edgeworth family, giving recognition to the spectacular intellectual and creative achievements of the gifted family and contributing to the continued growth of creative writing in Longford by affording children’s writing the same status and recognition as adult writing.

Many of our adult writers today began to develop the belief that they are possessed of a literary talent through their participation in the Edgeworth Children’s Poetry Competition when they were much younger.

It is that time of the year again – the hard working committee in Edgeworthstown are inviting submission to the 2017 Children’s Poetry competition on a theme of: Maria Edgeworth in the Garden.

If you know a primary school student who has demonstrated any interest in writing or rhymes please direct them towards this worthwhile exercise. All necessary details are outlined below:


Entry Fee: €1 per entryf

1st Prize €50

2nd Prize €30

3rd Prize €20

Closing date 24th February 2017


  1. Entry fee must accompany all entries.
  2. All entries must be the original work of the entrant and must not have been published, accepted for publication, broadcast or honoured by the closing dates for entries.
  3. All entries to be clearly written or typed on one side of the paper only.
  4. Name and address to go on a separate attached sheet.
  5. The decision of the judges shall be final.
  6. Poems limited to 40 lines.

Entries to be sent to:

Competition Secretary,
Edgeworth Literary Society,
Old School House,
Ballymahon Road,
Co. Longford
Tel. No. 043-6671801

Emerging Longford Writer in line for Majour Literary Awards

john connell

The talented Killoe writer John Connell has been shortlisted for the prestigious Bord Gais Irish Book Awards – Short Story of the Year Section.

The story was published by Granta Magazine in Granta 135 New Irish Writing alongside the work of such internationally acclaimed writers as; Roddy Doyle, Donal Ryan and Colm Toibin’s.

The short story, entitled The Birds of June, is set in Longford and concerns a nurse working in the local county hospital.

The nomination as a finalist of such a prestigious competition in the company of multi-award winning writers including a Booker Prize winner (Roddy Doyle) represents a majour milestone in the creative development of one of our most talented young writers. It also reflects very well on the number and quality of contemporary Longford writers.

Our emerging artists and writers need all the support we can give them for their individual development but also for the development of the national perception that Longford is a place of talent and creativity thus making the road a little easier for all our emerging artists.

The shortlisted story, The Birds of June, can be read on www.writing.ie sponsors of the award.

The overall winner will be selected both by the judges and by popular acclaim. Therefore you can play a very real part in helping John Connell bring the title of short story writer of the year back to Longford. All you have to do is log on to: http://www.irishbookawards.irish/vote2016/

Support your local writer and remember, in this week of presidential elections, the immortal words of Sen. Huey Long “Vote early and vote often”!!!!!

Budding Longford actor stars in IFTA-nominated show

daire o'muiriIt’s been an ‘Eipic’ year for 17-year-old Daire O’Muiri.

A talented actor, who hails from Tarmonbarry, Co Roscommon, Daire was cast in the acclaimed Irish-language comedy musical drama ‘Eipic’, which aired early this year.

“It was fantastic, it nearly exceeded expectations,” Daire smiled, when asked about seeing the finished product on screen. “I really enjoyed seeing the whole story come to life.”

In a nod to the 1916 Centenary, the six-part series follows five teenagers who take over the local Post Office to start a musical revolution. Daire played the role of Aodh in the series, which called on his talents as an actor, a musician and a gaeilgeoir.

‘Eipic’ received an extremely positive reaction, and has since gone on to be nominated for three Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) awards for Irish Language programme; Director – Soap and Comedy; and Children’s and Young People’s programme. It equalled the number of nominations received by the ever-popular Mrs Brown’s boys.

“I heard that the nominations were coming out on the Wednesday, so I was keeping an eye,” he admitted. “Just seeing ‘Eipic’ written was a bit weird.”

Daire has been keeping himself busy for the rest of the year, balancing auditions and school with a performance with Backstage Youth Theatre, of which he is a member. He took on the role of Padraig Pearse in the youth group’s engaging and moving 1916 production: ‘2016 – A Coming of Age’.

For now, however, Daire’s acting is taking a back seat as the St Mel’s College, Longford student prepares to undertake his Leaving Certificate exams. However, it’s definitely not the last we’ve heard of Daire, and he confirmed that he is keen to pursue other stage and screen projects, though maybe not immediately.

“I might not go straight into an acting course. At the moment I’m planning to do Primary School teaching and see where it goes from there,” he concluded.

‘At Large’ in Edinburgh

daniel o'brien

A Longford man was ‘At Large’ in Edinburgh last month, as a Dublin-based theatre group brought three plays to the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
30-year-old Daniel O’Brien, a native of Newtownforbes, is a member of At Large Theatre, who presented three original shows over two weeks.

From a passing interest in drama as a child, O’Brien joined the drama society when he enrolled in Trinity College to study History and Economics, but, as he laughed; “College just got in the way.”

It wasn’t until he had left college and completed his accountancy exams thereafter that he was convinced by a friend to join No Drama Theatre in Dublin, where he developed his acting, writing and directing skills.

“I went along with him and I enjoyed it. They did a weekly workshop every Tuesday and I’d go to those,” Daniel explained, before laughing, “my friend dropped out after a few weeks.”

After working with At Large Theatre’s Artistic Director, Gráinne Curistan, he joined the group and went on to write one of the three plays they presented in Edinburgh.

According to Daniel, ‘Nowhere Now’ centred on “internal trade agreements and capitalism and working life”.
“It’s mostly just about the language people use to talk about them.”

Daniel also appeared in the Gráinne Curistan written and directed ‘The Meeting’ a comedy set in an office. The third show was the deeply personal, character-driven ‘Beryl’.

Speaking on his return from the festival, Daniel said; “Edinburgh was great. We got settled into it pretty quickly; the routine of flyering, dealing with the time slot pressure that you get at festivals… which was great. I was a bit nervous beforehand about how we’d react to that but everyone handled it very well.

“It is a very competitive environment and we had to learn very quickly how best to sell the different shows.”

They did an excellent job, if the results were anything to go by, with Daniel reporting some great audiences as well as some sell-outs.

“I think it was a very positive experience overall,” he concluded, “we got some very positive audience reactions, we saw a lot of great shows and talked to a lot of interesting people, and everyone made it back physically safe and mentally sane, which is a good result on its own!”

For more on At Large Theatre, visit www.atlargetheatre.com or follow them on Facebook.

Longford Author’s Debut a Turn Up for the Books

bernice barringtonA thrilling page-turner which keeps the reader guessing from beginning to end, Bernice Barrington’s debut novel ‘Sisters and Lies’, published by Penguin Ireland, was released in March of this year, to great acclaim.

The story centres on two sisters, Rachel and Evie, the latter of whom is in a coma following a car crash. Everyone, including the police, believes that the crash was either an accident or a suicide attempt, but Rachel isn’t convinced, particularly when she discovers that Evie has been living with her childhood bully and has been concealing her identity from him.

The book is written as a dual narrative, as Rachel searches for answers and Evie desperately tries to remember what happened and communicate with her sister, and is set between London, Dublin and Leitrim.

It has received rave reviews from fans and fellow writers alike – including Marian Keyes, who dubbed it “head and shoulders above the rest” – and Bernice is thrilled with the reaction.

“Obviously, getting the quote from Marian was amazing, and by and large the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads have been very positive,” she stated, admitting; “I was dreading the inevitable one-star ratings but there have been mercifully few of those”.

Beyond the great reviews, the book has also re-connected Bernice with many old friends and acquaintances, and she has received many Facebook photos showing the book being read on sun loungers around the world.

“Basically the whole experience has been overwhelmingly positive and I’m still trying to process all the good will and positivity that has been directed my way,” Bernice continued. “The other amazing thing is that it has given me a feeling of legitimacy about my writing. Making any kind of creative work can be so lonely and difficult – but the reaction has made me feel the hard work was worthwhile.”

A native of Aughnacliffe, north Longford, Bernice (née Mulligan) cut her writing teeth at the Longford Leader, where she worked as a journalist for almost two years. She then went on to work as sub-editor and editor at a magazine publishing company before taking on the role of Media Project Manager at Zahra Media Group.

Based in Dublin, where she lives with her husband Brian and their beautiful daughter Lily, who was born mere months after the release of ‘Sisters and Lies’, Bernice has certainly had a busy year.

“I was on the TV3 show Midday as a panellist promoting the book in June,” Bernice revealed. “I also wrote the article in the Irish Independent about the Leaving Cert and did the follow up interview with Kathryn Thomas on the Ray D’Arcy show.”

Just a month after publication, ‘Sisters and Lies’ was part of the Eason/Pat Kenny Book Club for the month of April, and Bernice is due to feature in the Sunday Times for an article about writers and their writing desks.

In terms of writing desks, Bernice’s has changed slightly since welcoming baby Lily this summer.

“I am in the very early stages of a new idea,” she revealed, “in between nappy changes and feeds!

“Needless to say, we are beyond smitten and (touching every piece of wood possible) she has been a wonderful baby – sleeping well and generally being an absolute treasure. I know it’s going to be challenging combining writing and motherhood, but I’m (optimistically/naively) hoping it will all work out!”
For more information on ‘Sisters and Lies’, which is now available as an audiobook through Bolinda, or to contact Bernice, see: Facebook.com/bernicebarringtonauthor; Twitter @beebarrington or visit www.bernicebarrington.com.

‘Sisters and Lies’ will also be coming out in the UK in Spring 2017.

Irish TV Want To Profile Longford Artists

irish tv

Karina Charles – Longford Correspondent for Irish TV is interested in profiling the work of Longford artists on the Longford programme each Saturday evening.

If you have an item relating to your life as an artist or something to do with your practice please contact her at the number or e-mail address below.

Karina will be delighted to hear from you.

085 1030569

Respond 2 – Participants

The following are the partnerships for the Respond 2 collaborative creative writing project.

WriterDigital Artist
Margaret NohillyShelley Corcoran
Ed DennistonEvelyn Kelly
Eileen MoynihanGordon Farrell
Mary Melvin GeogheganSeamus Clarke
Ann Gerety SmythShane Crossan
Pauline FloodEddy Bisi-adepoju
Ciaran FureyMichael Croghan
Kathleen DowdDeirdre O’Byrne
Rose MoranBrendan Keogh
Emma DonohoePatrick Baxter

A Guide to the Short Story Programme for Longford Writers

Alan McGonagleMentoring is one of the most effective supports artists can receive as they struggle to develop their talents and their crafts. In the tradition of the master craftsman and his apprentice the aspiring artist learns at first-hand how to develop and hone his or her talents directly from an established artist.

Longford County Arts Office is currently offering the opportunity for a small number of committed prose writers to participate in a ten week programme with writer Alan McMonagle. Potential participants should therefore have an interest in the short story form.

Classes will have a different focus each week covering such areas as: finding a voice, beginnings – opening lines paragraphs and chapters, constructing characters, dialogue, place/setting, engaging the reader, conflict, point of view, editing, presenting your work for publication

As for selection, this is a Guide to the Short Story and so will be focused solely on the elements of an effective piece of short fiction. Writers wishing to participate should submit a piece of sample prose, no longer than 500 words (which should either comprise a short story or an excerpt from one) to ajmcmonagle@eircom.net marked “Short Story Course” no later than 5.30pm Thursday September 17th. Successful applicants will be informed on, or before Friday September 25th. The course is subsidised by Longford County Arts Office and will therefore be free for all participants.

The ten week course commences on Wednesday 7th October in the Ardagh Creativity (Heritage) Centre and will run from 7.30pm – 9.30pm. All applications and submissions should be e-mailed to the above address and not to the County Arts Office.

The Caterpillar Short Story Prize

caterpillar short story prize

Have you written a brilliant children’s story? Or have you one you’ve been meaning to write? With just over a month left to enter (closing date 30 Sep) now is the time to bring it to light.

There is a single prize of €1,000 plus publication in The Caterpillar (which has featured stories by the likes of Michael Morpurgo, Veronica Cossanteli and Frank Cottrell Boyce).

The story must be aimed at 7–11 year olds and be no more than 2,000 words in length. It costs €12 to enter.

You can read more about the Caterpillar Short Story Prize or enter online at www.thecaterpillarmagazine.com.

And needless to say, ignore this if you’ve already sent us your story.

Poetry Outdoors

Saints Island Church

Event:Poetry Outdoors
Facilitated by:Noel Monahan, poet & dramatist
When:Daily – Friday 24th July to Sunday 26th July 2015
Cost:20 Euro
Price includes transport from Longford to and from sites and tuition fee
Booking:Longford Tourism
phone: 043 33 42577
email: info@longfordtourism.ie

In a new and stimulating series of poetry workshops, internationally recognised poet and dramatist, Noel Monahan will take workshop participants on tour of the most beautiful and unspoiled landscapes in Ireland. The Lough Ree Waterway described by RTE’s Dick Warner as; “Europe’s last great wilderness” is the perfect backdrop for this creative adventure in Co. Longford. It is hoped this journey will lead to artistic freedom and engage participants directly in finding new and unexpected gift of subject matter for their writing. Knowing all true artists are hunters/fishermen, we look forward to new findings and new ways of looking at the everyday. The facilitator will draw the participants’ attention to the many features of this picturesque part of Co. Longford:

noel monahan
Listen to Noel Monahan discuss this unique event and explain why Lough Ree and Saint’s Island are so special.

The event will explore: Landscape, Flora and Fauna – hills, bogs, woodlands, quarry-park, lakes and islands and wildlife. Unique Colours – lichen covered stones, the strata-graphic colours of bogland, meadowland.

As well as the area’s storied history: Ruins of monasteries on the islands, placenames creating their own word- pattern of poetry, the landed ‘gentry’ and the fall of The Big House.

Such an approach will lead to a discovery of the wonder of the place and will open up a new vision and new intelligence for the writers.

The one day experience is suitable for both beginners and those who have been writing for some time.

Saints Island Church


[Friday July 24th – Sunday July 26th]

9.30am – Group assemble at Longford Tourist Office, Market Square, Longford

Morning – A facilitated exploration of St. Island and the award winning ‘sculpture village’ of Newtowncashel. [Participants are recommended to bring refreshments]

1.00pm – Group arrive in Lanesborough. Lunch can be had in a number of bars and cafes. After lunch people are free to explore the picturesque village, the lake shore and the environmental SAC ‘The Commons’.

3.00pm – Lough Ree Co op Offices Main Street Lanesborough – Workshop based on the morning’s experiences and dealing with specific writing skills such as: Finding the Words and the line as a basic unit of a poem. The workshop will assist with editing and offer guide lines for publication.

5.30pm – Return by bus to the Tourist Office, Market Square, Longford


All places on this workshop must be booked in advance through Longford Tourist Office

Course Fee: €20.00

Numbers strictly limited to a maximum of 15 participants per day, therefore it is important to book early

The price includes transport from Longford to and from sites and tuition fee.

Refreshments and lunch are not provided. Lunch may be had in Lanesborough.

Accommodation can be arranged in local Hotel or B & Bs. Enquire at Longford Tourist Office: 043 33 42577 info@longfordtourism.ie

All enquiries to Longford Tourist Office.

For further information and updates check: www.virtualwriter.ie

saints island


Noel MonahanNoel Monahan was born in Granard. He has won numerous awards for his poetry and writing. His awards include: The SeaCat National Poetry Award, organised by Poetry Ireland, The RTE P.J. O’Connor Award for drama, The ASTI Achievements Award, The Hiberno-English Poetry Award and The Irish Writers’ Union Poetry Award. His poetry was prescribed text for Leaving Certificate English and examined in 2011. Noel Monahan has published seven collections of poetry fifth collection of poetry, published in 2010. “ Opposite Walls”, was published in 1991, “Snowfire”, in 1995, “ Curse of The Birds” in 2000 and “ The Funeral Game” in 2004, “ Curve Of The Moon”2010, “ Where The Wind Sleeps” 2014. all published by Salmon. In October 2014, Alidades in France published a selection of Noel Monahan’s work in French translation: “Celui Qui Porte Un Veau”. A number of his poems have been translated into: Italian, Russian, French and Romanian. His most recent plays include “The Children of Lir”, performed by Livin Dred Theatre and “ Lovely Husbands”, a play for young people, based on the work of Henry James. For twenty years he has worked with Heather Brett as co editor of Windows Publications. Noel Monahan holds an M.A. in Creative Writing.

The Red AbbeyMonks walked through hell to arrive at Abbeyderg.Each one carried a woman within himselfAnd she settled somewhere between his hair-shirt

And heart. In the light and darkness of the Sun-

Moon- Child they listened for the unheard melody,

Dreamt prayers over the hills, built altars of snow.

By night the stones

Fell up to the stars.

Asleep on their pillows of stone they stared

At the Red Abbey Cross, felt Christified,

Saw a lady hanging there, red tears running

Down her face. In the morning the stars fell

Down as stones, the monks saw Christ’s image,

His crown of thorns still bleeding and they carried

His cross beams between the stones and the stars.

Noel Monahan

Open Call for Literary & Art Works for Midir and Etain Anthology

Midir-and-Etain-publicationposterHelp us celebrate the Legend of Midir and Étain.

Creative Ardagh, in partnership with County Longford Arts Office and Cruthú Arts Festival are inviting all artists, writers, poets, established and new, young and old to take part in an exciting Visual Arts and Literature Project.

We want to celebrate our local legend by publishing an anthology of stories, poetry and artwork by people of all ages. We envisage a mix of work from professional artists and writers, along with the work of children and other budding artists/writers based on the legend of Midir and Etain.

This inspirational legend lends itself to an exciting project such as this. Be inspired by the drama, love, envy and shapeshifting transformations that are entwined in the story and produce your own creation in whatever media you like. We are accepting poetry and stories up to a maximum of 1500 words and artworks in any media including drawing, painting, photography, digital media and images of 3d artwork.  The only restriction is that it is your own original work. You can find out more about the legend here: http://creativeardagh.blogspot.ie/p/midir-and-etain.html.

You can enter from where ever you are in the world by post or email.
Artworks sent by post should not exceed A4 size.
The closing date for submissions is: 5pm on 7th June 2015.

Please send all submissions to:
Creative Ardagh, Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre,
Ardagh, Co. Longford
or email: creativeardagh@gmail.com

The anthology will be launched as part of the Bilberry Sunday Event on the 26th July 2015 in Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre. This event will be hosted by Creative Ardagh in conjunction with County Longford Arts Officer Fergus Kennedy during the Cruthú Arts Festival. Those selected for the publication will get a chance to read their written piece or display the original artwork on the day.

View publicity poster

Longford County Council Arts Services announces Arts Bursary Scheme 2015 

Artists Bursary

The focus of this year’s County Arts Office Bursary Scheme will be: individual professional artists operating in the Longford County Council administrative area and aspiring artists from the Longford County Council administrative area, studying creative arts at a third level college.

Grants will be awarded to artists to support continuing professional development.  The forms of professional development envisaged are: support for the creation of new work, professional development and training, funding for materials and equipment and other creative or professional development purposes.

Artists Bursaries will be in the region of €500.00 though this figure may be varied by the adjudicators based on such factors as the number of applicants and the quality of projects.

All entries must be by e-mail to fkennedy@longfordcoco.ie

Closing date for receipt of applications is: 1.00pm Friday April 10th.

Education Bursaries

Education Bursaries will be paid to students from Longford County Council administrative area involved in a full time third level creative arts course, in an accredited third level college from September 2014.Students intending to attend art-form specific creative summer courses may also apply.

All entries must be by e-mail to fkennedy@longfordcoco.ie

Closing date for receipt of applications is: 1.00pm Friday April 10th.

Anne Skelly Commemorative Bursary

anne skellyIn recognition of the enormous contribution made by Anne Skelly to the development of creative writing in Longford during her time as Creative Writing Development Officer with the County Arts Office, the Arts Office has established the Anne Skelly Commemorative Bursary. The Bursary has been established to enable an artist, preferably a writer, from Longford to spend a week at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre Annaghmakerrig Co. Monaghan, for the purposes of developing or completing a creative project.

This Perpetual Prize will be offered in the early Spring of each year starting in 2015, we feel that it is a means of commemorating Anne’s memory in a manner that she would have appreciated. The County Arts Office wishes to thank Anne’s husband Michael for his generous approval of this commemoration.

Applicants for the Anne Skelly Commemorative Bursary must complete an application form (PDF format, Word document) which should be emailed to fkennedy@longfordcoco.ie

Closing date for receipt of applications is: 1.00pm Friday April 10th.

Word Corner Cafe

Next week the Word Corner Cafe is back at The Dock Arts Centre, Carrick on Shannon. This is a free, informal event for all writers, readers and beat poets to share their work!

Word Corner Cafe is in the second Tuesday of every month – this month February 10th  – from 6 – 7.30pm in the Jury Room Cafe at The Dock.

Please come along and read / hear some wonderful work, and please pass this information on to people you think may be interested.

Bursary Announcement

Out Of The Shadows Book Cover

Anne Skelly who was the creative Writing Development Officer for the County Office for a number of years sadly passed away earlier this year. Last Friday night 10/10/14 her friends and fellow members of Ballymahon Writers Group published a commemorative collection of creative writing entitled Out of the Shadows.

As part of the launch proceedings at Ballymahon Library it was announced that:” In recognition of the enormous contribution made by Anne to the development of creative writing in Longford during her time as Creative Writing Development Officer with the County Arts Office, this Office will establish the Anne Skelly Commemorative Bursary to enable one artists, preferably a writer from Longford, to spend time at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre Annaghmakerrig each year, for the purposes of developing or completing a creative project.

This Perpetual Prize will be offered in the early Spring of each year starting in 2015 and we feel that it is a means of commemorating Anne’s memory in a way which she would have appreciated.

We also wish to thank Anne’s husband Michael for his generous approval of this commemoration.”

Longford Writers and Artists Combine to Create an Explosion of Creativity


This week Longford County Arts Office launched, ‘Respond’ a fascinating creative project. According to County Arts Officer Fergus Kennedy; “artists and art lovers know that the visual arts and literature are both capable of creating an energy and atmosphere unique to the arts. However when you combine the two different forms of creative expression you can create a wonderful frisson of imaginative energy and excitement.”

Longford has more creative writers per head of population that anywhere in Ireland. In addition there has been a huge resurgence in the visual arts in the county in recent years.

The Respond Project is an effort to harness and combine these two art forms to create an exciting and imaginative project that is unique to Longford. Ten local writers were shown a piece of work by ten local artists and used it as a setting-off point to explore ideas about art, love, loss, family, dreams, memory, places and privacy.

The painters were: Hugh P.Magrath, Brendan Duffy, Phil Atkinson, Pat Hourican, Gordon Farrell and Gerard Keaveney. Gary Robinson showed a three dimensional multi-media piece and the photographers were Michael Croghan and Shelley Corcoran. Ed Walshe showed ceramic work.

Among the responding writers were poets Mary Melvin Geoghegan, Breda Sullivan, Margaret Nohilly, Rose Moran, Valerie Masters, Rose Byrne and Jackie Gorman. The prose writers are: Ann Gerety Smyth, Lorne Patterson, Caroline O’Connor Coyle.

The project will culminate with an exhibition of the work and a reading by the responding writers in the Atrium Gallery, Backstage Theatre, Longford on Wednesday 10th December. The art and literature will also be celebrated in a booklet published by the County Arts Office.

Granard Writers Group Lunch DVD of New Work

Beneath the Moat - Granard Writers

Granard Writers’ Group was established in 1987, and is the longest established group in Co. Longford. Its home is Rath Mhuire Resource Centre, Granard, where meetings are held on a monthly basis. The group has developed and evolved over the last 27 years and has always been a place within the community where writers are encouraged and supported in an enjoyable and relaxed setting, as well as participating in workshops, literary events and social outings.

Its latest project is the publication of a DVD of original poetry, prose and memoir written by the members and edited by the internationally recognised Granard poet and dramatist Noel Monahan.

Many members, past and present, have been successfully publishedand we look forward to continued success and enjoyment in the future.


Submissions Wanted for Writers Directory

Longford Arts Office intends to establish a Writers Directory on this site.

The purpose will be to provide a focus of attention on the number of published authors from Longford, the diversity and quality of their work and to provide a professional contact point.

To qualify for inclusion in the Writers Directory it is necessary that a body of your work to have been published in a dedicated publication by a reputable independent publishing house.

If you are a creative writer born in County Longford or if you have strong creative or literary connections with the county and you would like to be included in the Writers Directory send an e-mail to; fkennedy@longfordcoco.ie marked; www.virtualwriter.ie Writers Directory – we will contact you as soon as possible.

Winners of Book Cover Naming and Design Competition Announced

Ring around the Moon

In August Longford County Arts Office announced two interesting creative competitions: to create a title for the up-coming collection of creative writing and the design of a book cover inspired by the title.

The idea was to engage as many Longford artists in a collaborative process as possible. According to County Arts Officer Fergus Kennedy ”the judges of the title competition and of the book cover design competition where bowled over by the number and quality of submissions”

The creative writing is the work of writers who participated in a poetry mentoring programme facilitated by the internationally recognised Granard poet and dramatist Noel Monahan and in a prose mentoring programme facilitated by Longford town’s up-and coming writer Alan McMonagle.

The winning entry for the title of the collection was Ring Around the Moon which was suggested by the poet Breda Sullivan member of Granard Writers Group. The winner of the cover design was Longford photographer Shelley Corcoran.

Prizes for both winners will be presented at the launch of Circle Around the Moon on Thursday 2nd October at 8.00pm in The Canal Studio Backstage admission free.

Anthology Title Prize Winner

The County Arts Office world like to thank the participants in this years Poetry and Prose Mentoring Programme for their enthusiastic and imaginative response to our call for possible titles for our anthology of the work of the participants in this year’s mentoring course.

We had almost one hundred percent response from all of the course participants and the adjudicator had a serious task in selecting just one winner.  In the end one of the suggestions of poet Breda Sullivan, one of Longford and Westmeath’s most accomplished poets, was chosen as the winner.

The title proposal was “Ring Around the Moon” was chosen ‘for its lyrical quality, for the way it reflects the soaring imaginative quality of much of the work contained in the anthology and for the visual possibilities that it presents to the visual artists who will compete for the design cover’

The winner receives a cheque for €50.00 and a naming credit in the anthology.

The anthology: “Ring Around the Moon” will be launched at 8.00pm on National Poetry Day, Thursday 2nd October in the Canal Studio, Backstage Theatre, Longford

Is a place on a Longford Creative Writing Mentoring Programme the new Garth Brooks ticket?

Due to the unanticipated demand for places and the overall excellent quality of work submitted an extra class has had to be scheduled for the Prose Mentoring Programme by Longford County Arts Office.

Poetry Mentoring Programme Starting Tuesday 11th February in Templemichael Community College at 7.30pm

The successful applicants were:

  1. Rose Moran
  2. Caroline O’ Connor Coyle
  3. Breda Sullivan,
  4. Jackie Gorman
  5. Anne Maher
  6. Margaret Hayden
  7. Yvonne Coates
  8. Kevin Bateman
  9. Mary McGushin
  10. Anna Delaney

Prose Mentoring Programme Starting Tuesday 11th February

In Templemichael Community College at 7.30pm

The successful applicants were

  1. Lorne Patterson
  2. Miriam Mulrennan
  3. Rose Byrne
  4. Anne McDonnell
  5. Majella Reid
  6. Eileen Moynihan
  7. Frank Horne
  8. Geraldine Ryan

Due to the unanticipated volume of applicants for places on the Prose Mentoring Programme and the overall quality of the work submitted an additional class has had to be scheduled for:

Wednesday Evenings starting 12th February in Templemichael Community College at 7.30pm

The successful applicants were:

  1. Sally Martin
  2. Dette Lowry
  3. Justine Gannon
  4. Michaela Curwin
  5. Margaret Browning
  6. Ann Gerety Smyth
  7. Donna Maguire


Longford Playwright on RTE Radio

Alan McMonagle

Oscar Night by Alan McMonagle

It’s Oscar Night in the home of aging sisters Annabelle and Miranda. The Oscar Ceremony has become an annual ritual and the two sisters like to make the most of the occasion. That is, until this year’s broadcast is interrupted by a young man making a fast escape from a police van transferring him to a new prison. The felon is in need of some quick cash, a getaway car and, as he is famished, a bowl of hot soup. His eyes light up when he stumbles into the home of the elderly sisters. This is one prison break that will go without a hitch…or is it…

Transmission date: Sunday, January 19 at 8pm, on RTE Radio One.

Poet Says it Like She Feels

Often the precise eye of a fellow craftsman is required to fully appreciate the intricate detail and skill that goes in to creating something of beauty within that selected field.  For that reason, the high praise heaped on local poet Mary Melvin Geoghegan’s new collection of poetry by her fellow poets and authors lend serious credence to the quality of the work.

The poet and writer Nuala Ni Chonchuir refers to Mary’s “obvious delight in words” while praising her new collection, Say it Like a Paragraph, as “engaging economy and playfulness with language and original thought” to deliver up its riches.  Ni Chonchuir is just one of many esteemed poets who have lavished praise on this collection.

Say it Like a Paragraph is Mary’s fourth collection of poetry and is one that is inspired by journeys both personal and physical, the poet has taken since the death of her father in 2008.

“My last collection was very much borne out of coming to terms with my father’s death.  This collection is basically what has happened in my life since and all of the different journeys that I have taken.  Its life jumping out at you:  the coincidences of existence strike me as I feel obliged to put them together2.

While speaking with Mary who is also associate editor of Eurochild anthology of children’s art work it’s easy to understand her ability to find poetry in the rhythms of every day life. Her enthusiasm for life is infectious.

Her poetry finds the immense in the mundane, delivered succinctly with an underlying tenderness that never threatens to spill over into cliché.  The process of writing poems is sudden, she tells me.

“If something arrests me I get a prompt and in many cases I don’t know what the poem wants to say.”  As a result her poems in this collection are short, they come to the point quickly and focus on imagery rather than metaphor.

“At times I’m completely astonished by an experience unravelling a synchronicity that leaves me breathless, grateful, sad, amused and wanting to capture that life in its twists and turns inside a poem.

The launch of the collection takes place in the Backstage Theatre on 17th October.