Eoin Colfer is third Laureate na nÓg for children’s literature

Novelist ‘incredibly honoured and petrified’ to be taking on role

Eoin Colfer: “I feel I am representing my family and my county and indeed all book people in Ireland, which is not something I mean to take lightly. I intend to spend my time spreading stories to every nook and cranny in the country.”   Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Eoin Colfer: “I feel I am representing my family and my county and indeed all book people in Ireland, which is not something I mean to take lightly. I intend to spend my time spreading stories to every nook and cranny in the country.” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Thu, May 8, 2014, 11:32

Novelist Eoin Colfer has been named as the third Laureate na nÓg, Ireland’s laureate for children’s literature.

The former primary school teacher, best known for his Artemis Fowl series, said: “I feel incredibly honoured and incredibly petrified to be taking on the Laureate mantle” after the work of his predecessors Siobhán Parkinson and Niamh Sharkey.

“I feel I am representing my family and my county and indeed all book people in Ireland, which is not something I mean to take lightly. I intend to spend my time spreading stories to every nook and cranny in the country.

“Nobody is safe. It doesn’t matter where you hide – I will find you and tell you a story,” the Wexford writer added.

The announcement was made by Fergus O’Dowd, Minister of State at the Department of Communications, at a special event at the Arts Council this morning.

The honour, held for two years at a time, was established to engage young people with high quality children’s literature and to underline the importance of children’s literature to the realms of culture and education.

Eoin Colfer was born in Wexford in 1965. Having qualified as a primary school teacher, he worked in Wexford before travelling and working in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Italy.

His first book, Benny and Omar, was published in 1998, based on his experiences in Tunisia; it has since been translated into many languages. A sequel followed in 1999.

He attained worldwide recognition in 2001 when the first Artemis Fowl book was published and became a New York Times best seller, as did some sequels. Among his other popular works are Half Moon Investigations, The Wish List, The Supernaturalist, and a series of Eoin Colfer’s Legends.

In January 2008 Colfer published a book titled Airman, another best-seller. His latest novel, Warp The Reluctant Assassin, has been nominated for the CBI Book of the Year 2014.

To date more than half of his books have reached the New York Times list at least once. Eoin Colfer currently lives in Wexford with his wife Jackie and two children, Séan and Finn.

Elaina Ryan, director of Children’s Books Ireland said: “Laureate na nÓg stands for so many things: honouring the talent of Ireland’s extraordinary writers and illustrators; celebrating children’s literature and recognising its crucial place in the lives of children; and bringing people together in Ireland and internationally to talk about children’s books and the possibilities they represent.

“Children’s Books Ireland is thrilled that Eoin Colfer will be Ireland’s third Laureate na nÓg – his imagination, energy and accessibility to so many audiences are among the many attributes that will make Eoin a wonderful Laureate.”

Sheila Pratschke, chair of the Arts Council, said the laureate initiative “has been a tremendous success, and... has broadened and deepened the imaginative worlds of young people across the country.”

Laureate na nÓg is an initiative of the Arts Council with the support of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Children’s Books Ireland, Poetry Ireland and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

For the first time this year, the Laureate na nÓg will be seeking suggestions during the month of June from arts organisations and groups on projects for the office.