A round-up of the latest literary news and preview of Saturday’s books pages

Eason book offer; TCD Beckett archive; Listowel deadline; HarperCollins appointment

A production photograph from Rockaby by Samuel Beckett, par tof Trinity College Dublin’s latest acquisition

A Thousand Moons by Sebastian Barry is this weekend’s Irish Times book offer at Eason. You can buy the Laureate for Irish Fiction’s latest novel for just €4.99, a saving of €6, when you buy The Irish Times in any branch this Saturday.

Saturday’s books coverage features an interview with Daisy Buchanan about her novel Insatiable in the Magazine and these reviews in Ticket: Matthew O’Toole on Britain Alone: From Suez to Brexit by Philip Stephens; Sara Keating on Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford; Catherine Tayor on the best new fiction in translation, a column that will now run every four weeks; Katie Lewin on Fake Accounts by Lauren Oyler; Martina Evans on The Selected Letters of John Berryman; Rachel Andrews on The Hidden Spring by Mark Solms; Frank McNally on Flann O’Brien’s Gallows Humour and The Lost Letters of Flann O’Brien; and Sarah Gilmartin on The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin.


#DouglassWeek is an online series of transatlantic events commemorating Frederick Douglass's journey around Ireland in 1845/6 and encompassing art, music, academic panels and activism. Literary events include a poetry evening with readings from award-winning Irish and US poets; an interview with authors Colum McCann and Jewell Parker Rhodes about how they have fictionalised Douglass in their novels; and writing workshops inspired by Douglass's famous speeches. #DouglassWeek runs from 8th-14th February - coinciding with US Black History Month and ending on Douglass's self-chosen birthday - and all events are free: find out more and sign up for individual events at douglassincork.com.



The Library of Trinity College Dublin has acquired the Beckett archive of the 1981 play Rockaby, building on its world leading Beckett collections. The Beckett material is being digitised and will be accessible online. An online exhibition curated by Dr Jane Maxwell has been launched today. The entire archive will be made available later this year as part of the Library’s Digital Collections. It includes 30 items of correspondence from Beckett; copies of the original play and its French translation; productions notes; photographs; and a printed commemoration booklet of photographs from the premiere among other items.

Beckett is one of the most famous alumni of Trinity College Dublin. He studied at Trinity, he taught there, and (alone of the many similar honours offered) he accepted an honorary degree from Trinity College in 1959. In 1969, with the generosity for which he is renowned, Samuel Beckett also founded the Trinity College Beckett Literary Archive Collection with a gift of four notebooks.

Calling all creative writers! Competitions now open for submissions at Listowel Writers' Week include: Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award; Pigott Poetry Prize Award; Local Heritage Writing Award; Bryan MacMahon Short Story Award; Poetry Collection Award; Duais Foras na Gaeilge Award; Writing in Prisons Award ; and Creative Writing for Adults with Special Needs Award. The extended closing date for submissions to the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year and Pigott Poetry Prize Award 2021 competitions is February 14th, for this year only. The closing date for all other competitions is February 28th. Click here for more details.


The Trustees of the Kavanagh Trust have presented three 2020 Patrick and Katherine Fellowships to the Derry-born poet Colette Bryce, Dubliner Enda Coyle-Greene andTipperary poet Laurence O’Dwyer. Given the difficulties artists face in the current year, the Trustees are pleased to be able to support poets who have shown commitment to the craft and whose work is of high quality.

Patrick Kavanagh’s widow Katherine Kavanagh wrote in her will: “In the light of certain conversations that I had with my late husband I am of the opinion that poets can best benefit from grants, bursaries, loans or any manner of financial assistance during their “middle years,” that is to say that period of their creative life when they have established that they are capable of work of merit and before they are too old to reap the full benefit of such assistance.”


The winner of the 2020 Pol Roger Duff Cooper Prize, worth £5,000, is Judith Herrin’s Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe, published by Allen Lane. In the year of the pandemic, the judges noted that there was a shortlist of exceptional quality. However, Ravenna impressed them as a book of outstanding scope and importance, as well as a sheer pleasure to read. Judith Herrin is an historian who has dramatically reframed our understanding of the origins of the west, and Ravenna provides an enthralling window into what had once been seen as ‘dark’ centuries.


HarperCollins Ireland has appointed Catherine Gough, currently head of editorial development at Gill Books, as the division’s commissioning editor. From March 1st, she will assume responsibility for acquiring Irish-originated fiction and non-fiction alongside publisher Conor Nagle.

As Gill Books’ managing editor, Gough played an integral role in the development and publication of dozens of bestselling titles, including the Aisling novels; and award-winning non-fiction from authors as varied as Richie Sadlier, Neven Maguire and Lynn Ruane; as well as several of the most successful Irish children’s titles of the past decade.

Kate Elton said: “We established HarperCollins Ireland in 2020 with the goal of discovering new and innovative ways of reaching Irish audiences, while simultaneously providing Irish authors and creatives with a means of realising their full potential. Today’s announcement reaffirms our commitment to that vision, and I’m confident that Catherine will be a tremendous asset to the business.”

Conor Nagle said: “For all of us at HarperCollins Ireland, Catherine’s arrival is cause for real excitement. She brings with her a wealth of experience, an impeccable track record, and a genuinely inspiring vision for the future of our list. Having witnessed first-hand her contribution to countless landmark releases over the years, I know how inspiring and energetic a presence she can be. Frankly, I can’t wait to welcome her aboard.”

Gough said: “I’m lucky to have spent 10fantastic years at Gill, where I got to hone my craft and work with an incredible team, but I’m ready now to look to the future. I’m very excited to join HarperCollins Ireland as Commissioning Editor, and I can’t wait to discover new voices in Irish writing and work with my colleagues to produce beautiful and engaging books.”


UCC’s English department’s creative writing 2021 online reading series began yesterday with Kevin Barry in conversation with Eibhear Walshe. Further speakers in the series include Seán Hewitt (Wednesday, February 17th); Eimear Ryan, UCC Writer in Residence 2021, (March 10th); Danielle McLaughlin (March 24th); Sandra Beasley (31st); Nuala O’Connor (April 14th); and Nidhi Zak/ Aria Epe (April 28th). See Creativewritingucc.com for all details.


Beir Bua is a new journal which showcases the avant-garde, edited by Pushcart-nominated Tipperary poet Michelle Moloney King, which she started during Ireland’s second lockdown.

Issue II showcases an international collective of concrete, asemic, surrealist and experimental poets, all with a longing for a space to break away from rules of convention and play. Moloney King, said, “I remember learning about art movements starting from adversity but to be living through a wave of it now is....inspiring. So many people have started to write poetry and with online social media and eJournals like mine...well its a crest I’m happy to dive into.”

Issue II is now live and free to read.