Dromineer Literary Festival; UL poet in residence; Waterford Writers Weekend

A preview of Saturday’s pages and a round-up of the latest book news

Reviews in The Irish Times this Saturday are Denis Staunton on Cardinal Sin by Brian Devlin; Sarah Moss on The Magician by Colm Tóibín; Seán Hewitt on the best new poetry; Sarah Gilmartin on Bewilderment by Richard Powers; Ed O’Loughlin on Andrew Cockburn’s The Spoils of War; Rónán Hession on Wunderland by Caitríona Lally; Niamh Donnelly on The Ghostlights by Grainne Murphy; Éilís Ní Dhuibhne on Openhearted by Ann Ingle; and Orla Tinsley on Your One Wild and Precious Life by Maureen Gaffney.

The 18th Dromineer Nenagh Literary Festival starts on October 1st. Chairperson Geraldine McNulty said: “Despite the restrictions and limitations of the past year, we have been working continuously to be ready to bring you a real live festival again this autumn. We are so happy to be in a position to host and support so many talented writers and performers after the challenges lockdown imposed on the arts sector in the last 18 months. We remain devoted to bringing together writers and audiences at unique and innovative events in the historic and intimate surroundings of Nenagh and Lough Derg.”

This year’s festival includes The Aislings, Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen, in their first event for the imminent Aisling & the City; historians and journalists Diarmaid Ferriter, Catriona Crowe and Susan McKay; novelists Eimear Ryan and Louise Nealon; nature writers Declan Walsh and Kerrí Ní Dochairtaigh and poetry and music from Aifric McGlinchey and Peter O’Toole. Fetails at dnlf.ie


The Waterford Writers Weekend is an integral part of the annual Imagine Arts Festival. It opens on October 21st and runs for three days with a variety of online and live-audience events.

Some of the highlights across the weekend include events with Megan Nolan, Sophie White, Séamas O’Reilly and Rónán Hession. In addition, audiences will also have the opportunity to join Nell Regan in the beautiful surroundings of Lafcadio Hearn Japanese Gardens in Tramore where she’ll talk about A Gap in the Clouds: A New Translation of the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, this classic anthology of ‘tiny, beautiful’ Japanese poems. Colm Keegan will judge the Waterford Poetry Prize and more. See Imagineartsfestival.com


A generous donation has been made to the University of Limerick (UL) Foundation to support the university’s first ever poet in residence position.

The position will be integral to creative writing initiatives at the university, led by award winning Irish author, Joseph O’Connor. Prof O’Connor was appointed as Frank McCourt chair in creative writing at the UL in 2014. With novelists Donal Ryan, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, Rob Doyle and Kit de Waal, and colleagues in the School of English, Irish, and Communication, he teaches UL’s acclaimed creative writing MA.

The gift was made by Paddy Meskell, a graduate of UL’s founding class, and his wife Darlene. Explaining the motivation for the donation, he said: “Darlene and I are absolutely delighted to support Joseph O’Connor and the Creative Writing program and to further raise the university’s profile as a champion of creativity and of Ireland’s vaunted literary tradition.”

O’Connor said: “I am deeply thankful to Paddy and Darlene Meskell for helping us to fulfil the long-time hope of bringing a poet to UL Creative Writing. Here we are in autumn, what Keats called ‘the season of mellow fruitfulness’. This generosity will bear fruit for many seasons to come and will place poetry at the heart of our creative writing programme. Limerick’s strong traditions of poetry and creativity are well known. This gift helps to move that proud history forward.”

UL President, Prof Kerstin Mey said: “We are very grateful to Paddy and Darlene for this wonderful resource, which will complement the Frank McCourt Chair in Creative Writing and build on the University’s exceptional tradition of the Arts, a relationship growing ever stronger as we approach UL’s fiftieth anniversary.”

The position is open for applications until October 14th and further information for applicants and application material is available online from: http://www.ul.ie/hrvacancies/


The Comedy Women in Print Prize 2021 shortlist for Published Comic Novel, judged by Joanne Harris, Maureen Lipman, Steph McGovern, Cathy Rentzenbrink, Nina Stibbe and Susan Wokoma is: Ghosts by Dolly Alderton; Destination Wedding by Diksha Basu; The Best Things by Mel Giedroyc; Domestic Bliss and Other Disasters by Jane Ions; Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Sutanto; and Murder by Milk Bottle by Lynne Truss.

Joanne Harris said: “This is a fantastic shortlist, showcasing the tremendous breadth and diversity of women’s comic writing. From domestic disaster to murder most femme, this list offers something for everyone.”

The winner will be announced at the Groucho Club on November 8th.


Luca Anderson-Muller (18), who lives in Belfast, has been shortlisted for the 2021 BBC Young Writers’ Award with Cambridge University.

Fatigued, his story which was written during lockdown, was praised by the judges as “clever, confident and ambitious” in its exploration of isolation, confinement, human greed and social justice via the fate of two goldfish in a bowl. Told with deadpan humour, and with a “meta-quality’” to the writing, Anderson-Muller wanted the story “to feel like a collage, very messy and all over the place with various emotions”.

The judges for this year’s prize are Radio 1’s Katie Thistleton; Mercury Prize winner, singer-songwriter Arlo Parks; Irish YA author, Louise O’Neill; Sunday Times bestselling author and actor Robert Webb; and Guardian Children’s Fiction Award winner Alex Wheatle.