Frank O’Connor’s widow Harriet O’Donovan Sheehy dies, aged 92

Irish literary news and listings: Lisa McInerney and Adrian McKinty longlisted for top crime novel prize

Harriet O’Donovan Sheehy, who died yesterday, aged 92, unveils a  50 cent stamp marking the  centenary of the birth of her late husband, the renowned Irish writer Frank O’Connor,   at St Patrick’s Boys School, Gardiner’s Hill, Cork, in 2003. Photograph:  John Allen/John Sheehan Photography

Harriet O’Donovan Sheehy, who died yesterday, aged 92, unveils a 50 cent stamp marking the centenary of the birth of her late husband, the renowned Irish writer Frank O’Connor, at St Patrick’s Boys School, Gardiner’s Hill, Cork, in 2003. Photograph: John Allen/John Sheehan Photography


Harriet O’Donovan Sheehy, Frank O’Connor’s widow, has died, aged 92. It is understood that her funeral will be held later this week in Dalkey, Co Dublin.

O’Donovan Sheehy was O’Connor’s second wife. They met when she was a student and he was a lecturer at Harvard University. Since O’Connor’s death in 1966, she worked tirelessly in her management of his estate. She also edited and published volumes of his stories, participated in numerous documentaries about him and co-created the first bibliography of his writings. In 2011, UCC awarded her an honorary doctorate for her decades of service to Irish literature.

She corresponded over decades with people from all aspects of the literary and publishing world, such as Julian Barnes and Richard Ford and became very good friends with people such as Emily Maxwell, the wife of the acclaimed novelist and literary editor of the New Yorker, William Maxwell.

Lisa McInerney and Adrian McKinty on longlist for top crime prize

If Adrian McKinty could be considered one of the usual suspects to be longlisted for the gloriously named Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, Lisa McInerney by contrast would have to be regarded as a sleeper, with no previous crime-writing record.

McInerney’s debut novel, The Glorious Heresies, last month’s Irish Times Book Club pick, has also been shortlisted for the prestigious Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, alongside Anne Enright’s The Green Road, and longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize. But the Theakstons longlisting confirms what was obvious from the first couple of chapters – The Glorious Heresies is that rare gem, a literary thriller.

Now in its twelfth year, the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award was created to celebrate the very best in crime writing. Giants of the genre are pitted against a clutch of new voices. The long list, comprising 18 titles, will feature in a six-week campaign across 300 WHSmith stores and1,645 library branches. The shortlist of six titles will be announced on May 31st. The winner will be announced at an award ceremony hosted by broadcaster Mark Lawson on July 21st on the opening night of the 14th Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. The winner will receive a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakstons Old Peculier. Previous winners include Denise Mina, Val McDermid and Sarah Hilary.

The longlist in full:

Time of Death by Mark Billingham, Little Brown

Rain Dogs, Adrian McKinty, Serpent’s Tail

Career of Evil, Robert Galbraith, Sphere

Black Eyed Susans, Julia Heaberlin, Michael Joseph

Disclaimer, Renée Knight, Black Swan

I Let You Go, Clare Mackintosh, Sphere

The Moth Catcher, Ann Cleeves, Pan

Tell No Tales, Eva Dolan, Harvill Secker

The Ghost Fields, Elly Griffiths, Quercus

The Missing and the Dead, Stuart MacBride, Harper Fiction

Every Night I Dream of Hell, Malcolm Mackay, Mantle

Splinter the Silence, Val McDermid, Little, Brown

The Glorious Heresies, Lisa McInerney, John Murray Publishers

The Nightmare Place, Steve Mosby, Orion Fiction

The Final Silence, Stuart Neville, Harvill Secker

In a Dark, Dark Wood, Ruth Ware, Harvill Secker

Death is a Welcome Guest, Louise Welsh, John Murray Publishers

Stasi Child, David Young, Twenty7

John McGahern symposium

A symposium to mark the 10 years that have passed since the untimely death of John McGahern takes place at Saint Patrick’s College Drumcondra on April 28th and 29th. Ten Years On: Assessing the Literary Legacy of John McGahern (1934-2006) is jointly organised by the School of English in Dublin City University and the National Centre for Franco-Irish Studies in IT Tallaght. It has assembled many of the foremost McGahern critics from around the world to assess the literary legacy of one of Ireland’s foremost prose writers of the twentieth century.

Highlights include an appreciation by award-winning writer Donal Ryan, a photographic exhibition by Paul Butler and a scene adaptation for stage from one of his short stories. Prof Declan Kiberd will also launch the latest study of McGahern’s work by Stanley van der Ziel. Further details available at:

Poetry Day Ireland

More than 80 events will take place on Thursday, April 28th to mark Poetry Day Ireland. In association with Poetry Ireland, the programme aims to bring the aspect of revolution in the written and spoken word to the forefront in schools and other venues across the island.

Highlights include Readings from Everything to Play For: 99 Poems about Sport, sponsored by Croke Park and held in the grounds, with guest readers including John McAuliffe, Rita Ann Higgins, Vincent Woods, Cian Ferriter and Paul Rouse. A collaboration between Musici Ireland and poet Jim Maguire takes place at Wexford Arts Centre, while Peter Duffy gives his acclaimed theatrical performance of Patrick Kavanagh’s poem The Great Hunger at The Dock in Carrick on Shannon.

Back in Dublin, there will be a poetry therapy session at Books Upstairs on D’Olier Street, a celebration of spoken word at The Workman’s Club on the quays, and a gourmet food and poetry gathering at Thirty Four Lennox Street.

Other events to watch for include short story writer Claire Keegan at The Courthouse Arts Centre (Tinahely); Breda Wall Ryan at King’s House (Boyle); Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Louis Mulcahy at Féile na Bealtaine (Dingle); an alternative revolution across 19 branches of Cork County Library; a Poetry NI Showcase Reading in The Book Reserve (Belfast); and Cirque des Oiseaux guerrilla poetry events all day, in and around Belfast’s Ormeau Road area. See for full details.

Iconic Citizens: Bealtaine 2016

Iconic Citizens is the theme for Bealtaine 2016, Ireland’s annual festival of creativity as people age. With over 125,000 participants last year, this year’s 21st anniversary sees a programme of over 600 events in libraries, arts centres, care settings, galleries, local halls and community centres across the country.

Festival highlights include visual artist Deirdre O’Mahony presenting First Citizens Speak, a film that explores the lives of a community of older people in North Clare. Writer Brian Leyden is the Bealtaine National Writer in Residence and his memoir The Home Place will be the Bealtaine book for the month. His residency will include three performances with musician Seamie O’Dowd in Clare, Dublin and Leitrim, along with visits to writers’ groups in Sligo, Longford, Dublin, Portlaoise and Navan.

Irish Times journalist and in-house philosopher Joe Humphreys will discuss his book Unthinkable: Great Ideas for Now as part of a reflection on Ireland’s intellectual heritage. The talk will touch on the ambivalent attitude the State and church have had since 1916 towards intellectuals and will address philosophy in schools, reflecting on the educational “philosophy” of people like Patrick Pearse.

Visual artist Anna Spearman will embark on a residency with the Kilkenny Collective for Arts Talent. This will be complemented with an exhibition at the Damer House Gallery in Roscrea of the work of painter Andrew Pike. WillFredd Theatre Company will tour CARE during the festival, and run a series of special workshops with staff in hospices. Musician Paul Creane, writer Peter Murphy and singer Paula Cox will give a unique and powerful performance in Wexford.

Elsewhere The Ark Cultural Centre for Children in Temple Bar will host a reading event for grandparents and their grandchildren, which will be led by Marita Conlon McKenna and her daughter Amanda Hearty. Another family literary event features writer Mary Morrissey and her niece, the poet Julie Morrissey, alongside poets Ciaran O’Rourke and his aunt Enda Wyley. For more information on the huge range of initiatives hosted by local authorities, arts centres, libraries, active retirement groups, care settings, community groups and clubs across the country, visit

Michael McLaverty Short Story Award

Lost Fields is the theme for this year’s Michael McLaverty Short Story Award, which carries a prize of £2,000. In association with The Linen Hall Library in Belfast, the award has run biennially since 2008 and was set up to foster the tradition of the Irish short story. Entrants must have been born in, be citizens of, or resident in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, and be over 18 years of age. Deadline for entries is midnight Thursday, June 30th.

Michael McLaverty (1904 - 1992) was one of the foremost proponents of the Irish short story. His archive was donated to the Linen Hall by his literary executors in 2005. Adjudicators for this year’s competition are Patsy Horton, managing editor of Blackstaff Press, and the writer David Park. For more information, visit the Linen Hall Library website at

Poets up in arms

The 30-minute documentary A Poet’s Rising will broadcast on RTÉ 2 on Tuesday, April 19th at 11.10pm. Commissioned by the Irish Writers Centre and funded by the Arts Council as part of ART: 2016, the documentary sees six acclaimed Irish poets – Theo Dorgan, Paul Muldoon, Thomas McCarthy, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Jessica Traynor – bring some of the iconic people and places of 1916 to life with newly commissioned poems and original music from Colm Mac Con Iomaire.

Produced and directed by Pádraig Burke, the documentary reveals the specially commissioned poems and includes interviews with the poets, highlighting their artistic processes and their attempts to unravel the complexities of 1916 through the medium of poetry. The poets were filmed at iconic locations including the GPO, Moore Street, Liberty Hall and City Hall.

The line-up includes Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin with For Connolly, Paul Muldoon with Patrick Pearse: A Manifesto, Jessica Traynor with A Demonstration, a poem about Dr Kathleen Lynn, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill with Íota an Bháis about Michael Joseph O’Rahilly, Theo Dorgan with We Carried It To Here As Best We Could about Elizabeth O’Farrell and the surrender, and Thomas McCarthy with Garden of Remembrance focusing on the Fallen and the act of remembrance.

The poems will also be published next week in The Irish Times and on

Write to Read at DCU

A new literary anthology of younger writers, Dr White, launches on Thursday, April 21st at 5pm in St Patrick’s Library at the DCU Institute of Education, Drumcondra. Created by 11 young writers under the guidance of children’s literature laureate Siobhán Parkinson, the publication is part of DCU’s Write to Read project.

Dr White was put together at the Young Writer’s Academy in May 2015 following a five-week creative writing series with children’s fiction authors Siobhán Parkinson, Sarah Webb, Brian Gallagher and poet Terry McDonagh.

Inchicore based schools Scoil Mhuire gan Smál, Inchicore National School and Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady Immaculate Senior National School, Darndale and Saint Laurence O’ Tooles Senior Boys School and Girls National School were all involved in the Young Writers’ Academy. Dr White is published by Little Island and is part of the overall Nightmare Club Series created by Annie Graves.

A trio of Tipp poets

Tipperary will celebrate All-Ireland Poetry Day on Thursday, April 28th with local poets Michael Coady, Paddy Moran and Seamus Hogan. The Dromineer Literary Festival, in association with the Nenagh Arts Centre, will host readings by the three poets, including recitations of their favourite poems by four women from Dromineer and Nenagh. Coady lives in Carrick-on-Suir and was elected in 1998 to Áosdána. His Oven Lane and Other Poems was recently republished in a new edition by Gallery Press. Paddy Moran has published three collections of poetry: The Stubble Fields (Dedalus Press, 2001); Green (Salmon Poetry, 2008); and Bearings (Salmon, 2015). Seamus Hogan’s poetry collections Interweavings and New Poems were published by the Granville House Press, Paris. Hogan’s next collection, Grey Smoke Against A Grey Sky, is forthcoming from Eblana later this year. The event takes place at Nenagh Arts, Banba Square, Nenagh from 7pm. Admission is €5.

Bernard MacLaverty in London

The Belfast writer Bernard MacLaverty is the star attraction at the 21st Irish Writers in London Summer School, which takes place over the course of six weeks from June 9th to July 15th. The summer school – emphatically not a creative writing school – provides an informal setting to meet contemporary writers and discuss their work.

Jessica Townsend, Felicity Hayes McCoy, Lucy Caldwell and Paul Sheehan are also taking part in this year’s course, which runs for two nights a week for five and half weeks. Each Thursday evening an established Irish writer comes to read and speak about their work in London Metropolitan University’s Tower Building. On the Tuesday evening prior to the readings, participants will discuss the writer’s work with fellow students and a tutor. Running from 6-8.30pm both evenings, with an additional Friday class in the final week, fees are £195, with an early-bird rate of £175 before May 5th. Further information can be found here. (

French letters in Roscommon

The French Letter is the provocative title of this year’s Percy French Festival, which takes place in Castlecoote House in the author’s native Roscommon from July 6th -8th. Now in its 8th year, the festival will consider aspects of letter writing - the effects of its loss in today’s technological world; its role in our social history; its depiction in the World of Art; the letters of St Paul - and will also examine sex and society in modern Ireland.

Speakers include Eamon Maher, Brian Griffin, Jane Maxwell and Alan Tongue. Morning lectures will be followed by musical recitals in the afternoon. Day tickets are €40, or €110 for a weekend pass. More information on booking and on each of the individual events at

Books in Bantry

Zadie Smith, John Banville, Christina Lamb and Louis de Bernières are among the authors on the programme for the 2016 West Cork Literary Festival. Running at various venues in Bantry, West Cork, from July 17th to 23rd, poetry is also well represented this year with TS Eliot prize-winner Sarah Howe, as well as Nick Laird, Theo Dorgan and Jo Shapcott.

Highlights include Dame Marina Warner’s evening of short stories inspired by fairy tales, legends and mythology, readings on Whiddy Island in Bantry Bay, and Kevin Barry and Cary Davies presenting an evening of tales of the lives of others. Literary agent Carol Blake will share her expertise in the publishing industry, while Catherine Ryan Howard will talk about self-publishing. Hannah Griffiths, fiction editor at Faber and Faber, will discuss her 20 years of experience in the industry. The children’s festival features Darren Shan, Kieran Crowley, Chrissie Gittins, Mark Wickham, Horatio Clare, ER Murray and Alan Early, the return of the Book Clinic, and many more special events.

Dublin Ghost Story Festival

Swan River Press hosts the Dublin Ghost Story Festival this summer, with Adam Neville, John Connolly and Sarah Pinborough among the authors appearing (and disappearing) over the weekend long event. Inviting attendees “to raise a pint of the black stuff and celebrate literature of the supernatural – both past and present – in a city where some of the genre’s most memorable nightmares were born”, the festival will feature plenty of spooky stories, from Mrs Riddell’s Weird Stories to the spectral disturbances of JS Le Fanu’s In a Glass Darkly.

The festival takes place from August 19th to 21st in the Grand Lodge of Ireland at 17 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2. While the purpose-built headquarters dates back to 1869, the Grand Lodge of Ireland is the oldest Freemason lodge in continuous existence. The Museum of Freemasonry will also be open to festival attendees. Tickets, limited to 150 attendees, are now on sale through

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