Loose leaves


Mohan’s mob:When 37-year-old Dublin poet David Mohan won the overall 2008 Hennessy XO New Irish Writers Award at the Four Seasons Hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin, on Tuesday, he took to the podium and paid tribute to those who had spurred him on: his writing group.

One hears less about writing groups than book clubs but they’re out there beavering away all over the country. Mohan belongs to the Lucan Creative Writers Group. It is made up of a core group of about 12, but can swell to about 16. They meet every second Saturday at 10am in Lucan Library, and can still be there after 3pm, reading their work, and critiquing it. Some members put their writing up on the group’s website.

So why has the group had such an influence on him? “When I started, I wrote for myself. They encouraged me to take my work more seriously, sending it off to competitions and magazines and reading in public,” said Mohan, a school librarian, who is now shaping his poetry for a first collection. On top of the €1,500 for winning the emerging poetry category, he received €2,500 as overall winner in all categories. www.lucanwriters.ie.

Folan takes RTÉ prize

Ciaran Folan has won first prize in the RTÉ Radio 1 Short Story Competition in Memory of Francis MacManus with his story Hay. His first stories were published in New Irish Writing in the Irish Pressand he previously won the Francis Mac Manus prize in 1987. His collection of short stories, Freak Nights, was published in 1996. Second prize went to Home Help by Dolores Walshe. Third prize to Romanceby Alastair Hadden.

The prize was founded in 1985 to promote and encourage creative writing for radio. This is its 24th year, and more than 700 stories were received this time around. The prizes are €3,000, €2,000 and €1,000 for first, second and third place. All 22 shortlisted stories in the competition will now be broadcast.

Debating futures

In spite of its travails earlier this year, the Irish Writers’ Centre on Dublin’s Parnell Square has a number of creative-writing courses coming up. Jack Harte (prose) and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (poetry) direct a free week-long workshop on creative writing in Irish from May 18th to 22nd, while novelist Emer Martin offers a general creative-writing two-day event from May 21st to 22nd (€125).

On May 21st at 2pm there will be an event on a very pertinent topic: A Future for the Irish Writers’ Centre. “We are now considering a new vision for the centre, its transformation in the coming year, its role and mission as a centre for literature in Ireland,” says the centre of this free event.

Upcoming specialist courses on poetry include ones with Mary O’Donnell, Jean O’Brien and Mark Granier and one on memoir and personal essay by Greg Baxter. www.writerscentre.ie

Maher on McGahern

Eamon Maher of Tallaght IT will speak on No Surrender! War and the Death of Innocence in the Work of John McGahern, and short-story writer Claire Keegan will read from her own work, at the John McGahern Irish Writing Commemorative Evening and wine reception in St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, on Thursday at 7pm. This is the third evening in an annual event celebrating McGahern and contemporary Irish writing. Admission free.