Literary Workshops & Competitions


Twenty years ago, author, Christine Dwyer Hickey won the Bryan MacMahon short story award at Listowel Writers’ Week. In 2012 she stepped onto the stage again to collect her prize as the winner of the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award.  In her acceptance speech, she said that the recognition she received from Listowel Writers’ Week twenty years ago had been a major influence and inspiration in her writing career.  Sean Lyons – Chairman

Entries are continuing to flow in, but we would like to remind those of you who are still scribbling away that the Closing Date for receipt of ALL entries is Friday, 1st March 2013.

As usual, there is a broad selection of competitions to suit all aspiring writers. For full details please click Competitions


Ever since Bryan MacMahon introduced the concept of the Literary Workshop way back in 1972, they have become a core ingredient of Listowel Writers’ Week.

So popular have they proved to be in fact, that in 2013 we have introduced three new Workshops: Writing a Play for Radio with Julian Gough; Adult Workshop on Writing Fiction for Teens with Siobhan Parkinson and Everyone’s a Critic with John Boland.

For full details of these and all our Workshops, please click Workshops


 Over the next few weeks we will be introducing our Workshop Directors to you.  First up this week is Siobhan Parkinson and Eoin McNamee.

Siobhan Parkinson (above) was Ireland’s first Laureate for Children’s Literature (2010-12) and she will direct our new Adult Workshop on Writing Fiction for Teens.

 Q.      Did you know from a young age that you would be a writer?

 A.      Yes, I was an avid reader as a child, and when I discovered that someone actually had to write the books I loved, I thought – ‘I want to do that’.  I wanted to be Jo in Little Women – of course, doesn’t everyone? (Well, everyone female anyway).

 Q.      Who were your early influences?

 A.      My mother taught me to read, using far better methods, in my 5-year old opinion, than the teacher.  She possibly regretted it though, as books became my refuge and I could not be dug out of them, much to her irritation.  More public influences were, of course, Enid Blyton and also Puffin Books, which published almost all my favourite authors: E Nesbitt, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Eve Garnet, Anthony Buckeridge, Erich Kaestner and Oscar Wilde.  I loved fairy tales, especially Wilde’s and Andersen’s.  We also got a weekly children’s magazine – not exactly a comic – called Treasure, which published fairy tales from all over the world, one a week, and also published The Borrowers and its sequels in serial form.  That was a real favourite.  I really missed those when we got older and moved on to Look and Learn, which was much more worthy and scientific and which I only pretended to like, because it was better than nothing.

 Q.      Describe your daily schedule.

 A.      There is no such beast.

 Q.      Do you use computer or quill?

 A.      Ah, come on! A computer of course.  I know people go on about their pens but I feel sorry for them.  It’s lovely to feel the words coming out of your hand, yes, it’s a nice feeling physically, but for writing more than a line or two, the computer is a much superior method in my view.  I could never handwrite fast enough to keep up with myself, and I certainly could never read anything I would write at that speed.  Nowadays I depend completely on my computer because I have a visual impairment and can’t read ordinary print or handwriting.  But even without that handicap, I find the computer a very liberating tool.

 Q.       For you, what are the highlights of Listowel Writers’ Week?

 A.      I think the best thing about Listowel is the atmosphere, which is magic.


Eoin McNamee (above) was educated at Trinity College Dublin. He is the recipient of a number of prestigious literary awards and his novel The Blue Tango was longlisted for the Booker Prize.  Eoin will direct our Novel – Advanced Workshop.

 Q.      Did you know from a young age that you would be a writer?

 A.      I’m not sure if you really know until you discover your voice as a writer and to be honest, I was so much in awe of writers that the idea of actually becoming one seemed impertinent.

 Q.      Who were your early influences?

 A.      I did a reading chaired by Declan Hughes a few years ago.  We chatted for a while about influences beforehand and I mentioned that my father read Alistair McClean and Desmond Bagley, while my mother read Yeats and William Blake.  He went on and said that as a writer, I fell somewhere between Bagley and Blake.  As influences, I’ll take that.

 Q.      Describe your daily schedule.

 A.      On a good day I get the children out to school for ten past nine, get a walk on Dunmoran Strand and work until three, then try and pick up whatever work time I can between four and seven.  I usually spend a while reading over the day’s work.

 Q.      Do you use computer or quill?

 A.      Computer.  The words are the same no matter what you use to get them down and I don’t see the point of making extra work for myself in re-writing and editing.  I do like to print work out at the end of the day to read over.