Welcome to the Munster
Founded in 1993, the Munster Literature Centre (Ionad Litríochta an Deiscirt) is a non-profit arts organisation dedicated to the promotion and celebration of literature, especially that of Munster. To this end, we organise festivals, workshops, readings and competitions. Our publishing section, Southword Editions, publishes a biannual journal, poetry collections and short stories. We actively seek to support new and emerging writers and are assisted in our efforts through funding from Cork City Council, Cork County Council and the Arts Council of Ireland.Originally located in Sullivan's Quay, the centre moved to its current premises in the Frank O'Connor House (the author's birthplace) at 84 Douglas Street, in 2003.
In 2000, the Munster Literature Centre organised the first Frank O'Connor International Short Story Festival, an event dedicated to the celebration of the short story and named for one of Cork's most beloved authors. The festival showcases readings, literary forums and workshops. Following continued growth and additional funding, the Cork City - Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award was introduced in 2005, coinciding with Cork's designation as that year's European Capital of Culture. The award is now recognised as the single biggest prize for a short story collection in the world and is presented at the end of the festival.In 2002, the Munster Literature Centre introduced the Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Prize, an annual short story competition dedicated to one of Ireland's most accomplished story writers and theorists. This too is presented during the FOC festival. The centre also hosts the Cork Spring Literary Festival each year, at which the Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Prize is awarded (established 2010).
Workshops are held by featured authors in both autumn and spring, allowing the general public to receive creative guidance in an intimate setting for a minimal fee. In addition, the centre sponsors a Writer in Residence each year. We invite you to browse our website for further information regarding our events, Munster literature, and other literary information. Should you have any queries, we would be happy to hear from you.
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1951 - 2005
Gregory O’Donoghue was born in Cork in 1951, son of the poet and playwright Robert O’Donoghue. He studied English literature in UCC under Sean Lucy and John Montague and was part of what Thomas Dillon Redshaw has described as “that remarkable generation” which also included Theo Dorgan, Maurice Riordan, Gerry Murphy, Thomas McCarthy and Séan Dunne.
After completing an M.A. he studied for a doctorate at Queen’s College Ontario, Canada where he taught and was married for the first time.
O’Donoghue published his first book Kicking (1975) with the Gallery Press when he was just 24 and became the youngest poet to be included in the Faber Book of Irish Verse. Later he crossed the Atlantic to settle in Lincolnshire in the United Kingdom where he worked freight trains between South Derbyshire and King’s Cross, Nottingham and Skegness. His book Making Tracks (Dedalus 2001) contains many of the poems recounting such experiences.
In the early 1990s he returned to Cork where he started to write again after many years of silence. He published an interim collection The Permanent Way with the local Three Spires Press and subsequently became workshop leader at the Munster Literature Centre and poetry editor of the journal Southword. In 2005 he published A Visit to the Clockmaker, his translations of a selection of work by the Bulgarian poet Kristin Dimitrova. Seven months later he died unexpectedly and his final collection Ghost Dance (Dedalus) was published posthumously in 2006. In 2009 a prize for a single poem was established in his memory.
In New Hibernia Review Spring 2000, Thomas Dillon Redshaw Writes:
"Out of University College, Cork, came in the 1970s a remarkable generation of poets tutored by John Montague, Sean Lucy, or Seán Ó Tuama. Among them one can count Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Louis de Paor, Tom McCarthy and Seán Dunne. Gregory O’Donoghue, one of that generation, made an early start with Kicking in 1975, published after he became a wandering scholar and had emigrated to Canada. O’Donoghue recently returned to Cork after spending a decade in Lincolnshire working for the British rail system. And that distinctive émigré experience—one shared by many Irish since the days of Carlyle—lies at the heart of O’Donoghue’s finely crafted sequence “Roads.” Our readers will find in O’Donoghue’s lines not simply craft, but an intelligence that peers gracefully around the edges of “Paddy-works” themes and labour clichés."
In an Irish Times book review (2nd February 2002), Maurice Harmon writes:
" 'Making Tracks', the title poem of Gregory O'Donoghue's collection outlines a journey to a grave. It is a typical O'Donoghue poem in that the incident is quietly expressed, its significance gathered by attentive reading. Little details lead to a large questioning. This poetry is low-keyed and oblique. In 'A Gift', we have a lover's feud, with the 2I" figure standing back, realising that now nothing less than love would be accepted. He senses what he loses in losing her. The resolution is conveyed indirectly. The risks attending this technique are noticeable in 'Créide's Lament', which compresses the long, eloquent lines of the original Irish, and in the process loses power. O'Donoghue pares language down to its essentials."
O'Donoghue's Dedalus page
Bio and poems at Poetry International Web
The Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Competition
The Munster Literature Centre
is a constituent member
of Words Ireland.
at the MLC
begins 21 October
10 - 13 February
Southword Issue 28
New issue, free to read online.
Fool For Poetry
& Virginia Astley
Fool for Poetry
Thanks to those
Short Story Festival
Short Story Award
World's richest prize
a short story collection,
co-sponsored by the
UCC School of English
Cork City Council.
Seán Ó Faoláin
Thank you to