MLC books

Welcome to the Munster
Literature Centre

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.




Connect with Munster
Literature Centre
on social media

Munster Literature Centre









Gregory O'Donoghue

The 2016 competition deadline has passed, and we would like to extend a sincere thank-you to everyone who entered. The longlisted, shortlisted and winning writers will be notified by the end of December. A public announcement will be made via newsletter, social media, and here at our website in the new year.






Poetry Workshop with Leanne O'Sullivan

Poetry Workshop

6 week course for €120 (100 concs.)
21 October - 25 November 2015
Wednesdays, 7pm - 9pm. Max 12 students.
Lower age limit: 16

For course description and more information about Leanne O'Sullivan, please visit our Workshops page.





(Entries from 1 September to 30 November 2015



The Munster Literature Centre is a not-for-profit organisation; all moneys raised from the competition benefits writers and writing.

1st Prize €1000, a week's residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, publication in Southword
and a trip to Cork, Ireland*.

2nd Prize €500 & publication in Southword

3rd Prize €250 & publication in Southword

Ten runners-up to be published in Southword and receive €30 publication fee.

The Munster Literature Centre holds an annual competition for an international poetry prize for a single poem, named in honour of a late Irish poet long associated with the Centre. The Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize will have a first prize of €1,000 (approx $1122.07 USD/ £727.63 GBP @ xe.com on 16th September 2015), a week's residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre and publication in Southword Literary Journal. The MLC will subvent travel costs for the winner up to €600 and provide hotel accommodation and meals for three days during the Cork Spring Poetry Festival. There will be a second prize of €500, third prize of €250, and ten runners-up will each have their poems published in Southword and receive Southword’s standard fee of €30.


Click here to visit the competition page for information on guidelines and how to enter.












Seán Ó Faoláin Competition


The results are in! Congratulations are in order for Evelyn Walsh of Georgia, USA, who took first prize for her story 'White Rabbit'. Second Prize went to Dolores Walshe of Leitrim, Ireland, for her story 'Small Yellow Sun'.

To view the shortlisted and longlisted stories, please visit our competition page!




(Formerly the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Festival)


Claire KeeganDanielle McLaughlinPaul O'Reilly


23 - 26 September 2015


For more information on events, please visit our dedicated websites:



2015 readers to include Carys Davies, Claire Keegan, Segun Afolabi, Danielle McLaughlin, Kirsty Gunn and many more.






Call for Applications--NOW CLOSED.

Poets to avail of mentorship
under the guidance of James Harpur

Deadline 7 September 2015.

The poet James Harpur has been chosen to be the Munster Literature Centre / Words Ireland Poetry Mentor

James Harpur has had five books of poetry published by Anvil Press, including his latest, Angels and Harvesters (2012), which is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. The Dark Age (2007) won the 2009 Michael Hartnett Award. Other prizes and bursaries include the 1995 British National Poetry Competition, two Arts Council of Ireland Bursaries, a Society of Authors Bursary, an Eric Gregory Award, and a Hawthornden Fellowship. His poems have been published in national newspapers such as The Irish Times, the Guardian and the Independent and broadcast on national radio, including RTE 1 and BBC Radio 4. He has been included in many anthologies, such as The Forward Book of Poetry (Faber 2001), Staying Alive (Bloodaxe 2008), and The Best of Irish Poetry (Southword Editions 2009).

He has conducted workshops at the Arvon Foundation, Lancaster University, Galway University, and at many other venues and locations in Ireland and the UK. He has also mentored and tutored published and beginner poets. He lives in West Cork, Ireland, and is a member of Aosdána.

More information about him and links to his work can be found at http://www.jamesharpur.com/

We are now calling for applications for the position of Mentored Poet.

Applications are invited from Munster-resident poets (with at least one collection published and no more than two) who would like to be mentored by James Harpur while working towards their next collection. The successful candidate will meet the mentor for six sessions. The first five two-hour sessions will be devoted to assessing batches of poems building towards your next book. The sixth session will be devoted to the overall shape of your manuscript. Mentoring sessions can take place at the Munster Literature Centre or at a location mutually agreeable to the Mentor & Mentee.  The first mentoring meeting will be arranged for October 2015. Five further meetings will occur at approximately two-monthly intervals with the last session taking place in September 2016.

Submit a PDF or word document consisting of 10 poems from your manuscript in progress, a literary CV and a note outlining how you believe you could benefit from this opportunity to Patrick Cotter, Artistic Director, The Munster Literature Centre at munsterlit(AT)eircom.net. Deadline: September 7th. All eligible applications will be forwarded to James Harpur who will be the sole selector of the successful candidate. Candidates should not canvass James Harpur directly.








Congratulations to the winners of the

Fool For Poetry Competition!


Fool for Poetry


Victor Tapner has taken top prize with his manuscript Banquet In the Hall of Happiness. Tapner's full collection Flatlands was published by Salt in 2010. Among his previous honours he has won the Cardiff International Poetry Competition, the Wigtown Prize and Flatlands won the East Anglian Book Award for Poetry.

Tania Hershman came second with her manuscript Nothing Here is Wild, Everything is Open. Tania has published books of short fiction previously but this will be her debut poetry volume. Her fiction books are The White Road & Other Stories (Salt, 2008) and My Mother Was An Upright Piano (Tangent, 2012).

The following poets were also selected as finalists from a field of over 200 entries:

Liz Bahs, Berkshire, UK
Garret Bryant, California,
Catherine Cole, Wollongong, Australia.
Kevin Conroy, Naas, Ireland
Paul McMahon, Sligo, Ireland
Lauren Rusk, California
Ryan Vine, Minnesota

The judging process consisted of Patrick Cotter selecting the finalist manuscripts and past and present Southword Poetry editors, James Harpur, Thomas McCarthy, Leanne O'Sullivan and Matthew Sweeney, ranking (without mutual consultation) each finalist in order of preference. When points were added up Victor Tapner and Tania Hershman came out tops.

The winning chapbooks will be launched at next February's Cork International Poetry Festival.






Southword Journal Issue 28 now online!


Southword Journal


Featuring poems selected by editor Matthew Sweeney, including work by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, John McAuliffe, Maurice Riordan, Fiona Pitt-Kethley, the late John Hartley-Williams, and more; six new short stories selected by fiction editor Danielle McLaughlin; litríocht as Gaeilge curated by Colm Breathnach; and reviews of four new English language publications from Irish writers.

Read issue 28 free online.









Fool For Poetry International Chapbook Competition
now closed!

Fool For Poetry Competition

Thank you to everyone who entered.


Shortlist announced in July. Winners announced in September. Sign up for email newsletter to receive results directly in your inbox! We regret, due to large numbers of entries, we are unable to contact submitters who do not place in the competition individually.

More information about the competition.




Fool for Poetry Chapbooks

Some people are fools for love, others are fools for poetry


Virginia AstleyVictoria Kennefick


2014 winners Virginia Astley & Victoria Kennefick
Buy their winning chapbooks at our online bookshop.






Cork Spring Poetry Festival

11 -14 February 2015

Jo ShapcottMartina Evans

Jo Shapcott, Lavinia Greenlaw, Don Share, David Wheatley, Grace Wells, Martina Evans, and many more will be reading. Additionally, we'll have events focussing on Irish poetry publications including the Poetry Bus, the Penny Dreadful and Southword Journal. This year will also feature multiple book launches, including the 'Fool for Poetry' chapbook competition winners Victoria Kennefick and Virgina Astley.

Visit corkpoetryfest.net for more information.







The Munster Literature Centre is a not-for-profit organisation; all moneys raised from the competition benefits writers and writing.


Announcing the 2015 winners

These poems will be published in a future issue of Southword Journal.


1st Prize: 'Self Portrait in the Convex Bulge of a Hare's Eye'

Breda Wall Ryan

by Breda Wall-Ryan of Co. Wicklow, Ireland


2nd Prize: 'Love Meter'

by Caitlin Pryor of Texas, USA


3rd Prize: 'Radio Clash'

by Jane Satterfield of Maryland, USA


View the shortlisted and highly commended poems here.















2021 Competitions

Gregory O'Donoghue
Poetry Competition

Deadline: 30st November




Cork International
Short Story Festival

October 12 - 16




2021 Publications

Southword 40

Includes O'Faoláin Prize stories
& O'Donoghue Prize poems




Felicity Sheehy

Fool for Poetry Winner




Vicky Morris

Fool for Poetry Winner




Queer Love

Fiction anthology




YouTube Videos





O'Faoláin Short Story
Prize Reading Playlist




O'Donoghue Poetry
Prize Reading Playlist




How to Write Titles








Cork Events




Essays & Blogs




Munster Literature Centre
is a constituent member of


The Munster Literature Centre

Frank O'Connor House, 84 Douglas Street, Cork, Ireland.

Tel. (353) 021 4312955 Email info@munsterlit.ie

Irish Registered Charity No.12374