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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.




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Munster Literature Centre







MARIA REGINA ROCHE (1764 - 1845). Born and bred in Waterford, Roche was the daughter of Captain Blundell Dalton, who was an officer of the British 40th Regiment.  After her marriage c. 1794, she moved to England, but she always longed for Waterford, to where she did return in the 1820’s  and died in 1845.  Nowadays, she is considered a minor Gothic novelist, but in her day, many believed her to be the closest rival to Ann Radcliffe.  Her earlier novels, The Vicar of Lansdowne (1789) and The Maid of the Hamlet (1793) were published under her maiden name and were mistakenly attributed to her father.  Her two most famous novels are The Children of the Abbey (1796) and Clermont (1798), the latter of which is considered her finest Gothic novel.  Both novels underwent several editions and were translated into French and Spanish.  She all but disappeared from literary life between 1800 and 1807, due to serious financial difficulties.  She received funding from the Royal Literary Fund and proceeded to produce a further 11 novels between 1807 and 1834, the later novels returning to her beloved Ireland, most notably The Munster Cottage Boy (1820), The Bridal of Dunmore (1823) and The Tradition of the Castle; or Scenes from the Emerald Isle (1824). 

Two of her novels are referred to in Jane Austen’s Emma (1816) and Northanger Abbey (1818), thus demonstrating her immense contemporary success.  She died in relative obscurity in her home on the Mall, Waterford.


EDWARD LEAMY (1848 - 1904). Born in Waterford, Leamy later served as Lieutenant in the British Army in German East Africa.  He was a solicitor and later M.P. for Waterford.  He published many books of Irish fairytales, most famously, the posthumous By the Barrow River and Other Stories (1907) and Irish Fairy Tales (1898). 


JULIA M. CROTTIE (1853 - c1930). Born in Lismore where she was educated by the Presentation Sisters, Crottie published several collections of closely observed tales of spiritual paralysis in rural Ireland.  Her stories feature satirical portrayals of embittered lives of would-be and returning emigrants.  Her novels include The Lost Land (1901) and a short story collection Neighbours (1900).  She was compared by the Glasgow Herald to Edgeworth and Carleton.


LADY BLANCHE GIROUARD  (1898 - 1940)Born Blanche Maud de le Poer in 1898 at Curraghmore, she was the daughter of the 6th Marquis of Waterford, where she lived for most of her life.  She wrote a volume of short stories The World is for the Young and a novel of mythical Ireland called, The Story of Keth (1928).  She died in a car accident in 1940.


TERESA DEEVEY (1894 - 1963). Teresa Deevey was born on January 21, 1894 in Waterford. Educated in Waterford and UCD, although she later transferred to UCC to be nearer home, on account of an ear disease which left her totally deaf prior to graduation.  Her plays include Reapers (Dublin, The Abbey Theatre, 1930); A Disciple (one-act, The Abbey, 1931); Temporal Powers (The Abbey, 1932); The King of Spain's Daughter (The Abbey, 1935); Katie Roche (The Abbey, 1936); and The Wild Goose (The Abbey, 1936). Her plays were hugely popular, displayed an underlying moralism coupled with a desire for personal freedom.

Her play Wife to James Whelan was rejected by the Abbey in 1937 (a decision believed to have been influenced by W.B. Yeats), after which she wrote extensively for radio, her work being broadcast on Radio Éireann and BBC Northern Ireland. In 1939 two of her plays were broadcast on the new BBC Television service. She was elected to the Irish Academy of Letters in 1954, and having lived for many years in Dublin, returned to her native Waterford where she died in 1963.


JIM NOLAN. Jim Nolan was born in Waterford in 1958. He is a founder member and former Artistic Director of Red Kettle Theatre Company. His play, The Gods Are Angry Miss Kerr launched the company and his other plays for Red Kettle include The Black Pool, The Boathouse, Moonshine, The Guernica Hotel and The Salvage Shop. The Salvage Shop, directed by Ben Barnes, was nominated for the Irish Times/ESB Best New Play Award and won the Sunday Independent/Ford Spirit of Life Award for Play of the Year. His most recent play, Blackwater Angel was presented at the Abbey Theatre in 2001. Moonshine, The Salvage Shop and Blackwater Angel are published by The Gallery Press.
He has directed many plays for Red Kettle and has also worked as a writer and director with Waterford Dramatic Society, Meridian Theatre Company, Field Day, and TEAM Theatre. Recent productions include the premieres of The Queen and Peacock, by Loughlin Deegan and The Kings of the Kilburn High Road, by Jimmy Murphy. Jim Nolan has been Writer-in-Association at the Abbey Theatre and is a member of Aosdána.


SYLVIA CULLEN. Sylvia Cullen grew up in West Waterford and now lives in Co. Wicklow. A graduate of the Samuel Beckett Centre, Trinity College, Dublin, her plays include: Crows Calling, Hunting the Strawberry Tree and The Thaw which was published by New Island Books in 2001. She has scripted two devised shows: Owl, Cork City Hall and Broken Ground, which went on a national tour. She has received a number of Arts Council Awards and was writer in residence at Wicklow hospital in 2000.  Bedazzled was commissioned by NTC touring theatre. 


KATHLEEN SHEEHAN O’CONNOR. Kathleen Sheehan O'Connor was born in Waterford. Her novels are Silver Harvest (Cork, Emperor Publishing, 1992); Hold Back the Tide (Emperor, 1994); The Son of a Nobody (Dublin, Attic Press, 1995); By Shannon's Way (Dingle, Mount Eagle, 1999); and Different Kinds of Loving (2000, Mount Eagle). She lives in Dublin.


Waterford City Council

Waterford sub-section authored by Susan Burke-Trehy. This subsection has been grant-aided by Waterford City Council Arts Office



 Waterford is a city that from its earliest beginnings has seen travel in all of its variants.  A city founded by Vikings, invaded by Normans, oppressed by English military rule and developed to a thriving port with connections to France, Flanders, Canada and America, it is little wonder then that it should be the birthplace of Ireland’s most famous, and internationally recognised travel writer, Dervla Murphy.  Waterford County Library houses an impressive collection of writings about Waterford, including a database called “Travels through Waterford”, a compilation of writing about Waterford as seen by various 18th and 19th century English travel writers, including William Makepeace Thackeray, celebrated author of Vanity Fair.  [See the Waterford County Library website for more details]


Molly Keane Memorial Creative Writing Award

Every year Waterford County Council offers a prize of €650 and a commerorative scroll to the writer of the best original short story entered for competition. Additional entry forms are available from Waterford County Council or by phoning 058-41416. The winner is also presented at the annual Immrama Festival of Travel Writing in Lismore in June: Visit their website at: .www.lismoreimmrama.com .


Spotlight: Molly Keane


MOLLY KEANE  (M. J. Farrell):  (1904 - 1996 ). Molly Keane was born Mary Nesta Skrine in Co. Kildare to a well-known Anglo-Irish family.  Her father was originally from Somerset and her mother was the writer, Moira O’Neill (Nesta Skrine), whose novels The Elf Errant and An Easter Vacation and Hiberno-English poetry collection Songs of the Glen of Antrim were all well-received and popular in the early 19th century. 

Molly grew up and was privately educated in her parents’ home in Wexford, but later married into the well-known Keane family of West Waterford, where she remained following her husband’s premature death.  Her early novels and plays were published under the pseudonym M.J. Farrell, but she ceased writing for over 20 years following savage reviews of her London Comedies by playwright John Perry.  In 1981, she resumed writing, publishing one of her most famous and successful novels, Good Behaviour, which was nominated for the Booker Prize.  Her fiction is generally set in the decaying world of the ‘Big House’ and displays a heavily ironic view of dysfunctional Anglo-Irish families.  Other novels include Puppetstown (1931), Devoted Ladies (1934), Rising Tide (1937), Without Tears (1951), Time After Time (1983) and Loving and Giving (1988). 

Good Behaviour was successfully adapted for television by Hugh Leonard in 1983.  Molly Keane’s work was celebrated in 2004 in UCC with a special centenary conference and is also remembered in Waterford by the Molly Keane Award.


The Munster Literature Centre

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

Tel. (353) 021 4312955, Email: munsterlit(AT)eircom(DOT)net

Irish Registered Charity No.12374