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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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William Trevor


William Trevor is probably one of the most prolific writers Irelandhas produced. He has written close to twenty novels, fifteen collections of short stories, he has produced eleven theatre plays, thirteen radio plays and over thirty-seven television scripts. In 1977 he received a CBE and has won Whitbread awards in 1976, 1983, 1994 and 1995. With such a repertoire, it is hard to believe that since the publication of his first novel in 1958, the literary recognition which he deserves has come at a relatively late stage of his career. Graham Greene, commenting on Trevor's collection of short stories, Angels at the Ritz & Other Short Stories (1975), proclaimed it 'surely one of the best collections, if not the best collection since Joyce's Dubliners'. Being compared to one great literary giant by another huge literary figure may seem hyperbole. However, on examining the range and content of Trevor's writings one can see how valid Greene's statement is.

William Trevor Cox was born in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork, in 1928. Although both of his parents were Protestant, his family did not possess the trappings of the ascendancy class usually associated with the Anglo-Irish in Ireland. His father, William Cox, was a bank manager who, in engaging in a highly demanding job, was transferred from bank to bank continually around Munster while William Trevor was growing up. He was educated in thirteen different provincial schools and at times did not go to school for months on end. In 1946, he went to Trinity College where he obtained a B.A. in History. From 1951-53 he taught art in Armagh. However, at the age of twenty-four he emigrated to England out of economic necessity. His first novel, A Standard of Behaviour was published in 1958, but Trevor considers his first true work to be his second novel, The Old Boys, published six years later. This novel won the Hawthorndon prize for fiction.

Trevor has been acknowledged as the master of understatement, through which he cleverly disguises the ironies, eccentricities and the ulterior motives of his characters in a subtle yet highly effective fashion. His early and middle novels tend to be based in England, more particularly London. Although Trevor's span of characters is wide and varied, those central to his works have been women, children, the old, the middle-class, the lonely, the alienated, those belonging to failed marriages and those who experience unrequited love. These characters tend to be on the margins of society and treated as outsiders. The critical reaction provoked by these outsiders in in what passes for normal society provides Trevor withhis central recurring theme. Throughout the novels and short stories dealing with Ireland we are constantly reminded of the past and the consequences of history which often have tragic results for those in the present. In these novels and short stories the social pressures of the recent past are also exposed. The powerful influence of the Catholic Church and the apparent hypocrisy of its moral standpoint is revealed.


William Trevor

Trevor's Sense Of Irishness

Trevor's novels and short stories concerning Ireland show a sharp awareness of how the past reverberates through the lives of his characters and those of future generations. He has admitted that in order to write about Ireland he needed to create an 'artistic distance'. Some of his stories from the early and middle stages of his career deal with the then contemporary issue of the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland. Since the 1980's Trevor's novels have focused much more on the Ireland of the past, especially those associated with the Ascendancy class and its decline.

Coming from a modest Protestant background, Trevor has had an insight into both traditions in Ireland. The adolescent character Harry in his novel Nights At the Alexandra is familiar with the sentiments of the Catholic children in the provincial town of Cloverhill during The Second World War.

In Trevor's novel Silence In The Garden, the child character Tom is made to feel the brunt of another major facet of Ireland's recent past - the influence of the Catholic hierarchy in all areas of people's lives. Tom is alienated in school because he had been born out of wedlock.

Behind a child's perspective lies the fact that history is constantly being lived and relived and in Ireland one is always reminded of how strong and deep history effects one's sense of Irishness from the day one is born. The character Brother Meagher takes the boys from his class to show them where a famous ambush of the Black and Tans took place in which nineteen of them werekilled.

The seemingly senseless violence throughout Trevor's novels and short stories dealing with Ireland's troubled past reflects just how much one cannot escape Irish politics or history. However, Trevor feels that he has obtained the artistic distance necessary to enable him to write of Ireland's troubled past. He presents us with a compassionate, pluralistic and reconcilable viewpoint which he believes is necessary in order to come to terms with Ireland's tragic history.

Trevor's novels Fools of Fortune and Silence in the Garden trace the demise of the Ascendancy class in Ireland. The consequences of the War of Independence and the Civil War mark a turning point in the fortunes of both families in the novels. The tragic events spawned by the tumultuous era which marked the birth of a nation reverberate through several generations. Trevor illustrates the futile attempts by the characters in trying to put the past behind them and escape the web of history in which they remain ensnared.

Two of Trevor's short stories, The Distant Past and Beyond The Pale, are set in contemporary Ireland, but again the English characters are painfully reminded of the past when the 'Troubles' impinge on their lives. One of the characters, Cynthia, poignantly comments on how the present in Ireland is set against the background of a tragic past.

"...we made a sensible pale here once, as civilised people create a pretty garden, pretty as a picture. ...beyond it live the bleak untouchables, best kept as dots on the horizon, too terrible to contemplate."

Another facet of Trevor's fiction concerning Ireland is his portrayal of rural life. In probably one of his best known short stories, The Ballroom of Romance, Trevor illustrates through the main character Bridie a number of familiar themes in his writings, that of banality, alienation and unrequited love. Her only escape from her mundane, empty life is at the ballroom every Saturday night where vague hopes take flight from the harsh realities of rural life. Bridie is a middle-aged spinister who is painfully aware that if the well-being of both herself and her crippled father is to be secured she must marry soon, not out of love, but out of convenience.

In another short story, Teresa's Wedding, Trevor manages to convey a sense of the rural oppression and silence surrounding the taboo subjects of Ireland during the 1950s. Teresa is already pregnant and due to the priests firm insistence, she is to be wedded. She feels that she has gained wisdom from witnessing the failure of both her sister's marriages and her coming to terms with her pregnancy.


Two LivesThe Street...TrevorExcursions


Author Links

William Trevor (

'The Hill Bachelors' by William Trevor

William Trevor Biography

Read Ireland - Featured Authors

Metroactive Books | William Trevor

The Modern Library | Authors

FILM REVIEW: Felicia’s Journey -- Once More, With Feeling

The New York Review of Books: The World Seen and Half-Seen

BookPage Fiction Review: The Story of Lucy Gault




Words Ireland

The Munster Literature Centre
is a constituent member
of Words Ireland.




The Gregory O'Donoghue
Poetry Competition

Gregory O Donoghue

Deadline: 30 November




Frank O'Connor
Short Story Fellowship

30 November 2017

Marie Helene Bertino
2017 Fellow:
Marie-Helene Bertino




Cork International
Poetry Festival

Cork International Short Story Festival

Annually in spring.




Fool for Poetry


Molly Minturn &
Bernadette McCarthy !


Seán Ó Faoláin
Short Story
Competition 2017

Sean O'Faolain Short Story Competition

Louise Nealon!




Southword Editions

on sale in
our bookstore


including Fool For Poetry
winners, the New Irish
Voices series & more






Read all the latest issues
of Southword journal
online here


Poetry International

Recent additions:

Ceaití Ní Bheildiúin
Kimberly Campanello
Justin Quinn
Brendan Cleary
Eleanor Hooker

& more




The Cork International
Short Story Festival

Cork International Short Story Festival

Annually in September






The Munster Literature Centre

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

Tel. (353) 021 4312955 Email

Irish Registered Charity No.12374