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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





MLC Writing Workshops
Munster Literature Centre

Writing Workshops



2019 Poetry and Fiction Workshops TBA




2018 Poetry and Fiction Workshops

Fiction: Alannah Hopkin (November 6 – 27)

Poetry: Patrick Cotter (June 30 – July 28)

Fiction: Billy O'Callaghan (August 4 – 25)


How to Book

Phone + 353 (021)4312955
Email info(AT)munsterlit(DOT)ie
In person at The Munster Literature Centre, Frank O’Connor House, 84
Douglas Street, Cork

Payment will be accepted by cheque/postal order (made payable to the Munster Literature Centre) or by credit card via Paypal (link provided on registration).


Autumn Fiction Workshop Series
with Alannah Hopkin

Running over four consecutive Tuesdays November 6th – 27th

Time: 7pm to 9pm
Venue: The Munster Literature Centre, 84 Douglas Street, Cork
Class size: Maximum of twelve
Cost: €120 or €100 (concession to unwaged)
Course Leader: Alannah Hopkin

Overview: From initial inspiration to polished final draft – in the four workshop sessions I plan to guide you through the process of short story writing and leave you with the skills and knowledge to embark on and complete ever more ambitious projects. The course is suitable for complete beginners and for writers at a more advanced stage who want to explore new possibilities and spend some time working with like-minded people. There will be writing exercises in each session, and participants will be invited to share their work with the group and to give and receive positive feedback. A list of about half a dozen stories (available as PDFs) that I would like all participants to read will be circulated before the course to ensure we all have shared points of reference. You will learn how to anaylse a story with a writer’s eye, to the benefit of your own work. In the final session we will consider how to follow on constructively from this course: finding time to write, the current state of the market, how to present your story for publication, and where to consider sending it. We will look at the pros and cons of taking the conventional route of periodical and book publishing, as well as investigate online options. While I aim to be flexible and respond to the requirements of the people who sign up, this a rough outline of how the sessions will be planned.

Week One: Plot or Not?
How to begin. Where to find your story. The importance of keeping a notebook, and reading widely. The difference between a notebook and a journal. How to recognise and stockpile story ideas, so as to avoid facing the proverbial “empty page”. Cultivate the habit of note taking: just write it down, no need to “make it up”. We are surrounded by stories, if you know where to look. The advantages and disadvantages of plot: melodrama versus minimalism. The difference between a true story and fictional truth. Working on the edge between fact and fiction, an increasingly popular frontier. Turning autobiography into story – the advantages and the pitfalls. Plundering both history and contemporary events for story material; learning how to find and build on the stories that are all around you.

Week Two: The Voice
‘When you listen to the voice in your head it is not Literature that you hear.’ This dictum of Samuel Beckett is central to my own short story writing practice. But how do you find that voice, and learn to work with it? How can you tell a good voice from a bad one? Choosing between first person and third person, the effect it has, the dangers of each. Developing character through description and/or dialogue. Understanding how written dialogue works. Different ways of presenting a scene: how to create drama and tension and keep the narrative drive going forward. Improving your writing at the level of individual words, each of which must be exactly right. Paying attention to simile and metaphor, when to use, when to avoid. How to find the killer opening sentence – but is it really necessary? The obsessive nature of story writing, how to make productive use of your obsessions.

Week Three: Ways of Writing
A Beginning, a Middle and an End - but not necessarily in that order…’ That is a quote from the French filmmaker, Jean Luc Godard. We look at alternative ways of structuring your story, the advantages and drawbacks of presenting events in the order that they happened. The attraction of framing devices, the story within a story, and other ways of polishing an apparently finished piece. The need to cultivate the habit of constantly revising and rewriting. The importance of reading other short story writers and writers in translation to find out what is happening outside Ireland. We will look at some examples from Latin America and from Dalkey Archive Press’s annual collection, Best European Fiction. I will extract some pithy observations on 19th- and 20th-century stories from Frank O’Connor’s study of the short story, The Lonely Voice, especially his comments on Anton Chekhov. Writing exercises will encourage you to take flight and explore new frontiers.

Week Four: The Point and Beyond
The great William Trevor says that all his stories, however strange or dispassionate they may seem, have “a point”, and that this is usually restated towards the end of the story. Put another way, stories however wild or however conventioinal, must have an innate coherence: how can we recognise it, how can we be sure it’s there? We will work through the main story you have worked on in these sessions, and make sure it has this all-important quality.The rest of the session will be practical: how to make sure you keep writing, making time for it in your life. Would a writing group, or friends who can be trusted to read and comment on your work, be useful, and how to organise it? On the practical side, how do you get a story ready to send out? Where do you send it? The pros and cons of competitions – what to look out for. How to find the right periodical for your work? Which websites are useful to follow. How to cope with the inevitable rejections. Getting published online – could this be the answer? How to put a collection together and propose it to publishing houses/agents.


Alannah Hopkin has published two novels, A Joke Goes a Long Way in the Country and The Out-haul (Hamish Hamilton, London) and her non-fiction books include Eating Scenery: West Cork, the People & the Place (The Collins Press, Cork). Her stories have appeared in the London Magazine and the Cork Literary Review, among others. She has written guides to Ireland for Fodor’s, Insight and Berlitz, and also writes about her own travels abroad for magazines. She has reviewed regularly for numerous publications including the Financial Times, the London Evening Standard and the Irish Times. She is currently a regular book reviewer for the Irish Examiner. She also works as an editorial consultant. She is a tutor on Poetry Ireland’s Writers in Schools scheme, and has led writing workshops for adults up to M.A. level. Her first collection of stories, The Dogs of Inishere was published in April, 2017. She is currently working on a new novel set in west Cork, The Ballydevlin Hauntings.



How to Book

Phone + 353 (021)4312955
Email info(AT)munsterlit(DOT)ie
In person at The Munster Literature Centre, Frank O’Connor House, 84
Douglas Street, Cork

Payment will be accepted by cheque/postal order (made payable to the Munster Literature Centre) or by credit card via Paypal (link provided on registration).



The Art of Poetry: Summer Poetry Workshop Series

Running over five consecutive Saturdays June 30th – July 28th

Time: 11am to 1pm
Venue: The Munster Literature Centre, 84 Douglas Street, Cork
Class size: Maximum of ten
Cost: €120 or €100 (concession to unwaged)
Course Leader: Patrick Cotter

Week One: The Art of Description. Learn to observe and absorb detail. When are adjectives too much? Why are adverbs mostly avoided?
Week Two: The Art of Metaphor. Telling the truth slant. Writing in beautiful code.
Week Three: The Art of Stealing, leaning on the genius of others – Explore Centos, Golden Shovels, Erasures, ‘After’ Poems and phonic translations.
Week Four: The Art of the Line, shaping a stanza and other structural possibilities.
Week Five: The Art of the Chapbook/Pamphlet. Who are the best Irish and UK publishers? Learn to design and publish and market your own.

 Patrick Cotter’s publications includes several chapbooks, the verse novella The Misogynist’s Blue Nightmare (Raven Arts Press, 1990) and the full collections, Perplexed Skin (Arlen House 2008) and Making Music (Three Spires Press 2009). No One Knows, a bilingual selection, was published in Macedonia in 2014.0

His work has been published in London Review of Books, Poetry, Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, PN Review and elsewhere, and has also has appeared in many anthologies including The Great Book of Ireland and Separate Islands: Contemporary British and Irish poetry (Quarry, Ontario).

His translations of the Estonian poet Andres Ehin are collected in the book Moosebeetle Swallow (Southword Editions). His own poems have also been published and translated into over a dozen languages. He is a recipient of the Keats-Shelley Prize for Poetry. As a publisher he has published chapbooks/pamphlets by over twenty authors, including Patrick Galvin, Aidan Mathews, Gerry Murphy and Tania Hershman.



How to Book

Phone + 353 (021)4312955
Email info(AT)munsterlit(DOT)ie
In person at The Munster Literature Centre, Frank O’Connor House, 84
Douglas Street, Cork

Payment will be accepted by cheque/postal order (made payable to the Munster Literature Centre) or by credit card via Paypal (link provided on registration).



Summer Fiction Workshop

Running over four consecutive Saturdays August 4th – 25th

Time: 11am to 1pm
Venue: The Munster Literature Centre, 84 Douglas Street, Cork
Class size: Maximum of ten
Cost: €120 or €100 (concession to unwaged)
Course Leader: Billy O'Callaghan

Overall Objectives:

Over four workshops, I plan to cover all the various aspects of writing fiction, with particular emphasis on the short story – because it is the form I feel I know best, and also because it is so accessible, even to beginners. To get people writing right from the start, my approach will be to break stories down to their basic ingredients in order to cultivate a better understanding of the art and craft of fiction. Each workshop will be accompanied by extensive notes that I have developed over the past five years of teaching creative writing. Suitable for complete beginners and for writers at a more advanced stage in their development, these notes, which can and should be referred back to on a regular basis, are designed to help the writer get inside a story so as to better understand its workings. My workshops, while allowing room for flexibility, will break down as follows:

Workshop 1 – Plot & Character

After a brief introduction into what I think makes a successful plot, citing examples and covering different genres, Workshop 1 will be devoted to a consideration (and demonstration) of plot composition, pacing and structure. We will talk about the pros and cons of outlining, and look at ways of finding major dramatic questions, and more importantly finding the major dramatic question that is right for a particular story, as well as how to shape a plot for maximum dramatic impact.
This workshop will also attend to character. We will consider some examples of great fictional characters and what exactly it is that makes them great. From here, we will look at the essentials of character-building, including:

  • How to create characters, and the pros and cons of using characters from real life.
  • How plot and character are inextricably entwined.
  • How to add depth to our characters.
  • The value of showing versus telling.
  • Recognising the line between 'enough' and 'too much'.

Workshop 2 – Dialogue, Voice, Tense & Point of View

Workshop 2 will begin by focusing on dialogue, specifically:

  • Developing characterisation through dialogue.
  • Using dialogue to advance the plot.
  • The difference between written dialogue and everyday conversation.
  • How dialogue can be a useful tool for the 'unreliable narrator'.
  • When to use/when to avoid.
  • Dialect and 'colour'.

Some time will be set aside to discuss Voice, and we will also look at how a story is changed when choosing a particular point of view, and the directions that can open up to us when we consider a shift in the story's perspective. We will explore, too, the limitations and benefits of both first- and third-person point of view, and of past and present tense.

Workshop 3 – Theme, Description & Sense of Place

Workshop 3 will devote itself to a discussion of Theme, and how it should steer a story. We will also look at how descriptive passages can enhance our work, and why it is always valuable to write with the senses in mind. Additionally, we will try some exercises that can be useful in developing our descriptive powers.
This workshop will also consider setting, citing particularly vivid examples. And following on from this, we will discuss ways of making the local universal. The idea here is to make writers aware of how their background and locality can inform their work.

Workshop 4 – Rewriting & The Business of Writing

In Workshop 4 we will talk about revision and redrafting, addressing critical points such as: what to look for when rewriting, the value of cutting, how best to approach second as well as subsequent drafts, and deciding when enough is enough.
I'll talk, too, about the business side of publishing, again with particular emphasis on publishing short stories, both in magazines/journals and in book form, based on my own experience. We will also discuss the merits and downsides of self-publishing. This week's notes will cover:

  • How to properly format a manuscript.
  • Setting goals.
  • How to find the right market for your work.
  • Coping with the inevitability of rejection.
  • The value of a good query letter.
  • How to approach publishing houses/agents.
  • How to avoid scams

 Read about Billy O'Callaghan here


How to Book

Phone + 353 (021)4312955
Email info(AT)munsterlit(DOT)ie
In person at The Munster Literature Centre, Frank O’Connor House, 84
Douglas Street, Cork

Payment will be accepted by cheque/postal order (made payable to the Munster Literature Centre) or by credit card via Paypal (link provided on registration).


Cancellation Policy: (Please read carefully)

After you have paid for the workshop, should you have to cancel for any reason, we will exercise our best efforts to find a participant to replace you. If we can do so, we will refund your tuition payment. If we cannot replace you, we will not refund your tuition payment. The later the cancellation date, the more difficult it is for staff to find a qualified participant. Though we do recognize that emergencies happen, and we will do our best to help you, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to replace you in the event of a cancellation.

Mobility Requirements: Most of the venues have wheelchair access but not all. If you have limited mobility every effort will be made to accommodate you, but best chance is through an early booking.

Your workshop place will be secured only after full payment. Every effort will be made to make sure that the programme proceeds as advertised but the Munster Literature Centre accepts no responsibility for changes made due to circumstances beyond our control. Refunds will be given only if a workshop is cancelled.As workshops sell out notification of such will be posted on this page.





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“When I first went along to the Cork International Short Story Festival
I didn’t know any other writers, wasn’t attending any writing classes....
didn’t have a single word of fiction published. I signed up for the
fiction workshop that autumn and again in the following spring,
and now a year later my 12th story will be published. So I’d like to say
a big ‘thank you’ to everyone at The Munster Literature Centre!”

–Prizewinning writer Danielle McLaughlin


"Ironically enough, words fail me when it comes saying
how amazingly stimulating and fantastic it was.
–Amy Barry Murphy on MLC evening fiction workshops


Phone + 353 (021)4312955
Email info(AT)munsterlit(DOT)ie
In person at The Munster Literature Centre, Frank O’Connor House,
84 Douglas Street, Cork.












Subscribe to Southword



Southword Editions




2019 John Montague Fellow
Sandra Beasley


2018 Fellow Carys Davies

2019 Frank O'Connor
Short Story Fellowship
applications now open

Deadline: 31st Jan 2019




The Cork International
Poetry Festival

March 19 - 23, 2019



The Cork International
Short Story Festival




The Gregory O'Donoghue
Poetry Competition

Results February 2019



The Southword Fiction
Chapbook Competition

Results January 2019


how to pass

The Seán Ó Faoláin
Short Story Competition

2018 winner How to Pass
by Louise Crimmins
will be in Southword 36



The Fool for Poetry
Chapbook Competition

2018 winners
1st: Katie Hale
2nd: Regina Melveny




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The Munster Literature Centre
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Poetry International

Recent additions:

Michelle O'Sullivan
Paddy Bushe
Doireann Ní Gríofa
Paul Casey



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