London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Irish Writers In London


14 June - 16 July


Special guest at this year’s summer school is the Booker prize nominated writer Julia O’Faolain who will be discussing her short stories and the influence of her father, the legendary Irish writer, Sean O’Faolain.
Other writers appearing include Catherine O’Flynn who will be discussing her Costa prize winning novel, What Was Lost, poet Cahal Dallat who will be reading from his new collection, The Year of Not Dancing, the playwright Gerry McKee who will be discussing his radio-play, My Sky Blue Trades and John O’Donoghue who will be talking about his recent critically-acclaimed memoir, Sectioned.

First established by the Irish Studies Centre in 1996, the summer school runs for two nights per week for six weeks and aims to provide an informal but informative setting for students wishing to study Irish literature over the summer. The course consists of a mixture of lectures, seminars, readings and cultural activities.

Each week an established Irish writer comes to read and speak about their work to the students. Two evenings prior to this, students read, discuss and analyse extracts of the writer's work with the course tutor. Writers' motivations and experience of emigration to and/or life in London are also discussed in the context of their work. The writers talk about their background, experiences of getting their work published and performed and provide advice to those students interested in such a course. The students read and learn about a broad spectrum of Irish writing including fiction, autobiography, drama, travel writing and poetry and gain valuable insights into the different approaches such types of writing involve.

N.B. Whilst this is not a creative writing course, it will complement such a course of study at London Metropolitan University or elsewhere. No prior qualifications are required to attend.

Times:    6.00 - 8.30pm (refreshments provided)
Days:     Classes take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays with additional classes in the first week on Monday 14 June and the last week on Friday 16 July.
Fees:      £115; £88 (concessionary)

Guest Writers 2010

Julia O’Faolain was born in London and brought up in Dublin. She was educated at the University of Rome and the Sorbonne, Paris and has worked as a writer, editor, language teacher and translator. Her novel, No Country for Young Men was nominated for the Booker Prize in 1980. She has been described as, ‘a wonderful stylist’ and her work as ‘joyous, urbane and intensely Irish.’ Julia will be reading and discussing her short stories, including the title story from her collection Daughters of Passion (1982) and reflecting on the influence of her famous father, Sean O'Faolain.

Catherine O’Flynn was born in Birmingham in 1970 to Irish parents. She grew up in and around her parents’ sweet shop as the youngest in a large family and went on to study anthropology and sociology at Manchester University. She has been a teacher, web editor, mystery customer and post-woman. Her first novel draws on her experience of working in record stores – and of growing up as a child intrigued by clues, suspects and methods of detection. Catherine will be reading and speaking about her debut novel, What Was Lost (Tindall Street Press, 2007), winner of the Costa First Novel Award and was described by the judges as follows, ‘hugely compelling and inventive, it pulls the rug from under your feet from the very first page’ and by The Guardian as, ‘an exceptional, polyphonic novel of urban disaffection, written with humour and pathos.’

Cahal Dallat, poet, musician and critic, was born in Ballycastle, County Antrim, in 1953. He studied statistics and operational research at Queen’s University Belfast, and has since worked in television, publishing and information technology. He lives in London, and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Review. He also reviews literature and the arts for several publications, including the Times Literary Supplement and Magill. This is Cahal’s second visit to the Irish Writers in London Summer School. This time, he will be reading and discussing his recent collection of poems, The Year of Not Dancing (Blackstaff, 2009), described by Poetry London as, ‘brittle icy elegies…a wonderful collection.’

Gerry McKee was born in Hetfordshire of Irish parentage and has been writing drama for over thirty years. Apprenticed as a printer, he worked at the London College of Printing for many years before becoming a writer. His first radio-play was broadcast by BBC Radio 4 in 1979 and he has also worked as a TV stand-up comedian and has published fiction and prize-winning poetry. Gerry will be discussing his radio play My Sky Blue Trades at this year’s summer school.  

John O’Donoghue was born in North London in the late 1950s and now lives in Brighton with his wife and four children. He completed his BA in English and American Literature at UEA as a mature student and lectures in Creative Writing at the Open University and the University of Westminster. He was Chair of Survivors’ Poetry from 2000–2005, an Arts Council funded charity that promotes the writing of survivors of mental illness and his essays, fiction and poems have appeared in The Observer, London Magazine and Ambit. John will be reading from his critically-acclaimed memoir, Sectioned (John Murray 2009), of which Blake Morrison, in The Guardian, said: ‘The humdrum reality of mental illness has rarely been so well conveyed.’

For further information about the course and guest writers, contact Tony Murray at or 020 7133 2593
The Irish Writers in London Summer School is run by the Irish Studies Centre and the Institute for the Study of European Transformations.  It is supported by the Garnett Foundation.


   Company Information    Page last updated 05 May 2010     Contact Page Owner (Damhnait Rumney)