BIOGRAPHIES 2018

 
 
Eva Bourke

Eva Bourke is originally from Germany but has lived in Ireland most of her life. She has published six collections of poetry, including Piano (May 2011, Dedalus Press, Dublin). Together with Bórbala Fárago she edited an anthology of immigrant poets to Ireland, entitled Landing Places (2010, Dedalus Press). Her most recent collection entitled Seeing Yellow (Dedalus Press 2018), and in 2016 an anthology with the title Fermata. Writings Inspired by Music co-edited with Vincent Woods was published by Artisan House. She has lectured on poetry and taught creative writing at universities in the United States and Ireland. She teaches in the MfA program at NUI Galway, has received numerous awards and bursaries from the Arts Council and is a member of Aosdána.

John Connell

John Connell's work has been published in Granta's New Irish Writing issue. He lives on his family farm, Birchview, in County Longford. Connell studied journalism in Dublin and Sydney and went on to become a new media and storytelling lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney at 22. His investigative work at the time led to his becoming a Honorary Research Fellow with the Australian Centre for Investigative Journalism. Connell’s work as an investigative journalist led to multiple awards including two Walkley wins in the radio field. He was a producer with ABC Radio National as well as SBS. His novel The Ghost Estate was published by Picador in March 2015.

His latest novel The Cow Book was published this year by Granta Press and is the story of a calving season. It is also the story of the cow itself, from its domestication and worship as a God by the Ancient Egyptians to the modern practice of mechanized herds. Above all, it is the story of Connell's life as a farmer, of his relationship with his birthplace of County Longford, with the community around the family farm, with the animals he tends, and with his father.

 
Danny Diamond 

Danny Diamond is one of the leading Irish traditional musicians of his generation. Through his work as a performer, composer, archivist and sound engineer, Danny has contributed on multiple fronts to the revitalisation and reimagining of Irish music and song.

Current projects include the Nordic/Irish band Slow Moving Clouds, who release their second album Starfall in September 2018. This follows the band's work on Teac Damsa's multi award-winning dance theatre show Swan Lake / Loch na hEala in 2016, for which they wrote, arranged, and performed the score.

Danny's debut recording Fiddle Music (2014) and follow-up NORTH (2016, with Conor Caldwell) were both widely acclaimed as contemporary classics, with NORTH being nominated for The Irish Times Traditional Album of the Year 2016. A second solo recording, Elbow Room, was released in October 2017 to widespread acclaim; and he is also currently developing What To Bring When We Leave, a collaborative project with Meath-based poet Tom French, commissioned by Solstice Arts Centre, Navan.

 
Bryan Dobson

Bryan Dobson is a journalist, newscaster and presenter with RTÉ where he presents Morning Ireland. Dobson was raised in Sandymount and attended Newpark Comprehensive School, Dublin where as part of Transition Year he produced a half-hour radio programme. He subsequently attended a media course in DIT and worked for the Dublin pirate station Radio Nova. Before joining RTÉ in 1987, he worked for BBC Northern Ireland. Dobson joined RTÉ News and Current Affairs as a reporter and before being the main RTÉ News: Nine O'Clock presenter, he was the RTÉ Business Correspondent. In September 1996, he was named as the co-presenter of the flagship early evening news programme, RTÉ News: Six One on RTÉ One, one of the most watched news programmes in Ireland. Since then he has presented that news programme, currently with Sharon Ní Bheoláin. He left his position as co-presenter on 25 October 2017 after 21 years to move to early morning radio on Morning Ireland. He also presents various special programmes such as RTÉ's coverage of general elections. In May 2011, he fronted RTÉ television coverage of Queen Elizabeth II's visit to the Republic of Ireland. He currently lives in Dublin with his wife and their two children.

 
Tess Gallagher

Poet, essayist, novelist, and playwright, Tess Gallagher was born in 1943 in Port Angeles, Washington. She received a BA and MA from the University of Washington, where she studied creative writing with Theodore Roethke, and a MFA from the University of Iowa. Her first collection of poems, Instructions to the Double, won the 1976 Elliston Book Award for “best book of poetry published by a small press”.

In 1992 she published Moon Crossing Bridge, which consists of poems written in memory of her late husband, the great short story writer Raymond Carver, who died in 1988.  After Carver’s death she formed a 25 year companionship with the late painter and storyteller Josie Gray of Ballindoon, Co. Sligo. They worked on a book of stories Barnacle Soup which was published in 2007 by Blackstaff Press.  She has been working on a posthumous book of 31 additional stories to form a second book of their collaboration. Other collections include Dear Ghosts and Midnight Lantern.  Her next book of poems is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in May 2019 and is entitled Is, Is Not. 

 

Her honors include a fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation, two National Endowment of the Arts Awards, and the Maxine Cushing Gray Foundation Award. She has taught at St. Lawrence University, Kirkland College, the University of Montana in Missoula, the University of Arizona in Tucson, Syracuse University, and Willamette University, Bucknell University, and Whitman College. Tess has collaborated in film with Robert Altman on Short Cuts, and accompanied the great director, Alejandro Inarritu, in his work with Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love in Bridman.  She lives and writes in both Ballindoon, Co. Sligo and Pt. Angeles, Washington. 

 
Edwina Guckian

Edwina Guckian comes from Drumsna in Co. Leitrim. At a young age she learned her first steps from her mother and from teachers Róisín Ní Mháinín and Pádraig Ó hObicín. She first learned the fiddle from Irene Guckian and her grandfather Ned Lee at the age of nine before studying music at St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra where she achieved a degree in Music, English and Education.

Edwina has shared the stage with some of Ireland’s most influential acts such as De Danann, Dervish, Cherish the Ladies, Sliabh Notes, Beoga, Téada, Martin Hayes, Séamus Begley, Mairtín O Connor, We Banjo 3 and Eleanor Shanley.

Having first taught dance at the age of 15, Edwina has since taught dance all over the world and at home with her dance club “Áirc Damhsa” where she encourages everyone to dance as they like.

In 2014 Edwina was choreographer for Ken Loach’s 2014 film, Jimmy’s Hall. As well as focusing on her work as a dancer and teacher locally, Edwina travels to other countries teaching and gathering video recordings of local dancers of older generations.

 
Kathleen Hill

Kathleen Hill has lived most of her adult life in New York City. In her twenties she taught in a secondary school close to Lagos, Nigeria. A decade later, after returning to Africa, this time to Niger, she began writing fiction. She currently teaches in the M.F.A. program at Sarah Lawrence College.

 

Her first novel, Still Waters in Niger, is set in the Sahel in a time of famine. It was named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune, and was nominated for the Dublin IMPAC Award. In a French translation, it was short-listed for the Prix Femina Étranger. Her second novel, Who Occupies this House, explores ancestral memory as it plays out over four generations of Irish-Americans, beginning with famine immigrants who arrived in New York City in the late 1840’s. It was selected as an Editors’ Choice by the New York Times.

 

Hill’s most recent work is a memoir, She Read to us in the Late Afternoons: A Life in Novels, which Colm Toibin called a “many-faceted gem of a book.” It received the Nautilus Award for 2017. Her essay on Maeve Brennan was published in March of 2018 in the anthology, Nine Irish Lives, edited by Mark Bailey. 

 
Mike McCormack 

Mike McCormack is an Irish novelist and short story writer. He has published two collections of short stories, Getting It In the Head and Forensic Songs and three novels - Crowe's Requiem, Notes from a Coma and Solar Bones.

He was born in London and grew up on a farm in Louisburgh, County Mayo before studying English and philosophy at UCG. In 1996, he was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. In 1998, Getting It In the Head was voted a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. A story from the collection, "The Terms", was adapted into an award-winning short film directed by Johnny O'Reilly.

In 2006, Notes from a Coma was shortlisted for the Irish Book of the Year Award. In May 2016, Dublin publisher Tramp Press published his novel Solar Bones, which went on to be longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and win the Goldsmiths Prize. The book was unusual in that it was written as a single sentence (albeit a long one, that spans about 270 pages). In June 2018, McCormack won the Dublin Literary prize of €100,000 for Solar Bones, the largest literary prize in the world for a single novel published in English. He was elected to Aosdána in 2018.

 
Susan McKay

Susan McKay is an award winning journalist, documentary maker and author from Derry.  Her books include “Sophia’s Story”, “Northern Protestants - An Unsettled People” and “Bear In Mind These Dead”.  She currently writes for the New York Times, the London Review of Books, the Guardian/Observer and the Irish Times, and she is working on two new book projects.  She also works for NGOs including, at present, preparing a new series of Stories from Silence podcasts for the WAVE Trauma Centre in Belfast.  These are podcast interviews with people bereaved in the NI conflict.  Former jobs have included Northern editor of the Sunday Tribune, founder of Belfast Rape Crisis Centre, CEO of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, and director of the Glens Centre in Co Leitrim.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ciaran McMenamin 

Ciaran McMenamin is an award-winning actor born in Enniskillen in 1975, best known for his roles in the BBC1 television movie David Copperfield and the science fiction programme Primeval. When McMenamin isn’t acting, you can find him vividly discussing angling, Manchester United and the Mancunian music scene. A carefully chosen soundtrack engages readers and complements the principal character’s life in McMenamin’s debut novel, Skintown.

Mary McPartlan

Mary McPartlan is one of the most talented singers to come out of the Irish scene in recent years. Born in Drumkeeran, Co. Leitrim and now living in Galway, she started singing in the early 70s but it wasn't until 2003 that she decided to make music her full time career. She has been working for the last 12 years as producer and director of many music and theatre projects. She developed the concept of the TG4 National Traditional Music Awards, and was co-producer of the award-winning music series FLOSC, also for TG4. As a singer however, Mary, didn't come out of the shadows until January 2004 when she released the critically-acclaimed album The Holland Handkerchief. Her most recent album from Mountain to Mountain was released earlier this year.

Seamie O’Dowd

Seamie O Dowd is a guitarist,singer, and songwriter who also plays fiddle,harmonica,mandolin,and a number of other instruments.  He has travelled worldwide playing music and has shared stages and played with many great musicians and bands including; Mairtin O'Connor, Cathal Hayden, Christy Moore, The Chieftains, Jimmy Higgins, Tommy Emmanuel, Dervish,Steve Wickham,Matt Molloy, Liam O'Flynn,Thom Moore, Dick Gaughan, Cathy Jordan, Rick Epping, Kieran Quinn, John Joe Kelly. Aminah Hughes and many others.

He has also released two solo albums, both of which have received critical acclaim. The first, Headful Of Echoes is a folk/ blues based album of songs while the second, Wood and Iron is a guitar based album of traditional Irish tunes. His experience also includes recording production, teaching and more recently, film soundtrack work, and encompasses solo performance as well as extensive work with bands and small groups as both a member and a session musician.

Darach Ó Séaghdha

Darach Ó Séaghdha is an Irish writer and Irish language activist. He is the author of Motherfoclóir: Dispatches from a not so dead language (Head of Zeus, 2017), which won Ireland AM Popular Non-Fiction Book of the Year in the 2017 Irish Book Awards. He is the presenter of the Motherfoclóir podcast (produced by the Headstu Podcast Network). Both of these projects were initiated in response to the popularity of his Twitter account, @theirishfor. Ó Séaghdha's father and mother used to speak Irish together but spoke English to their children. When Ó Séaghdha's father became very ill, Ó Séaghdha started to learn Irish and used Twitter to share interesting Irish phrases and words he came across. As a fellow writer-civil servant hybrid, he is a huge fan of Flann O’Brien/Myles na gCopaleen/Brian O’Nolan. Darach’s second book is expected in September 2018.

Gráinne O’Toole

Gráinne O’Toole has a background in writing, editing and community work. She has worked with communities experiencing racism, discrimination, poverty and inequalities for almost 25 years, including Travellers, asylum seekers, one-parent families and migrant workers.

 

She established Skein Press with Fionnuala Cloke in January 2017 to publish fresh and thought-provoking fiction and they have recently been joined by Melatu Uche Okorie as adviser. Recognising that there has been very little published in Ireland by writers from a Black or ethnic minority background and in response to the growth in cultural diversity in Ireland, Skein's first focus is on fiction by BME writers.

Thomas Pakenham

Thomas Pakenham is a historian, tree-lover and tree-planter, who has written prize winning books on subjects ranging from African history to trees.  He is the author of the critically acclaimed books The Year of Liberty, The Boer War and The Scramble for Africa. His lifelong interest in photography is reflected in his best-selling books including Remarkable Trees of the World and In Search of Remarkable Trees: On Safari in Southern Africa. His book Meetings with Remarkable Trees (1996) was turned into a BBC2 television series.  He has also worked as a journalist and was on the editorial staff of the Times Education Supplement, The Sunday Telegraph, and The Observer. He lives at Tullynally Castle in Westmeath, where his family have gardened and re-shaped the landscape for 10 generations.

Maelíosa Stafford

Maelíosa Stafford is an actor, director, teacher and Manchester United fanatic. Maelíosa joined Druid Theatre Company in 1978 and has been at the forefront of much of a surge in outstanding new Irish writing. As Artistic Director of Druid he collaborated with Vincent Woods on the creation of At The Black Pig’s Dyke , which toured to all the world’s major theatre festivals.  As an actor Maelíosa has been involved with the premier productions of the work of Martin Mc Donagh, including The Lonesome West, which won several Olivier awards on the West End and was also nominated for four Tony awards on Broadway.  As co-founder of O’Punksky’s Theatre Maelíosa directed their inaugural production Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme.

Melatu Uche Okorie

Melatu Uche Okorie is a writer and scholar. Born in Nigeria, she moved to Ireland in 2006. It was during her eight and a half years living in the direct provision system that she began to write. She has an M. Phil. in Creative Writing from Trinity College, Dublin, and has had works published in numerous anthologies. In 2009, she won the Metro Éireann Writing Award for her story Gathering Thoughts. Melatu has a strong interest in the rights of asylum seekers and migrant education in Ireland and is currently studying for a PhD in Education at Trinity College, Dublin. This Hostel Life, published by Skein Press in May 2018, is her first book.

Maurice Walsh

Dr Maurice Walsh is the author of the groundbreaking The News from Ireland: Foreign Correspondents and the Irish Revolution, which was described by Colm Toibin as 'an invaluable book'. An award-winning documentary maker, he has reported from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the United States and Europe. His essays, reviews and reportage have appeared in Granta, the London Review of Books, the Dublin Review, the New Statesman, and other newspapers in the UK, Ireland and the US. He was Knight Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan in 2001, and Alistair Horne Fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford in 2010/11.

Alan Woods

Alan Woods is a singer from Mohill, Co. Leitrim. He has a particular interest in the song and music of his home county and its neighbouring regions. His grandfather, Michael Moran, was recorded by the song collectors and ballad scholars Tom Munnelly and D.K. Wilgus and his great-grandfather, Thomas Moran, was recorded by Séamus Ennis for Radió Éireann (now RTÉ) and the BBC. It's from these recordings that Alan has learned many of his songs. Alan now lives in Dublin and works in the Irish Traditional Music Archive. He is also a co-organiser of The Night Before Larry Got Stretched, a monthly singing session which takes place in The Cobblestone pub.

John Woods

John Woods is from Tarmon, Co. Leitrim. He is a researcher of Irish literature, in both language traditions. He has spoken at Irish Studies conferences in Ireland and in the United States.  His writing in Irish has been published in Comhar, Nua-Aois, Nós, and on beo.ie. A peer-reviewed article is forthcoming in Comhar Taighde. He writes in English on his blog: johnwoodssirishstudies.wordpress.com

At the moment, John is finishing an M.A. in Irish Writing and Film, in the School of English, University College Cork. He undertook his previous studies – an M.A. in Modern Irish, and a B.A. in Modern Irish and Linguistics – at University College Dublin. He has received many academic awards. These include excellence scholarships for two master’s degrees, and prizes for the most outstanding undergraduate research in Irish both in UCD, and nationally. 

John is also a university teacher. He has taught Irish at the University of Notre Dame, where he was a Fulbright teaching scholar, at University College Cork, Dublin City University, and University College Dublin. 
 

Vincent Woods

Vincent Woods’s plays include At the Black Pig’s Dyke (Druid Theatre Company, 1992); Song of the Yellow Bittern (Druid Theatre Company, 1994); and A Cry from Heaven (Abbey Theatre, 2005); and for radio, The Leitrim Hotel, The Gospels of Aughamore and Broken Moon. Poetry collections are The Colour of Language and Lives and Miracles. He has co-edited The Turning Wave: Poems and Songs of Irish Australia, and Fermata: Writings Inspired by Music (with Eva Bourke); and in 2016 published Leaves of Hungry Grass: Poetry and Ireland’s Great Hunger (Quinnipiac University Press). Awards include the Stewart Parker Award for Drama and The Ted McNulty Award for Poetry. For many years he has been a regular presenter of arts programmes and documentaries on RTÉ Radio 1. He is a member of Aosdána.