9 June – 15 July 2016

First established in 1996, the summer school provides an informal but informative setting for you to read and discuss work by contemporary writers and to meet and talk with them about their work.

Bernard MacLaverty

Bernard MacLaverty, one of Ireland’s most respected writers, joins us on this year’s Summer School. The course runs for two nights a week for five and half weeks. Each Thursday evening an established Irish writer comes to read and speak about their work. On the Tuesday evening prior
 to this, you will discuss the writer’s work with fellow students and the course tutor. This unique format provides time for you to digest and reflect on the set texts before meeting the writer in question.

In addition, there will be illustrated lectures and optional visits to associated Irish cultural events in London.

N.B. The Irish Writers in London Summer School is not a creative writing course, but it provides an excellent complement to such a course of study at London Metropolitan University or elsewhere. It will suit anybody with an interest in contemporary writing.

No prior qualifications are required to enrol.


Venue: London Metropolitan University, Tower Building, Holloway Road,
 London N7
 (nearest tube: Holloway Road)

Days: Tuesdays and Thursdays with an additional class on Friday 15 July

Times: 6.00 – 8.30pm (refreshments provided)

Fees: £195 (concessions £139)

Early Bird booking (before 5 May): £175 (concessions £129)

To enrol: http://eshop.londonmet.ac.uk/browse/product.asp?compid=1&modid=1&catid=30

Further information about enrolment: Johanna McKinney j.mckinney@londonmet.ac.uk 020 7133 2432

Further information about the course: 


This year’s guest writers…..

Bernard MacLaverty is one of Ireland’s most celebrated writers. He was born in Belfast and now lives in Glasgow. He has published five collections of short stories most of them gathered in Collected Stories (2013) and four novels – Lamb (1980), Cal (1983), Grace Notes (1997) which was short listed for the Booker Prize and The Anatomy School (2001). He has written versions of his fiction for other media – radio plays, television plays, screenplays and, of late, libretti. Bernard will be reading from a selection of his short stories and reflecting on the experience of migration in his work and his own life.

Jessica Townsend was also born in Belfast into what she describes as ‘a nun-run home for pregnant teenagers’. Among other things she has worked in a bookshop, been a doctor’s wife, been writer in residence at Hampstead Theatre and the National Studio, been a radio reporter, a local newspaper reporter and worked for a think tank. Her first produced play was for radio and she had two theatrical plays produced before going on to write for TV and film. She still works as a screenwriter but also directs, teaches at a film school and is embarking on her first novel. Jessica returns to the Summer School after fifteen years to talk about Raising Patrick Doherty (1997), her irreverent comic radio drama in which a London-Irish family spend the run-up to their patriarch’s burial destroying his reputation.

Lucy Caldwell is the author of three novels, several stage plays and radio dramas.  Her most recent novel, All the Beggars Riding (2013), was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year and was chosen as Belfast’s One City One Book.  Other awards include the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Dylan Thomas Award, the George Devine Award, the Imison Award, the Commonwealth Writers’ Award (Canada & Europe) and a Major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Lucy returns to the Summer School to read and discuss her debut collection of short stories, Multitudes, published by Faber in May 2016.

Paul Sheehan was born in Dublin and first moved to London in the late 1950s. He taught Irish literature at London Metropolitan University in the 1990s and was tutor on the Summer School in its early years. His stage-play, Pluarabelles, which is a dramatic evocation of the women in James Joyce’s work, was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival in 1991 and recently revived in London. Paul also published a volume of poetry entitled Flowers Through Concrete in 1986 and joins us on this year’s Summer School, to discuss his most recent work.

Felicity Hayes-McCoy was born in Dublin and emigrated to London in her early twenties. She trained as an actress before taking up professional writing, which has included novels, TV dramas and radio documentaries. She splits her time nowadays between her inner city flat in London and a stone house at the end of the Dingle peninsula in south-west Ireland. Felicity joins us to discuss her recent book, A Woven Silence: Memory, History and Remembrance (2015) which was inspired by the story of her relative, Marion Stokes, one of three women who raised the tricolour over Enniscorthy in Easter Week 1916.

Some of the feedback received from students and writers over the years

It is obvious why the Summer School is now going into its third decade. Where else would you get a chance to meet such a range of contemporary Irish writers to discuss their work? As well as being interesting and stimulating, it’s always relaxed and a lot of fun. I’ll be back!

(Peter Hammond, student)

I enjoyed myself immensely, the students seemed like the perfect readers of my mother – subtle, discerning and appreciative of the complexities of her situation

(Blake Morrison, writer)

 It was brilliant.  The course material was both stimulating and thought-provoking and the visiting writers were excellent   

(Shirley Cully, student)

The summer school is unique. Its gentle, inclusive atmosphere encourages real debate. Being invited is both an accolade and a very good night out …. a great experience

(Bridget Whelan, writer)

A great venture and an enjoyable evening for any writer who likes seeing their work paid scrupulous attention 

(Cahal Dallat, writer)

It was so great to meet with and hear Irish writers discuss their work as well as share their experience of other Irish people like myself trying to define our own voices in this great melting pot

 (Alice Wickham, student)

I really enjoyed the session.  My mom was a big reader all her life and I kept thinking how much she would have loved to have been part of a class like that.  

(Catherine O’Flynn, writer)

It was one of the most vital and energising sessions I have participated in and I know it will contribute to how I reflect on my work in future

 (Deirdre Shanahan, writer)

The course tutor is Dr. Tony Murray, Director of the Irish Studies Centre at London Metropolitan University. Tony has run the Summer School since its inception in 1996. He teaches on the English Literature and Creative Writing degree programme at London Met and researches literary and cultural representations of the Irish diaspora. His book, London Irish Fictions: Narrative, Diaspora and Identity, was inspired by the Summer School and is published by Liverpool University Press.