Local Writers selected for the Irish Writers Centre National Mentoring Programme

7 mins read

Local writers Ann Murtagh and Caroline Sutherland have been selected by the Irish Writers Centre to receive professional literary mentoring over the next eight months from an acclaimed Irish writer of their choice.

After a national call out, 39 writers have been selected from a total of 416 hundred applicants.

County Kilkenny Arts Office funds the literary mentorships along with the Arts Council of Ireland to guarantee that the best applicant from the county are selected. Their support ensures that the chosen mentees receives this potentially life-changing support free of charge. It is also an investment in the long-term literary reputation of the region.

The mentoring process involves four 90 minute meetings between the selected mentee and their chosen professional writer. Each mentor reads up to 10,000 words / 180 lines of poetry of the awarded mentee’s writing in advance of all four meetings, sharing their kind and critical feedback with the mentee, face-to-face at each meeting. Mentors also provide broad professional advice, sharing the benefit of their years of experience.

The Irish Writers Centre’s mission is to support a vibrant and diverse community of writers of all types and talents to develop their craft, capacity and confidence to thrive as a writer in the world. The hope for the National Mentoring Programme is that the chosen mentees will go on to write the next great works of literature with the support and sustenance of their chosen mentor. It’s a form of peer-to-peer teaching that is increasingly popular in literary community, formalising the process whereby successful writers pass on their craft and experience to the next generation of writers across the island.

Running since 2017, the programme now has numerous published authors among its alumni, including Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe, Fíona Scarlett, Will Keohane, Alice Kinsella and Victoria Kennefick to name just a few.

PHOTO Vicky Comerford

Ann Murtagh spent her first seven years in the Bronx, New York. After a short time in Dublin, her family moved to Kells, Co. Meath. She qualified as a primary teacher and later received an MA in Local History from NUI Maynooth. Kilkenny is now her home, and as an active member of Kilkenny Archaeological Society, local history continues to play an important role in her life. Ann is the author of three historical novels for children published by The O’Brien Press: The Sound of Freedom, The Kidds of Summerhill, and The Climbing Boys.

 Caroline Sutherland is a graduate of NUI Maynooth Creative Writing for Publication in Kilkenny, Ireland. A community workshop facilitator for short story writing who has short stories published in Ireland and the UK. She writes plays and monologues that are produced locally to much amusement and reads her short stories at Arts Festivals in Ireland and abroad. Her work has won the Crediton, Dalkey Creates and Yeovil short story prizes and are also listed in Fish, Myslexia, Retreat West, Stories for Homes and Michael Mullan Short Stories. She is delighted to be included in the 2024 Irish Writers Centre’s National Mentoring Programme supported by the Kilkenny Arts Office and the Arts Council of Ireland.

Read experiences from past participants:

 “Can’t actually describe how much this programme meant to me. My mentor Jan Carson gave me such confidence in myself and my work. Jan taught me the beauty in the mundane things like editing, and proper grammar- while also teaching me to trust my instincts and have fun with writing again. She was honest and fair in her criticism but was equally as honest and kind with her praise. I wouldn’t have written half the things I did without her guidance. I had the best time this year.” 

– Rere Ukponu, NMP Mentee 2023


“I’ve learnt so much from my experience of mentoring through the National Mentoring Programme. It’s been a wonderful way to develop a creative relationship with an emerging writer over a significant period and really heartening to see them develop and grow in their practice. It’s also made me a better editor; a skill I’ve been able to apply to my own writing.

– Jan Carson, NMP Mentor

 Find out more about the Irish Writers Centre National Mentoring Programme here.




IWC Website: https://irishwriterscentre.ie/about-us

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About the Irish Writers Centre:

As the leading support and development organisation for writers since 1991, the Irish Writers Centre (IWC) carries out its work, online and in-person, on an all island basis. The centre provides many ways and means for writers to develop their skill, advance their ambitions and join a vibrant and diverse community of people who share their passion and purpose. IWC supports writers in the following ways: through development programmes, residencies, mentoring opportunities, resources, creative writing courses and events.


For direct contacts for writers or their chosen mentors, contact programme coordinator Brendan Mac Evilly via email: nmp@irishwriterscentre.ie




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