The Limerick Writers’ Centre was founded as a non-profit organisation in 2008 to support and promote writers from or living in Limerick through readings, workshops and publishing activities. It is run by a voluntary board of directors.
Through our Writers’ Groups (three in total) the Limerick Writers’ Centre seeks to provide a venue where all writers can meet and discuss their work and gather support from their peers. At our monthly flagship public reading the ‘On the Nail’ Literary Gathering, we provide an opportunity for those writers to read their work in public and get valuable feedback. Our publishing activities have yielded not only revenue for the Centre, but also brought us in contact with people and organisations which continue to be of great benefit to our members. Over 50 books have been published since 2008 under our community publishing initiative, and eight of them were from new, previously unpublished writers.
We regularly hold workshops, in poetry, short story and scriptwriting plus we have had literary agents give talks on the business of getting published. Our purpose is to also involve readers and support their engagement with new writing. We try as much as possible to represent diverse voices and advocate for increased writing and publishing access to individuals and groups that have not typically had this access.
The Limerick Writers’ Centre promotes writing done by ordinary people—people who maybe are not trained writers and may struggle to get their ideas down on paper. We value difference and welcome people who may lack confidence in themselves and their writing ability. Our aim is to spread a consciousness of literature.
Ultimately The Limerick Writers’ Centre seeks to provide an accessible venue where writers in all codes can meet with a creative or educational purpose, from where outreach programmes can work in our schools and communities to foster a spirit of creative invention. We also seek closer involvement with existing literary organisations and events in order to promote Limerick’s creative excellence in the greater world.
Limerick has long been famous for its passion for arts, culture and heritage and you only have to look at some of its natives, which include Pulitzer Prize winning author, Frank McCourt; novelists Kate O’Brien, Michael Curtin, Maeve Kelly and lately Kevin Barry and Donal Ryan. Limerick poets have also contributed widely to our literary heritage with Michael Hogan, Desmond O’Grady, John Liddy…the list goes on and on, proving that literature and writing is one of the major creative activities that the Treaty City can be proud of.
No surprise then that since 2008 the Limerick Writers’ Centre, based in Barrington Street, has been nurturing and supporting a new wave of writers by facilitating workshops, readings, talks and engaging in publishing activities. Founded by four people who are actively involved in the literary life of the city; Dominic Taylor, Mike Finn, Dermot Petty and Mark Lloyd the centre is run on a voluntary basis with the day to day running in the hands of Dominic Taylor. The board of directors has undergone some changes since these four founding members got together.
Since then the board has been joined by Fiona Clark Echlin, a poet playwright and drama teacher, and by Jim Burke, a poet and a founder member of The Stony Thursday Book, Ireland’s longest published poetry journal.
Workshops have been a central activity of the centre since its inception; there are regular poetry and prose workshops plus screenwriting, memoir and life writing. Literary talks are also a regular activity where recently, London agent Jo Unwin, revealed the secrets of getting published to a large attendance. Also multi award nominated crime novelist Wiliam Ryan (originally from Limerick) conducted a workshop at the centre on developing characters for the novel.
Our flagship monthly literary gathering On The Nail takes place in The Loft Venue in The Locke Bar, Georges Quay on the first Tuesday of every month and regularly draws a large audience. The gathering comprises of guest readers, and an open-mic for anyone who wishes to read their own work. The LWC is also committed to promoting creativity in music and The Acoustic Club takes place in The White House Bar, every Thursday night.
Publishing has also played an important part in the life of the centre with a number of major projects completed such as Kemmy’s Limerick Miscellany and Luaithreach Angela – a translation of Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes into Irish. The centre also published an anthology on Limerick poet Michael Hartnett , titled I Live in Michael Hartnett, and a recent book The Curious Story of the Limerick by Dr Matthew Potter tells of the connection between Limerick and the five line Limerick verse. We also played an active in Limerick City of Culture and held a series of workshops for senior citizens the end product was an anthology of love stories called The Heart of Limerick, which was edited by Fiona Clark Echlin, Caroline Graham and Sheila Quealley.
Our long running Revival Literary Journal alas is no more due to financial considerations it ceased publishing in December 2013 after 28 issues.
The centre, through it’s imprint Revival Press, is also very active in publishing contemporary poetry, with over 30 titles published so far. The centre is also always available to give advice to anyone who wants to self-publish.
One of the most popular activities of the centre has been the peer critique writers’ groups. Once a month writers gather at the centre to critique one another’s work, the groups are divided into prose/fiction and poetry. The success and popularity of these groups have been very encouraging for aspiring writers and one of our members Pat O’Connor won the Seán Ó Faoláin International Short Story Competition in 2011 and other members have had work published in various anthologies and journals.
In the summer of 2013 we expanded our ‘Bring Your Limericks to Limerick’ Competition in association with Campus Life Services in UL and this proved hughly successful, our intention is to continue to develop this into a major summer literary festival for Limerick. We also hosted a series of public talks, in association with the Department of English and Literature in Mary Immaculate College, on Great Irish Writers.
As awareness of the Centre grows and the range of activities increases, more and more people are beginning to use and appreciate the benefits of having a Writers’ Centre in Limerick. The positive feedback it has generated from people, like Mary Shanahan from Abbeyfeale, who commenting on a recent workshop she attended with Fiona Clark Echlin said “Fiona, you were inspirational”, this is typical of the response we receive from aspiring writers. Also guest readers at ‘On The Nail’ have been very appreciative of our efforts as guest Eleanor Hooker recently commented “Great night at ‘On The Nail’ readings in Limerick. Huge thanks to Dominic Taylor and Limerick Writers’ Centre for making it possible, left you wanting to hear more! The audience was warm and appreciative and yep, bought books too”.
The Centre receives a small Arts Council grant under the Small Festival and Events Scheme for the ‘On the Nail’ reading series and our long term aim is to become a regularly funded organisation. The centre operates a Patron scheme in which valuable funding is raised to help fund the activities of the centre.