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North Clare Writers Workshop


About the Workshop

In 1987, I learned of the difficulties an American writer was experiencing in finding a suitable place in which to write his recollections of a trip he had made – with a donkey – around the coast of Ireland. At that time I was the Librarian in Ennistymon Library, and Kevin O’Hara – the American writer – was living a few miles away with his young family in a small cottage. I had a little-used office in the library, and offered the use of it to Kevin, in return for some ‘light duties’, which included twice-weekly story-times for children, and the holding of a series of workshops for aspiring writers in the library. Although Kevin left Ireland to return to the U.S after a few months, these workshops, originally scheduled to last for seven or eight sessions, eventually grew into the North Clare Writers’ Workshop. From this time the basic principles or rules of the Workshop were formulated. They were designed to put as little impediments in people’s way as possible, to encourage them to attend and participate.

The Rules:

  • The Workshop was free and open to all.
  • Those attending did not have to produce or read any written work – although they were encouraged to do so.
  • The Workshop met each second Wednesday night at 8.30 (when the library closed), but people were free to skip as many sessions as they chose. In summer, the Workshop met weekly.
  • Each session was chaired by a different member each time, by rotation.
  • This chair-person was expected to give assignments for the following session, either as thematic or technical exercises, but they didn’t have to.
  • Members were encouraged to attempt the assignments, but didn’t have to.

From June 1989 we published an annual collection of material from work submitted to the Workshop by the previous November. For the first few publications, Workshop member Knute Skinner, an established poet and (winter) resident of the west coast of the U.S., was editor, to be joined by others in the following years. The publications were extremely well-received locally, and were very well reviewed nationally. The Workshop moved from the library in 1993, and continued to meet in the Falls Hotel, Ennistymon for some time after. The Workshop published seven annual compilations and gave numerous public readings in a variety of venues throughout County Clare.

The publications include:
Sticks and Stones’, edited by Knute Skinner (1989),
Inside Out’, edited by Knute Skinner (1990),
Roughly Speaking’, edited by Knute Skinner (1991),
This is Where We Came in’, edited by Anthony Edwards, Marg Wright, Bob Wright (1992),
Footprints on the Limestone’, edited by Dorothy Thompson (1993),
Nothing is ever what it Seems’, edited by Jessie Lendennie (1994),
Viewpoints’, edited by Frank Golden (1995).

Anthony Edwards,
Clare County Library,
June 2006.

North Clare Writers Workshop Main