John O'Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival in Armagh returns for a second year

THE John O'Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival is returning for a second year.

The three-day event is held in Armagh in November and includes talks, staged drama, panel discussions and workshops in poetry and fiction as well as play, screen and song writing. 

Among those taking part are author Louis de Bernieres who wrote Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, London Olympics poet Lemn Sissay, respected literary critic Robert McCrum who is associate editor of The Observer and Barry Devlin from Horslips along with band member and RTE broadcaster Jim Lockhart.

Students at the writing school select one course of study from poetry, fiction, play, screen or song writing and receive up to 10 hours of tuition, including an industry talk specific to their subject. 

The arts festival runs in the afternoons and evenings after the writing classes have finished for the day.

All the talks, workshops, music, readings and discussions are hosted in historic locations around Armagh including libraries, hotels, bars and restaurants.

Damian Smyth from the Arts Council Northern Ireland said public funding "has helped attract exceptional writing talent from home and abroad to form a festival parallel to the great work of the writing school".

"John O’Connor’s writing deserves to be celebrated. In its time, it demonstrated how vibrant and creative a place Armagh was and the festival in his name strengthens that legacy today. The Arts Council is delighted to support the programme through its National Lottery funding because it helps build and sustain another asset for culture generally and for Armagh City especially.”

School and festival director Cathy McCullough said while the event celebrated the talent of John O’Connor it also celebrated "the beautiful city of light and learning that is Armagh, and the fine talent that has emerged from it over the years".

A satellite course will also be hosted by Queen’s University Belfast Seamus Heaney Centre with the focus on commercial writing. This is aimed at small arts groups and charities as well as students from broader disciplines and will include the basics of press release writing, blogging and advertising.  

For more information on the John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival which is running from November 2-5 visit


Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access


Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: