Northern Ireland news

Award-winning young adult writer Kelly McCaughrain is new Children's Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland

Professor Glenn Patterson, Seamus Heaney Centre director; Damian Smyth, head of literature and drama at the Arts Council for Northern Ireland; Myra Zepf, the First Children's Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland and Kelly McCaughrain, the new Children's Writing Fellow

AWARD-winning young adult writer Kelly McCaughrain has been announced as the new Children's Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland.

The Belfast writer, who will be based at Queen's University Belfast's Seamus Heaney Centre said she felt "honoured" to accept the "wonderful role".

The fellowship was created as part of Queen's and the Arts Council's joint 10-year Seamus Heaney Legacy project supported by the Atlantic Philanthropies.

She takes over from inaugural Children's Writing Fellow Myra Zepf, who has held the post for the last two years, and will work with students and engage in `outreach activities' during her term.

"Reading offers so many benefits to children's development, and therefore to our whole society," Ms McCaughrain said.

"Children's literature is something that should be valued and promoted, and I'm thrilled to see that happening in Northern Ireland.

"We have some truly inspiring organisations, teachers, librarians and writers already working hard to promote children's literacy and reading for pleasure and I'm really looking forward to working with them and learning from them and I hope that I can use my fellowship to support them.

"This is an opportunity to do something really special and I think it's going to be an adventure."

The author, who studied Creative Writing at Queen's, already mentors young writers at Fighting Words.

Her first novel, Flying Tips for Flightless Birds, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and won the Children's Books Ireland Eilis Dillon Award, Children's Choice Award and Book of the Year Award 2019 and the Northern Ireland Book Award 2019.

Catherine Heaney, daughter of Seamus Heaney, said she is "delighted with the appointment" and looks forward "to watching Kelly carry on (the) vital work over the coming two years".

Professor Glenn Patterson, Seamus Heaney Centre director, said: "Kelly is a wonderful writer and I know she will inspire many children and young people to take an interest in creative writing and reading more books."

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