Writing School Programme

Thursday 1st – Sunday 4th November 2018

There are no borders, and no boundaries where good writing is concerned’. John O’Connor.

Details & Timetable

Registration & Lord Mayor’s Welcome

Friday 2nd November

9.00am – 10.45am

Venue: Armagh Robinson Library, 43 Abbey Street

Core Courses Available

Poetry, Fiction, Playwriting, Screenwriting and Songwriting.

Industry Talks & Publisher’s Panel

Each core course will benefit from an ‘Industry Talk’ with a respected writer in their field, and the Publishers’ Panel.

Both the Industry Talk and the Publishers’ Panel is part of the course content.

Note: A small number of places will be available to the public at the Industry Talks. Admission is free, but places will be allocated at the venue, on a first come, first served, basis.

Core Course Times (same for all courses)

Friday 2rd November

11.00am – 3.00pm

Short lunch break – please bring a packed lunch


Saturday 3rd November

9.00am – 12.00pm (includes Industry Talk).

Publishers’ Panel 12.30pm-1.30pm


Sunday 4th November


Core Course Venues

Poetry and Playwriting: Market Place Theatre and Arts Centre, 9 Market Street.

Fiction, Screenwriting and Songwriting: AmmA Centre, Market Street.

Step Into (Taster) Courses – NEW

Step into Courses (taster half-day sessions) are available in Poetry Fiction/Prose, Playwriting and Writing for Business and PR.

Step Into (Taster) Course Times

Saturday 3 November:  10am -1pm

Step Into (Taster) Course venues

Poetry: Oak Room, Charlemont Arms, 57-65 Upper English Street

Fiction: Milford House Collection, 3 Victoria Street

Playwriting: Abbey Lane Theatre, Abbey Lane

Writing for Business and PR: Keeper’s Rooms, Armagh Robinson Library, 43 Abbey Street

Poetry with Peter Fallon – SOLD OUT

Venue: Marketplace Theatre, 9 Market Street

Friday 2rd November 11.00am–3.00pm (please bring a packed lunch)

Saturday 3rd November 9.00am –12.00pm

Sunday 4th November 9.30am –12.30pm

(Includes Industry Talk & Publishers’ Panel)

The Assembly of Poetry


The man who brought jazz and pizazz to Irish poetry” – The Irish Times


This workshop focuses on ways in which a poem grows and on strategies by which ideas and feeligns are translated into language. It pays detailed attention to the participants’ own work and considers writing’s relationship with the author’s community and with the tradition it extends.


Peter Fallon is a prize winning Irish poet who books include The Georgics of Virgil (Oxford World’s Classics), The Company of Horses and Strong, My Love. As founder (in 1970) and publisher of The Gallery Press, he has edited and published five hundred books of poems and plays by the country’s finest established and emerging authors and possesses a unique track record as an editor and assembler of books. A member of Aosdána, Peter Fallon lives in Loughcrew in County Meath where he has farmed for many years.

PoetrywithPeter-Fallon 2014 by Suella Holland500x500

Poetry Industry Talk with Roger McGough

Venue: Marketplace Theatre, 9 Market Street

Saturday 3rd November 11.00am –12.00pm

‘The patron saint of poetry’ – Carol Ann Duffy


Hilarious and surreal, Roger McGough is a poet of many voices. President of the Poetry Society, he has been honoured with a CBE for services to literature and the freedom of the City of Liverpool. Widely known for Lily the Pink, the Aintree Iron, Scaffold, GRIMMS, The Mersey Sound with Adrian Henri & Brian Patten, he now presents the long running Poetry Please on BBCR4. His Molière adaptations travel far and wide with English Touring Theatre. The beat goes on. @McgoughRoger


‘A poemy torch in dark corners’ – Ian McMillan, Poetry Review


‘Profound suprises and lasting images on almost every line’ – Siân Hughes, T.E.S.

Fiction with Tom Bromley – SOLD OUT

Venue: AmmA Centre, Market Street

Friday 2nd November 11.00am–3.00pm (please bring a packed lunch)

Saturday 3rd November 9.00am –12.00pm

Sunday 4th November 9.30am –12.30pm

(Includes Industry Talk and Publishers’ Panel)

I am forever grateful to the Faber Academy for helping me transform my late-night ramblings into a workable first draft. A massive thank you to my tutor Tom Bromley, whose teaching and mentoring were invaluable” – Asia Mackay, author of Killing it.


This course will focus on ways to improve and polish your prose writing skills. It will look at a number of elements of better fiction writing, with a focus on reading like a writer (and writing like a reader), creating brilliant characters and developing your settings and sense of place.


Nothing beats the pull of a book that keeps you up into the small hours turning pages to find out what happens next. But how do you craft tales that make your readers miss their train stop? This course introduces you to some of the secrets of storytelling: how to draw readers in, keep them hooked and leave them satisfied. It explores key plotting techniques and shows you how to lay the foundations for your own compelling narratives.


Tom Bromley is an author, ghostwriter and creative writing tutor. He teaches novel writing for the Faber Academy and is the Director of Fiction for the Professional Writing Academy. Tom spent over a decade working in publishing as a copywriter, commissioning editor and publisher, and continues to work for both publishers and literary agencies in a consulting capacity.


Fiction Industry Talk with Robert McCrum

Venue: AmmA Centre, Market Street

Saturday 3rd November 11.00am –12.00pm

‘McCrum’s biography is a startling chronology of literary achievement’ – citation for Robert McCrum’s honorary doctorate from the University of Exeter


‘Joanna Mackle, highly respected former publishing executive at Faber and Faber, now Deputy Director of the British Museum, is one of London’s most influential “imagineers” – London Evening Standard


Robert McCrum was Editor-in-Chief of Faber and Faber fron 1980-1986, when he published such writers as Kazuo Ishiguro, Milan Kundera, Marilynne Robinson, and Hanif Kureishi. He was Literary Editor of The Observer (UK) from 1996-2012 and Associate Editor until 2017. His most recent book, Every Third Thought, was published in 2017.


Joanna Mackle worked as Publishing Director at Faber & Faber for many years, where she worked with major writers including Kazuo Ishiguro, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, John McGahern, Harold Pinter, Paul Aster and our own patron Paul Muldoon. She is currently Deputy Director of the British Musuem.

Playwriting with Brenda Winter Palmer

Venue: The Marketplace Theatre and Arts Centre, 9 Market Street.

Friday 2nd November 11.00am–3.00pm (please bring a packed lunch)

Saturday 3rd November 9.00am –12.00pm

Sunday 5th November 9.30am –12.30pm

(Includes Industry Talk and Publishers’ Panel)

The script and performance were of the highest calibre” – Myles Dungan, Hay Literary Festival at Kells, of Brenda’s play, Medal in the Drawer.


This course is aimed at those people who are keen to progress their playwriting skills. It takes as its starting point that participants already understand the principles of conflict, characterisation and plotting. Instead, it focuses on some of the practical techniques of theatre-making which will enable prospective and emerging playwrights to use the magic of stage to tell their story in an imaginative and inventive way.


Brenda Winter Palmer has been a professional actress, director, and writer for 39 years. In the 1980s she was founder member of Charabanc Theatre Company. In 1989 she founded Belfast’s longest established Educational Theatre Company, Replay. She has written numerous scripts for BBC Radio and Television. She lectured at Queen’s University Belfast in Drama Studies until 2016, and has since continued with her careers as a writer. Her First World War play, Medal in the Drawer (2014) has earned critical aclaim and enjoyed popular success.

Playwriting Industry Talk with Emma Jordan

Venue: Marketplace Theatre, 9 Market Street.

Saturday 3rd November 11.00am –12.00pm

Emma Jordan understands more than most what makes a good script’ – The Irish Times


Emma Jordan, the Artistic Director of Prime Cut Productions, is one of Northern Ireland’s most respected and prolific theatre practitioners. Her many awards include Best Production, Best Actor, and Best Director for The Irish Times’ Irish Theatre Awards 2017.

Screenwriting with Christine Morrow

Venue: AmmA Centre, Market Street.

Friday 2nd November 11.00am–3.00pm (please bring a packed lunch)

Saturday 3th November 9.00am –12.00pm

Sunday 4th November 9.30am –12.30pm

(Includes industry talk)

This film screenwriting course will focus on the development and production of a short film. During the course we will look at how to write documents which facilitate the writing of the first draft of a short film project. You will also learn how to collate a project bible to sell your work to a potential producer, sales agent, broadcaster or screen agency.


The course is suitable for both new and emerging screenwriters and auteur directors who want to learn more about writing and selling their short film.


You will learn how to write a logline and a short synopsis as well as how to break down a key scene in a short film. For your project bible you will learn about visual references, mood boards, visual style notes, directors’ notes, creative team, cast and crew details and how to write a one-page treatment for your short film project.


Christine Morrow joined Northern Ireland Screen as New and Emerging Talent Executive in January 2004, having previously worked in the development deparment of BBC Northern Ireland Drama. She has worked on a number of award-winning short films, most notably the BAFTA winning and Oscar nominated short, Boogaloo and Graham (2014). She was on the 2017 Best in Jury of the BAFTA accredited Aesthetica Film Festival based in York.

Screenwriting Industry Talk with Daragh Carville

Venue: AmmA Centre, Market Street.

Saturday 3rd November 11.00am –12.00pm

‘The writing is inspired.’ – The Guardian of Daragh’s play, Language Roulette.


Daragh Carville is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter from Armagh. He is currently writing The Boy (ITV/Tall Story), a six-part crime drama which is due to be screened in Spring 2019. His wide-ranging television experience includes episodes of The Smoke (Kudos/Sky One), Being Human (BBC) and 6 Degrees (BBC NI). He also wrote the feature films, Middletown, and Cherrybomb, starring Rupert Grint and James Nesbitt. In the theatre, Daragh’s plays include This Other City and Language Roulette. His most recent play, History, was produced by Tinderbox Theatre Company in Belfast.

Songwriting with Gareth Dunlop

Venue: AmmA Centre, Market Street.

Friday 2nd November 11.00am–3.00pm

Saturday 3rd November 9.00am –12.00pm

Sunday 4th November 9.30am –12.30pm

(Includes industry talk)

‘Dunlop has the kind of voice that can still a room with its vulnerability, the meaning behind the words heartfelt, the emotion real.’ – Jason Holmes


During his workshops Gareth will consider several different aspects of songwriting including ‘writing to brief’, co-writing, self-expression and the ‘business’ of writing songs.


When songs are written to match the moving images in adverts, trailers, television shows and films this is called ‘writing to brief’. Gareth will discuss some of his own over 70 such briefs, taking an in-depth look at how lyric, melody and harmony assist branding, scenes and character.


He will also draw on his extensive experience of co-writing. Working with partners in the class, and critiquing each other’s work, you will learn how to navigate a co-writing sessions and bend and meld your own ideas with those of other writers.


Creativity and self-expression in songwriting will be explored through case studies, with students discussing their musical influences and examining depth, narrative, tense, structure, melody and harmony in other writers’ songs.


Publishing, copyright protection, performance and mechanical royalty splits and collection, music licensing and catalogue administration will also be covered in the course.


The format will be open and interactive to accommodate all levels of ability and the varying backgrounds of the students.


Gareth Dunlop has won many awards for songwriting and has seen his songs placed in American Hit TV shows including One Tree Hill, House, Nashville and Cougar Town, and in the motion pictures, Safe Haven and Best of Me. In Nashville, he has worked with songwriters and artists including John Oates of Hall and Oates fame. He has played with artists like The Stereophonics, Ryan Sheridan and Kim Richey and in shows alongside Van Morrison, Snow Patrol and Jools Holland. Dunlop has worked as a staff writer for several publishing companies including Universal Music Group.


His debut album, No 79, was released in September 2017 to critical aclaim and featured as RTE Radio 1’s album of the week.


Step Into Playwriting with Martin Lynch

Venue: Abbey Lane Theatre

Saturday 3rd November 10.00am –1.00pm

‘Playwright Martin Lynch’s work demonstrates a strong social conscience, is occasionally controversial, ad can be blackly humorous.’ – Culture Northern Ireland


A rare opportunity to engage in a lively class with one of Ireland’s stage ‘greats’, this session will explore where stories come from and how to find them. Martin will focus on key elements required when you start to write a play and advise on creating distinctive, three dimensional characters. Students will be asked to write a short one or two-page scene with special attention paid to good dialogue.


Martin Lynch has written plays for many companies, including the Lyric Theatre, the Abbey Theatre, Charabanc and Paines Plough. He has producued and toured widely throughout the UK, Ireland, New York and Australia. He has written several radio plays for BBC Radio 3 and 4 and RTE. He also co-wrote the screenplay of for the Hollywood movie, A Prayer for the Dying, staring Mickey Rourke, Liam Neeson and Bob Hoskins.

Step into Fiction Writing with Paul McVeigh

Milford House Collection, 3 Victoria Street
Saturday, 3rd November 10.00am-1.00pm

‘Paul McVeigh lets us see the human condition through penetratingly fresh eyes. A splendid writer.’ – Pulitzer Prize winner, Robert Olen Butler.


This class will focus on that crucial story opening, work on developing plot and character, with tips on how to keep the reader engaged.


You will discover what competition judges and journal editors look for and will have an opportunity to get advice and guidance on how best to promote and sell your work. Paul’s classes have sold out all over the UK, Melbourne, and Ireland.


Paul McVeigh‘s debut novel, The Good Son, won The Polari First Novel Prize and The McCrea Literary Award. His short stories have been read on BBC Radio and ‘Hollow’ was shortlisted for Irish Stort Story of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2017. Paul’s writing has been translated into seven languages.

Step into Poetry with Erin Halliday

Venue: Oak Room, Charlemont Arms Hotel

Saturday 3rd November 10am-1pm

Her poetry is erudite, passionate, powerful and achieved…The range of her skills, interests, themes and topics is both extensive and surprising; I have every confidence that she will develop into one of the finest poets of the rising generation’ – Paula Meehan


In this workshop, we will investigate inspiration, exploring where poems come from. We will look at our preoccupations, using writing activities to shape our inspiration in an original way, then explore drafting techniques to polish the finished piece.


Throughout, we will illustrate each step with modern and contemporary poets’ work. This will be an absorbing and engaging first step towards getting that poem just right!


Erin Halliday, Ireland Chair of Poetry bursary awardee and featured poet in New Poets from the North of Ireland (Blackstaff Press, 2016), published her first collection of poetry Pharmakon, in 2015 (Templar Poetry). An Arts Council of Northern Ireland ACES award enabled her to complete the manuscript for her forthcoming second collection. Erin has worked as a lecturer and course convenor at Queen’s University Belfast Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, and is currently a creative writing course facilitator in Belfast.

Step into Writing for Business & PR with Joris Minne

Venue: Keeper’s Room, Armagh Robinson Library, 43 Abbey Street

Saturday 3rd November 10.00am-1.00pm

‘We relied heavily on Joris Minne’s ability to communicate with various audiences and to win hearts and minds to get a very sensitive project over the line. Can’t recommend him highly enough’ – John Rees, Project Director, National Museum of the Royal Navy.


Learn a key skill in business and media communications to help your small business, charity or art group start gaining visibility. Simple techniques on how to write a strong press release, who to send it to and how photography works best are included in this fast blast through commercial writing for beginners.


Also, social media platforms all work differently and these are tools you need to know how to use. Award-winning PR man and Chairman of Jcomms Ltd, Joris Minne will show how to get started.


Joris Minne has won Irish and international awards for his work in PR. He advises on most of the exciting projects in Ireland, including the restoration of HMS Caroline for National Museum of the Royal Navy, lobbying for a Rank Group multi-entertainment resort for Belfast, and other top Northern Ireland organisations. This year marks has first decade as the Belfast Telegraph’s restaurant and food writer.