Beginner’s Pluck


Helena Duggan

Helena wrote a lot as a small child, but at secondary school, she was discouraged because she wasn’t great at grammar or spelling. A teacher in fourth year changed all that. “She saw through my spelling…

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Lucy Sweeney Byrne

Writing is second nature to Lucy; her father was a film and music critic and her mother an English teacher who wrote. “I wrote my first book at six years old. My grandmother said they would…

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Sheila Turner Johnston

Daughter of a Methodist minister from Cork, Sheila kept moving as a child, from Cork to Birr, in County Offaly, then to Donegal, before arriving in Belfast, where her mother was from. Sheila was a librarian…

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Stephen Sexton

Stephen wrote his first poem, aged 8. “It was a strange rhyming poem about a mayfly. I didn’t write any more, after that, until the difficult teen years, when I wrote a few poems.” He was…

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Sophie White

An only child brought up in Sandymount, Sophie always read. But she chose art, because writing was a family business. “I loved NCAD and got a first-class degree, but I loved drugs as well, and they…

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Vivienne Kearns

Vivienne wrote gothic short stories at college, and a science fiction screenplay. After her degree she trained as an English teacher but moved to LA for a year. Returning, she worked as a project manager in…

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Catherine Kirwan

Brought up on a farm in Tipperary, Catherine was a bookish child. She studied law in Cork; took a traineeship in Dublin, before heading for Munich where she taught English. “I thought about being a writer…

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Andrew Mulligan

For years, Andrew wanted to work in the theatre. But he never really made it. “I was banging my head on the door, doing a lot of poorly paid and unpaid work. So at thirty, I…

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Oisin Fagan

Beginner’s Pluck. A writer since childhood, Oisín published his first short story at 18. “I dropped out of college for a year and wrote fulltime working nights. Then I went back to complete my course.” As…

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Jing-Jing Lee

Brought up in a house without books, speaking Mandarin, Jing-Jing was never read to. She discovered books aged 7, at school. “I loved Roald Dahl. I remember listening to audio tapes, as I read.”  During her…

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Claire Adam

Books were scarce in Trinidad, when Claire was growing up there, but she was lucky. “My mum, who is Irish, opened a book shop in our basement.” Claire always kept notebooks, but when it came to…

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Richard Roper

Richard remembers arguing with his mother about the number of books he could take out of the library. “I was always reading,” he says. “And at university I was a tortured writer of terrible poetry. It…

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