Last Saturday, the 26th of August, we opened our doors for the annual IWC Autumn Open Day. Featuring a range of events – including taster workshops, professional development seminars, meet-and-greets and more – the Open Day was and is an excellent opportunity for those unfamiliar with the Irish Writers Centre to drop in, have a roam around the building and learn about the many ways the IWC can support you as a writer.

Festivities kicked off with a coffee reception, followed by a taster workshop led by novelist Kevin Curran. A co-winner of the inaugural IWC Novel Fair back in 2012, Kevin is a writer and secondary school teacher from Balbriggan whose most recent novel Youth was published by Lilliput Press earlier this year. Kevin was one of several writers to run workshops over the course of the day, joining author Pauline Clooney, seasoned facilitator Jean O’Brien and the IWC’s longest-running writing group, the Inkslingers, in giving attendees a taste of what IWC courses and writing groups can offer.

As always, the Open Day was a chance for members of the public to learn more about the Centre and all its various programmes. At midday, our Programming Officer Betty Stenson led an information session on the IWC Novel Fair – open for submissions from the 1st to the 30th of September 2023 – and later in the afternoon, IWC Director Valerie Bistany hosted a professional development seminar for emerging writers. The day ended with a panel discussion featuring three-time Women’s Prize for Fiction-nominee, novelist Heather O’Neill. Heather, who was the 2023 Max Margles Writer in Residence, was joined by poet and playwright Adam Wyeth and historian Anthony Murphy in discussing the influence of Irish folklore on global and diaspora literatures.

Kevin Curran delivering a fiction taster workshop at the Irish Writers Centre

Over 250 people joined us over the course of the day, ranging from first-time visitors to seasoned facilitators. Kenneth Villareal – a participant on our ongoing IWC/DBF Foundation Programme – remarked that “the Autumn Open Day was the first time I felt like I belonged to a community, made for writers by writers. The mysterious design and history of the building contributed to the experience, as well as the variety and amount of the people in it.”

People congregate inside the Irish Writers Centre’s reception during Autumn Open Day

A huge thanks to all the writers and facilitators who joined us on the day – it was a pleasure to share the building with you. For those who couldn’t make it, be sure to check out the line-up for our upcoming Culture Night event, featuring a rambling house, a tour of the Centre’s art collection, and a range of readings from past-Novel Fair winners, including Olivia Fitzsimons, Laura McKenna and Declan Toohey.

A video of the panel discussion – featuring Heather O’Neill, Adam Wyeth and Anthony Murphy – is forthcoming.

The Irish Writers Centre is supported by the Arts Council of Ireland.