Photo credit: In 2024 we are spotlighting all the amazing independent bookshops and booksellers in Ireland simply because we love them and we think you should too! In honour of St. Valentine, this month we are celebrating the most romantic bookstore in Ireland (ooooh) and after a long and arduous selection process 😉 (we did an Instagram poll) we decided that title belongs to Little Acorns Bookstore in Derry. Scroll down to see their lovely Valentine’s Day store display and find out a little bit more about them. Oh, and be sure to drop in the next time you’re in Derry!

Each month we update our Competitions, Submissions & Opportunities webpage, along with our Bursaries & Funding, to ensure that we are connecting our writers with the best upcoming opportunities. Here are a few deadlines we wanted to highlight this February.


Winter Papers

Deadline: 15th February 2024

Winter Papers, Ireland’s annual anthology for the arts offers fiction, non-fiction, poetry, photography, visual arts, along with craft interviews and in-conversation pieces on writing, film, theatre, photography and music. It is edited by Kevin Barry and Olivia Smith.

Your piece must be pre­vi­ously unpublished. The max­i­mum word limit is 5,000 words. They pay between €500 and €600 depending on the length of your piece and every year each anthology is always one of the prettiest books you’ll find in any bookstore.

Lilliput at 40 Anthology

Deadline: 29th February 2024

Lilliput is turning 40 in 2024! To celebrate, they’re putting together a special anthology of short stories and essays – and your writing could be the highlight of the book. They’ve commissioned new work from some of the writers they’ve published before and are now looking for a contribution from one undiscovered voice. They are welcoming submissions of short stories and essays between 3000-6000 words until 29 February 2024 under the loose theme ‘Christmas Parties’. The winner will be published alongside a line-up of some of the best Irish writers at work today (including: Donal Ryan, Kevin Power, Elske Rahill, Alice Lyons, Martina Devlin, Mike McCormack, Rob Doyle and many more…) and be paid €500.

We love this Valentine’s day display! Blind date with a book anyone? Little Acorns Bookstore (Derry), February 2024


The Maria Edgeworth Festival Poetry and Short Story Competitions

Deadline: 23rd February 2024

Part of the Maria Edgeworth Festival which celebrates the life and legacy of Maria Edgeworth, an 18th century enlightenment figure who made leaps and contributions in the subjects of science, education and politics, this competition has both a Poetry and Short Story categories. It costs €5 per entry in both categories. The prizes are the same for each category: 1st Prize €500 2nd Prize €200 and 3rd Prize €100

There is a maximum word count of 2000 words for the short story section and 40 lines for the poetry section.

2024 Papatango New Writing Prize

Deadline: 11th March 2024

This playwriting prize is open to writers at any level who are resident on the island of Ireland or in the UK. The Prize offers production and publication, and therefore they are looking for complete, full-length scripts. (They suggest, as a minimum, that to qualify as full-length, a script should have a running time of at least 60 minutes OR be at least 9000 words OR be at least 40 pages.)

The winning writer will receive £7500. Their script will be produced by Papatango and Park Theatre in a full run in London, in 2025. The writer will receive a royalty of 8% of the net box office and their play will be published by Nick Hern Books.

All entrants will be able to opt in to receive feedback if they wish.

Mairtín Crawford Poetry and Short Story Awards

Deadline: 10th April 2024

Both published and unpublished writers are invited to submit between 3-5 poems for the Poetry Award, or a short story of up to 2,500 words for the Short Story Award. Writers can submit work to both awards, with the only entry criteria being that entrants must not have yet published a full collection of poetry, short stories, or a novel.

The chosen recipient of each award will receive a £500 cash prize. In addition, each awardee will receive a ‘Time to Write’ package, including a 3-night stay at a hotel in Belfast and 4 days of dedicated writing space in The Crescent Arts Centre. The two runners-up for each category will receive a £250 cash prize.

This year, the Poetry Award will be judged by Kathleen McCracken and Dawn Watson, whilst the Short Story Award will be judged by Lucy Caldwell and Wendy Erskine.

Even the event space is looking loved-up! Little Acorns Bookstore (Derry), February 2024


Literature Bursary Award – English Language

Deadline: 15 February 2024

The objective of the English Language Literature Bursary Award is to enable professional writers and picture book artists (working mainly through the English language) to spend more time on their creative work. The maximum award is €20,000.

Fingal Artists’ Support Scheme 2024

Deadline: 1st March 2024

Fingal County Council is delighted to announce the 2024 Artists’ Support Scheme. This strand of funding allows professional artists (working in music, visual art, drama, literature, film and dance) to avail of up to €5,000 of an award towards travel and professional development opportunities, a residency, or towards the development of work. The funding is for projects or initiatives which will take place between 1st May and 31st December 2024.


“The books transported her into new worlds.” Little Acorns Bookstore (Derry), February 2024

Irish Writers Centre Opportunities:

IWC National Mentoring Programme 2024

Deadline: 2nd March 2024

Each year, the Irish Writers Centre sets up over 30 mentorships across the island of Ireland. Writers receive sustained creative and professional mentoring from an acclaimed Irish writer of their choosing. Accepted genres/forms: literary fiction, creative non-fiction, children’s / young adult fiction and poetry. Writers living in all thirty-two counties can apply. This initiative is supported by the Arts Council and over 20 County/arts offices and organisations across the island of Ireland.

 Little Acorns Bookstore (Derry), February 2024

About Little Acorns Bookstore:

Inishowen-born, Derry-based owner Jenni Doherty always wanted to own a bookshop, ever since she was a little girl, and she’s living the dream. She says, “When you do something you love, have the support and loyalty of the local community, the vast enthusiastic range of publishers and suppliers, the ever-growing talented list of authors and illustrators – it is a very rewarding industry to be in. Where else would you meet folks from a few weeks old to 99 years of age?”

Little Acorns Bookstore was a Country Finalist in the British Book Awards Independent Bookshop of the Year in 2022 and 2023, An Post Bookshop of the Year Regional Winner 2021 and Longlist 2023. North West Entrepreneur of the Year 2022 and Families First Business of the Year 2022. They now boast over 60,000 books (new and used) and you can find them at 18, Great James Street, in the heart of Derry.

Please get in touch with Administrative Assistant Tom Jordan at if your organisation has a  competition, submission, bursary or funding opportunity for writers that you would like us to include in our monthly round-up blog post.