June 6 – June 10, 2024

Deadline: (Extended)
April 7, 2024 at 11:59pm

Apply Here

Please note, applications much be submitted via Submittable.

We invite ambitious young writers aged 18-26 to apply for this extraordinary opportunity to attend and contribute to Belfast Book Festival 2024 as Young Writer Delegates.

In keeping with the Irish Writers Centre’s 2022-2026 Strategy, the Young Writer Delegates Programme seeks to create new opportunities, grant access and develop networks that connect writers to each other. This programme directly correlates with the objectives of Strategy Goal 2, which is to enhance opportunities for people across all communities to explore and participate in creative writing, as well as Strategy Goal 3, which is to cultivate an engaged community of writers and strategic alliances that support our ambitions

What to Expect



Now in its seventh year, the Irish Writers Centre (IWC) Young Writer Delegates Programme was created to give young writers an opportunity to immerse themselves in and contribute to a literature festival, soak up the atmosphere and experience the Irish literary landscape first-hand. For the second year, we are delighted to partner with Belfast Book Festival.

The Young Writer Delegates will spend five days (four nights) at Belfast Book Festival 2024* from Thursday 06 June, 2024 to Monday 10 June, 2024.

What does the Young Writer Delegates Programme include?

  • Mentoring: Delegates will be supported by a local writer-mentor Deirdre Cartmill for the duration of the festival. Deirdre will help the delegates to develop a new or in-progress piece of work and support the delegates through their public showcase.
  • Festival Events: Delegates will be granted access to as many festival events as they’d like to attend (depending on individual event availability), excluding workshops.
  • Public Showcase: Delegates will read the piece of work they have developed at a public showcase as part of the festival programme. The festival provides a small honorarium for this event which will be paid to the delegates at the beginning of the festival.
  • Social Media: Each delegate will be in charge of the official Young Writer Delegates Instagram for one day to highlight festival events they are attending and their experiences as a Young Writer Delegate.
  • Post-Festival Review: After the festival, each delegate will write a piece in response to their experience of the festival, which will be published on the IWC website. This could take the form of a creative piece, a review of an event or an interview with a writer.
  • Feedback: In exchange for being awarded the programme, the IWC will ask for feedback and evaluation to continue to improve the programme for future delegates!

*Please note that accommodation is only provided for two delegates from outside the Belfast area.


This programme is open to writers aged 18-26 living anywhere on the island of Ireland with a strong interest in writing, reading and an ambition to connect and contribute to the Irish literary scene. It is not essential for applicants to have been published to be eligible.


  • Accommodation is provided for two delegates who are resident on the island of Ireland.
  • Two places are reserved for local delegates based in Belfast.
  • Please note that if you have availed of the Young Writer Delegates Programme in the last three years, in any iteration, you are ineligible to apply.

We encourage young writers from backgrounds typically underrepresented in Irish literature to apply. We particularly invite applications from Black, POC (person of colour), Traveller, Roma, LGBTQIA+, disabled and working class writers, and those who consider themselves to be within the target groups described in the EDI Policy on our website.

How to Apply

Please apply to take part in this programme by using the following Submittable form.

You will be asked to include:

  • A short cover letter (approx. 1 page) including home address and Eircode/postcode.
    1. In your cover letter, please include the following:
    2. Why would you like to be selected as an Irish Writers Centre/Cúirt Young Writer Delegate?
    3. How will this opportunity benefit your writing practice? (you may wish to write about the bullet points listed in the programme outline above e.g. mentoring, festival events, etc.)
    4. Your role representing the IWC and Belfast Book Festival 2024 through your contribution to the official Young Writer Delegates Instagram and post-festival review
  • A Curriculum Vitae (max. two A4 pages).
  • Two differing samples of work (max. 500 words each)


What is Submittable?

Submittable is an online platform that the Irish Writers Centre uses to collect and review submissions and applications. To submit your application via Submittable, applicants will need to create a Submittable account. It’s free and easy to use but if you have any issues with Submittable, please email Applications will be acknowledged via an automatic email. If you don’t receive a confirmation of receipt, please contact us to check if your application has gone through.

Criteria for Selection

  • Eligibility – Participants must be over the age of 18 and resident on the island of the Ireland for a period of no less than one year. Applicants must not have availed of the Young Writer Delegates Programme in the last three years (of any iteration/festival) in order to be eligible.
  • Intent – the cover letter expressing the applicant’s intent and reason for taking part is key in informing our decisions. Be sure to tell us about your ideas on how your presence as a delegate will add value to the festival.
  • Samples – your samples will inform part of the decision-making process.
  • Geography – we are seeking applications from all over the island, with at least one local writer from the Galway area to be selected.

*Please note that incomplete or late applications will not be considered.

*Due to the volume of applicants we are not in a position to give individual feedback to applicants, unless they have been interviewed, depending on the scheme. This policy extends across all of our calls in the interests of equity and transparency, and because, as a small team, we don’t have the capacity to give individual responses.



Access to such a variety of events throughout the week provided constant sources of inspiration. In addition to readings and conversations, I had the chance to attend practical workshops specific to my own interests, such as that facilitated by Keith Payne on the practice of literary translation. I also benefited from the generosity and expertise of my mentor Mícheál McCann, who offered guidance and encouragement throughout, as well as practical advice related to my own writing in preparation for my reading at the end of the week.  Such hospitality was also true of the wider festival community– from the staff at the Crescent Arts Centre, to the festival Associates, and the range of visiting writers and attendees.

My experience as a Young Writer Delegate allowed for my complete immersion in the talented array of voices showcased by the festival, while also opening my eyes to the tight-knit and welcoming writing community to be found within Belfast and beyond.

– Cian Dunne, Belfast Book Festival Young Writer Delegate 2023



About Deirdre Cartmill (mentor)

Deirdre Cartmill is a critically acclaimed poet and writer who grew up in Moy, Co. Tyrone. Her third collection The Wind Stills to Listen was published by Arlen House in 2023. Her previous collections are The Return of the Buffalo and Midnight Solo published by Lagan Press. She co-commissioned and co-curated Ireland’s first Poetry Jukebox which is now a permanent installation in Belfast. She is one of the originating artists on the collaborative project Bridging the Silence – a poetic audio walk and installation shown on pedestrian bridges which gives a voice to survivors of abuse and political violence. She is an award-winning scriptwriter and has written for TV and radio, for the BBC and RTE. Her short plays toured N. Ireland with Terra Nova Theatre Company, and she received a seed commission from the Lyric Theatre for a new play in 2022. She holds an MA with Distinction in Creative Writing from Queen’s University


“Being a Young Writer Delegate was an opportunity that enriched my writing practice in a way that nothing else has. Immersed in a diverse group of other Delegates and the likeminded community of Cúirt at large, inspiration was never far from reach. With the assistance of a kind and knowledgeable mentor as well as each other, my cohort and I crafted pieces for our showcase alongside attending many of the festival’s events. Between talking with some of Ireland’s greatest writers, being mentored, and finding a new group of writerly friends, being a Delegate at Cúirt was a formative experience that will have an immense impact on my work for as long as I write it.”

– Matthew O’Rourke, Cúirt 2023

“Getting the chance to be an integral part of a major literary festival was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I will never forget. It was a delight to be mentored by such an experienced and celebrated writer as Danielle McLaughlin, who was also happy to introduce us to many of the speakers at the festival. If I could relive that week in mid-July, I would.”

–  Mark Jackson, WCLF 2022 

“The YWD programme with Cúirt and the IWC allowed me to be part of a network of young writers. We continue to share work regularly and meet up all around Ireland, to discuss writing and creative endeavours and catch up, a kind of writer support group. This has been invaluable in my journey as a writer. I was able to attend numerous talks and literary events with writers I have long admired. I have found Cúirt and the IWC to be a close-knit and friendly community, from Manuela Moser to the IWC team, and our YWD mentor Alan McMonagle,  who made me feel like I belonged and deserved to be at Cúirt.”

– Lucy Bleeker, Cúirt 2023

Application Deadline

Wednesday 3 April, 2024 at midnight.

About the Irish Writers Centre

For over 30 years as the leading support and development organisation for writers, the Irish Writers Centre has acknowledged and uplifted those with the courage and compulsion to write by providing opportunities for them to develop their skill, advance their ambitions and join a vibrant and diverse community of people who share their passion and purpose. We carry out our work, online and in person, on an all island basis. Our 2022-2026 strategy outlines a commitment to diversity and sustainability across our activities and its ambition is to connect writers of all types and talents across the island.

About Belfast Book Festival

The Belfast Book Festival is a Platform. Northern Ireland is bursting with storytelling talent that we bring to you via a series of conversations, workshops, residencies and Awards that seek to connect, amplify and showcase our creative communities. It is also a collaborative endeavour, as the festival continues its focus on innovation and collaboration. Each year we welcome a team of cultural associates.

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