February 10 – March 16, 2023

January 3, 2024 at 5:00pm

Apply Here

Applications must be submitted via Submittable.

The Irish Writers Centre is delighted to announce the return of Northern Soul Roadshow (NSR) for 2024. Take part and develop your writing practice through a series of creative writing events and workshops featuring a wide range of writers from the North of Ireland. This programme is delivered across six online sessions and an in-person showcase event at The Linen Hall (Belfast). Curated and facilitated by Fiona O’Rourke, it exclusively features guest writers born in the North of Ireland and those who have moved there from further afield (full list of featured writers and schedule below).

Northern Soul Roadshow is supported by the National Lottery through the Arts of Council of Northern Ireland and is specifically developed to showcase the work and craft of writers whose work illuminates the varied and diverse experiences of people from the North of Ireland and those who call it home. Participants will attend six workshops where guest writers will share their work and writing process. Learn from a variety of genres and forms including memoir, poetry, short story, flash fiction, creative non-fiction, speculative fiction, and more. We encourage participants from across the island to build on sharing understandings and experiences.

What to Expect

Six online workshops 

Designed as a seminar-style workshop programme for up to twenty writers, the participants will take part in six online workshops on Saturday mornings (10 February to 16 March 2024).

The weekly format comprises a panel of two guest writers. Writers from all over the island are warmly invited to take this opportunity to hone their craft in a supportive writing community of guest readings, lively Q&A discussions, and facilitated writing exercises. Readings of speculative fiction, fictional novel, short story, poetry, flash fiction, lyric essay, creative nonfiction, and memoir will take place.

Writer-Facilitator, Fiona O’Rourke, has put together a stellar line up of guest writers to share their process, including Toby Buckley, Deirdre Cartmill, Emily Cooper, Kerri ní Dochartaigh, Shakeema Edwards, Maria Fusco, Byddi Lee, Tony Macaulay, Bernie McGill, Abby Oliveira, Pallavi Padma-Uday, and Dawn Watson.

Showcase at The Linen Hall (Belfast)  

Featuring special guest author Anna Burns, this public event will take place on Friday 22 March 2024 at 1pm in The Linen Hall (Belfast) and will feature new work from writers who took part in Northern Soul Roadshow 2024.

NSR 2024 Programme Schedule

*Please note, to be selected as a writer for NSR 2024, participants must be able to attend every session.


Session 1: Saturday 10 February 2024 

Special guests: Maria Fusco (lyric essay) Tony Macaulay (novel fiction)


Location: Online


Session 2: Saturday 17 February 2024 

Special guests: Pallavi Padma-Uday (memoir) Deirdre Cartmill (poetry)


Location: Online


Session 3: Saturday 24 February 2024 

Special guests: Byddi Lee (speculative fiction) Shakeema Edwards (poetry)


Location: Online


Session 4: Saturday 2 March 2024 

Special guests: Emily Cooper (poetry) Kerri ní Dochartaigh (non-fiction)


Location: Online


Session 5: Saturday 9 March 2024 

Special guests: Toby Buckley (poetry) Abby Oliveria (flash fiction)


Location: Online


Session 6: Saturday 16 March 2024 

Special guests: Bernie McGill (short story) Dawn Watson (poetry)


Location: Online


Live in-person event: Friday 22 March 2024 

Special guest: Anna Burns


Location: Linen Hall (Belfast)


Anna Burns FRSL is a multi-award winning writer whose novel Milkman won the 2018 Man Booker Prize, making her the first author from Northern Ireland to win the prize. Milkman also won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction 2018, the 2019 Orwell Prize for Politician Fiction, the 2018/19 Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize and the 2020 Dublin International Literary Award. Her 2001 debut No Bones was awarded the Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize. Anna was born in Belfast in 1962 and has published three novels, No Bones, Little Constructions and Milkman along with the novella, Mostly Hero. Anna was elected to Aosdana, the affiliation of creative artists in Ireland, in 2019 and elected to the Royal Society of Literature in 2021. She lives in Northern Ireland.

Who is it for

This is an open call to 20 writers, over 18 years of age, resident on the island of Ireland:

  • Professional writers who are published and would qualify as a professional member (see criteria here).
  • Emerging writers who can demonstrate a commitment to writing e.g. creative writing training or courses undertaken, journal publications, awards or notable mentions, or other recognisable achievements.
  • Acceptable genres/forms: fiction: poetry, prose, novel, short stories, screenplays, stage plays, and creative non-fiction: memoir, auto-fiction, essays.
  • Priority will be given to writers living in Northern Ireland.

We encourage writers from backgrounds typically underrepresented in Irish literature to apply. We particularly invite applications from Black, POC (person of colour), Traveller, Roma, LGBTQ+, and disabled writers.

As part of the selection process, the judging panel will ensure that a wide range of literary forms, genres and writing career stages are represented in the final short list.

Please note, participating writers must be able to attend all six online sessions and the in-person showcase at The Linen Hall (Belfast).

The Irish Writers Centre are not able to provide accommodation or travel expenses for participants to attend the in-person event at The Linen Hall.

How to apply

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

In the form, you will be asked to upload an up-to-date CV and to provide a short statement answering the following questions: Why would you be a good participant in the programme, and how would you benefit from taking part? (up to 400-words)

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.

Deadline to Apply

Wednesday 3 January 2024 at 5pm


Fiona O’Rourke is a Pushcart Prize nominated author. Her stories have been published, broadcast, translated, and included on a reading list at Saint Mary’s College, California. Her debut novel Have You Found Luke? was a winner at the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair. Other stories have been included in The Storms Journal, Fortnight, The Lonely Crowd, The Waxed Lemon, Francis MacManus, The Fish Anthology, and more. She facilitates writing communities at Irish Writers Centre, festivals, and libraries.

Special Guest Writers

TOBY BUCKLEY / poetry 

Toby Buckley completed his MA in poetry at the Seamus Heaney Centre in Belfast. His work has previously been published in Poetry Ireland Review, The Tangerine and The Stinging Fly, as well as a number of different independent zines. He received the first Ruth West Award for Poetry in 2016. His first pamphlet, Milk Snake, was published by The Emma Press in July 2022.


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.


Emily Cooper is a poet and writer based in Donegal. Her poetry and prose has been published in the Stinging Fly, Banshee, Winter Papers, London Magazine and others. She was a recipient of the Next Generation Award in 2019 and her poetry debut ‘Glass’ was published by Makina Books in 2021. A collaborative collection ‘The Conversation’ written with Jo Burns is to be published by Doire Press in 2024. She is an editor for The Pig’s Back literary journal.


Kerri ní Dochartaigh is a mother, writer and grower.  She mentors and teaches worldwide. Her work currently explores ideas of emergency, interconnectedness and ecologies of care.   Her first book, Thin Places, was published by Canongate in Spring 2021, for which she was awarded the Butler Literary Award 2022, and highly commended for the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing 2021. Cacophony of Bone was published by Canongate in May 2023 and was longlisted for the Wainwright Prize for Nature Writing 2023.  She lives in the west of Ireland with her family.


Shakeema Edwards is an Antiguan American writer living in Northern Ireland. She studied poetry at Queen’s University Belfast as the recipient of the Seamus Heaney International Poetry Scholarship, has received an Ireland Chair of Poetry Student Award, and was shortlisted for the 2023 Manchester Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in New Isles Press, Channel, Propel Magazine, and The Apiary.

MARIA FUSCO / lyric essay

Maria Fusco is a working class writer, born and brought up in Belfast. She works in an interdisciplinary way across critical, performance and theoretical writing. Her latest works in 2023 are the opera-film, History of the Present, co-made with filmmaker Margaret Salmon and composer Annea Lockwood, about the legacies of growing up beside a peaceline during the Troubles and Who does not envy with us is against us, a book of essays about class, which she will be reading from at the event. She is Professor of Interdisciplinary Writing at the University of Dundee. maria

BYDDI LEE / speculative fiction novel

Byddi Lee is the author of “Rejuvenation,” a speculative fiction trilogy, first published by Castrum Press in 2020 and has published flash fiction, short stories and her novel, “March to November” (2014). Byddi also writes for stage and screen and is a member of BBC Writersroom Voices 23. Her most recent play is “Toxic Relationships” a climate change satire due to be staged in Spring 2024. Byddi co-wrote the play “IMPACT – Armagh’s Train Disaster” which was staged for the 130th anniversary of the tragedy in June 2019 in the Abbey Lane Theatre in Armagh and again in the Market Place Theatre, Armagh in October 2022 and November 2023. She co-wrote “Zoomeo & Juliet” and “Social Bubble, Toil & Trouble” – live plays performed on Zoom by the Armagh Theatre Group during the lockdown. Byddi co-founded and manages Flash Fiction Armagh, shortlisted as Best Regular Spoken Word Night in the Saboteur Awards and co-edited “The Bramley – An Anthology of Flash Fiction Armagh” Volumes 1 and 2. Byddi is an Arts Council Northern Ireland supported writer and holds professional membership at the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin.

TONY MACAULAY / fictional novel

Tony Macaulay is an author, peacebuilder and broadcaster. His memoirs of growing up in Belfast, Paperboy, Breadboy and All Growed Up have been adapted into musicals. His autobiography Little House on the Peace Line tells the story of how he lived and worked on the peaceline in the 1980s. His debut novel Belfast Gate was Book of the Week in the Irish News. His latest novel Kill the Devil: A Love Story from Rwanda, was co-authored with Rwandan screenwriter, Juvens Nsabimana. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Ulster University for services to literature and peacebuilding at home and abroad.

BERNIE McGILL / short story

Bernie McGill is the author of two novels: The Watch House (nominated for the Ireland European Union Prize for Literature in 2019) and The Butterfly Cabinet (named by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes as his novel of the year in 2012). Her most recent short story collection, This Train is For, was published in 2022 by No Alibis Press and has just been shortlisted for the prestigious Edge Hill Prize. Her first collection of stories, Sleepwalkers, was shortlisted for the prize in 2014 and she is a former winner of the Zoetrope: All-Story Short Fiction Award in the US. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies The Black Dreams, Her Other Language, Belfast Stories, The Long Gaze Back, The Glass Shore and Female Lines. Bernie is the current Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow in the School of Computer Science at Queen’s University, Belfast.

ABBY OLIVEIRA / flash fiction

Abby Oliveira is a writer, performer, lyricist, and theatre maker based in Derry in the North of Ireland.  For the past few years she has been working mainly collaboratively in her capacity as a spoken-word poet; working with musicians, photographers, street theatre companies, acrobats, actors and more.  She has performed regularly at events and festivals throughout the UK, Ireland & abroad and has toured work internationally via support from Arts Council NI. She has had work commissioned by BBC Radio 4 and Foyle, RTE radio, and more.

See her website for more info:


Pallavi Padma-Uday is a writer, journalist and business historian based in Belfast. Her debut collection of poetry, Orisons in the Dark, was published by India’s eminent publisher of poetry, Writers Workshop in April 2023. Recipient of various bursaries and awards from the Irish Writers Centre and the Arts Council of Ireland, Padma-Uday is currently working on a memoir. Her second poetry collection — Lola in Belfast — is forthcoming in March 2024. She studied Economics History at the London School of Economics and writes on political economy, business and culture in South Asia.

DAWN WATSON / poetry

Dawn Watson is a poet and writer from Belfast. Her debut collection We Play Here is published by Granta Poetry (2023). Her pamphlet The Stack of Owls is Getting Higher is published by The Emma Press (2019). Dawn won the Ruth West Poetry Scholarship Award at Queen’s University in 2017 and completed a PhD in poetry at the Seamus Heaney Centre in 2022. Dawn has written for BBC Radio 4, and her work has appeared in journals such as Granta magazine and The Poetry Review. She is the recipient of an ACES award and a General Arts Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Dawn is a lecturer in creative writing at Queen’s University, Belfast.












You can see the list of writers chosen for Northern Soul Roadshow 2023 here


“It’s a great way of learning, exploring, digging deeper into your personal memory library and exchanging work in a very safe space. The support is incredible. Everyone wants everyone to succeed. And the generosity of the guests sharing their process and struggles – wow.”



“I have never participated in a series of events that has been as diverse in terms of genres and themes explored, guests that attended, and fellow writers that participated. I heard voices and stories that would have otherwise passed me by.”



“Northern Soul Roadshow gave me so much that I didn’t know I needed… I loved the course, that it was informative, enjoyable and amazingly well curated by Fiona. Participating in NSR allowed me the permission I needed to finally call myself a ‘writer’ which has helped my confidence when it comes to talking about my writing and my spoken word performances. With much thanks.


Other Opportunities