Who We Are
Cassia Gaden Gilmartin
The Irish Writers Centre is governed by a voluntary board of Directors. Our board members receive no payments and serve a maximum of two three-year terms.
Appointed May 2021, elected Chairperson August 2021
Breda Brown is Co founder and Communications Director of Unique Media, a consultancy which provides strategic cross platform communications solutions to clients across a range of sectors. Services include PR, Public Affairs, Media Training, Podcast & Video Production, Digital & Social Media and Event Management. Breda’s work extends to clients such as the An Post Irish Book Awards, where, over the past 15 years, her strategic planning, PR, digital and event management expertise has helped turn the initiative into one of the most significant events in the Irish literary calendar. An absolute book lover, Breda reviews crime novels for the Sunday Independent and also presents the Inside Books podcast. In each episode, she chats to people associated with the world of books – including well-known authors, publishers, editors, agents, critics, booksellers and more. Breda holds an MA in Journalism and BA in Communication Studies, both from Dublin City University.
Appointed April 2019, elected Vice Chairperson April 2021
Susanne Dirks, a native German, is an international business and Internet consultant and translator/interpreter with extensive experience and qualifications in translation/localisation, IT/web technologies, and internet marketing. In 2013, after 20 years of working as a consultant and manager for technology MNCs, providing consultancy to companies across Europe, Susanne set up her own business, GLOCAFY, helping export-focused companies develop and implement a business-driven strategy for international web presence, including website localisation, website translation and trans-creation, international SEO, and e-marketing for export markets. Susanne is a qualified translator (Staatlich geprüfte Übersetzerin, Erlangen, 1989) and also holds an MSc in Knowledge-Based Systems (Edinburgh University, 1993) and a First Class BSc (Hons) (Middlesex University, London, 1992) in Information Technology. Susanne, who has been a member of the Executive Committee of the Irish Translators’ and Interpreters’ Association (ITIA) since 2014, including roles as Secretary and chair of the Sub-Committee for Marketing/Website, is currently the ITIA nominee for the IWC Board.
Treasurer, appointed August 2021
Keelin Kissane is a Director in the audit practice of KPMG in Ireland, an audit, tax and advisory firm. She has over 20 years’ practice experience in providing audit and other financial reporting and advisory services to a wide range of indigenous and multinational companies across a diverse range of business sectors. Keelin is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland. She is a member of the adjudication panel of the Kerry Association in Dublin Arts Award established in 2017. As a native of North Kerry, Keelin has grown up surrounded by writing and literature and regularly supports and attends events at the Kerry Writers’ Museum and Listowel Writers’ Week.
Appointed December 2019, elected Secretary June 2020
Lissa is an award-winning journalist specialising in the field of welfare for the horseracing industry, for both equine and participant health and well-being, her works published by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association and Irish Racehorse Trainers Association, among others. She is also a novelist, her first published novel, Nero – The Last Caesar, based on first century factual biographies of the Roman emperor Nero. She has three horseracing-themed thrillers published by Maverick House, Chantilly Dawns, a No.1 Bestseller on Amazon in March 2019, Sainte Bastien and the Silver Dagger nominee Gala Day. As well as being current Chair of the Irish Writers Union, she is on the Board of the Irish Copyright Licensing Agency and is an ETB tutor in creative writing and transformative community education. Lissa is an Irish Writers’ Union nominee to the Irish Writers Centre Board.
Appointed April 2019
Dermot is an award-winning author, screenwriter and playwright. His creative output encompasses varied genres and styles with a special focus on human themes and characters transformed by life experience. His published work includes the satirical novel, Brain: The Man Who Wrote the Book That Changed the World which received a Gold Medal in the Reader’s Favorite International Book Award, and was first place winner in the Somerset Awards and the USA Best Book Awards. A recipient of the O.Z Whitehead Playwriting Award, his plays have been produced at Theatre Banshee, Burbank, the Celtic Arts Center, Hollywood and Playwright’s Platform, Boston. As a founding member of Laughing Gravy Theatre he toured the east coast of the US. Laughing Gravy were subsequently invited as a resident theatre group at the prestigious Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Charleston, SC. Dermot is an Irish Writers Centre Members’ nominee to the IWC Board.
Appointed April 2021
Áine Denn is an entrepreneurial leader and advisor with a technology background. A people person, she has extensive C-Level experience in enterprise software, business development, operations, and customer success in senior executive positions in public and private companies. Áine now guides business leaders to execute their strategy and unlock the value in their businesses. She provides coaching and accountability around leadership, strategy, revenue and operations. Previously Áine co-founded Altify (now Upland Altify), the global sales methodology software company. Áine volunteers as a lead entrepreneur for the programmes, Going for Growth and Back for Business, which mentor growth-oriented SMEs and entrepreneurs, specifically female business owners and returning Irish emigrants. Áine is an avid reader and an enthusiastic Leinster and Ireland rugby supporter.
Appointed December 2019
Emma is Publicity and Brand Partnerships Manager at Tourism Ireland, with responsibility for a wide range of areas, including Publicity strategy across all Tourism Ireland’s international markets, influencer marketing, screen tourism, promotion of festivals, as well as cross-market brand partnerships. She has over 20 years experience in the Tourism Industry, marketing Ireland as a holiday destination overseas. She spent 7 years working for Bord Failte and later Tourism Ireland in Germany in PR and consumer marketing roles, before returning to Dublin to take up a PR role at Tourism Ireland and acting as the lead liaison with Failte Ireland, the Northern Irish Tourist Board and the tourism industry on publicity programmes. She later moved into the digital space, developing and managing Tourism Ireland’s digital and social strategy, search engine marketing, paid content seeding and digital campaigns. Emma has a keen interest in the arts & literature, and has worked with many of Ireland’s arts festivals & associations in her Tourism Ireland roles. For Emma, storytelling is core to the Irish sense of identity & indeed how we are perceived by others. She graduated from Trinity, with a BA in French and German. She later did an MBA with the Open University and a Diploma in Digital Marketing with the Digital Marketing Institute.
Appointed April 2021
Jess Majekodunmi is a design historian and an innovation designer, and okay with contradictions. She credits her undergraduate degree in English Literature with a life-long appreciation for writers and writing. Punctuated by unexpected and surprising opportunities, Jess’ career has zig zagged across continents, roles, organizations and sectors, for-profit and for non-profits. Now as the Director of the Human Insights Lab at The Dock, Accenture‘s flagship global R&D centre, she spends her working hours asking ‘why?’, ‘how?’ and ‘so what?’ about people, society and technology. Jess is also a co-founding member of Beyond Representation, an organisation championing women of colour who are breaking new ground in Irish media, arts & business.
Appointed April 2021
Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan (She/Her) is a Dublin-based arts manager, writer, and performer from India. Her work has been published in Writing Home: The ‘New Irish’ Poets from Dedalus Press, The Ireland Chair of Poetry Hold Open the Dooranthology by UCD Press, the Green Carnations: 25 Young LGBTQ+ Poets from Ireland anthology by Book Hub Publishing, Banshee, Honest Ulsterman, Impossible Archetype, and Poetry Ireland Review. In 2020 Chandrika won 3rd place in the Fingal Poetry Prize. Chandrika is editor of Poetry Ireland’s Trumpet issue 9, and book reviewer for Children’s Books Ireland’s Inis magazine. By day she is Marketing and Development Manager for Fishamble: The New Play Company.
Luán Ó Braonáin
Appointed April 2016
Luán is a senior counsel, practising at the Bar of Ireland. He has formerly been a member of the Board of Comhar magazine, a platform for writers, poets, reviewers, journalists and commentators in Irish. He advises and acts in cases ranging from administrative and constitutional law, through medical negligence and criminal cases, to media and defamation law. He is instructed on behalf of a diverse array of people and corporations, from private clients to local authorities, insurance companies and the State. He has a young family.
He now works as a producer and presenter of literary events and as a literary journalist. He has written original drama in Irish for television, radio and stage and his work has won a number of awards. He is working on a book about Lord George Hill and Gaoth Dobhair. Cathal Póirtéir is a writer and broadcaster who worked as a radio producer and presenter in RTÉ Radio 1 and Raidió na Gaeltachta for thirty years in features, documentary and drama, as well as current affairs. He has published about a dozen books in English and in Irish on social history and folklore, most notably on the Irish famine. He was commissioning editor for RTE of anthologies of contemporary poetry and short stories in Irish and a number of his programmes were published on CD, including a series on Blasket Island literature, a celebration of the Midnight Court and radio adaptations of folktales from the Donegal Gaeltacht.
Our Patron & Ambassadors
President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins has been patron of the Irish Writers Centre since 2016. Our Ambassadors are all key figures in Irish literature selected across a range of disciplines to help us in furthering the aims and ambitions of the Irish Writers Centre both at home and abroad.
Michael D. Higgins
Patron of the Irish Writers Centre
We are delighted to announce that President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, has kindly agreed to become the Patron of the Irish Writers Centre. The President visited the Centre on 13 January 2016, marking what was a memorable inaugural event in our 25th anniversary celebration year. We are also thrilled to welcome six new Ambassadors who will act to promote and endorse the Irish Writers Centre over the next three years. They are all key literary figures in Irish literature selected across a range of disciplines and we look forward to working with them in furthering the aims and ambitions of the Irish Writers Centre both at home and abroad.
William John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland. After college John worked as a clerk for Ireland’s national airline, Aer Lingus, before joining The Irish Press as a sub-editor in 1969. Continuing with journalism for over thirty years, John was Literary Editor at The Irish Times from 1988 to 1999. John’s first book, Long Lankin, a collection of short stories and a novella, was published in 1970. His first novel, Nightspawn, came out in 1971. In 2005, John won the Man Booker Prize for The Sea. In 2011 he was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize. In 2013, John was awarded the Irish Pen Award for Outstanding Achievement in Irish Literature.
Anne Enright has published novels, short stories, essays, and one non-fiction book. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, her novel The Gathering won the 2007 Man Booker Prize. She has also won the 1991 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the 2001 Encore Award and the 2008 Irish Novel of the Year. Anne Enright is the first Laureate for Irish Fiction, a post she currently holds. Anne’s writing explores themes such as family relationships, love and sex, Ireland’s difficult past and its modern zeitgeist.
Mike McCormack is an award-winning novelist and short story writer from Mayo. His previous work includes Getting it in the Head (1996) and Forensic Songs (2012). In 1996 he was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for Getting it in the Head and in 2007 he was awarded a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship. In 2016, Solar Bones won the Goldsmiths Prize and was BGE Irish Book of the Year, and in 2017 was longlisted for the Man Booker prize. In 2018, Solar Bones won the Dublin International Literary Award. Mike holds the Charles A. Heimbold Jr., Chair of Irish Studies at Villanova University for the spring 2019 semester.
Marian Keyes was born in Limerick in 1963, and brought up in Cavan, Cork, Galway and Dublin; she spent her twenties in London, but is now living in Dún Laoghaire. She published her first novel Watermelon in 1995 and it was an immediate, runaway success. Its chatty conversational style and whimsical Irish humour appealed to all age groups, and this appeal spread to Britain when Watermelon was picked as a Fresh Talent book. Other countries followed (most notably the US in 1997) and Marian is now published in thirty-three languages. Anybody Out There won the British Book Awards award for popular fiction and the inaugural Melissa Nathan prize for Comedy Romance. This Charming Man won the Irish Book award for popular fiction.
Éilís Ní Dhuibhne
Éilís Ní Dhuibhne was born in Dublin in 1954 and is a graduate of UCD. Éilís studied at UCD, for almost ten years. She focused on literature and narrative studies, studying Pure English for the BA, doing an M Phil in Middle English and Old Irish, and finishing in 1982 with a Ph D in Folklore. From 1978-9 she studied at the Folklore Institute in the University of Copenhagen as a research scholar, while researching her doctoral thesis.
Her first book was published in 1988, Blood and Water, and since then she has written about 24 books, including novels, collections of short stories, several books for children, plays and non-fiction works. She writes in both Irish and English. She was elected to Aosdána, the Irish Association of Artists, in 2004.
Joseph O’Connor was born in Dublin. He is the author of eight novels: Cowboys and Indians (short-listed for the Whitbread Prize), Desperadoes, The Salesman, Inishowen, Star of the Sea, Redemption Falls, Ghost Light and The Thrill of it All, as well as two collections of short stories, True Believers and Where Have You Been? In 2009 he was the Harman Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Baruch College, City University of New York. In December 2011, he received an honorary Doctorate in Literature from University College Dublin. He received the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature in 2012. His latest novel is The Thrill of it All, published in May 2014 by Harvill Secker.In 2014 he was appointed Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick.
Ciara Ní É
Ciara Ní É is the founder of REIC, a monthly bilingual spoken word and open mic night that features poetry, music, storytelling and rap. She has performed her work in Ireland and internationally. She has been published in a variety of journals including Icarus and Comhar, and in 2018 she released a series of 4 poetry videos in partnership with the Irish Writers Centre.
Ciara’s commissions include UNESCO’s Dublin City of Literature video 2015, and a poem for Seó Beo Pheil na mBan on TG4, which received more than 300,000 views online.