At the Irish Writers Centre Christmas shindig on December 8th, I was the lucky recipient of the Irish Writers Centre Jack Harte Bursary 2016. This is a two-week fully resourced Writer-in-Residence Bursary at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig. The award is named in honour of Jack Harte (pictured), founder of the Irish Writers Centre, in celebration and acknowledgement of his contribution to Irish literature.
The Irish Writers Centre is a fantastic resource, and a great supporter of writers and writing. And not just Irish either, as proved at the party when representatives of the New Irish Communities writing group read their Bob Dylan-inspired (he was the theme of the evening) pieces. There were also readings – thoughtful, funny, poignant – by Gerry Smyth, Alvy Carragher and Joseph O’Connor.
The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Ireland’s first artist’s retreat, is a place of peace and quiet; a space to work without the ‘life’ bits of life getting in the way. What makes an award such as this one so special is that it’s not created as an acknowledgment of previous work; it’s an investment in a writer so that they can work on a new project. It shows how much faith the Irish Writers Centre has in the power of ideas, and its commitment to the future of writing in Ireland.
(And I, for one, am very grateful for it.)