Irish Writers Centre Open Day
With so many people making their New Year’s Resolution to finally get writing or to write every day, January is a great time for a writing centre to have their Open Day. The IrishWriters Centre has a lot to show off. Apart from all the courses and workshops and professional guidance they offer, they also have a beautiful building and so much space for people to work in. If you’re not aware of it, the building is open for members to use as a free workspace. It was a good start to the day, then, as Helen Mulvany led us on a fascinating tour of the building which stands in the middle of Dublin history, with the Easter Rising and a visit from Charles Dickens, among other events, within imagined sight as you look out from the top floor.
A mini writing competition took place throughout the day with a tie-in to the historical tour. Writers were encouraged to use a pseudonym to write a ‘calling card’ with a message on the back- a few words to tell a story or cause a thought. It was a nice, humorous, touch to bring people in.
Mini workshops by Aidan O’Reilly (creative writing) and Stephen Walsh (screenwriting) were taster sessions for their upcoming courses at the centre, a brilliant idea, especially for anyone who was a complete beginner or unsure what to expect. Meanwhile some writing groups were meeting, as they regularly do, in the building; the Inkslingers group which I joined on Culture Night are happy to welcome newcomers, as is the New Irish Communities group led by Mark Granier which is for non-native speakers.
Apart from writing sessions there was also plenty of information about what the Irish Writers Centre can do for writers of all stages of their journey. Anthony Glavin provided information about applying for the Novel Fair and Kiki Drost took us through the many programmes and opportunities which are open to members of the Irish Writers Centre. This information is also available on their website and I’d encourage anyone who wants to
progress their writing, whatever stage they’re at, to have a look. But do also call into the centre or phone up if you have any questions. I have always found the people who work there very helpful and friendly.
Irish Writer Centre events seem to be frequently very well attended and I was pleased, on their Open Day, to bump into a couple of other writers from the North. I’d love to see more Northern writers attending events in Dublin. As Brexit leads our first steps into the unknown, it is more vital than ever that we take ownership of the ability to easily cross the border and get to know closest neighbours. I have been privileged to do this frequently in the past few months because of the writing residency, but I feel confident that I will continue to do so when it ends. I have learnt not only how easy it is to get to the Irish Writers Centre, but also that it is a friendly place, devoid of the elitism which most writers fear when they’re trying to build connections. It was a pleasure, then, to attend their recent Open Day. The Irish Writers Centre is rightfully proud of their history and the work they do
in the present. The effort that they make to welcome people makes every event they run, and the house itself, seem ‘open’.