Talks & Workshops on Prose

These are workshops and talks I’ve delivered in the past, starting with the most recent, and some forthcoming.
Some are on drama, which is not strictly prose, I know. Sometimes, the material is a mixture of prose and poetry.

* In June 2016, Sheelagh Gallagher and I co-presented a discussion on Shakespeare’s female characters, at Lowdham Book Festival. (Yes, it was mostly verse, with some prose in Much Ado About Nothing. )
* On Wed 5 Oct, I’ll be talking about Irish Halloween customs, at Birmingham Irish Centre, as invited speaker for Birmingham Irish Heritage Group. 7 – 9pm.
* Fri 21 Oct, I’ll discuss the collaboration between A A Milne and his illustrator Ernest Shepard, creators of the much loved Pooh Bear, Piglet, Eeyore and Wol; 11am – 12 noon at Charnwood Museum, Loughborough, as part of Loogabarooga Festival of children’s books. 
* Sheelagh Gallagher and I will co-present a discussion on mother figures in Jane Austen’s fiction, on Sat 26 Nov, at Bromley House Library. 10.30 – 11.45am. 


  • Wed 3 June 7pm: I gave a talk on Liverpool-Irish Identity in the Short Stories of Moy McCrory, Birmingham Irish Centre.
  • Sat 16 May, I co-presented ‘Telling Stories: Moby Dick, Cider With Rosie and Wise Children’, with Sheelagh Gallagher, at Bromley House Library Nottingham. This talk was inspired by the wonderful exhibition of paintings by Mary Austin, then  on display in Bromley House.
  • I co-ran a series of voluntary workshops with my friend Jan Overfield Shaw, at Nottingham YMCA. We were figuring out ways to enable people to access their creativity, especially through words and visual means.
  • I led a discussion on Southern Gothic fiction at Nottingham/shire Readers’ Day, inspired by the publication of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman.


  • Sat 8 Nov: ‘Ice-Skating in a Sari: British Multicultural Fiction’: I ran this session as part of Nottingham & Nottinghamshire Libraries’ annual Readers’ Day, held at Loxley House. As usual, it was a really good day, packed with bookish events and bookish people.
  • Mon 20 Oct: ‘It’s a Long Way To Tipperary’: Ireland and World War 1
    I led a discussion at Nottingham Central Library about the literature of the Great War produced by Irish writers. We sang ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ and discussed the history of the song, read pieces from such books as Sebastian Barry’s A Long Long Way and Elizabeth Bowen’s The Last September. The most interesting material I read for this was Frank McGuinness’s wonderful play, Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme.
  • Wed 5 March 2014:  I was back in Birmingham Irish Centre, talking to Birmingham Irish Heritage Group about Martin McDonagh and his plays.


  • Education workshop on Martin McDonagh’s play The Beauty Queen of Leenane for Curve Theatre, Leicester, Wed 6 Nov, 5.30 – 6.30pm. Thanks to Gerry Molumby for these photos:

    Education discussion Curve BQL

    Me running the discussion.

    pupils at BQL discussion

    Me with a group of A-Level pupils

  • Sheelagh Gallagher, Marc Scully, Deirdre OByrne
  • Sheelagh, Marc, Deirdre
  • From Biggles to Birdsong: I gave a talk about literature of World War 1 at  Readers’ Day in Nottingham on Sat 2 November.We discussed some poetry, and novels such as Mrs Dalloway, Parades End, Birdsong and Biggles Learns to Fly. Snoopy Flying AceReaders’ Day consists of a day of author readings and discussions, and runs annually in Nottingham, as a joint event with Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County Libraries.


  • “A prettyish kind of a little wilderness”: Jane Austen and the Outdoors. Ripley Library onWed 30 Oct 2013. This event was part of Derwent Valley Mills Discovery Days programme.
  • I Sent a Letter…’ Letters in Literature. West Bridgford Library, 2pm, Tues 30 July. We read and discussed some significant letters in poems and fiction.
  • ‘Books and Bonnets in Austen’s Books’. A Lowdham First Friday event, Lowdham Methodist Chapel, Fri 3 May, 2-3.30pm.
  • ”Write a Letter Now and Then”: Writings of the Irish Diaspora: Birmingham Irish Centre, Wed 6 March, 7.30 – 9pm. A Birmingham Irish Heritage Group event.
  • ‘Harris Not Haggis: Contemporary Scottish Women Writers: Sheelagh Gallagher and I presented this workshop at Bromley House Library on Sat 9 Feb, as part of Nottingham Festival of Words.
  • Be With You Shortly’: Irish Short Stories workshop, Fri 15 Feb, Nottingham Central Library. A Festival of Words event.Be With You Shortly 15 Feb 2013


  • ‘Story of My Life’: A talk on bestselling autobiographies by Jeanette Winterson, Hilary Mantel, Lorna Sage and others, at Readers’ Day, a joint venture organised by Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire Library Services. 3rd Nov 2012
  • The Fictions of Colm Tóibín – Birmingham Irish Heritage Group
  • St Patrick: Man or Myth? – Nottingham Irish Festival.
  • Irish Short Stories – States of Independence Book Festival, Leicester.
  • Translations: The Language Issue in Irish Literature, Pan-Celtic Festival, Carlow, 12 April 2012.
  • Six Decades of British Fiction – Derbyshire Literature Festival, Buxton Museum, 11 May 2012.
  • Six Decades of British Women’s Fiction – Derbyshire Literature Festival, Wingerworth Library, 14 May 2012.
  • ‘Between the Lines’: Sport & Literature, Charnwood Museum, Loughborough, 9 June 2.30 – 3.30pm. Free. A Charnwood Arts / Heart of 3 Cities event. Info 01509 233754



  • Jane Austen, Sex and Shopping – Leicester Central Library.
  • ‘Shades of Pemberley’: Houses and Homes in Jane Austen’s works – Nottingham City Festival of Reading, Wollaton Library.

    Austen talk @ Wollaton Library

  • ‘Thunderbolts and daggers!’: Letters in Jane Austen’s work – Lowdham Book Festival.

    Me in Austen costume @ Lowdham Book Festival

  • Irish Feminist Publishers: Arlen to Attic – States of Independence Book Festival, Leicester.
  • Jane Austen’s Life and Times (co-presented with Sheelagh Gallagher) – Arnold Library.
  • Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen Day, Arnold Library.
  • Contemporary British Multicultural Fiction – Charnwood University of 3rd Age.
  • Irish Farming Fiction – Birmingham Irish Heritage Group. Thanks to Nicky Getgood for the video of this event.


  •  Writings of George Eliot – Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Libraries’ Readers’ Day.
  • Fatherhood in Irish Fiction – Birmingham Irish Heritage Group.
  • Family in Irish Fiction – Salvation Army Group.
  • Multicultural Fiction – Nottingham Central Library Literary Lunch.

Austen talk, Leicester Library


  • Writings of Sebastian Barry – Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Libraries Readers’ Day.
  • Patrick’s Pen Names: Writers named Patrick – Nottingham Central Library, Patrick’s Day.
  • Anglo-Irish Fiction and Life-Writing – Birmingham Irish Heritage Group.
  • Books That Changed Our Lives – Beeston Library Reading Café.
  • Reading Romantic Fiction – Nottingham Central Library Literary Lunch.
  • Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men – Barlborough Literature Festival.
  • Introduction to Pride and Prejudice: The Film – Barlborough Literature Festival.


  • Irish Writers in Britain – Nottingham Council House, Nottingham Patrick’s Day Festival.
  • Bachelors in Irish Fiction – (tie-in with film The Garage) Broadway Media Centre.
  • Gender Relations in Irish Literature – Derbyshire Scribes Writing Group.
  • The History of Mary Prince: Slave Narrative – Black History Month, Worksop library.
  • Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre – Bingham Library Classics Series.
  • Rural Fiction – Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Libraries’ Readers’ Day.
  • Prizewinning Irish Fiction – Barlborough Literature Festival.


  • James Joyce’s Dubliners – (tie-in with film The Dead) Broadway Media Centre.
  • Irish Writers and De Valera’s Dream – Nottingham Castle, Patrick’s Day Festival.
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun – Notts Libraries’ Readers’ Day.


  • Introduction to Recent Irish Writing – Fosseway Writers’ Group, Newark Library.
  • Contemporary Irish Writing – Melton Mowbray Arts Appreciation Society.
  • Contemporary Irish Fiction – Birmingham Irish Heritage Group, Birmingham Irish Centre.


  • How to Set up and Run a Reading Group (co-presenter with Jane Brierley) – Nottingham/shire Readers’ Day.


  • ‘Ireland of the Welcomes?’ – Changing Ireland Festival, Nottingham.
  • Introduction to Irish Writing – East Midlands Readers’ Day, Nottingham.
  • Founder and leader of Irish Reading Group, Nottingham Central Library, 2004 – 07.

    I don’t deliver all my talks in a hat


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