New Children's Writing Fellow Appointed

Local author Kelly McCaughrain has been announced as the new Seamus Heaney Children's Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland.

An award-winning writer, Kelly will be based at Queen's University Belfast for the next two years, working with students and engaging in outreach activities.

Kelly's career as a Young Adult author follows her Creative Writing studies at Queen's. Her first novel, Flying Tips for Flightless Birds, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and won the Children's Books Ireland Eilis Dillon Award, Children's Choice Award and Book of the Year Award 2019 and the Northern Ireland Book Award 2019.

Taking up her post this month, Kelly succeeds the inaugural Children's Writing Fellow Myra Zepf, who held the role for the last two years.

The Fellowship is a partnership between the university and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in a joint ten-year Seamus Heaney Legacy project supported by the Atlantic Philanthropies.

Kelly said she hopes her term will promote greater recognition of children's literature in the publishing world. She said: "I feel so honoured to have been invited to be the next Children's Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland. It's a wonderful role and I applaud The Seamus Heaney Centre and the Arts Council for creating it. Reading offers so many benefits to children's development, and therefore to our whole society. Children's literature is something that should be valued and promoted, and I'm thrilled to see that happening in Northern Ireland.
News Image
"We have some truly inspiring organisations, teachers, librarians and writers already working hard to promote children's literacy and reading for pleasure and I'm really looking forward to working with them and learning from them and I hope that I can use my fellowship to support them.

"This is an opportunity to do something really special and I think it's going to be an adventure!"

Kelly was welcomed to the post by Catherine Heaney, the daughter of Seamus Heaney, who said she was delighted by the appointment.

"I look forward to watching Kelly carry on that vital work over the coming two years," she commented.

Professor Glenn Patterson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's University Belfast, said: "We look forward to welcoming local writer, Kelly McCaughrain, to the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's and working with her over the next two years as the next Children's Writing Fellow for Northern Ireland.

"Kelly is a wonderful writer and I know she will inspire many children and young people to take an interest in creative writing and reading more books."

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama at the Arts Council for Northern Ireland, also welcomed Kelly's appointment. She said: "Working with primary and secondary schools, she will promote reading for pleasure, encouraging children of all ages to discover the joy of books, as well as embarking on their own story-telling adventures.

"We'd like to thank Myra for the incredible work she has done over the last two years, sharing her infectious love of books with hundreds of children across Northern Ireland, through interactive workshops, readings and school visits."


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

20 March 2002
Sight-impaired children complete cross-border project
Education minister Martin McGuinness has presented ten sight-impaired children involved in a cross-border project with personal computers.
23 June 2003
More action needed for cross-border child protection
A report on a North/South Conference on Child Protection has called for more action to be taken. Held last September, the conference gave local professionals a chance to discuss recommendations for a common approach to all child protection systems between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
27 October 2010
Westlife To Enliven BBC Children In Need
The BBC Children in Need gig at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast next month will feature Irish-bred former 'boy band' Westlife as well as The Script. Both pop groups will be flying into Belfast to perform at this year's massive event, which the BBC will broadcast on the big night, Friday 19 November.
07 August 2003
One in three children born out of wedlock
One in three children born in Northern Ireland are conceived outside of marriage, new figures have revealed. The figure was part of statistics released today on the number of births and deaths registered in Northern Ireland in 2002, according to a new survey by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.
10 January 2007
Children's commissioner expresses concern over potential risk to children
The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, is extremely worried at the potential risk to children if high risk sex offenders are returned to Northern Ireland after committing crimes abroad.