16/08/2019

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.
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"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."



(JG/CM)

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