University of Limerick MA in Creative Writing

Creative writing atUL

Joe  — sorry, Joseph — O’Connor was on the radio this morning talking about his new novel and his appointment as Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick.

Joe  — sorry, Joseph is a funny guy and a talented writer who’s kept us all chuckling over the years with his dry delivery on radio and his deadpan reporting of events like the 1990 World Cup.  I laughed myself sick at his account of the fans’ Disney visit to the World’s Biggest Self-Supporting Mickey, but of course he wrote that when he was still Joe, or Grasshopper, as Vincent Browne called him.

Since he morphed or maybe reverted to Joseph, young Grasshopper has gone over to the Dark Side, or at least to the Grey Side with a slight hint of taupe, and fair play to him for that.  After all, Joseph is not your average Joe and he knows it, having  rolled  out a series of fine novels.  This  boy is able to sit down and write, which is probably the hardest thing he’ll be trying to teach his students.  Sit down!  Write!  Every day!

Here’s what the UL on-line prospectus says about the course:

This one-year programme enables students to develop their skills in creative writing through careful consideration of the work of established writers; through study of the elements and formal structures of a piece of creative writing; through assignments that enable students to employ and master strategies for revision and refinement of their work; and through an understanding of the requirements of the submission and publication process. Through coursework students will consider the role of plot, characterization, dialogue, and point-of- view in crafting compelling fiction and drama; they will consider how figurative language, syntax, rhythm and imagery contribute to a poem’s meaning; they will learn the different conventions associated with non-fictional forms.

Hmm, I said to myself.  Maybe I should do this, but then I realised that they have certain basic entry requirements, none of which cover my diverse and intriguing history of  carousing while pretending to study.

And then it dawned on me that this is a creative writing degree. They won’t care about the time I spent in jail for assassinating a minor central African leader when I was supposed to be doing final-year exams.  My five-year flirtation with Latvian hookers and brown acid will wash off them like Fosters off a Drizabone.

All I need to do is write that letter to Joseph.

Dear Professor,

I examined the Mickey recently and it’s still supporting itself without much difficulty.  How is Sinéad?  Please tell her I also think  John Waters is a tool.

If you could see your way to glossing over my abysmal academic record, I’d be very grateful.  It was Elvis Costello’s  fault.

I wasn’t a complete failure as a student, however.  I laid the groundwork for the discovery of the  Higgs Bison on the Great Plains, I won a  Nobel Prize for Talking in  a Garda Accent and I shot Liberty Valance.

I also climbed Everest with Tensing and I rode a tank, held a General’s rank when the Blitzkrieg raged.

Pleased to meet you,



What do you  think?  That ought to swing it for me.


No.  Me neither.


Dear Bock

Your application was before me.  It is now behind me.

Worst wishes,



Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

14 thoughts on “University of Limerick MA in Creative Writing

  1. To fall from academic grace in the context of the canon of the work of Elvis Costello is an unforgivable sin, he provides music in almost ever genre and only someone wholly depraved would not find redemption among his songs.

  2. I don’t know if you’re serious about wanting to apply for this and I don’t wish to sound patronising if you’re just taking the piss, but all kidding aside – I think you should go for it.

    Admission if you’re a mature student is based on your portfolio. I just got news today that I’ve been given a place on an MA in Creative Writing, starting in September. I’m delighted if a little daunted by the idea of going back to college.

    I love your writing – there’s and anger and an energy to it that I find refreshing, Whatever the subject or news piece is you add your unique spin to it.

  3. No 8. I think it’s possible to facilitate the creativity that’s inside all of us, so in that sense, yes, it can be taught. How? Sometimes by helping to remove blockages, other times by providing the means of expression and every so often by providing a congenial head-space.

    ALC — No. I’m, not serious about applying, or at least not right now but you never know what the future will bring. However, I’m very pleased that our city continues to grow and evolve.

  4. “How do you teach creativity?”
    You teach creativity, related to writing – as outlined in the prospectus given above.

    I don’t understand why you couldn’t.

    While some people have particular natural abilities, those still need to be honed and practiced, and the skills and elements of a particular field need to taught.
    Like sport, great athletes aren’t just born that way.

  5. I remain unconvinced. Who taught Joe or Joseph to be creative? Who taught Joyce, or Beckett. To me you are either creative or not, like an athlete you need natural talent before all else.

    Still, I wish everyone who enrols the best of luck. As someone who came to third level education in his 40s, I say go for it. After quitting smoking, meeting my wife, having kids, it was the best thing I ever did.

  6. There are degrees of creativity. Genius can’t be taught, but originality can be unlocked because it exists inside all of us, though sometimes it hides in fear. I think a creative writing course might be like a counselling session for the creative spirit.

  7. Unlocking someone’s creativity in a creative writing course is one thing, awarding a Master degree is another.

  8. ALC, Congats to u. Go for it. Maeve Binchy said we all have a book inside of us. Bock. dead on. fear paralyses us. I would rather read and/or write than go to the rapists. Great posting.

  9. Go for it, you’ll teach the Grasshopper to jump through a few hoops. If you’re bothered about being a mature student, remember it always beats the shit out of being dubbed an immature one.

  10. I don’t know if creativity in writing can be taught. I’d say writers follow the example of other writers, through their general reading. I have read about 4 novels by Joseph O’Connor and consider him to be accomplished. Students who attend his course will have a fine teacher.

  11. A bit late to pick up on the comments but I was also accepted into this masters. I didn’t think I would get in but when I did I was gob smacked.

    I think creativity can be teased out of those who want to be creative and want to work hard at writing. Otherwise you would be wasting your time doing the course!

    @A Little Cynical, hope to see you there in September!

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