Celebrating diverse Irish writing

Cúirt International Festival of Literature and National University of Ireland Galway present Breaking Ground Ireland, a landmark project showcasing and celebrating 80 writers and illustrators from ethnic minority backgrounds, including Irish Traveller writers, from the island of Ireland.

The project is run in collaboration with Speaking Volumes, a UK-based literature organisation specialising in getting underrepresented voices heard, reaching diverse audiences and finding exciting ways to present the work of writers. Breaking Ground Ireland is a continuation of their existing Breaking Ground series, which since its inception has supported the careers of hundreds of British writers and illustrators of colour.

Irish literature is widely recognised and beloved around the world, but recent studies have made plain that our literature sector does not reflect the breadth and diversity of writing talent working in Ireland today. Breaking Ground Ireland will present and highlight the work of 80 writers and illustrators from ethnic minority backgrounds, including those from Traveller backgrounds.

Breaking Ground Ireland is a welcome and promising initiative to spotlight literary talent, foster creative community, and celebrate the rich plurivocity of stories that enliven contemporary Ireland.

Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe

Visibility is an important step on the path to building a career as a writer and we hope that this project will provide meaningful opportunities for writers who have not benefited from traditional platforms, and support change growth in Ireland’s literature sector.

A key outcome will be a booklet, in print and digital format, showcasing writers at every stage of their careers from emerging and early-career to established voices. The booklet will raise the profile of 80 contemporary Irish authors from under-represented, culturally diverse backgrounds and will be a valuable resource nationally and internationally, demonstrating the range of contemporary Irish literature.

The booklet will be distributed to organisations around Ireland including publishers, editors, festivals, arts organisations and local authorities, and will launch at Cúirt International Festival of Literature, taking place 4-10 April 2022.

Following on from this, Cúirt and the Irish Writers Centre will devise a bespoke development programme for up to six writers from Breaking Ground Ireland. This programme will be devised in collaboration with each mentee, and may include mentorship with a writer, tailored workshops and opportunities to perform their work over a period of 3-6 months, availing of the combined resources that the IWC and Cuírt can offer, as a support organisation and a festival respectively.

‘What a joy, an inspiration, and a revelation it has been to read and experience in recent years the revolutionary work of Oein deBhairduin, Rosaleen McDonagh, Yan Ge, Melatu Uche Okorie, among others. These might once have been designated ‘marginal‘ voices. Now they are central, restoring the ground of Irish Literature, erecting graceful, healing, urgent structures of words. Any expansion in this area will be only a boon and a wondrous harvest for Irish literature.’ 

Sebastian Barry


Call For Writers: How do I get involved? 

We welcome applications from writers at all stages of their careers.

Writers are invited to come forward for inclusion in the booklet via an application form. Applications will be reviewed by a panel comprising of representatives from each project partner, and two writer representatives.

Writers must meet the following criteria:

  • Writers from or residing in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland.
  • Writers from ethnic minority backgrounds in Ireland, including those from Irish Traveller backgrounds.
  • Writers who have shown a commitment to the creation and sharing of work.

What will I need to apply?

Writers will be asked to provide:

  • some background on their experience as a writer
  • a short sample of their creative work
  • a short biography (for inclusion in the booklet)
  • a high resolution headshot image (for inclusion in the booklet)

When is the deadline?

The deadline for writers is Monday 31 January 2022.

Apply Now

It’s amazing to see a project like Breaking Ground Ireland coming to the fore, and shining a light on those voices that have been left out of the narrative for a long time. I hope that this will give many more opportunities to ethnic minority authors in Ireland, and help budding new writers feel like they have a space here.

— Adiba Jaigirdar