About the festival:

The Munster Literature Centre


In 2000, the Munster Literature Centre organised the first Frank O'Connor International Short Story Festival, an event dedicated to the celebration of the short story and named for one of Cork's most beloved authors. The festival showcases readings, literary forums and workshops. Following continued growth and additional funding, the Cork City - Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award was introduced in 2005, coinciding with Cork's designation as that year's European Capital of Culture. The award was recognised as the single biggest prize for a short story collection in the world. While the O'Connor Award was discontinued in 2016, the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Fellowship was introduced in its place. The Fellowship aims to bring a talented and accomplished international writer to Cork in order to present fresh learning opportunities to local writers, bringing new energy to the local literary scene.

In 2002, the Munster Literature Centre introduced the Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Prize, an annual short story competition dedicated to one of Ireland's most accomplished story writers and theorists. This too is presented during the short story festival. The centre also hosts the Cork Spring Poetry Festival each year.









Copyright Mike Hannon

Photo © Mike Hannon



13 - 16 September 2017 daily, 9.30am - 12.30pm


The workshops venue for 2017 is Nano Nagle Place, Douglas Street, Cork. Please notify us of any accessibilty requirements upon registration.




Fiction Workshop
with Frank O'Connor International Fellow Marie-Helene Bertino

Class maximum: 14. Price: €150

CLASS ONE – “Craft Lessons I Learned from My Mother”:

When my mother scribbled “the dough will tell you when it’s dough” in the margins of her recipe for homemade pizza, I had no idea that one day I’d use that note as the guiding philosophy for knowing when my first collection was ready for publication.

Don’t let the folksy title fool you, this is a craft intensive workshop that rigorously covers a broad range of topics such as plot, efficiency on the line, exact metaphors, etc…based on the everyday teachings of my mother. Several examples from published stories will be used as examples, and the class will include takeaway writing prompts culled from these lessons so students leave with a clear and immediate idea of how to implement these ideas in their own work.

 Homework:  Use one writing craft lesson/ writing prompt to begin a new story. Read: Sherman Alexie, “What You Pawn I Will Redeem”. Watch: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (optional)


CLASS TWO --"Eternal Structure of the Spotless Story”:

Though we make countless subconscious decisions when writing fiction, one of the biggest is often left unexamined: structure and how it affects information dispersal. Do we begin at the beginning or the end or in the middle, and how does each choice affect story? When we shuffle scenes, we shuffle time, so what is collapsed time, implied time, and summarized time, and how can we use them to create exemplary results?

We will discuss structure, time, and order in Sherman Alexie’s story, “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” and Michel Gondry’s film, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,”and use our personal biographies to test how it works in fiction. Class will include takeaway writing prompts culled from these lessons so students leave with a clear and immediate idea of how to implement these ideas in their own work.

Homework:  Use one craft lesson/ writing prompt to begin a new story.    Read: Etgar Keret, “Fatso”


CLASS THREE – “To Live Outside The Law You Must Be Honest; Breaking the Laws of Physics in Fiction in order to have a good time, whatever that is”: Now that we’ve spent two classes learning the “rules,” let’s talk about how one goes about breaking them.

Though speculative, fabulist, science fictions and magic realism are popular, introducing a “magic” element into a story risks breaking trust of the reader and flattening character in service of this loud element. We will discuss the rules of these rule-breaking genres using Etgar Keret’s short story “Fatso,” craft lessons discussed throughout the week, and examples from leading practitioners of these genres.

Homework:  Use one craft lesson/ writing prompt to begin a new story.    Read: TBA

CLASS FOUR “Character Across Genre”:

In a well-developed character, contradictions come across as complex, whereas in a badly-developed character, they seem like mistakes. Even when we write about ourselves, we are still charged to present a full realized “character” that feels sentient and tangible.

How does the idea of character bend and change across genre and what can a story writer learn from each one? We will discuss how to render human beings on the page by using tone, detail, dialogue, perspective, and person, as in 1st, 2nd and 3rd. We will congratulate one another on a lovely class, and tearfully bid farewell.

Please scroll down for more information on how to book a place on this master class.


Marie-Helene Bertino is the recipient of the 2017 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Fellowship.

Bertino’s debut novel 2 A.M. AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS, was a Barnes & Noble Fall ’14 Discover Great New Writers pick and an NPR Best Book of 2014, among others. Her collection of short stories SAFE AS HOUSES was the recipient of The Iowa Short Fiction Award (judged by Jim Shepard), named an Outstanding Collection by The Story Prize and long-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Story Award. Awards include the O. Henry Prize, a Pushcart Prize and two Pushcart special mentions, The Mississippi Review Story Prize, and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Hedgebrook Writers Colony, and NYC’s The Center for Fiction. She has been featured on Symphony Space NYC’s “Selected Shorts” radio program and is an Editor-at-Large at Catapult





Short Story Masterclass
with Claire Keegan

Class maximum: 15. Price: €200

*In preparation for this course, all participants will be required to read “Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor (click to download PDF) and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Day One: Time & Desire

Introducing fiction as a temporal art. How do we go about making the incision in time? How does time lead us from the beginning to the middle to find an inevitable ending? What is the difference between statement and suggestion? Between static and movement? Between poor and fine prose? Keegan will talk about hooking your character’s eyes and feet onto their object of desire and taking them through the story.

Day Two: The Paragraph

The paragraph. How to handle a unit of time. How to structure your work and thought. How reading works! Fiction is written in paragraphs. If you are not interested in paragraphs and how they work and relate to each other, it’s unlikely that you’ll write well.

Day Three: Scenes

What is a scene? How does time work in a scene? And what’s the difference between tension and drama? And how are they related? Why are highly dramatic scenes sometimes dull or implausible? And how does a scene reveal character?

Day Four: Trouble and Loss

This morning will focus on the stakes – what your characters stand to win or lose – or fear.  Going out into the deep water and discovering, to some extent and uneasily, what it means to be human. 


Please scroll down for more information on how to book a place on this master class.

Claire Keegan grew up on a farm in Wicklow. She has published three volumes of fiction include two short story collections and the novella-length short story Foster. Among the accolades she has received are the Rooney Prize for Literature, The Edge Hill Prize for Short Stories and the Davy Byrnes Memorial Prize. She lives in Co. Wexford.



Cancellation Policy (Please read carefully.)

After you have paid for the workshop, should you have to cancel for any reason, we will exercise our best efforts to find a participant to replace you. If we can do so, we will refund your tuition payment. If we cannot replace you, we will not refund your tuition payment. The later the cancellation date, the more difficult it is for staff to find a qualified participant. Though we do recognize that emergencies happen, and we will do our best to help you, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to replace you in the event of a cancellation.

Mobility Requirements: Most of the venues have wheelchair access but not all. If you have limited mobility every effort will be made to accommodate you, but best chance is through an early booking.

Your workshop place will be secured only after full payment. Every effort will be made to make sure that the programme proceeds as advertised but the Munster Literature Centre accepts no responsibility for changes made due to circumstances beyond our control. Refunds will be given only if a workshop is cancelled.

As workshops sell out notification of such will be posted on this page.

How to Book

Phone + 353 (021)4312955
Email info(AT)munsterlit(DOT)ie
In person at The Munster Literature Centre, Frank O’Connor House, 84
Douglas Street, Cork

Payment will be accepted by cheque/postal order (made payable to the Munster Literature Centre) or by credit card via Paypal (link provided on registration).





Seán Ó Faoláin  International Short Story Competition

Have you entered the Seán Ó Faoláin International Short Story Competition?