Mary O’Donnell

Poet & Author

Poet and fiction-writer Mary O’Donnell’s work is often cited as key in expanding the horizons of Ireland’s traditionally male-dominated literary world.

  • She has published eight collections of poetry, including Unlegendary Heroes (1998), Those April Fevers (2015), and most recently Massacre of the Birds. Novels include The Light-MakersThe Elysium Testament, and Where They Lie. Her poetry has been translated to Hungarian and Brazilian Portuguese, and her short fiction to Spanish. 
  • She co-edited (with Manuela Palacios) the anthology of Galician Women’s poetry, To the Winds Our Sails. 
  • A collection of essays on O’Donnell’s work appeared during 2018: Giving Shape to the Moment: the Art of Mary O’Donnell, Poet, Novelist, Short-story Writer (Peter Lang), initiated and edited by Prof Elena Jaime de Pablos, with contributions from Spanish and Irish academics and writers.
  • Numerous awards include the Allingham Literary Award 1986, the Listowel Writers’ Week Short Story Award 1990, Fish International Short Story Competition 2010, also first runner-up in the Patrick Kavanagh National Poetry Award 1986, the Bloodaxe International Poetry Competition 1990, the Francis McManus RTE Short Story Competition 1991, the RTE Austin Clarke Poetry Competition 1996, the VS Pritchett Short Story Competition 2000, the Cardiff International Poetry Competition 2010 and the Flat Lake Poetry Competition.  
  • She has held residencies in the Centre Culturel Irlandais Paris, in KU Leuven, and at Varuna House, Katoomba, as part of the James Joyce Award in Australia. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing and taught for many years as an adjunct professor on Carlow College Pittsburgh’s MA in Creative Writing, as well as holding posts at Maynooth University and Galway University. 
  • Her essay “My Mother in Drumlin Country”, published in New Hibernia Review during 2017, was listed among the Notable Essays and Literary Nonfiction of 2017 in Best American Essays (Mariner). 
  • Adjudication panels served on include the Strokestown International Poetry Festival, the Irish Times Poetry Award, the New Irish Writing Award, the Dublin IMPAC Literary International Award 2006 and the New Irish Writing Hennessy Literary Awards 2006.
  • She is a former Board Member of the Irish Writers Centre and a current member of the Toscaireacht of the Irish artists’ affiliation Aosdana (to which she was elected in 2001).
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