Meet all our On Home Ground guests

Glenn Patterson

Novelist Glenn Patterson’s most recent novel is The Rest Just Follows (Faber). His non-fiction works are Lapsed Protestant, and Once Upon a Hill: Love in Troubled Times. His first film, Good Vibrations (co-written with Colin Carberry) was nominated for a BAFTA in 2014.


Magazine Abridged aims to commission and publish contemporary/experimental poetry plus contemporary art freed from exhibition ties and especially commissioned for the magazine. We encourage poets/artists to investigate the articulation of ‘Abridged’ themes. We are offering an alternative and complete integration of poetry, art and design. We experiment continually. We also stray into the exhibition format producing contemporary, innovative and challenging work accompanied by a free publication.

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Aislinn Clarke

Writer, Director and Filmmarker Clarke is a writer, director, and film-maker. Chamberlain-King is a writer and performer. She and Reggie Chamberlain-King are the team behind Wireless Mystery Theatre is Northern Ireland's only audio theatre company, specialising in live staged radio plays, sound installations, and broadcast material. They have toured the UK and the Republic of Ireland, selling out the Ulster Hall on two occasions, produced a 4-star reviewed run in the Edinburgh Fringe, and their work has been broadcast on BBC Radios 3 & 4, as well as in Canada, Germany, and the United States.

Alice McCullough

Performance Poet & Standup Comedian Alice McCullough hosts an afternoon of wordplay and delights as she invites you down the rabbit hole and into the poetry garden and various other venues to experience a diverse collection of award-winning performance poets in this special Red Pill showcase.

Aodán Mac Póilin

Aodán Mac Póilin lives in an Irish-speaking community in his native city of Belfast. He has written and lectured on cultural and linguistic politics, language planning, education, broadcasting, literature and the arts, spends too much time on committees, and translates poetry and prose from Irish. He co-edited Styles of Belonging: the Cultural Identities of Ulster (1992), and Padraic Fiacc’s Ruined Pages: new selected poems (1994, revised edition 2012). Other publications include The Irish Language in Northern Ireland (1997), Tonn Ruraí / Tales from Dundrum Bay (2001) and Bás in Éirinn / May You Die in Ireland, (2011).

Best Boy Grip

Songwriter Eoin Callaghan is Best Boy Grip , a songwriter from Derry City.

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Bernard O’Donoghue

Leading Heaney critic, Poet and Oxford academic Bernard O'Donoghue was born in Cullen, Co Cork in 1945. He is an Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College, where he taught Medieval English and Modern Irish Poetry. He has published six collections of poetry, including Gunpowder, winner of the 1995 Whitbread Prize for Poetry, and Farmers Cross (2011). His Selected Poems was published by Faber in 2008. He has published a verse translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Penguin Classics 2006), and is currently translating Piers Plowman for Faber.

Brian Irvine

Composer Brian was born in Belfast. His huge body of work reflects an obsessive love of music creation in all its forms and includes operas, orchestral works, large-scales scores, multi-media installations, dance works ans well as ensemble solo, and chamber pieces. His music has been preformed and commissioned by many international artists and organisations. Much of his output has involved collaborations with artists from a diverse range of disciplines.

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Jean Bleakney

Poet Jean Bleakney (née Kerr) was born in Newry in 1956. She studied biochemistry at Queen’s University Belfast and worked in medical research for eight years. Having exhausted the appropriate section of the local library, she discovered, a few stacks along, Wendy Cope’s Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis. Interest piqued, she began putting words together and, in 1993, she started attending the weekly writing workshop at Queen’s. Her first collection of poems, The Ripple Tank Experiment, was published in 1999, followed by The Poet’s Ivy (2003) and ions (2011). Her poems have appeared in various magazines including Poetry Ireland Review, The Rialto, THE SHOp, Metre, TLS and The Yellow Nib. Also online at several sites including Poetry Proper Vol, 2 , Poetry International and From The Fishouse.

Jim Bradley

Gardening expert Jim is a well known local gardening expert and has been involved with BBC Northern Ireland gardening programmes for the past 30 years. Jim's pedigree is impressive as his ancestor is the famous 19th century plant hunter, Augustine Henry, who brought a range of plants such as clematis and honeysuckle from China to Europe. Downing his spade and lifting his pen Jim is a well know writer and commentator on 'Green Industry' matters in the USA. He is an established presenter for the American Nursery and Landscape Institute, Garden Centers of America and the Independent Garden Centre Association on garden centre issues He is also a regular contributor to 'Garden Chic' a specialist garden centre magazine.

Colin Davidson

Contemporary Artist Colin Davidson is a contemporary artist, living and working near Belfast, graduated with a first class honours degree from the Art and Design Faculty at the University of Ulster in 1991. Colin Davidson has exhibited extensively in London, New York, Milan and across Ireland. Colin Davidson's work is in public and corporate collections globally, including the Arts Council for Northern Ireland, Standard Life UK, Standard Chartered Bank Asia, the National Self-Portrait Collection of Ireland Limerick, the Office of Public Works Collection Ireland, the Law Society of Ireland, Queen's University Belfast, the Ulster Museum Belfast and the National Gallery of Ireland. A selection of portraits of writers and actors from Colin's latest body of work is presently on display in the Lyric Theatre, Belfast.

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Peter Fallon

Poet Peter Fallon grew up on a farm near Kells in County Meath in the Irish midlands. He is graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, where he has taught as Writer Fellow. At the age of eighteen, in 1970, he founded The Gallery Press, Ireland’s leading literary publishing company, and he has edited and published five hundred books of poems and plays by the country's finest established and emerging authors

Eoin Colfer

Author Eoin is a best-selling author of books for children and teens, known for writing the Artemis Fowl series, Half Moon Investigations , The Wish List, the Supernaturalist and Airman. Eoin has initiated a new project called Once Upon a Place. he wants to bring stories to children all over Ireland, reaching places that might normally be prioritised.

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Nathanial J McAuley

Poet Nathaniel Joseph McAuley is a Belfast-based poet and graduate from the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queens. He is the recipient of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s ACES Award 2014. His work has appeared in the Open Ear Journal and the Poetry Proper Journal.

Iggy McGovern

Poet Iggy McGovern was born in Coleraine and lives in Dublin, where he is Fellow Emeritus in Physics at Trinity College. He has published two collections of poetry with Dedalus Press, The King of Suburbia (2005) and Safe House (2010). Awards include the Hennessy Literary Award for Poetry and the Glen Dimplex New Writers Award for Poetry. He edited the anthology 20|12: Twenty Irish Poets Respond to Science in Twelve Lines (Dedalus / Quaternia Press 2012). His latest publication is A Mystic Dream of 4 (Quaternia Press 2013), a sonnet sequence based on the life of 19th century mathematician, William Rowan Hamilton.

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Henry McDonald

Journalist Henry McDonald is Ireland Correspondent for The Guardian and The Observer. He has been a journalist for more than 25 years not only covering the Troubles and the peace process in Northern Ireland but other conflicts such as Lebanon and the first Gulf War. An author of seven non fiction books, he is currently writing a novel about one pivotal day in Belfast in 1979.

Seamus McKee

Broadcast Journalist Seamus McKee is a broadcast journalist and has presented BBC Radio Ulster’s, Evening Extra since 2009. Before moving to Evening Extra, Seamus presented BBC Radio Ulster’s, Good Morning Ulster programme for almost 30-years. High profile documentaries Seamus has worked on for BBC NI, BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4 include the disappearance of Lord Lucan and the life and times of the late Gerry Fitt. Seamus has been the BBC NI commentator at a number of outside broadcasts including President Clinton’s visits and the Omagh Commemoration. Seamus attended Queen’s University in Belfast and is a qualified teacher, and previously taught English and French at Our Lady and Saint Patrick’s College, Knock in Belfast. Seamus started his BBC career as a freelance broadcast journalist reporting on sports, arts and current affairs, while he continued to teach part time. In 1981 he became a full time presenter on Good Morning Ulster. Born in Belfast, Seamus still lives in the city with wife Brenda and has two children.

Reggie Chamberlain-King

Writer and Performer Reggie and Aislinn Clarke are the team behindWireless Mystery Theatre, Northern Ireland's only audio theatre company, specialising in live staged radio plays, sound installations, and broadcast material. They have toured the UK and the Republic of Ireland, selling out the Ulster Hall on two occasions, produced a 4-star reviewed run in the Edinburgh Fringe, and their work has been broadcast on BBC Radios 3 & 4, as well as in Canada, Germany, and the United States.

Christopher Somerville

Journalist Christopher has spent 25 years writing and broadcasting about country walk (and tougher hikes), life in remote rural and island communities from Scotland to Crete by the way of the Faroes, music-making in Irish pubs, festivals from Spain to Sweden, and the pleasure and delight of telling stories and weaving yarns. He is the author of the book Walking in Ireland, which covers 50 of the finest walks he has taken.

Liam Clarke

Author and Journalist Liam is the political editor of the Belfast Telegraph, formerly Sunday Times and before that the Sunday News. He is the author of Broadening the Battlefield: H Blocks and the rise of SinnFein and co-author (with his wide Kathryn Johnston) of an unauthorised biography of Martin McGuinness to Government.

Maurice Riordan

Poet Cork born poet Maurice will read from "The Finest Music", a new anthology of early Irish lyrics to be published by Faber in November. These are the poems that founded Irelands rich literature. Seamus Heaney's work in particular relates to this early tradition and the anthology includes several of his poems and translations.

Pat Loughrey

Journalist Pat Loughrey has been Warden (Vice Chancellor) of Goldsmiths, University of London for four years. Goldsmiths has a worldwide reputation in the Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Pat is a native of Donegal and lived in South Derry for twenty years. He is a former Head of Educational Broadcasting and Controller of BBC Northern Ireland.

Medbh McGuckian

Poet Medbh McGuckian was born in 1950 in Belfast where she lives and teaches at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen's University, Belfast. Among the accolades she has received are the Rooney Prize, the American Ireland Fund Literary Award and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Aberdeen. She is a member of Aosdána, an affiliation of artists who have make a significant contribution to the arts in Ireland. The Gallery Press has published more than a dozen of her collections, among them The Flower Master and Other Poems, On Ballycastle Beach, Marconi’s Cottage, Had I a Thousand Lives and My Love has Fared Inland and The High Caul Cap (2012).

Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin

Musician During Pádraigín's artistic residency in the Seamus Heaney Centre, she collaborated with Seamus Heaney on setting his translations of Irish lyrics to music, which includes Colum Cille Cecinit from his last collect Human Chain. Her signing of these song poems have been described by Heaney as 'a totally absorbing experience' and 'songs of pure joy'.

Zoe Conway and John McIntyre

Musicians As two of Ireland's most gifted musicians, Zoe and John possess a rare facility of drawing on pieces from traditional, classical, jazz and world music, displaying their sheer range and wonderful versatility of their instruments.

Leontia Flynn

Poet Leontia Flynn has published three collections of poetry. Her most recent, Profit and Loss (Jonathan Cape) was Poetry Book Society Choice for Autumn 2011 and Shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize. She has been awarded the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Rooney Prize, the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Prize for Irish Literature and was the recipient of the AWB Vincent American Ireland Fund Literary Award for 2014. She has also written a book about reading the poetry of Medbh McGuckian, and is research fellow at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry.

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Stuart Neville

Author Stuart Neville's debut novel, THE TWELVE, won the Mystery/Thriller category of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was picked as one of the top crime novels of 2009 by both the New York Times and the LA Times. His first four novels have each been longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and RATLINES was shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger. Stuart's novels have been translated into various languages, including German, Japanese, Polish, Swedish, Greek and more. His fourth novel, RATLINES, about Nazis harboured by the Irish state following WWII is currently in development for television.

Brian McGilloway

Crime Fiction Writer Brian McGilloway is the New York Times bestselling author of seven novels featuring Inspector Benedict Devlin and DS Lucy Black. He was born in Derry in 1974. After studying English at Queen’s, he took up a teaching position in St Columb’s College, where he was Head of English. 
In 2014, Brian won BBC NI's Tony Doyle Award for his screenplay, Little Emperors. He is Writer-In-Residence with BBC NI Drama.

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Gerard Brennan

Crime Fiction Writer Gerard Brennan's short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including three volumes of The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime. He co-edited Requiems for the Departed, a collection of crime fiction based on Irish myths, and co-wrote The Sweety Bottle, a stage play. His novella, The Point, was published by Pulp Press in October 2011 and won the 2012 Spinetingler Award. Blasted Heath published his debut novel, WEE ROCKETS, in 2012, and they will release his latest novel, UNDERCOVER, in 2014. He is currently working on a creative writing PhD at Queen's University Belfast

Robyn G Shiels

Singer/Songwriter It has been six years since Robin's debut album, A Lifetime of Midnights. It is almost like he planned it that way, the number six having particular significance to Robyn G Shiels. He has never fully explained that significance, but then he has never fully explained anything. Like how he ended up in Belfast – songs hinting at lingering memories of dark times in his native Kilrea. Robyn's songs come from the place most of us try to avoid. Brutally honest, they lay bare a soul searching and willing to make a connection, but continually left wanting by that same search. Or perhaps that is what we reflect onto his songs, because again, he has never fully explained what any of them are about.

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Oh Volcano

Musicians Oh Volcano are two brothers, Owen and Enda Strathern from Bellaghy. They have been writing music together for 10 years and previously performed under the name General Fiasco. They have been working on this new project for the last year, only released a couple of tracks but have already gained plays on radio 1. They are performing there 4th and 5th live shows at reading and leeds festival this August.

Gary Lightbody

Singer/Songwriter Snow Patrol's front man, Gary Lightbody, pays his first public performance tribute to the man he describes as making him want to be a writer. From being published as a poet at 15 to winning an Ivor Novello award & penning some of the biggest anthemic hits of our times, Gary places Seamus as a central force in his creative life. Writing in response to the news of Seamus' death, he wrote about an invisible tribe of people who act as creative touchstones. "People of profound light, love and kindness that simply maybe even without their knowledge make us and the world around them better. Stepehen Fry is one. Guy Garvey another. To seem them on the stage, screen or on the page makes us feel safer, happier, stronger, more centred and less confused by life and what the hell we're doing here. I would make Heaney chieftain of that 'invisible tribe.'" Gary will be in conversation with the On Home Ground curator Marie Louise Muir.

D. D. Everest

Journalist and Author D. D. Everest is a successful business journalist and author who has written a number of adult non-fiction books. Archie Green and the Magician's Instruction is his first book for children. Rights have been sold at auction around the world.

Paula McIntyre

Chef Having trained in Culinary Arts at the prestigious Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, USA, Paula McIntyre returned to the UK in 1993 to open her own restaurant in Manchester. A busy and thriving eatery, The Undrie picked up several awards for fine dining including Manchester Evening News newcomer of the year and was featured in several guidebooks and magazines including City Life and Caterer and Hotelkeeper. Returning to Northern Ireland in 1998, Paula worked as Head Chef in several establishments including Ghan House in Carlingford and Fontana in Holywood. A regular contributor to Radio Ulster, Paula was asked to develop her own series. The result “McIntyre Magic” was broadcast on Saturday Mornings and commissioned 3 times. Since 2004 has been hosting the cooking slot on Radio Ulster’s weekly “Saturday Magazine” show with John Toal.

Hugo Hamilton

Author Hugo Hamilton is the author of six novels, two memoirs and a collection of short stories. His work has won a number of international awards, including the 1992 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the 2003 french Prix Femina Etranger, the 2004 Italian premio Giuseppe Berto and a DAAD scholarship in Berlin. He has also worked as a writer-in-residence at Trinity College, Dublin. Hamilton was born and lives in Dublin.

Joel Simon

Animator Joel is originally from Belgium, where he studied fine arts at the Royal Academy in Liège and later Design in England, where he discovered the joys of claymation. This enlightening experience turned into a passion for animation, spending his first two years after college creating Ciderpunks, a multi-award winning animated mockumentary. Establishing Flickerpix Animation Studios in Belfast in 2003, Joel has directed animated programmes for clients such as Comic Relief, CBBC, Channel 4 and Sesame Workshop USA. For BBCNI, Joel directed the comedy series On The Air, based on real radio phone-ins from the BBC’s Gerry Anderson Show. With the Flickerpix team, he has worked on numerous animated TV commercials, and award winning shorts, such as MACROPOLIS and Horn OK Please, which screened in over 100 festivals and has won 16 international film awards to date.

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Liam O'Flynn

Musician This is a much anticipated night of music, memory & crediting marvels. Peerless uilleann piper Liam O'Flynn returns to his late friend and long time collaborator Seamus Heaney's Home Ground for a one off performance. The legendary musician will play some of the traditional music which formed such a part of "The Poet and the Piper" presentation and which resonated with the poetry and personality of Seamus Heaney. Having performed for the very last time with Seamus in August 2013, weeks before Seamus's death, Liam has made a significant personal & artistic commitment to be true to his friend's vision of the world with this intimate musical & spoken word performance.

Bríd Brennan

Actress Belfast-born actress Bríd Brennan has wide career in cinema, television and theatre, well known for works such as 'Upstairs Downstairs', 'Dr Who', 'Dancing At Lughnasa' or 'Shadow dancer'. Her work has been recognised with several awards as the IFTA Best Actress 2013 for 'Shadow Dancer' and the Broadway Tony Award 1992 for 'Dancing at Lughnasa'.

Neil Martin

Composer Neil Martin is a composer and musician with an international reputation for choral & orchestral work, theatre, dance, TV & film scores as well as writing and arranging for The West Ocean String Quartet.

Rod McVey

Musician Rod McVey is a long time musical collaborator with Liam O'Flynn.

Moyra Donaldson

Poet Moyra Donaldson is the author of six collections of poetry, Snakeskin Stilettos, Beneath the Ice, The Horse’s Nest and Miracle Fruit, from Lagan Press, Belfast and an American edition of Snakeskin Stilettos was published in 2002 from CavanKerry Press, New Jersey and short listed for a Foreword Book of the Year Award. Her Selected Poems was published in 2012 by Liberties Press, Dublin and a new collection, The Goose Tree, was published in June 2014, also from Liberties Press. She is published internationally and has read at festivals in Europe, Canada and the USA. Her poetry has won a number of awards, including the Allingham Award, the National Women’s Poetry Competition and the Cuirt New Writing Award. Her poems have been anthologised and have featured on BBC Radio and television, including the Channel 4 production, Poems to Fall in Love With and she has read at festivals in Europe, Canada and America.

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Victoria J. Dean

Artist Victoria J. Dean (b. Belfast, 1980) is a photographic artist based in Northern Ireland. Her work has been exhibited internationally including Circulation(s) 2014: Festival de la Jeune Photographie Europeenne in Paris; Northern Ireland: 30 Years of Photography at Belfast Exposed and The Mac in Belfast, 2013; the Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward 2013 in Toronto, London and Boston in which she was a Selected Winner, having previously received an Honourable Mention in Flash Forward 2007; and a recommendation by New York’s PDN in their 30 Emerging Photographers to Watch for 2007. Represented by the Golden Thread Gallery (Belfast), Dean was featured in 2010 at SCOPE New York and in Elective Perspective at Galeria Arsenale in Bialystok, Poland. Winner of the Solo Award from the 2013 Winter Show at Rua Red, Dublin, solo exhibitions have included RUA RED, Tallaght, Dublin in 2014; Naughton Gallery at Queens University, Belfast in 2013 and the Millennium Court Arts Centre, Portadown, Northern Ireland in 2012.

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Lagan Press

Publishing House Lagan Press is a Verbal Group company. It was founded in 1991 by Patrick Ramsey and Pol O Muiri (Irish editor). Dedicated to the ideals of John Hewitt and other writers the press aims to publish works of literary, artistic, social and cultural importance to the north of Ireland (however that region is defined imaginatively). As a consequence, Lagan Press places great emphasis on those forms of literary expression which have little opportunity to be heard in the marketplace - poetry, drama and literary fiction. Over twenty years the press has published nearly two hundred titles across all forms of creative endeavour. As well as beginning a process of cultural rediscovery with such writers as Joseph Tomelty, Thomas Carnuduff and Robert Harbinson. Furthermore, Lagan Press has provided an outlet for cultural criticism, adding to the on-going debate of what it means to be from this place.

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Myra Vennard

Poet Myra Vennard was born in Belfast in 1929, where she was educated at primary school and secretarial college. She worked as a secretary in various posts until 1953 where she married and had a daughter and a son. Returning to higher education in the 1990s she graduated at the University of Ulster with honours BA in English Literature and an MA in Anglo-Irish literature, with a dissertation on the poetic vision of Samuel Beckett. She also broadcast on Radio Ulster. She attended Queen University Belfast creative writers’ group and in 2000 had poems the group’s anthology Hauling Songs; she also wrote reviews for various magazines and an essay and poems were published in Children of the Troubles by Laurel Holliday. Having lived for many years in Bangor, Co Down, she has now retired to Ballycastle, Co Antrim, where she has ancestral roots. Her first book of poetry Easter Saturday (2009) was published by Lagan Press. In 2010 she was won the Belfast Telegraph’s Woman of the Year in Arts Award.

Damian Smyth

Poet Damian Smyth is Head of Literature & Drama at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. He is author of five collections of poetry. Damian Smyth’s collections are Downpatrick Races (Lagan 2000); The Down Recorder (Lagan 2004); Lamentations (Lagan 2010); Market Street (Lagan 2010); and Mesopotamia (Templar 2014). Anthologies in which his work appears include The New North: Contemporary Poetry from Northern Ireland (Wake Forest, 2008), The Watchful Heart (Salmon 2009), The Ulster Anthology (Blackstaff 2006) and The Blackbird’s Nest (Blackstaff/QUB 2006).

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Ciara O’Neill

Singer songwriter Singer Songwriter Ciara O’Neill presents her debut EP ‘Primroses’. Showcasing her ‘plaintive, haunting vocals and watertight confidence’ her beautiful songs ‘get you right in the heart’. Hailing from the darker edge of the folk spectrum, the tried and tested Singer Songwriter path has been given a breath of haunting melancholy with this four track EP. Enhanced by Ciara’s ‘Sultry Irish lilt’ and ‘complex and subtle playing’ it is not to be missed. Written throughout a few solitary months in the heart of the countryside, Ciara immersed herself in the sounds of the forests and rivers near her home and wrote ‘Primroses’ with each song paying testament to her raw talent.

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