Writing

Why I studied creative writing at university

Nearly seven years ago, and I really can’t believe it was that long, I began my degree at NUI Galway in Ireland. I chose Galway for one reason only: I could study creative writing there. As someone who had been interested in words, books and literature ever since I could remember, it seemed a natural choice.

Continue reading “Why I studied creative writing at university”

History, Journalism

WDYTYA? Magazine: Why I Love Family History

It’s now the second week of my work experience placement in the Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine office.

I’ve had the chance to report on The National Archives’ digitisation of First World War diaries, a new archive centre opening, the publication of over one million probate records by Ancestry.co.uk…

Continue reading “WDYTYA? Magazine: Why I Love Family History”

Photography, Writing

Nana – A Poem

Today is a day for family, and to remember.

I don’t know any other way but to turn to words in sad times.

My grandmother holds a very special place in my heart, and she makes me realise that happy memories make all the difference.

Continue reading “Nana – A Poem”

Travel

A Home from Home

When I first landed in Avignon back in September, I was pulling my suitcase behind me, muttering a few phrases in French and wearing big sunglasses. Six months have flown past since then.

Continue reading “A Home from Home”

Writing

A Writer’s Journey

I actually can’t believe it.

My dream of becoming a writer – a real, proper writer – is finally coming true.


I’m sitting here in 30 degrees of sunshine, hearing snippets of French drift in from the open windows. Clutching my notebook and a blue pen, I’m scribbling swirls of ideas for articles and thinking about the rough drafts of my book. My future book! (Cue several squeaks of excitement.)

Today I received an email from one Geraldine Mills, a widely-published novelist, short story writer and poet (Wow! Not short on talent). In conjunction with my university, she has become my editor/mentor for a wonderful, blissful year of incredibly challenging work. I will concentrate on the development of my novel during the course of the year, submitting a few thousand words in my weekly revision sessions with her, for my third year undergraduate studies. This is the year I’ve been waiting for since I started college: being able to focus entirely on just creative work.

Over the past two years that I’ve been studying Creative Writing at university (check out writing.ie for my article discussing it), I’ve discovered that it can be so much hard work; dedication and effort are needed in spades to succeed. Writing, though, is so utterly rewarding that every day, I just fall in love with it more.

My writer’s journey is just beginning.

Travel

La France

For the next year, I will be crashing a country where they are renowned for chomping on snails, where they have multiple forms of saying “you” and where they invented the guillotine.

Nervous, me?

While I certainly will be adjusting to a lifestyle quite unlike the Irish one I am so accustomed to, France will be a welcome change. It is undoubtedly a country with a past. Centuries of bloodstained history define my future home: tales of beheaded Kings and battles to the death, tested rivalries and colossal challenges to the defence of the country’s borders from seemingly unconquerable foreign armies echo throughout the ages.

Battle of Castiglione, 1796

France would not be the country it is today without the horrors it has witnessed and the wounds it has attained from bygone eras. The French have a strength, a distinctive toughness, that is evident in their everyday life.

We all feel that our past has marked us somehow – maybe not in an obvious way – but the scars are there, unseen to the human eye. The French, as a people, are a remarkable embodiment of the struggles and pain that their country has endured. Their solemn pride in the rich and magnificent landscape of France, the graceful beauty of the countryside and the shining brilliance of the cities transcends any language or cultural barrier.

Brittany, France

Akin to the Irish, when young and old French soldiers alike were heading into battle, ready to lay down their lives in wars that extended far beyond themselves as individuals, they had to fight to the bitter end for a cause they believed in. They fought for their families, they fought for their freedom, and most of all they fought for their wonderful country that they called their home.

I have realised that the similarities between Ireland and France are more important than their differences. Going to a new country does not mean rejecting the established ways, accepted practices and traditional approaches there. It is about respect: an endeavor to embrace the diversity of a culture more alike your own than not.

That does not mean, however, that I will be trying any snails.

Marése O’Sullivan