Three people are pictured - a man and two women. It is Professor Joseph O'Connor, Caitríona Fottrell of the Ireland Funds, and Adam Clayton of U2
Professor Joseph O'Connor, Caitríona Fottrell of the Ireland Funds, and Adam Clayton of U2
Friday, 17 June 2022

University of Limerick Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing Joseph O’Connor has won the Ireland Funds AWB Vincent Literary Award.

The award was presented at a ceremony in Killarney on Thursday night as part of The Ireland Funds Worldwide Conference and recognises the author and academic’s contribution to literature in Ireland.

Professor O’Connor was honoured in recognition of his contributions to the literary landscape which have included his bestselling novels ‘Star of the Sea’ and ‘Shadowplay’.

Previous winners of the award have included Seamus Heaney, Mary Lavin, Brian Friel, John Banville, Edna O’Brien, and Eavan Boland among others.

The award also carries a monetary prize of $25,000.

Caitriona Fottrell, President and CEO of The Ireland Funds, said: “We would like to congratulate Joseph O’Connor on his significant contribution to the Irish and international literary landscapes.

“This award is truly deserved and is a testament to Joseph’s talent, creativity, and hard work. He now shares The Ireland Funds AWB Vincent Literary Award with some of the titans of Irish literature.”

Joseph O’Connor was born in Dublin in 1963 and attended UCD and Oxford University. A Sunday Times number one bestselling writer, he is the author of 21 internationally acclaimed books in addition to stage plays, films scripts, non-fiction works and radio diaries.

In 2014, he was appointed inaugural Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at UL.

On receiving the Ireland Funds Literary Award, he said: “Forty years ago, at the age of 17, inspired by many of the great writers who have received this award, I began to write fiction and to dream I might one day have a novel published.

“To be now invited into a group that includes the lighthouses of my early teens, is a humbling honour and a blessing. I am profoundly grateful to The Ireland Funds for this extraordinarily generous act of support and for all it has done, and continues to do, for the arts, culture, and education in Ireland."

He added: “Our Creative Writing programme at UL is named in honour of Frank McCourt, and Frank’s great example as both teacher and writer continues to inspire us. He was a man of two cities, Limerick and New York, and, ever since the UL MA programme began in 2014, we have always welcomed students from the United States as well as Ireland to be with us.

“We celebrate and will long continue to honour that special transatlantic link.”

The Ireland Funds is a global philanthropic network established in 1976 to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development throughout the island of Ireland, and Irish related causes around the world.

With chapters in 12 countries, The Ireland Funds has raised over $600 million for deserving causes in Ireland and beyond, benefiting more than 3,200 different organisations with both financial and non-financial support.