AWARD-WINNING author Joseph O’Connor will hold the inaugural Frank McCourt chair in creative writing at the University of Limerick, it has been announced.
The prestigious post, which was sought by a number of renowned Irish writers, is for a fixed five-year term, with an annual salary, starting from €106,516 and rising to €136,276.
Professor O’Connor will officially join the faculty of arts, humanities and social sciences this summer and will teach students of the new UL Masters in Creative Writing programme set to commence in September 2014. He will also present a number of public literary events in Limerick.
The Frank McCourt Chair was established at UL as an acknowledgement of the close ties between the late author and UL.
UL president Professor Don Barry, said “there is tremendous excitement at the university at the moment as people learn of this appointment. Not only is it great news for UL but also for Limerick city which has a strong literary tradition. For UL students, particularly the future students of the new MA in Creative Writing, it will be a tremendous opportunity to be led by a man of Joseph’s literary stature.”
The author of eight novels, including the acclaimed Star of the Sea, said he is “thrilled, grateful and deeply honoured to be entrusted with this new position at the University of Limerick.
“Frank McCourt was a writer of immense gifts and extraordinary achievements. But he was a teacher first and last. He knew teaching can change lives.”
Frank’s widow, Ellen McCourt, was also delighted with the appointment, saying O’Connor has “the whole package: a beautiful writer, passionate teacher and a charismatic personality who will make an excellent ambassador for the university. He is also compassionate, curious, fearless and mischievous. All qualities Frank admired. Joseph is an excellent and exciting choice for the chair,” she said.
The new Masters in creative writing is a one year programme, and places are currently available.