UL Foundation on the hunt for first-ever Poet in Residence following generous donation

Professor Joseph O’Connor

“To me, a university without the arts would be as unfit for purpose as a university with no Maths Department and no sports facilities. The arts are essential for our wellbeing, our mental and spiritual health, the education of the whole person. I don’t believe in the notion of the university as a degree factory.”

These are the words of Professor Joseph O’Connor an award-winning author, and Chair of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick as he begins the search for UL’s first-ever Poet in Residence.

This position, which is open to applicants until October 14, is made possible by the UL Foundation and has arisen following an extremely generous donation.

The position will be supervised by Professor O’Connor, who teaches on the Creative Writing MA, alongside his esteemed colleagues – novelists Donal Ryan, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, Rob Doyle, and Kit de Waal.

The generous contribution was made by Paddy Meskell, a graduate of the university’s founding class, and his wife Darlene.

They are overjoyed to support Joseph O’Connor and the Creative Writing programme.

Paddy and Darlene Meskell

Such a gift is their way of embracing creativity within the university as well as Ireland’s literary tradition.

Speaking about the ideal candidate to fulfil this role, Mr. O’Connor says the person they are looking for will be both an accomplished poet with a body of work in prose, and a teacher with a sense of value of poetry for all writers and readers regardless of the form – song lyrics, spoken word performance or Yeats.

Professor O’Connor believes that this generous donation will place poetry at the very heart of the Creative Writing programme.

He hopes that it will bring poetry to life in UL in a new way.

What the future holds:

In the future, he ideally would like to see regular events such as poetry readings and workshops take place on the campus.

“On our Creative Writing programme, we’ve been doing a lot of community outreach work in recent years and we intend to broaden and deepen that impact. The poet will be a part of that ambition”, Mr. O’Connor adds.

The Director of Development at the UL Foundation, Sarah Hartnett, said: “It is so encouraging to see our alumni donating to their Alma Mater, especially in the area of Arts, which can often be a challenge in terms of fundraising. Our sincere thanks to Paddy and Darlene for their generous support”.

Speaking passionately on the topic of the Arts being underfunded in Higher Education, Professor O’Connor maintained: “I would like to see STEM become STEAM. It isn’t a matter of funding, but of investment that would yield a return. I would like to see UL continue its evolution towards becoming the most important university of the creative and performing arts in Ireland. In the world we’re now negotiating, creative excellence, solidarity, and empathy are the way forward. The arts teach all of those. I think my kids have learned as much from being in a choir as they ever did in a classroom. Maybe more.”

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