IRC supports School of English and Digital Humanities collaboration with the first virtual Edgeworth Festival.

20 May 2021

Members of the department of English have been part of a major collaboration with the annual Maria Edgeworth Literary Festival as it celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, with the first-ever virtual Festival. The IRC-funded Digital Edgeworth Network joined with the Festival to create a unique creative writing competition for secondary school students. Based on research conducted by the Network on the Edgeworth correspondence, acclaimed novelist Laura McKenna selected some of the fascinating letters written by Maria Edgeworth and other members of the Edgeworth family in the early nineteenth century and invited the young applicants to respond to them creatively.

McKenna, a graduate of the UCC PhD in Creative Writing programme, has experience of the value of reading correspondence and memoirs as part of her own writing process for her acclaimed first novel, Words to Shape my Name, a reimagining of the life of Tony Small, a freed slave who was for many years the servant of the United Irish leader Edward Fitzgerald. According to Laura, "It was fascinating reading the students' responses to the two selected archival texts. Many took on the point of view of people mentioned in the letters, leading to varied responses and some interesting and often forthright advice! Others wrote more travel-based letters, keeping the reader to the forefront. And some composed letters with a stronger narrative tendency, set in a different time-frame. All in all, using these original letters as a springboard for creative writing was a valuable endeavour and one which could be expanded in the future; considering, for example, a poetic response in addition to the epistolary format."

The Digital Edgeworth Network project team, comprising Dr Clíona Ó Gallchoir (Co-PI, English, UCC), Dr Máirín MacCarron (Co-I, Digital Humanities, UCC), Prof Ros Ballaster (PI, English, Oxford) and Dr Anna Senkiw (English, Oxford), gave a presentation on the research conducted by the Network, which has focused on using digital tools and techniques to analyze the catalogues of Edgeworth correspondence held by project partners the National Library of Ireland and Bodleian Libraries in Oxford.

The 25th Maria Edgeworth Literary Festival goes live online on Saturday 22nd May.

Digital Edgeworth Network is funded as part of the IRC-AHRC Collaboration in Digital Humanities Networking Programme





English Department

Roinn an Bhéarla

O'Rahilly Building, University College Cork, Cork. Ireland