A mother-of-two from Brighton has won this year´s Irish Post Listowel Writers´ Week short story competition.
Carmel Walsh´s tale From A Land Beyond The Wave was chosen for the top accolade from scores of entries.
Her prize includes a trip to next month´s prestigious Listowel Writers´ Festival in Co Kerry with travel courtesy of Stena Line and a cheque for 500.
Carmel, 35, graduated with a Masters in Creative Writing and Authorship from The University of Sussex in 2010 .
She is currently writing her first novel.
The story, which is based around her own London-Irish experiences and the 1994 World Cup, is an edited extract of the book.
“The story is called From a Land beyond the Wave and is based on a line from the Soldier´s Song,” Carmel said. “It is based around my own experiences of growing up in a London-Irish community and the joy of the 1994 World Cup.
“Whilst doing my Masters I interviewed my family and many people from the London Irish community about what it was like travelling over from Ireland in the 1950s and the struggles that they faced when they got here.”
She added: “I am absolutely over the moon about winning this prize. I couldn’t be happier.”
Born in North London to parents from Newmarket, Co. Cork, Carmel says she grew up with Irish traditions and spent every spare moment in North Cork.
“My house was always filled with Radio Erin, Calvita cheese, Barry’s tea, the Corkman, posters of Daniel O’Donnell in a jacuzzi and the Sacred Heart picture looking down, disapprovingly,” she joked.
Having studied English and Classics at St Mary’s University, Carmel moved to Prague in 1997 where she taught English at the University of Economics and the Ministry of Finance under the reign of dissident poet and President Vaclav Havel.
She also co-edited a Czech-English text book for Polyglot.
“But throughout my travels I always wrote and carried a tin whistle wherever I went,” she said.
She now plays regularly at sessions and gigs around Brighton and is in a band called the Celtic Ti-grrs.
They have played for the Ireland Cricket Team, the Royal College of GPs and supported the Saw Doctors at Fontwell Park.
But her main passion is writing.
Currently working as a secondary English teacher in Brighton, Carmel has two children, Saoirse, 3, and Isla, 1.
Isla´s middle name is Bridget, after Carmel´s friend and cousin, the late Bridget O’Connor who posthumously won a Bafta for the best Adapted Screen play Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
See next week´s Irish Post, out Wednesday, April 25 to read the winning entry.
For more details about the Listowel Writers’ Week Festival click here