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Aran Islander blessed with the write stuff!

A fledgling writer from the Aran Islands has landed a prestigious creative writing prize – with praise heaped on her work by such luminaries as Roddy Doyle, Marian Keyes and Donal Ryan.

University of Galway graduate Surnaí Molloy was selected as the overall winner of the 2024 All Ireland Scholarships Creative Writing Competition for her short story Rites of Passage.

Her story Mouse was also awarded third place and she was presented with the Roger Downer Award at a special awards ceremony in Adare Manor last week.

The competition, now in its fourth year, is open to all members of the All-Ireland Scholarships Alumni Association. The categories included fiction, non-fiction and op-ed, with a maximum word count of 2,000 words.

This year’s judging panel comprised a stellar panel of award-winning authors: Roddy Doyle, Marian Keyes, Donal Ryan and winner of the 2023 competition, Emma Corcoran. The judging process was chaired by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, Professor of Teaching and Learning at the University of Limerick.

Surnaí received the All-Ireland Scholarship Award in 2017 and holds First Class Honours BA in Mathematics and English with Creative Writing from the University of Galway, and an MLitt in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture from University of St Andrews, Scotland. She currently works as the Digital Editor of Parabola Magazine.

“When I finished my MLitt in 2023, I decided to be brave and try to establish myself as a writer, which is why I entered the All-Ireland Scholarship Alumni Creative Writing Competition,” she said.

“Winning this competition is the most wonderful encouragement; a much-needed confirmation that I’m on the right path,” she added.

Marian Keyes described Rites of Passage as being written with an insistent rhythm, which gathers force as the piece continues, ‘The way it’s written mirrors the steady accumulation of daily aggressions women are met with. As the piece progresses, each new violation stacks up on the previous, building to an intolerable weight. It’s truthful and powerful.’

Roddy Doyle further described Surnaí’s winning piece as, ‘An excellent story; chilling, frightening; very well told.’

The All-Ireland Scholarships were established in 2008 by JP McManus and this year marks its 16th anniversary. The third level educational scholarship is awarded to 125 of the highest – achieving students per year, with a minimum of two students from each of the 32 counties.

The All-Ireland Scholarships Creative Writing Competition is named after the late Professor Roger Downer, Chair and Trustee of the All-Ireland Scholarships Alumni Association.

Surnaí’s work can be read at

Pictured: Surnaí Molloy, winner of the Roger Downer Creative Writing Award, with JP McManus in Adare Manor, Limerick.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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