Award-winning author and Laureate for Irish Fiction Sebastian Barry led a special Book Club event at Waterford Healing Arts Trust on 9 August 2018. Supported by the Arts Council, this event was for patients and staff of renal dialysis at University Hospital Waterford, and was organised as part of Sebastian Barry’s plan to meet and encourage people from all over Ireland, in many different places, to engage with Irish fiction.
The Book Club idea was initiated by Sebastian Barry and the Arts Council, and WHAT was selected as a partner through an open call earlier this year. The event was an extension of the arts programme in renal dialysis at UHW which is managed by WHAT with support from the Punchestown Kidney Research Fund.
The Laureate for Irish Fiction is an initiative of the Arts Council and was established in partnership with UCD, NYU and The Irish Times. The role seeks to acknowledge the contribution of fiction writers to Irish artistic and cultural life by honouring an established Irish writer of fiction, encouraging a new generation of writers, promoting Irish literature nationally and internationally and encouraging the public to engage with Irish fiction.
Sebastian Barry is from Dublin. A graduate of Trinity College Dublin, he received an Arts Council grant in 1982 to support his early writing. In 1988 his play Boss Grady’s Boys won the first BBC/Stewart Parker Award. He was elected to Aosdána in 1989. His award-winning play The Steward of Christendom (1995) starred Donal McCann and premiered at The Royal Court. His novels include The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty (1998), A Long Long Way (2005) (Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award, short-listed for the Man Booker Prize and the Impac Prize); The Secret Scripture (2008) (shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the LA Times Book Awards; winner of the Costa Book of the Year, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Irish Book Awards Novel of the Year); On Canaan’s Side (2011) (longlisted for the Booker Prize; winner, the Walter Scott Prize); Days Without End (2016) (winner, the Costa Book of the Year Award and The Walter Scott Prize; longlisted for the Booker Prize). He has three grown children, Merlin, Coral and Tobias, and lives in Wicklow with his wife Alison. He was appointed Laureate for Irish Fiction 2018-2021 in February this year.