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Donal Minihane

Doolin hotelier in short story prize contention

A DOOLIN hotelier is one of ten writers to make the shortlist for a highly prestigious short story competition organised by RTÉ in memory of the late author, Francis MacManus.
Dónal Minihane is General Manager of Hotel Doolin and the organiser of a number of popular local cultural festivals, including Doolin Writers’ Weekend.
His short story ‘Windsea’ impressed a judging panel of accomplished writers and secured a place on the shortlist, which was whittled down from almost 2,800 entries.
The story will be among those read on RTÉ on week nights from next Monday, September 27 to October 8.
Dónal, who is a PhD student of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick (UL), described ‘Windsea’ as the monologue of a misjudged teenager as he holds his landlord, who has shot his dog, at gunpoint.
 “I’d the lad and his mum in my head for a few years,” he explained. “I got the story down one morning. It came out in one go. If you are lucky this happens sometimes when you’ve been wondering about people for a while.
“You have the voice because you’ve lived with them and know them and love them. The story is part of a series of linked stories.”
Overall, the shortlist for this year’s shortlisted stories deal with life, death and zoom calls, culture clashes and suburban turf wars, success, failure, and love through the ages.
According to judge Declan Huges, they “paint a picture of an anxious, unsettled country, but do so with wit and compassion, imaginative storytelling and nuanced characterisation”.
The full judging panel is also made up of Lucy Caldwell and Lisa McInerney who described themselves as very impressed with the calibre of this year’s competition entries.
 “It’s definitely been a highlight of lockdown life for me — reading exciting new work, then hearing stories we’d already connected with brought into even more vivid colour by the actors’ performances, and then discussing them, sharing our different perspectives on them, and together finding our way to our very worthy winners,” said novelist Lisa McInerney.
“Judging this competition has been a privilege and a pleasure.”
Declan Hughes added: “Perhaps not surprisingly, given the times we’ve been living in, the stories for the most part paint a picture of an anxious, unsettled country, haunted by its past and fearful for its future.
“They do this with wit and compassion through imaginative storytelling, nuanced characterisation, persuasive dialogue and finely weighted sentences.”
Producer of the series, Sarah Binchy said: “We’re very much looking forward to sharing this fine season of new writing with a wide audience, as voiced by some of Ireland’s leading actors.
“You can tune in to ‘Arena’ on Monday, September 27 to get a flavour of the shortlist and hear the judges choose their overall winners; read the stories in advance on rte.ie/culture, and then listen live – or podcast at leisure – week nights from Monday, September 27.”
That winning story will be announced next Monday night, along with the two other prizewinning stories selected by this year’s judges on an  ‘Arena’ special at 7pm on RTÉ Radio 1. 
As part of this  special programme, presenter Seán Rocks and the judges will discuss all the stories on the shortlist, with audio clips and interviews with some of the writers before the judges announce their top prizes.
Leading up to the ‘Arena’ special, and the broadcast series, the shortlisted stories will all be made available to read on Rte.ie/culture. On air, ‘Windsea‘ will be read by Aaron Monaghan. The winning author will receive €3,000. 

For more on the RTÉ Short Story Competition, see rte.ie/writing. 

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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