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Strong showing by Doolin hotelier in short story contest

A DOOLIN hotelier has been honoured in a prestigious short story competition organised by RTÉ.
Dónal Minihane, General Manager of Hotel Doolin, was named on Monday night as joint runner-up in the competition which honours the memory of the late writer, Francis MacManus.
“It’s absolutely amazing to be recognised like this,” Dónal told The Champion. “It’s really great that people will read and hear the story. When writers sit down to write, we don’t expect many people to read our work, but still we do it. This is something that’ll help me to keep going when I’m up early on the dark winter mornings while everyone else is in bed.”
‘Windsea’ was unveiled on RTÉ Radio’s Arena on Monday night as joint runner-up and Dónal said he was delighted to get the call from producers to give him the good news. The piece was read on RTÉ by actor Aaron Monaghan on Wednesday night last, and the story is available as a podcast and in text form on the broadcaster’s website.
“It actually sounds exactly as I’d imagined it would,” said Dónal about the story which had been rolling around in his head for some time. ‘Windsea’ is part of a linked collection of pieces that Dónal is working on as part of a PhD at the University of Limerick (UL). “It’s set in a seaside town at the end of the season and the same characters pop up throughout the series.”
Dónal is also working on a novel. “That’s about a big wave surfer who is speaking from a psychiatric ward after setting fire to a cottage with her girlfriend inside it.”
Dónal is also optimistic that the hugely popular Doolin Writers’ Weekend will return early next year. “We’ve just applied for Arts Council funding and we’re looking at January or February of 2022,” he said. “It would be great to have it back.”
His dedication to promoting the arts even extends to the hold music on Hotel Doolin’s phone system. “It’s a spoken word piece by John Cummins which we specially commissioned,” he said of the track which looks ahead to post-pandemic days in North Clare.
In the Short Story Competition, Dónal was joint runner up along with Sara Keating, the DLR Writer in Residence. The overall winner was Kevin Donnellan, a writer and journalist from Kilbride, County Meath, now based in England. More than 2,800 entries were received by RTÉ.
As winning author, Kevin Donnellan will receive a prize of €3,000, while Sara and Dónal will each receive €1,500. The seven runners-up on the shortlist will receive €250 each.
More details on the RTÉ Short Story Competition are available on 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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