Fighting Words NI is a creative writing charity for children and young people.
Since 2015 we’ve been a force for creativity in Belfast and beyond, providing over 14,000 creative writing opportunities for schools, youth groups and young writers aged 6 to 18. We have delivered hundreds of free Storymaking Workshops, Write Club Meetings and special projects, all supported by our amazing volunteer mentors.
We want to show every young person in Northern Ireland that creative writing is all about joy, imagination and creativity.
Our patrons are the acclaimed writers Glenn Patterson, Roddy Doyle, Nick Hornby, Lucy Caldwell, Paul Muldoon and Dave Eggers.
Ever wondered about the origin of our duck logo? It comes from this quote from Maeve Binchy - 'I don't have ugly ducklings turning into swans in my stories. I have ugly ducklings turning into confident ducks.'
Over 30 years’ experience in the creative and broadcasting industries. Over 20 years’ experience in television production, in roles including Producer/Director/Creative in broadcast, including producing and directing BBC TV, Radio, and Multi-platform campaigns, trained editor with Media 100, Final Cut Pro, Cool Edit Pro and Adobe Suite. 5 years’ experience in Public Relations, Marketing/Sales/Project Management.
Professor Gallagher is considered one of the world’s leading academic experts on the role of education in divided societies.
Tony Gallagher has worked for over 15 years on shared education promoting social cohesion and school improvement in communities in Northern Ireland, Israel, and Los Angeles. This is part of a career-long focus of work on the role of education in divided societies, including work on minority rights, equality policy, and the role of education in ethnic conflict. He has dedicated many years as a voluntary director to numerous non-profits in peace and reconciliation, and education, and is a current Board Member of Wave Trauma Centre.
Andrew Drylie is a private equity and venture capital professional. He is Investment Manager at Quadri Ventures. Andrew graduated from the University of Nottingham with LLB Honours in Law. Andrew is a member of Green Shoots (EISA). Andrew has also successfully obtained the EISA diploma and holds the Investment Management Certificate for the UK Context (IMC). He has campaigned and fundraised for social initiatives aimed at helping men in professional capacities speak more openly around mental health issues. He is a capped Northern Ireland International Footballer and ex-professional footballer.
Rick O’Shea is a broadcaster with RTE - currently on RTE Gold. He has previously been a presenter on RTE2FM and with The Book Show on RTE Radio 1.
He runs Ireland’s largest book club, The Rick O’Shea Book Club on Facebook and also runs Christmas Appeal for the club each year. He is also involved in the literary world through other work such as hosting public author interviews at festivals all around the country and presenting and judging various literary awards. Rick has been literary curator for the UCD Festival since 2020. He is a patron of Epilepsy Ireland.
Colm Ó Cuanacháin
Colm was appointed Executive Director of Fighting Words in 2023 and he serves as the Fighting Words ROI rep at FWNI. He joined Fighting Words in 2020 as Education Director. Colm worked in human rights and development education with Comhlámh, served as Secretary General of Amnesty International in Dublin, as head of campaigns with ActionAid International and as Senior Director with Amnesty International in London. He was a primary school teacher in Gaelscoil na Cille and principal at Gaelscoil Aonach Urmhumhan and Gaelscoil an Ghoirt Álainn Educate Together in Cork. Colm has a PhD in human rights education from the University of Leicester.
Bethany is the HR & People representative on the Fighting Words NI board, bringing 5 years of experience in HR Consulting. Bethany is a Senior HR Consultant with Think People, providing strategic advice and guidance to a wide range of businesses and organisations across the Island of Ireland and GB. Bethany has a 1st class MA Honours degree in Business and Management from the University of Glasgow and a CIPD Level 3 Diploma in Human Resources Practice. Bethany has a long-held passion for the arts and non-profit sector and joined the Board in 2021, having participated in Arts & Business Young Professionals on Arts Boards programme.
Paul Connolly is a songwriter and lyricist with NI alternative rock band, The Wood Burning Savages. The band have appeared numerous times at Glastonbury festival and are two-time winners of the Northern Ireland Music Prize.
Connolly is a frequent voice on both BBC Radio Ulster and Foyle as an Arts & Cultural correspondent, Sunday Show panellist and recently a poet on BBC Radio 3 in collaboration with the Ulster Orchestra. As well as writing for NI-based magazine, Dig With It, he is also heavily involved in Community Arts workshop facilitation, operating on behalf of the Nerve Centre as a lecturer in Events Management and on various community-focused projects alongside Prince's Trust, Education Authority and many others.
Guthanna Óga - Young Voices (Fighting Words North and South youth advisory panel)
GO Panel Manifesto: Fight for the Write!
We will empower young writers on the island of Ireland and nurture their creative self-expression, especially as they grow up with decreasing opportunities to do creative things. We will connect up young writers and provide a supportive, positive atmosphere that protects creative headspace, where everyone can be different, can be themselves; where success is not academic or economic, but on their own individual terms; where creative writing is not just a dream or a fantasy but an enriching, empowering and important path through life.
Kaila Patterson, Belfast. Member of Fighting Words NI Write Club and Young Playwrights (Spring 2022). Writer of novels and plays with a bit of poetry. Hopes to support Fighting Words and encourage young people to get creative and use their voice – on the page, stage, and to create change.
Patrick Maginnis, Co. Down. Member of Fighting Words NI Write Club for over two years. Enjoys writing poetry but loves short prose and is working through a science-fiction novel. Hopes to ensure that writing is available to anybody who wants it- all people from every generation have ‘the write to right’.
Michael Corbett, Co. Cork. I'm excited to be a part of this. I'm fairly new to fighting words. I was published in the Irish Times Supplement this year. I have a lifelong passion for writing and hope to pursue English in college next year! I usually write short stories
Éire Ní Fhaoláin, Wexford. Táim sa chúigiú bliain i Meánscoil Gharman. I write in Irish and English in Write Club and have been published in a literary magazine and with Fighting Words. I want to encourage young writers to involve the Irish language in their creative work. Tá an-sceitimíní orm a bheith mar chuid de Ghuthanna Óga le Fighting Words.
Eabha, Dublin. I've loved writing for as long as I can remember and have been involved with Fighting Words in various ways for nearly ten years, from summer camps to Write Club to co-writing a play performed in the Gate Theatre. I write prose mostly, especially short stories. Fighting Words has given me so much over the years, and I'm thrilled to have a chance to give something back.
Eden Byrne, Belfast. I'm a young volunteer. I have been interested in writing from a young age, especially poems and short stories. I had a poem published in a poetry collection in 2019. I hope to help make fighting words even better for the next generation of young writers.
Rachel, Co. Antrim. Member of Fighting Words NI Playwright Club since 2020. I have taken part in two radio play projects and have had a radio play commissioned by BBC Radio 4! I am so excited to be a member of the youth advisory panel. I hope to make writing more accessible and achievable to everyone, and help young people feel more confident in their writing.
Wiktoria, Dublin. Born in Kraków, Poland. I've loved writing since I was a little kid but only got involved with Fighting Words this summer when I took part in their playwriting summer camp. It was heaps of fun and I knew I found my people. I mostly write short stories about deeply flawed characters struggling to make sense of their place in the world, and I love reading just about anything that piques my interest.
Emily, Co. Galway. I have been a member of Fighting Words Write Club for two years. I joined two Fighting Words summer camps. Last year I won the teens category for “Poetry in Bloom” and this year I represented Ireland in a climate crisis anthology of creative writing. I mainly write poetry and would love to encourage other teens across Ireland to get creative and start writing.
Tara, Co. Antrim. I've been a member of Fighting Words NI Playwright Club for 3 years. I made a radio play and a play at Lyric Theatre in Belfast. I have been into creative writing since young.
Sean O Donnell, Co. Donegal.
I have been a member of Fighting Words Write Club for 2 years. I enjoy writing short stories, especially psychological thrillers. I have been published in the Irish Times supplement as well as other publications. I have a great interest in creative writing and I would like to help others develop an interest in writing and enhance their skills.
Teagan Rice - Co. Antrim.
I recently did my work experience with Fighting Words NI and also became a member of the Write Club, so I'm ecstatic to be a part of the Youth Advisory Panel and hopefully bring the amazing work of FWNI to a wider audience. I've always loved writing; I plan to study English in university after school and start a career in that field, particularly in the world of poetry. My favourite stories both to read and write are historical, literary, and fantasy novels!
Ishaan, Co Derry. I am part of Write Club. I have completed a Write Club camp on True Stories. I like to read fantasy and sci-fi novels, and I am working on a sci-fi novel myself. I hope to help young writers accomplish their writing goals in many creative ways.
Rachel Fleming, Kildare. In Transition Year in secondary school. She enjoys hanging out with her friends and going to the gym. She is also part of the Children’s Ombudsman Youth Advisory Panel which she really enjoys and she attends regular meetings with the group. She plans to study psychology in university once finished school.