UCC digs up the literary journal, Quarryman

UCC’s renowned literary journal, Quarryman, is being re-launched by the university’s inaugural MA in creative writing class. 

Alan Kelly, Niamh Prior and Fiona Whyte of Quarryman, a literary journal produced by UCC's creative writing students.

It will have contributions from well-known writers that were involved in the journal over the decades, as well as new writing from the graduates of the 2014 masters in creative writing class.

As co-editor Fiona Whyte explains, she and her fellow students were keen to produce an anthology of the MA class’s work.

“A lot of the masters’ classes in creative writing do that. Professor Claire Connolly [from UCC’s School of English] suggested we bring out a new issue of Quarryman. She was looking for someone to re-launch it and was able to give us a small bit of money to publish it.”

Quarryman was first published in the 1920s and appeared intermittently over the decades, up until the 1980s. With a budget of €1,200, the latest Quarryman is published by Bradshaw Books.

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The cover is by well known Wall Street Journal illustrator, Kevin Sprouls. His daughter, Bridget Sprouls, who came to UCC from the US for the Masters in creative writing, was able to lean on her father for the favour.

“It’s a lovely cover depicting a quarryman. But instead of having quarryman tools, he has a big pen on his shoulder. The rest of the cover design is by Eoghan Walsh [one of the MA graudates] and his girlfriend, Sarah Twomey.”

It’s hoped that the journal will be published regularly.

“The English Literature Society is taking it over. They’re very enthusiastic and have already secured funding. Their journal will be different to ours because there is going to be an open call to everyone in UCC, staff and students, to submit work.”

Despite the prevalence of digital publishing, Whyte says there’s a market for a physical literary journal. She points to the success of journals such as The Stinging Fly, the Crannóg and The Penny Dreadful.

“I heard on the radio that the number of people who read journals and newspapers online is flat-lining. There is still a demand for holding papers and journals in your hands. I would never read a newspaper online. I think a lot of people will like Quarryman. It’s a nice slim volume with a good cover.”

Whyte, who has an atmospheric short story set in Italy in the Quarryman, says it has been difficult to gather a history of the journal.

“There’s definitely a project there for someone to research it. At one stage, the Quarryman had very famous contributors. In the Boole Library, there’s a little volume called ‘Through the Eyes of Quarryman’ which is an anthology of various pieces that would have been published in the journal over the years. Brendan Behan had a piece in it as well as Frank O’Connor. But I don’t know what editions they were in or how many of the editions are still extant.”

Quarryman will be available in most bookshops in Cork. The MA graduates that have contributed to it are Maeve Bancroft, Madeleine D’Arcy, Alan Kelly, Louise Nolan, Niamh Prior, Bridget Sprouls and Eoghan Walsh.

Quarryman will be launched at Triskel Christchurch on April 25 as part of Cork World Book Fest

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