Short Story Competition - John O'Connor Writing School
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John O’Connor Short Story Competition 2018 – CLOSED

Cover Art of John O'Connor's Book 'Come Day - Go Day' by Armagh Artist JB Vallely

The world of John O’Connor is a world of the freshly snedded turnip, the new-sawn plank, the sod shining under the plough. His gift is to render the life of the Mill Row in Armagh as deftly and definitively as Steinbeck renders Cannery Row or Bob Dylan Desolate Row – Paul Muldoon

This competition is held annually for the past three years to commemorate the Armagh-born writer John O’Connor whose impressive literary legacy includes a collection of short stories which still retain a timeless appeal.


The deadline to submit entries for the third John O’Connor Short Story Competition has now passed – and we are pleased to announce that the winner is Alan O’Gorman for his story ‘Sticks and Stones’ (read it HERE). Shortlisted writers were Holly Yuille, Lucy Beevor, Millie May, DM O’Connor. Thanks to all who entered this year, and to the judges who did not have an easy task on their hands!


The prize-winner will be awarded a bursary to attend the John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival which will be held in Armagh from 1st to 4th November, 2018, plus a cash prize of £250, a three night stay at The River Mill – a fantastic boutique 5-bedroom writers’ retreat in a 300 year old mill located in rural Co. Down which offers individual residencies and mentored weeks. For more information about this inspirational spot, visit


UPDATE: Kit De Waal Bursaries
With thanks to the generous sponsorship of author Kit de Waal, we were in a position, this year, to offer bursaries to cover the cost of five submissions (the short story competition is limited to one submission per person) for writers who might not otherwise through financial circumstance be able to enter the competition i.e, from a disadvantaged or minority communities, on low income, with a disability. Application was via the online submission form with a brief email outlining why you were applying for the bursary.  Allocations were made on a first-come-first-served basis.


The festival, sponsored and supported by internationally renowned Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Paul Muldoon, has a two-fold purpose. It aims to celebrate and commemorate the life and works of John O’Connor as well as offering practical guidance and assistance to aspiring writers through its workshops and Master classes in the various literary genres and writing for commercial purposes. Find the full programme HERE.


The closing date for the 2018 short story competition 2018 was 12.00 noon at 28 August 2018. Entries received after this time won’t be considered. Five adjudicators will judge the submissions including writers Rosemary Jenkinson, Darran McCann and Stuart Neville.

Click to Show Rules

  1. The competition is open to people of 16 years and older
  2.  Only one entry per person is permitted and MUST be submitted via ONLINE FORM
  3. Entries must be in English
  4. Entries must be between 1,800 and 2,000 words in length. Entries outside this word count will not be permitted and will be automatically rejected.
  5. Entries must be the original work of the author and must not have been previously published either in writing or electronically. Entries which have received awards in other competitions are also ineligible.
  6. Only short stories will be accepted. Prose and poetry entries are inadmissible.
  7. An entrance fee of £10 per story must be paid and submitted as indicated on the ONLINE FORM
  8. No indication of the author’s name should be given in the actual story.
  9. Entries will not be returned.
  10. The decision of the adjudicators is final and they will not enter into any correspondence concerning the competition.
  11. Closing date for receipt of entries 12noon on the 28th of August.
  12. The winner will be notificed by 2 October 2018

The bursary prize allows the recipient to enjoy all events in the John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Festival 2018, and to attend one class in the writing genre of his/her choice, a cash prize of £250 and a three-night stay at The River Mill (writers’ retreat based in rural Co. Down).

The winning entrant will be formally announced at the opening of the Writing school on Friday 2nd November, and will have the opportunity to read at an event on Sunday 4th November.

Single room accommodation will be available free of charge to the winning entrant. Please note, the winner will be responsible for their travel expenses.