Niall Bourke

Posted by Sue Leonard on Monday 10th January 2022

Niall came from a house full of books. But at college he became fascinated by the whole area of economics.

After college he spent a year in Australia doing any job he could find.

“I put up marquees for a while.”

On his return, deciding to become a teacher, he took his H Dip, and taught in Middleton for his training year, before being recruited to a comprehensive on the outskirts of London. Then it was off to teach in Auckland, New Zealand, for 2 ½ years before settling in South East London. 

In 2014 his school paid for him to take a part time MA in teaching and writing at Goldsmiths College. 

“I loved it,” he says. “The first short story I wrote afterwards was shortlisted for the Costa Award. That had a big impact on me.” 

Published widely, his stories and poetry have been shortlisted for numerous other awards and he has won a Hennessy Award and the Linen Hall Michael McLaverty Short Story Award. 

Line has been five years in the writing. His debut poetry collection will be published next year. 

Who is Niall Bourke? 

Date of birth: 1981 in Kilkenny. 

Education: Kilkenny CBS.  NUI Galway, English and Economics; University College Cork, Dip Ed. Goldsmiths College, MA Teacher/Writer.  

Home: South East London.     

Family: Girlfriend, Nadine. Orla, 6 and Oscar, 6 months. 

The Day Job: Head of English, Comprehensive School in Bermondsey. 

In Another Life: “I’d be an astronaut.”

Favourite Writers: William Faulkner; Richard Brautigan; Barbara Kingsolver; Chinua Achebe ; 

Second Novel: “It’s loosely based on the civil war in Peru. I have a grant from the Arts Council Grant to finish it.”

Top Tip: “Don’t spend ages editing the early chapters. Get it down, And if you get stuck, make notes and move on.” 

Website:  Twitter: @supersplurk 

The Debut: Line. Tramp Press: €14.00.  Kindle: €.4.52. 

Willard has spent his entire life living in the line – knowing he has to obey the rules or he will lose his place. But when his mother dies, and he finds a book amongst her belongings, he decides to discover what lies in the world beyond. 

The Verdict: A brilliant, thought provoking dystopian tale showing a world alarmingly close to our own. 

Published in the Irish Examiner on 9th January 2022.

© Sue J Leonard. 2022

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