Meet the Speakers & Judges





Speakers & Judges

Madeline Keane

Madeleine Keane is a writer, the Literary Editor of the Sunday Independent and an award-winning travel journalist.

Sunday Independent & Irish Times Bestseller, Carmel Harrington is an award winning author from Co. Wexford, translated into eight languages. The Things I Should Have Told You (HarperCollins) was shortlisted for a 2016 BGE Irish Book Award and her next novel, The Woman at 72 Derry Lane is out 1st June 2017. She is a regular on TV3 as one of the panelists on the Elaine Show and Chair of Wexford Literary Festival.



Donal Ryan is the author of three number one bestselling novels and a short story collection. He has won three Irish Book Awards, the EU Prize for Literature and the Guardian First Book Award. His debut novel, The Spinning Heart, was shortlisted for the Impac Dublin Literary Award and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2013 and was recently voted Irish Book of the Decade. His work has been translated into over a dozen languages and is on the Leaving Certificate prescribed and comparative lists. Donal holds a fellowship in creative writing at the University of Limerick.


Tom Mooney

Tom Mooney is editor of The Wexford Echo Group of Newspapers in Ireland, for which he reviews new jazz recordings and recently published books. He is also a regular reviewer of novels for The Irish Examiner. He is the author of All The Bishops’ Men (published by The Collins Press in 2012) and two volumes of poetry: With This or Upon This (2007) and Dust Motes Dancing in the Sunbeams (2014), and he also contributed to the anthology, Red Lamp, Black Piano (2013). He is a past winner of Amnesty International and The Law Society of Ireland awards for investigative journalism. He received a Mary Raftery Journalism Bursary in 2013 and his subsequent series of articles about Direct Provision in Ireland received a Certificate of Merit from The Law Society of Ireland in 2014. He was also the guest contributor to the official Wexford Festival Opera programmes for 2013 and 2014. A recipient of a second Mary Raftery Journalism Bursary in 2016, he was also a speaker at the Kennedy Summer School last year.

Elizabeth Whyte

Elizabeth Whyte  Executive Director Wexford Arts Centre since 2006.  Elizabeth has produced many productions locally, nationally and internationally at Wexford Arts Centre including WexFour by John Banville, Eoin Colfer, Billy Roche and Colm Tóibín at Wexford Arts Centre, Centre Culturel Irelandais and New York Library for performing Arts Lincoln Center as part of 1st Irish Festival.  Elizabeth also produced Lay Me Down Softly by Billy Roche which toured to Tricycle London and directed and produced Tales from Rainwater Pond by Billy Roche which toured to Irish Repertory Theatre New York as part of 1st Irish Festival and also produced Holy Mary by Eoin Colfer which toured to Bewleys Cafe Theatre Dublin and Kilkenny Arts Festival.  Prior experience includes Company Manager at Rough Magic Theatre company on many productions and founding director and writer at Theatre Nua, New York.  Prior acting credits include roles at Irish Repertory Theatre New York, Irish Arts Center, New York and Súgan Theatre Boston as well as independent film roles including Fairytale of New York and a role on ABC soap The City.  She studied arts and literature at Harvard Extension School, MA and has an MBA in Professional Arts Management from IT Carlow.


Alison Martin

Alison Martin is a playwright, sub-editor, theatre producer and co-founder of the Word Play workshops at Wexford Arts Centre. Her most recent theatre work includes Me and My Shadow, which she produced at the National Opera House with Heather Hadrill following a devising process with RehabCare Wexford. Meanwhile, her play The Grey Army was performed at the Source Arts Centre, Thurles, in December. Alison also recently worked for the Abbey Theatre as an outreach facilitator at Creagh College, Gorey, and is a member of the Wexford County Council Artist in the Community Scheme panel.


jOHN J kelly
John J Kelly award winning Poet {Oliver Goldsmith Award,  Rathmines Writer of the Year 2013,  Sunday Tribune New Writers,} John also conducts Schools Poetry Workshops.

Caroline Busher

Caroline Busher is an award winning author with Poolbeg Press. She graduated with a First Class Honours MA in Creative Writing from UCD and is represented by Trace Literary Agency-USA. The Ghosts of Magnificent Children is her debut novel.

Andrea Hayes

Andrea Hayes is an Irish broadcaster and producer who’s TV shows include TV3’s hugely successful series Animal A&E, Dublin Airport: Life Stories and Coming Home for Christmas. She recently wrote produced a new series Dog Tales with Andrea Hayes. She is also familiar voice on Dublin’s Sunshine 106.8, presenting many shows during her time at the station.Andrea is an Irish Times and Sunday Times best selling author. Her book Pain-Free Life: My Journey to Wellness, chronicles how journaling helped her overcome her health challenges. While her latest book My Life Goals Journal reveals wellness strategies to transform your life. Andrea Studied Film and Television production in DIT. She also holds an ALCM in speech and drama with London College and is a trained clinical hypnotherapist and Bethany grief minister.

Shane Dunphy

Shane Dunphy (born 1973) is a child protection expert, lecturer and author.  He is best known for having written nine bestselling books on his fifteen years working in child protection, several of which were top 5 bestsellers both in Ireland and the UK.  As a child protection worker Dunphy worked for the HSE throughout Ireland, and has acted as a consultant for the British Child Protective Services.  He still works as a consultant with the Gardai, the Department of Education and, most recently, as part of a Special Task Force put together by the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald.  He is a regular contributor to both national television and radio, having had regular slots on programmes on both RTE and Newstalk, as well as having made documentaries for RTE Radio’s Documentary on One series and RTE television.  He writes for the Irish Independent and Irish Sun newspapers, and has contributed to the Dubliner magazine and the British Guardian.  Shane Dunphy holds BA degrees in Child and Social Care from Waterford Institute of Technology, and a Masters Degree in Sociology from NUI Maynooth.  He currently lectures in Social Studies and Psychology in Waterford College of Further Education. 

Shane Hegarty

Irish author Shane Hegarty was a journalist with The Irish Times before the Darkmouth series was sold at a hotly-contested auction in 2013. Four books of the bestselling story of a reluctant monster hunter have followed, with Darkmouth published in over a dozen languages around the world. A major film is also planned. A father of four, Shane lives in Skerries, Co Dublin.


Sinead Moriarty

Sinead Moriarty was born and raised in Dublin where she grew up surrounded by books.  Her mother is an author of children’s books. Growing up, Sinead says she was inspired by watching her mother writing at the kitchen table and then being published. It was at the age of thirty, while working as a journalist in London that she began to write creatively in her spare time. After a couple of years toying with ideas, she joined a creative writing group and began to write The Baby Trail.  The bitter-sweet comedy of a couple struggling to conceive hit a nerve in publishing circles. To date, it has been published in 25 languages. Sinead’s 12th novel with Penguin, The Good Mother, was published this year.


Louise Hall

Louise Hall is a writer of fiction, non-fiction and short stories. She has had two non-fiction books published by The Columba Press and one translated into Italian by Edizioni Piemme. Louise has been published in The Sunday Independent, The Irish Independent, The Irish News, Woman’s Way and more, and has appeared on RTE Radio and Television programmes. Louise’s short stories have made the longlist and short list for the Penguin/RTE Guide competition; the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards, and the Colm Toibin Short story award. She was also runner-up in the New Talent Award at the Love Stories Award ceremony which was held in London. Her short story, Frankie’s List, was published by The Irish Times as part of their 12 stories of Christmas. She is currently working on a novel.

Bibi Baskin

Bibi Baskin is a former RTE TV presenter. She also worked on both radio and TV in the UK. She then moved to India where she bought a dilapidated heritage building, restored it and converted it into a heritage hotel which she managed for fifteen years. She recently returned to Ireland where she still makes media appearances, and writes articles & blogs. Her Indian experience has become the source of Motivational talks which she delivers at different venues countrywide and is the focus of a book which is currently a work in progress. A recent ‘convert’ to Social Media she is a huge fan of Twitter and most recently has started to manage Twitter accounts for SMEs.


Eileen Morrissey was appointed Wexford County Librarian in 2016 and has over 20 years experience of working in the public library sector in Ireland. She has a true belief in the positive role that books, reading and libraries can have on people’s everyday lives: their wellbeing, their achievements and their relationships. She is a member of the group that designed the first national Summer Reading Challenge for children in Ireland and is involved in a universal book gifting programme in County Wexford. Prior to working with Wexford County Council, Eileen worked in Dublin City Public Libraries for 12 years gaining experience in a wide range of roles. Eileen is a Council member of the Library Association of Ireland and actively works on promotion of libraries and librarians in Ireland.


Alex Barclay is the author of several bestselling thrillers. She studied journalism in college, and went on to work as a journalist and copywriter before writing her first novel, Darkhouse, a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller featuring NYPD detective Joe Lucchesi. This was followed by a sequel, The Caller. Alex won the Ireland AM Crime Fiction Award at the Irish Book Awards for her third novel, Blood Runs Cold, which was the beginning of the Special Agent Ren Bryce series. Since then, Ren has featured in Time of Death, and Alex’s most recent novel, Blood Loss.

Michael O’Higgins works as a criminal lawyer, mainly on the defence side. He was called to the bar in 1987 and became a senior counsel in 2000. He previously worked as a staff journalist for Hot Press and Magill, covering crime stories and the conflict in Northern Ireland. He has twice won the Hennessy XO Literary Award (in 2008 and 2010) for his short stories. He lives with his partner Patricia, his three children, two dogs and one cat in Bray, Co Wicklow.

Sue Leonard

A Journalist and Ghostwriter, Sue is the co-author of two recent number one bestsellers:  Whispering Hope, the True Story of the Magdalene Women, (Orion 2015,) and An Act of Love with Marie Fleming, recounting Marie’s extraordinary life, and fight for the right to die with dignity.(Hachette Ireland, 2014). She has worked on four other books as a ghost writer, two, for Penguin Ireland, were best sellers. She is the author of Keys to the Cage (New Island, 2010). As a journalist, Sue has written for The Irish Times, the Irish Independent, the Irish Examiner, The Evening Herald, Image Magazine, and numerous other publications. A former columnist with the Evening Herald she currently writes the ‘Beginner’s Pluck’ book column for the Irish Examiner, and the Debut Roundup Column for Books Ireland. She has interviewed countless authors, including nine winners of the Man Booker Prize.


Margaret Galvin, BA (Social Studies), MA (Child, Youth and Family Studies). Margaret Galvin has published 6 collections of poetry over the past thirty years. She has an intense interest in how writing can function to support wellbeing through creative self expression. She worked as a volunteer bereavement support worker for 6 years. She has worked variously with Wexford library service and in Social Care. She is a former editor of Ireland’s Own and an experienced workshop facilitator.

Tramp Press – Sarah Goff-Davis & Lisa Coen

Tramp Press aims to find, nurture and publish exceptional literary talent. Founded by Sarah Davis-Goff and Lisa Coen, Tramp Press is committed to publishing only the best and most deserving books, to encourage, support and maintain Ireland’s literary talent, and to enrich the lives of readers. Tramp wishes to engage the best practices of traditional publishers – to create lasting editorial relationships with authors in order to support their life’s work, and to provide long-term support and essential criticism, while also employing the opportunities that digital tools provide to publish both in print and online. People who love books will always want excellent writing. We want to help them get their hands on it. Tramp Press will publish books for readers, and will work to bring great writing in from the cold.

Gaby Smyth

Gaby Smyth studied at UCD, University of Limerick, & the Leinster School of Music; he is a certified mediator, and is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. He has been in financial and taxation consultancy for over twenty five years, specialising in the literary, music, film, theatre and visual arts – representing and advising many major Irish and international practitioners in these areas.

Gaby has also been involved in the leadership and governance of many arts organisations and non-profit organisations in Ireland; and over the years, has been the chairperson of the boards of Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, Corn Exchange Theatre Company, and TEAM Educational Theatre Company, along with Screen Producers Ireland and Amnesty International.  He is currently chairperson of the boards of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival and Opera Theatre Company.

Gaby retains an enduring interest in the arts, particularly literature and music, and he is currently visiting professor at the Leeds College of Music.