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Queen’s announces Roddy Doyle, Kae Tempest and Conor Mitchell as Seamus Heaney Fellows for 2022-23

The Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast has announced the appointments of Roddy Doyle, Kae Tempest and Conor Mitchell as the Seamus Heaney Centre Fellows for 2022-23.

Seamus Heaney Centre Fellows 2022-23
Seamus Heaney Centre Fellows 2022-23 Kae Tempest, Roddy Doyle and Conor Mitchell.

Each year, the Seamus Heaney Centre announces three Fellows from the worlds of Poetry, Fiction, Music, Film and Television to explore creative writing in all its forms by working with students and contributing to the Centre’s activities within the University and the wider literary community.

Roddy Doyle is the author of twelve novels, including The Commitments, The Snapper, and Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, for which he won the Booker Prize in 1993; The Woman Who Walked into Doors, and, most recently, Love. He co-wrote the screenplay for The Commitments and wrote the scripts for The Snapper and The Van. His most recent screen work was the script for Rosie, released in 2018.  His four-part TV series, Family, was produced by the BBC in 1994. He has also written three collections of short stories, eight books for children, the Two Pints series, and memoir of his parents, Rory and Ita.  He co-wrote The Second Half, with Roy Keane. His most recent book is a story collection, Life without ChildrenKellie, a book he has co-written with Olympic gold-winning boxer, Kellie Harrington, will be published in October 2022. He has also written for stage, including The Commitments musical. 

He is a co-founder of Fighting Words, which was set up to help and encourage children and young people throughout Ireland to write creatively. Roddy lives in Dublin. 

Speaking about the appointment, Roddy said: "I love Belfast and I love working with students, so I didn't hesitate when I was invited to be a Seamus Heaney Centre Fellow.  I was - and am - delighted, and I'm looking forward to working with the students and wasting some serious time in Belfast.

Kae Tempest is a poet, writer, lyricist, and a performance and recording artist. They have published plays, poems, novels, non-fiction essays, released albums and toured extensively, selling out shows from Reykjavik to Rio de Janeiro. They received Mercury Music Prize nominations for albums Everybody Down and Let Them Eat Chaos, and two Ivor Novello nominations for The Book of Traps and Lessons. They were named a Next Generation Poet in 2014, a once in a decade accolade. They received the Ted Hughes Award for their long form narrative poem Brand New Ancients and the Leone D'Argento at the Venice Teatro Biennale for their work as a playwright. Their books have been translated into 11 languages and published to critical acclaim around the world. They live in London.

Kae commented: “I’m honoured to be involved in the Seamus Heaney fellowship at Queen’s University Belfast. He's a poet I have learned so much from and his work resonates with me very deeply. I look forward to meeting the students and seeing what we can discover together.”

Conor Mitchell is a multi-award-winning opera/music-theatre composer, librettist, and stage director. His music blends the worlds of stage design with contemporary visual arts and engages audiences through socially relevant, politically charged subjects. A double Ivor Novello nominee and double Fringe First winner, he is the recipient of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Major Individual Artists Award and a life fellow of the Arts Foundation for composition, he is also the only non-American to hold 'best score' at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. As Artistic Director of The Belfast Ensemble, his opera Abomination: a DUP Opera was listed in the Top Ten Classical Works of 2019 and won 'Best Opera Production' at the 2020 Irish Times Theatre Awards. He is currently composer in residence at Wexford Opera Festival where he premieres a new work in 2022.

Conor said: “I was honoured to be invited to be a Seamus Heaney Fellow alongside such wonderful writers and artists as Roddy Doyle and Kae Tempest. I have new works in development during my time as Fellow, and I'm looking forward to sharing the writing process with students and seeing how this dialogue can shape and support my own writing. Delighted. And can't wait to begin!"

Professor Glenn Patterson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s commented: “Every time I go write something I get no further than the names - Roddy Doyle, Kae Tempest and Conor Mitchell are the 2023 Seamus Heaney Centre Fellows! - and all I can think is wow.”

The new Fellows will officially take up their posts in the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s in the new year.

Previous Seamus Heaney Centre Fellows have included musicians Iain Archer, Duke Special, and Tim Wheeler; novelists Marian Keyes, Anna Burns and Wendy Erskine; poets Vahni Capildeo, Doireann Ni Ghriofa and Denise Riley; and play-wrights and screenwriters Enda Walsh, Lisa McGee and Jed Mercurio.



Media enquiries to Zara McBrearty at Queen’s Communications Office on email: or Mob: 07795676858