Ballina father of seven wins distance learning scholarship

A Mayo father of seven who started writing poetry, prose, and fiction after he was made redundant has been awarded a distance learning scholarship in writing and publishing at The Open College 2011 Scholarship Awards, announced this week.

Chris Birrane of Ballina has written 300 pieces, some of which have been published in newspapers, and a prose anthology.

“I want to follow my dream of being a professional writer both in a journalistic and private capacity. I have nothing but time since being made redundant,” he said.

Mr Birrane had retrained in advanced computer applications and as an industrial engineer, but writing is his real career choice and the scholarship judges were impressed by his determination to succeed.

“I am determined not to accept my lot as a middle-aged unemployed person and will continue to improve my position. I plan to meet writers’ groups and publishers. It is also my ambition to set up writing workshops, within my own area, particularly, but not exclusively, for other unemployed potential writers and – in the long term – create an annual anthology, from within my own region, giving others a chance to realise their potential as writers and artists,” he added.

In addition to articles for local and national newspapers, Mr Birrane has had two pieces published in the annual anthology, Writing4all, the best of 2010.

“I have the time, commitment, and the determination to make this work. My work has received many plaudits, from writers and published authors alike. This scholarship can be just the injection of ‘means’ required to fulfil my dream of re-employment,” he said.

Chris Birrane is one of 19 nationwide recipients of distance learning scholarships from The Open College, a not-for-profit organisation and Ireland’s leading provider of FETAC awards by distance and eLearning.

“This scholarship programme provides FETAC awards to people who may not be in a position to access further education. We hope that the programme will bring the award winners back into the workforce or offer them better job prospects,” said Joe Walsh, chief executive, The Open College at the awards announcement.


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