• 2021 Festival Programme

    We are delighted to launch our programme for the 2021 Frances Browne Literary Festival

    Frances Browne Literary Festival Programme
  • Download a copy of our programme

  • Event Details

    Find out more and book your tickets here

    Frances Browne Literary Festival Event

    Festival Launch and Play Premiere of 'The Legends of Ulster'

    Thursday, 7th October, 8pm

    The Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey

    Tickets €15/€12

    Frances Browne Literary Festival Event

    Creative Writing Workshop - Irish Language

    Friday, 8th October, 10am - 12pm

    The Isaac Butt Heritage Centre,

    Cloghan Beg

    Tickets €10

    Frances Browne Literary Festival Event

    Creative Writing Workshop - English Language

    Friday, 8th October, 10am - 12pm

    Súile Centre, Volt House, The Diamond, Raphoe

    Tickets €10

    Frances Browne Literary Festival Event

    Creative Writing Workshop Ulster-Scots Language

    Friday, 8th October, 10am - 12pm

    The BASE, Railway Road, Stranorlar

    Tickets €10

    Frances Browne Literary Festival Event

    Creative Writing Workshop Children's Workshop

    Online, on-demand




    Frances Browne Literary Festival Event

    Our Home:

    Language and Identity

    Friday, 8th October, 3pm

    The Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey

    Tickets €10


    Frances Browne Literary Festival Event

    Book launch:
    Adomnán, Adhamhnán, Eunan: Life and Afterlife of a Donegal Saint/

    Life and Afterlife of a Donegal Saint

    Friday, 8th October, 7pm

    St Eunan's Cathedral, Raphoe

    Tickets: FREE - Booking required

    Frances Browne Literary Festival Event

    Frances Browne Multilingual Poetry Competition Awards Ceremony

    Friday, 8th October, 8.30pm

    Kee's Hotel, Stranorlar

    Tickets: FREE - Booking required

    Frances Browne Literary Festival Event

    Children's Activity Day of Fun and Magic

    Saturday, 9th October, 12 noon to 3pm

    Ard McCool playground, Railway Road, Stranorlar, (opposite The BASE)

    Tickets: Free - Booking NOT required

    Frances Browne Literary Festival Event

    Book Launch: IDEO Locator

    Saturday, 9th October, 4pm

    Alexanders General Store, Main Street, Ballybofey

    Tickets: FREE - Booking Required

    Frances Browne Literary Festival Event

    Theatre Reading: In My Mind's Eye

    Saturday, 9th October, 7pm

    An Grianan Theatre, Letterkenny

    Tickets: €5

    Frances Browne Literary Festival Event

    Theatre: The Legends of Ulster

    Saturday, 9th October, 8pm

    The Balor Arts Centre, Ballybofey

    €15 / €12

    Frances Browne Literary Festival Event

    Art Exhibition

    The Fiach Arts Circle

    Friday 8th and Saturday 9th October

    Foyer - Balor Arts Theatre, Main Street, Ballybofey

    Frances Browne Literary Festival Event

    Schools Programme:

    Frances Browne:The Voyager of the Mind

    A Poetry Workshop for Transition Year Students

    Journalist and Author: Anna Carey

    Schools Programme:

    A morning with Anna Carey

    A Wainfest Event

    Anna Carey, journalist, script-writer and award winning children’s author will visit some of our local schoolchildren. The children will have the opportunity to ask Anna all about her writing life. Anna will share with them how she works and lead them in some fun creative writing activities.

  • Multilingual Poetry Competition


    We would like to thank everyone for their entries to the 2021 Frances Browne Multilingual poetry competition. We had a huge response and look forward to reading everyone's entries. We will be in touch with the winners in each category in due course.
    The Frances Browne Multilingual Poetry Competition welcomes entries in three separate categories: Irish Language; English Language and Ulster-Scots Language.
    Prizes: Each Competition category will be awarded the following prizes:
    First place: €250 Second place: €150 Third place: €100

    If you have any queries about the competition please do not hesitate to contact us

  • Festival News

    Updates on what's happening in the run up to our Festival Launch

    We invited playwright Shirley Anne Bonner to tell us more about her theatre premiere, The Legends...
    With just one week to go to our Awards Evening at Kee's Hotel we're delighted to announce the...
    Did you know we have a number of free events in our Festival Programme?   Check them out and...
    More Posts
  • About Frances Browne

    by Shirley-Anne Godfrey, IRC Scholar, NUI Galway. August 2021

  • Frances Browne: Literary Achievements

    Despite a lack of formal education, being blind, and the limitations of geographical isolation, poverty and gendered expectations of her time, Frances Browne became a literary celebrity in her day. Known as “The Blind Poetess of Ulster”, she worked chiefly in Edinburgh and then London.


    Browne wrote three collections of poetry, three three-volume novels, many short stories and essays. She was a prolific journalist and reviewer for many prominent magazines and is chiefly remembered for her best-selling children's storybook Granny's Wonderful Chair (1857). Browne became a literary celebrity in Edinburgh and London literary circles: a poet, novelist, children’s author as well as a popular and prolific non-fiction essayist and writer of serialised fiction. It is estimated by Alexis Easley that by 1866, Browne had published a staggering 178 articles in periodicals, 109 individually published poems and seventy-eight works of periodical fiction, including sixteen serials.


    These enormous achievements have not translated into contemporary recognition, and Frances Browne has been effectively erased from the Canon of Irish literature. Apart from cursory references in anthologies, Browne is virtually absent from the public memory with the exception of local interest.


    Patrick Bonar’s The Life and Work of Frances Browne (2007) pioneered a revival of local interest in Browne, and Raymond Blair’s The Best of Frances Browne (2012) further emphasised the sheer variety and breadth of Browne’s prolific literary output. Pauline Holland’s chapter on Browne in Treasure Each Voice (2010) provided the first scholarly consideration of Browne’s life and work and evidences a recent renewed academic interest in Browne’s writing.


    In New Media and the Rise of the Popular Woman Writer 1832-1860 (2021), Alexis Easley discusses how Browne’s savvy construction of her public image and her ability to present different aspects of her identity to different publics meant that she could at once occupy the role of rural, working-class artist in the Irish Penny Journal and a more cosmopolitan, urbane commentator for the high-brow Athenaeum, as well as simultaneously write with an Irish nationalist tone in her poetry.


    Heather Tilley discusses Brown’s novel My Share of the World in dialogue with Wilkie Collins’ Poor Miss Finch in Blindness and Writing : from Wordsworth to Gissing. (2018) Apart from these contributions from Victorian studies and Disability studies, Browne is chiefly referenced in studies on children's literature. Andrew Sneddon and John Privelege, at the Coleraine campus, University of Ulster, include Granny’s Wonderful Chair and a poem The May Yarra in their database ‘The Supernatural in Ulster Scots Literature and Folklore Reader’ and point out that Brown “arguably anticipates the supernaturalism of the Irish literary revival.”


    Browne’s writings champion the working class, tenant rights, children’s rights, and the urban poor. Her anti-slavery, anti-war and anti-imperialist political positions and non-sectarian attitudes are evident in her writing and demonstrate just how essentially modern her consciousness was.


    Her successful writing career at a time when it was considered barely respectable for a woman to write, as well as clearly proto-feminist intentions in some of her work, mean that a reconsideration of Browne’s work is both timely and necessary. Browne’s own complex identity embraces Irishness and an Ulster Scots heritage.


    Writing from the seat of empire, Browne’s representation and celebration of cultural complexities in her Legends of Ulster and other writings make her a worthy avatar for cultural pluralism on this island and beyond. Never entirely embraced by one “tribe” or another, rehabilitating her literary legacy and sharing her heritage(s) remain urgent and exciting projects.

  • Selected Works

    Most of Browne’s original writings can be accessed on Google Books, or archive.org


    The Star of the Atteghei, the Vision of Schwartz; and other Poems (1844)


    Lyrics and Miscellaneous Poems (1847)


    Pictures and Songs of Home (1856).


    My Share of the World (1861)


    The Castleford Case (1862)


    The Hidden Sin (1866) (anonymously)


    The Legends of Ulster (1849-51)


    These twelve legends include the following set in Donegal : The Unlucky Birthnight (Barnes Gap), The Wreckers of Fannet (Fanad), The Sharon Ruction (Newtoncunnigham) , O Donnell’s Penance (Donegal town), O’ Cleery’s Tenant Right (Dungloe) The May Eve’s Yarra (Inishowen)

    Children’s literature

    The Ericksons; The Clever Boy or Consider Another -two Stories for my Young Friends (1852)


    Granny’s Wonderful Chair and its Tales of Fairy Times (1857)


    The Orphans of Elfholm (1862)

    Other Fiction

    The Young Foresters. Groombridge, 1864.


    The Exile's Trust : a Tale of the French Revolution and Other Stories. 1869.


    The Nearest Neighbours, and Other Stories., 1875.

  • Published Resources

    Blair, Raymond. The Best of Frances Browne : Poems, Stories and Essays by the Blind Genius of Stranorlar. Rathmore Books. 2012.


    Bonar, Patrick. The Life and Works of Frances Browne. 2007


    Easley, Alexis Publishing and Reception”. The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Women's Poetry, edited by, Linda K. Hughes, Cambridge University Press, 2019, Hughes, Linda K. p 97-113.


    Easley, Alexis New Media and the Rise of the Popular Woman Writer 1832-1860. Edinburgh University Press. 2021.


    Holland Pauline ed. Treasure each voice: 400 years of Anglo-Irish, Irish and Ulster-Scots literature from Stranorlar. 2010 p. 743-750


    Tilley, Heather. Frances Browne: Toward a poetics of Blind Writing.” Journal of literary and Cultural Disability Studies. 3.2. (2009) : p.147-161.


    Tilley, Heather. “Embodying Blindness in the Victorian Novel Frances Brownes My Share of the World and Wilkie Collinss Poor Miss Finch”. Blindness and Writing : from Wordsworth to Gissing. Cambridge University Press, 2018. p.182-207.

  • Committee and Partners

    Contact us here: info@francesbrowneliteraryfestival.com

    Chairperson: Celine McGlynn

    Celine McGlynn


    Finn Valley Voice Logo

    Finn Valley Voice

    Donegal County Council Logo

    Donegal County Council

    BASICC Logo


    An Grianán Theatre Logo

    An Grianán Theatre

    Balor Arts Centre Logo

    Balor Arts Centre

  • Sponsors

    Thank you to all our event sponsors who have kindly contributed to our 2021 Festival

    Finn Valley Voice Logo

    Kee's Hotel and Leisure Centre

    Donegal County Council Logo

    Karen Murphy- School of Speech and Drama

    BASICC Logo

    Ballybofey Bank of Ireland

    An Grianán Theatre Logo

    Ballybofey & Stranorlar Credit Union

    Balor Arts Centre Logo

    Alexanders of Ballybofey

    Balor Arts Centre Logo

    Foy & Company

    Balor Arts Centre Logo

    McElhinneys Stores

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    Conditions of Entry to the Frances Browne Literary Festival Competition 2021
    • Entrants may submit an unlimited number of poems, in any of the categories, English, Irish or Ulster Scots and each poem must be accompanied by a fee of €5 (£4 sterling or $5). We accept Euros, Sterling, US or Canadian dollars only. Personal cheques (made out to Frances Browne Poetry Competition) or postal orders in Euros or Sterling are accepted. Otherwise payment should be in the form of a banker's draft or an international money order.
    • All poems must be the unpublished, original work of a living author. Poems must not have been previously published, self-published, published on a website or broadcast.
    • The poems must be typed or very clearly written in black ink on one side of the paper only.
    • The poems, and payment, should be firmly attached to the entry form. The name of the entrant must not appear on the poems themselves.
    •  No alterations can be made to the poem once it has been submitted, and it is regretted that no entries can be returned.
    • The judges' decisions are final and no correspondence can be entered into regarding those decisions.
    •  The judges' shortlists will be announced in the  Finn Valley Voice on 29th September 21, and the prizes will be announced and awarded during a prizegiving ceremony in Kee’s Hotel, Stranorlar, Co Donegal, on Friday 8th October 21. Shortlisted competitors are invited to attend the prize-giving, and each will be invited to read a selection of his/her work at the ceremony. 
    • Copyright will remain with the competitor, but the Finn Valley Voice in association with the Frances Browne Poetry Competition  reserves the right to arrange first publication or broadcast of selected poems as it sees fit.
    Submission of a poem implies the competitor's acceptance of the conditions set out above.