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Bernard boosts Balbriggan’s credentials with stunning short story debut

Balbriggan’s growing reputation as a centre for the arts has been enhanced by the presence of a local writer on the RTÉ Francis MacManus Short Story Competition shortlist for 2022.

albriggan-based author Bernard Crowley has seen his first-ever short story, ‘A Nice Cup of Tea’, shortlisted for the RTÉ Francis MacManus Short Story Competition.

Bernard Crowley wrote one of the ten shortlisted stories selected from over 1,700 entries.

His entry, ‘A Nice Cup of Tea’, was inspired by his walks on Balbriggan Beach and is his first short story.

"I am very proud of it. It is the whole of my writing career. I have dabbled in poetry all my life but have never before submitted to public scrutiny,” said Bernard.

A father of four and a grandfather of three, he describes his work life as working part-time for two months of the year (at Christmas) and reading books for the other ten.

He has worn many trade hats from shop owner to addiction counsellor and has himself struggled with addiction in the past.

“A soundbite of my life would read: In the 70s I was a pothead, in the 80s a heroin addict and in the 90s an alcoholic. I am glad to say I just struggle with coffee now!”

‘A Nice Cup of Tea’ is inspired by dog walks on Balbriggan Beach, where he regularly gathers sea glass and broken crockery.

“I sat down to write a story about a woman drinking a cup of tea and thinking fondly of her fisherman husband out at sea and wishing him well.

“But when the cup hit the wall I had to follow it. I walk the beach in Balbriggan every morning with the dog and gather sea glass as I go.

“I also gather broken crockery, and inspired by Dermot Healy's beautiful poem ‘The Travels of Sorrow’, I decided to investigate the broken pieces. And to put them back together again."

All 10 stories will be broadcast and podcast in a season of new writing as part of Late Date on RTÉ Radio 1, weeknights at 11.20pm, beginning on Monday next, October 10. The stories will also be published on

All 10 writers will join judges at a special RTÉ Arena Short Story special event in the Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire, on Friday, October 21 at 7pm, which will be broadcast live on RTÉ Radio 1.

The RTÉ Arena Live Short Story special will see host Seán Rocks and this year's judges, Lisa McInerney, Ferdia MacAnna and Éilis Ní Dhuibhne, discuss the art of the short story, review the stories on the shortlist of this year's competition, and announce their overall winners, with live music and performances by leading actors.

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