Nonformal groups & festivals

I work with these groups to build literacy and confidence through fun creative writing projects, with drawing encouraged too. The focus is on inclusivity, acceptance and encouragement; there are no wrong answers! As the Writer in Residence at OLHS school, Crumlin Hospital, I’ve helped the children produce two books: My Handbook of Heroes and Imagine-a-Nation.


Connections: stories by Syrian families in County Clare

People, places and possibilities are the themes of a book produced with Syrian children and their mothers. Funded by Clare County Library, IBBY Ireland, and Poetry Ireland, the project has been shortlisted for the Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards 2020.

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My Handbook of Heroes

From superheroes to real-life role models, children in direct provision dreamed up super-stories for this essential guide to all things heroic.

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‘The children have benefitted greatly from the courses provided by Debbie. All of these programmes have been highly valuable to the children both in terms of their personal progression and integration in the community.’
– Graham Carry, Director of the direct provision centre

Debbie … impressed us by her expertise in motivating and engaging our pupils, patients of Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin, and her ability to work jointly with our teaching staff. We approached her to become our Writer in Residence, which she agreed to do and has been active in that role for a number of years.’
– Mary McCarron, Principal, Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital School, Crumlin

Nation Creation

Participants dream up their ideal country, complete with laws, flags, national sports, customs, cakes etc. Both great fun and creatively challenging, this workshop gives young people a voice; a chance to right the wrongs of our world, and to dream up a brilliant future. See ‘Creating Nations from Silent Books’ in Bookbird, the journal of IBBY (the International Board on Books for Young People). I run this workshop in primary and secondary schools; with children in direct provision, and in OLHS Hospital school Crumlin.

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‘Who doesn’t want to have a go at creating a brave new and better world? The workshops inspired incredible ideas and got everyone thinking in an exciting way about how they would achieve potential and problem-solve within their created communities. They promoted experimental thinking and inclusivity, and empowered the children.’
– Marian Keyes, programmer of events and exhibitions, dlr LexIcon library near Dublin

‘I found that ruling a country is ‘hard work and you have to be good at maths.’
– 5th class pupil, Dublin.
‘My island has a new religion called Muslianity.’
– 10 year-old boy, Dublin