Bernie McGill is the author of two novels and two short story collections.
She has written audio scripts for heritage projects and stage scripts for theatre. Her second short story collection, This Train is For, was published by No Alibis Press in June 2022.
Listen to Bernie’s short story ‘Waiting for Joseph’ read by Julia Dearden on BBC Radio 4.
An original short story commissioned by BBC Radio 4 from the writer Bernie McGill. As read by Julia Dearden. Bernie McGill is the author of two novels and two short story collections. She has also written audio scripts for heritage projects and stage scripts for theatre. She studied English and Italian at Queen’s University, Belfast and graduated with a Masters degree in Irish Writing. Her novel The Watch House was nominated in 2019 for the Ireland/European Union Prize for Literature and The Butterfly Cabinet was named in 2012 by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes as his novel of the year. Her first short story collection Sleepwalkers was short listed in 2014 for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize. Her second short story collection This Train is For was published by No Alibis Press in June 2022. Writer: Bernie McGill Reader: Julia Dearden Producer: Michael Shannon Executive Editor: Andy Martin A BBC Northern Ireland production.
Released On: 07 Oct 2022 (Available for over a year).
Joseph’s great aunt is waiting for Joseph, it’s his night to visit, when he finishes his training session. She is able to see part of the pitch and can watch Joseph playing. As she waits she reminisces about Joseph, about hurling, about Camogie, about family and estrangement.
Joseph’s great aunt, we aren’t told her name, is a retired teacher now in her nineties she enjoys her visits from Joseph. The little gifts he leaves for her to find, his help with technology so she can get the Mass online, his love of hurling reminds her of the stick Dan (her brother and Joseph’s grandfather) made for her for the Camogie final. Then she’s watching a service strangely the Priest is talking about the game, there are the team, there’s Megan (Joseph’s girlfriend) with his mother and there’s Dan …
And then she remembers something about Dan, a visit, being told something she didn’t want to know.
This is a charming, funny, heartwarming and heart wrenching short story beautifully written by Bernie McGill, well read by Julia Dearden. It is pitch perfect.
Link here for information on Reading Round Coleraine at Coleraine Library running from September 2022 to May 2023.
Reading Ireland month, or The Begorrathon as it is affectionately known, returns for the seventh year between Wednesday 1 and Friday 31 March 2023. So I will be reading a book or two for this challenge. You can find out all about it from the host Cathy on 746books.
Author: Bernie McGill was born in Lavey in County Derry in Northern Ireland. She studied English and Italian at Queen’s University, Belfast and graduated with a Masters degree in Irish Writing. Her novel The Watch House was nominated in 2019 for the Ireland/European Union Prize for Literature and The Butterfly Cabinet was named in 2012 by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes as his novel of the year. Her first short story collection, Sleepwalkers, was short listed in 2014 for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize. Her short fiction has been nominated for numerous awards and in 2008 she won the Zoetrope:All-Story Short Fiction Award in the US. Her work has been anthologised in award-winning collections The Long Gaze Back and The Glass Shore and more recently in The Black Dreams, Her Other Language, The Danger & the Glory, Belfast Stories and in Female Lines. She is a recipient of a number of Arts Council of Northern Ireland Awards and she is a former Writing Fellow with the Royal Literary Fund (RLF) at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University, Belfast. She is now an Associate Fellow of the RLF, working on social sector projects and as a Lector for the RLF’s Reading Round project. She offers One-to-one Mentoring for fiction writers via the Irish Writers’ Centre and is available for school visits via Poetry Ireland’s Writers in Schools Programme. For more information on how to apply for a school visit go to the Writers in Schools Page. For public readings, writing workshops etc. check out Upcoming Events. You can contact Bernie directly here.
The Watch House (1 July 2017)
‘There are messages in the air, a closeness like the kind that comes before a storm, a listening, a holding of breath.’ It is summer, 1898, on the small Irish island of Rathlin and the place is alive with gossip. A pair of strangers has arrived from the mainland, laden with mysterious radio equipment, and the islanders are full of dread. For native Nuala Byrne, abandoned by her family for the New World and trapped by a prudent marriage to the island’s ageing tailor, the prospects for adventure are bleak. But when she is sent to cook for Marconi’s men and is enlisted, by the Italian engineer Gabriel, as an apprentice operator, she becomes enthralled by the world of knowledge that he brings from beyond her own narrow horizons. As Nuala’s friendship with Gabriel deepens, she realises that her deal with the tailor was a bargain she should never have struck.
The Watch House is a gripping story about the power of words to connect us, and the power of suspicion to drive us apart
The Butterfly Cabinet (12 May 2016)
You had a story for me… I wasn’t ready to hear it before but I’ll hear it now.
When Maddie McGlade, a former nanny, receives a letter from Anna, the last of her charges and now a married woman, she realises that the time has come to unburden herself of a secret that has gnawed at her for over seventy years. It is the story of the last day in the life of Charlotte Ormond, the four-year-old only daughter of the big house where Maddie was employed as a young girl. The Butterfly Cabinet also reveals the private thoughts of Charlotte’s mother, Harriet. A proud, uncompromising woman, Harriet’s great passion is collecting butterflies and pinning them into her cabinet; motherhood comes no more easily to her than does her role as mistress of a far-flung Irish estate. When her daughter dies, her community is quick to condemn her. At last Maddie, and Harriet’s prison diaries that Maddie has kept hidden under lock and key in the cabinet she has inherited, will reveal a more complex truth.
An unforgettable story of two lives linked by a secret, The Butterfly Cabinet is a remarkable literary debut.
Short Story Anthologies and Short Stories
Sleepwalkers: Short listed for the prestigious Edge Hill Short Story Prize for a single-authored collection in 2014. Published by Whittrick Press. Available to order in print from No Alibis Bookstore in Belfast.
Darkly moving and beautifully written, Bernie McGill’s debut collection of short stories explores the lives of women across the generations. From the storm-battered coastline of the north of Ireland to the sleeping villas of Andalusia, McGill’s characters grapple with the consequences of affairs, bereavement, alcoholism, illness and murder.
Compassionate and quietly powerful, McGill’s stories capture intimate moments of loss, love and healing in a troubled age.
The Cure for Too Much Feeling (1 October 2016) included in The Glass Shore, an anthology of short stories by women writers from the nine counties of Ulster, spanning three centuries. It is edited by Sinéad Gleeson and published by New Island Books, Dublin, in 2016.
Winner of Best Irish Published Book of the Year at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards 2016.
A Fuss (1 September 2015) included in The Long Gaze Back, an anthology of short stories by Irish women writers spanning four centuries. It is edited by Sinéad Gleeson and published by New Island Books, Dublin, in 2015.
Winner of Best Irish Published Book of the Year at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards 2015.
No Angel (10 April 2011) included in Sleepwalkers & Other Stories, is anthologised in The Best British Short Stories 2011, published April 2011 by Salt Publishing and edited by Nicholas Royle. It won second place in both the Michael McLaverty and the Seán O’Faóláin Short Story Competitions 2010, and is also published in Scandal and Other Stories (Linen Hall Library, Belfast, 2010) and in Pigs’ Feet, White Socks & Hoovers (Southword Editions, Cork, 2013).
Home (1 September 2010) included in Sleepwalkers & Other Stories. It was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and published in The Winners of the Bridport Prize 2010.
Family Ties (1 December 2009) Published in Brand magazine Winter/Spring 2009.
Sleepwalkers (1 December 2008) is included in Sleepwalkers & Other Stories. It was first Prizewinner in the Zoetrope: All-Story Short Fiction Contest (US) December 2008.
First Tooth (10 April 2006) is included in Sleepwalkers & Other Stories. It was originally published, along with Service Interrupted in My Story, Blackstaff Press/BBC Radio Ulster, Belfast, April 2006, edited by Pauline Currie.
Epistle & A Still Life (21 November 2005) Published in The Barefoot Nuns of Barcelona & Other Short Stories, a collection of stories from the Orange Northern Woman Short Story Prize, Greer Publications, Belfast, 2005.
This Train Is For: This new collection, her first since 2013, contains unpublished stories along with a number of previously published stories featured within award winning anthologies. This Train is Foris available to order from No Alibis Press.
Bernie McGill’s award-winning stories have been widely praised for their emotional depth and their lyrical language. She is a writer of profound sensitivity and observation. Her masterful deployment of linguistic precision and economy enables her to plumb the depths of human experience while neatly avoiding sentimentalism.
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Bernie is one of my favourite writers! Her latest collection The Train is For is masterful.
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New to me, Cathy, but I can certainly understand why she would be a favourite. I love this about RIM – that I can read old favourites, read those writers who I know of but haven’t read and then I can find a new to me writer that is a treat to read or, in this case, listen to. Thanks for hosting again this year.
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