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Friday, March 19, 1999 Published at 15:36 GMT


Gift to Omagh's creative future

William Trevor: His gift gives hope to Omagh's talented future

Veteran Irish writer William Trevor has given £10,000 to boost young literary talent in bomb-torn Omagh.

The chance to award the gift came to the 70-year-old writer when he scooped the £30,000 David Cohen British Literature Prize for lifetime achievement in London on Thursday.

An extra £10,000 was awarded by the Arts Council for educational purposes. Mr Trevor asked that this money go towards a bursary for one promising young Omagh writer.

He said: "I have based this idea on my own indigence at a similar time in my life. It is, I believe, a time when creative people need most financial support."

He added that the lucky recipient, in addition to showing a particular talent for creative writing at school, should have completed a three-year course at university or technical college.

Mark of generosity

Omagh in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland was devastated on 15 August last year by a bomb which killed 29 people and wounded 370.

[ image: Omagh was ripped apart by last year's bomb last]
Omagh was ripped apart by last year's bomb last
People in the town are still trying to rebuild their lives and Northern Ireland's Secretary Mo Mowlam applauded the author's generosity.

"All young people in Northern Ireland have voices which deserve to be heard. From personal experience, I know that listening to their opinions can lead to greater understanding."

The £10,000 scholarship will be administered by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Dr Tess Hurston was on hand to receive the money on the council's behalf. She too praised Mr Trevor.

"This is a very generous gesture to a town which attracted worldwide attention last year for the most awful of reasons," she said.

Fertile ground

Mr Trevor, who hails from Cork in the Irish Republic, won the Whitbread Prize in 1994 for Felicia's Journey and his most recent novel was Death In Summer, published last year.

He has also written many plays for the stage, radio and television.

But Omagh and its surrounds are no strangers to its own homegrown talent.

Novelist Benedict Kiely was born in the town. Brian Friel was born nearby.

Dr Hurston drew attention to the creative fertility of the region saying that Mr Trevor's gift was one of vision to secure the talent of the future.

The David Cohen British Literature Prize is awarded every two years.

It is perhaps not enough time for Omagh's aspiring young writer to join the ranks of previous winners V S Naipaul, Harold Pinter and Muriel Spark.

But Mr Trevor's gift should at least help put him or her on the right track.

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