A colourful heart in a field in front of a forest

The Stinging Fly


Galway 2020

We are delighted to be a Galway 2020 Cultural Partner and look forward to publishing a special Galway edition of the magazine in November 2020.

The issue will be edited by Lisa McInerney, with Elaine Feeney as guest poetry editor.

Read Lisa’s editorial statement for the issue below.

Please note that submissions are now closed for the issue. We are still in the process of reading through the work we received during the two submission rounds and we will get back to everyone in due course. Thank you for your patience…

The Stinging Fly will commemorate Galway’s designation as a 2020 European Capital of Culture with a special issue published in conjunction with Galway 2020. Inspired by the Galway 2020 themes of migration, landscape and language, this issue will explore, among other things, Galway’s identity as an Irish city, a European city, and a place of connection, disconnection and belonging.

Having been given the opportunity to put this special issue together, alongside Galway poet and novelist Elaine Feeney as guest poetry editor, I started thinking about Galway as a cultural polestar, wondering how best to reflect on and represent it. No small task, as I am not entirely comfortable with calling myself a Galway writer. What might a Galway writer be, if we were to define her? Would she have fluent Connemara Irish? Would she live on one of the islands? Would she drink only porter in Neachtains? Would she be great ould pals with Angelica Huston? I’ve spent so much time in Cork my characters come out with Cork accents. I have a fluctuating Cork accent myself. My ‘other’ hometown is Gort, on the edge of the Burren and 37 kilometres from Galway City, and, if anything, in Gort we have Clare or Brazilian accents. There are some very stereotypically ‘Galway’ people in the South County — you know the ones, they have polytunnels and are big on textiles and arnica — but they tend to have different accents again: Dublin, English, German. It’s a funny thing that your stereotypical Galwegian isn’t all that Galwegian.

This is something worth exploring. Galway attracts and the force of that attraction warps all around it. Galway is, in a way, an idealised Ireland: the west of the county is savage and beautiful, the city is full of artists and scholars, the east of the county has one GAA stronghold after another, full of people with pleasing brogue accents and lovely old tractors. This is all very superficial but appealing and lucrative; there is no danger of Galway going out of fashion.

Other things about Galway: the medieval wall in the shopping centre. Charlie Byrne’s. Gaeilge on the streets. Whole tribes of buskers. Sparching. Nora Barnacle. Ros na Rún. The Fianna Fáil tent at the Races. Killary Fjord. Low lie the fields of Athenry! The roiling Corrib. Tuam Babies. The Irish Literary Theatre. Galway Girl. Michael D. Higgins. Donegal Tuesday. The Macnas Parade. A fierce amount of seaweed. Tourists as far as the eye can weep. Boy racers. Jarlath, Colman, Attracta and Assumpta sharing magic mushrooms and a bottle of Buckfast.

While we cannot assume that we will be able to include affecting musings on all of these things in this issue of The Stinging Fly, we’re going to attempt as full-coloured a portrait of the city and county as we can, and we welcome writers, poets and general agitators to prime their palettes. We intend this issue not just to be a celebration of place, but a space in which the notions we have about place are challenged. We don’t simply want this issue to reflect the work of Galway-based writers, but to include voices inspired by Galway, motivated by the themes of Galway 2020, provoked by the fêting of the arts, or voices typically missing from cultural conversation. We are keen to read work from writers who we haven’t published before, as well as work from those writers we have been publishing over the years. We encourage irreverence and dissent, and hope this special issue will be as animated, contrary and stirring as Galway itself.


There will be two open submission periods for stories and for poems:

Tuesday October 1st to Thursday November 28thNOW CLOSED

Monday 17th February to Monday March 2nd – NOW CLOSED

Stories should be no more than 6000 words. No minimum word count. One story per writer.

Please send no more than three poems per submission. Maximum of 60 lines per poem.

Writers should only submit work once during one of the two submission periods unless they have been invited to submit work a second time.

You can submit through our Submittable page.

Good luck!