Dr James Heaney

Lecturer in English


James Heaney completed his second-level education in 1983.  Over the next two decades he worked in a range of different jobs and countries (as a barman, roofer, English-language teacher, and entrepreneur) as well as experiencing periods of unemployment. He returned to full-time education as a mature student in the 1990s, and graduated from Maynooth University with a BA (Hons) in English and Philosophy in 1996.  In this year he was also awarded the prestigious Pierce Malone Scholarship in Mental and Moral Science by the National University of Ireland. James went on to complete an MA in Irish Writing at Maynooth, before undertaking his PhD at Trinity College, Dublin.  Supported by a Government of Ireland Scholarship grant, this project involved a comparative analysis of revolutionary literature in Ireland and Spain in the period 1913-39.  It was completed in 2004, under the joint supervision of Professor James Whiston (of the Hispanic Dept) and Professor Gerald Dawe (of the School of English) at Trinity.

Having taught in part-time or temporary capacities at the Mater Dei Institute of Education, Maynooth University, and at Trinity College, Dublin, Dr Heaney became a full-time lecturer in English and Irish Studies at Carlow College-St Patrick’s in 2003.  He served as Academic Director of Humanities at the college from 2005 to 2010.  He also worked as Irish Coordinator for the Mfa in Creative Writing Programme run by Carlow University, Pittsburgh, between 2005 and 2014.  His teaching is concentrated in the areas of European & World Drama, Modern Irish Writing, and Creative Writing.  He has supervised MA projects on the writings of Patrick Kavanagh, Oscar Wilde and, most recently, Jane Barlow.

Research Interest

James’ research interests include the literature of the Irish Revival, modern Irish women’s writings, and comparative literary studies with particular reference to Ireland and Spain. He has published essays on a wide range of Irish and Spanish writers including Mary Lavin, Kate O’Brien, Æ (George Russell), W.B. Yeats, Patrick Pearse, Antonio Machado, Manuel Azaña, and Rafael Alberti. He is currently completing a book on the subject of republicanism in the literature of the Irish and Spanish revolutions of the early-to-mid twentieth-century.


Refereed Journals

  • ‘agitarse entre creencias contradictorias’/‘out of the quarrel with ourselves’: Republican Theory in the Writings of Antonio Machado and W.B. Yeats” (Forthcoming in the Bulletin of Spanish Studies).
  • ‘Chesterton, Pearse, and the Blood Sacrifice Theory of the 1916 Rising’, Studies – An Irish Quarterly Review, Vol. 103, No. 411 (Autumn 2014)
  • ‘Posibilidades creadoras’: Religion, Revolution, and the Transformational Self in the Plays of Rafael Alberti 1931-39’, Bulletin of Spanish Studies (Vol. 91, Issue 4, 2014)
  • ‘The Value of Agony’: Poetry and Violence in the Work of Rafael Alberti, 1930-39’, POST: A Review of Poetry Studies – POST IV: Poetry in Process (2013) [online at: www.materdei.ie/postiv_poetryinprocess]


  • ‘The end of the story’: an interview with Man Booker Prize winner, Anne Enright’, in the Carlow College magazine, the Carlovian.
  • Artbeat – a series of articles on the arts in south Leinster for the Carlow Nationalist;
  • ‘On this day in 2020’ – a series of articles for the online newspaper, thejournal.ie.

Creative Writings

  • Prize-winner, Fish Short Story Competition 2014 for ‘Whenever I Close My Eyes’ (Published in the Fish Anthology 2014)
  • Short-listed, Fish Poetry Competition 2014 for ‘I can’t help it really’
  • ‘The Stolen Child’ (filmscript) was shortlisted for the IFB Signatures Scheme in 2014
  • Short play, Awimbawey, produced at the Project Arts Centre in Dublin from 7-17th May 2003 as part of the Fishamble Shorts season of new plays.

Recent Presentations

  • ‘something that life can be about’: republican philosophy and the pursuit of happiness in Kate O’Brien’s The Land of Spices.” (The XVI international conference of The Spanish Association forIrish Studies, The University of La Rioja, Logroño, 26 May 2017)
  • “A World Voice” – Republican Ideals in Irish and International Contexts. (An Exhibition at Carlow College’ April/May 2016 (Co-organiser)
  • “Always historicize”? Writing the Revolution in Ireland and Spain – A Comparative analysis of literature by Patrick Pearse and Rafael Alberti’. (The XV international conference of The Spanish Association for Irish Studies, The University of Zaragoza, 27 May 2016)
  • ‘Remember, Reflect, and Reimagine’ (but don’t mention the ‘R’ word): the continuing relevance of republicanism to an understanding of the 1916 Rising (The ‘What is a Republic?’ conference, Maynooth University, 23 May 2016)
  • ‘Come and see the blood in the streets’: the national and transnational relevance of the 1916 Rising to Modern Ireland’. (The ‘Conflict, Migration & Identity in Modern Ireland’ Conference, organised by TCD, VISUAL Centre, and Carlow College, 14 April, 2016.


B.A., M.A. (Maynooth University); Ph.D. (Trinity College Dublin)