Cork Profile - Catherine Kirwan

Writer and solicitor

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?

I didn’t think much about the future. I was a child - I played, read, went to the seaside in the summer, the usual. I wrote a few things but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I’d grow up to be a published writer.

Tell us about your career progression to your role today:

I started writing seriously in 2014. I began the novel that became my first book ‘Darkest Truth’ that November.

Then, in 2016, I entered it for a competition in England run by the Daily Mail and Penguin and was shortlisted out of 5,000 entries that summer. I didn’t win but I came in the top six. From that, I got an agent and my first book, ‘Darkest Truth’, was published in January 2019.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?

I never tire of meeting readers who tell me they enjoyed my book. Each of them will have a slightly different take on it or pick up on a different aspect that struck home with them. When I hear that they stayed up all night to finish it, or neglected their family to read the book, I get a massive thrill.

What motivates you?

I just want to do a good job, that’s the main thing. And of course I enjoy writing, otherwise I wouldn’t do it.

What advice would you give your 15 year old self?

I don’t think there’s much point advising my 15 year old self about anything whatsoever because I’m sure she wouldn’t listen to a word.

If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing?

I’ve done some teaching and I enjoyed it. It was something I thought very seriously about when I was filling out the CAO form, so probably teaching.

What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date?

When ‘Darkest Truth’ was chosen as Cork’s One City One Book by Cork City Libraries in 2019, that was my proudest moment. The 2022 One City One Book is ‘Pancho and Lefty Ride Out’ by Cork legend Conal Creedon and needless to say it’s brilliant, so hopefully loads of people in the city will read it this year.

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?

My parents, grandparents, sister and brother.

How do you switch off?

Reading, walking, yoga, telly, swimming in summer or meeting friends.

What is your favourite Cork memory?

I always love the Corcadorca shows and was on the board for many years. One of my favourite memories is of the outdoor show they did during the first lockdown, where they went around to the greens of various housing estates. I went to it in Ballyphehane and I’ll never forget the reaction of one little boy, who was maybe around ten or eleven. He was so excited and when it was over, he was the first to clap. He was amazing, as were his family. During one of the toughest periods for us all, I felt their love for each other, at a time when I was separated from my own family.

What is your favourite place in Cork?

Impossible question. There are too many wonderful places to choose from. If I’m pushed, the top of Patrick’s Hill looking down towards Pana.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto?

At the moment I’m trying to write my third book so it’s “I’ve done it before I can do it again”.

When are you at your happiest?

I was very happy last Wednesday sitting in the warm sunshine having lunch with a friend outside Moody’s on the Lower Road.

What is your hidden talent?

I sing. Sometimes. If I’m in the form.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I still support Waterford in the hurling.


Name and position: Catherine Kirwan - writer and solicitor (though it’s the other way around if you meet me from Monday-Friday). My current book, ‘Cruel Deeds’, a crime novel set in Cork, is out now from Hachette Ireland.

Age: 29 and a bit. A good bit!

Lives: Near the Lough.

Favourite thing about Cork: There are so many things to choose from, but I love the views, whether that be a sunset to the west of the Lough, or looking across the river towards Sunday’s Well from Fitzgerald’s Park, or out the Lee Fields, or standing at the top of Patrick’s Hill, taking in the famous view from Audley Place, or straight downhill onto Patrick’s Bridge.

Least favourite thing about Cork: The dereliction and the needless demolition of heritage buildings. If we’re not careful, all the character of the city will be gone and Cork will look just like everywhere else, filled with generic glass boxes, which would be a terrible shame.

One thing you’d change about Cork: Cork needs a modern integrated flood management plan that gives appropriate respect to heritage and biodiversity. The existing plans are woeful and way out of date at this stage. 2030 is just around the corner and it’s time the Government, Cork City Council and the OPW woke up to the reality that every single person walking around the city knows - that Cork needs a tidal barrier.