An aspiring novelist and an MFA student of Creative Writing at UCD School of English, Drama and Film, Declan is working on a trilogy titled ‘the Madness and Misguided Masculinity trilogy’. The first novel in the series, Perpetual Comedown, is to be published by New Island in early 2023.

Declan will use the coveted travel bursary of €4,000 to research the third novel – tentatively titled Dead Goals – in which an unhinged Irish seminarian travels towards St Petersburg by boat and train but ultimately fails to reach his destination.

“I’m honoured and thrilled to be this year’s recipient of the Maeve Binchy Travel Award,” Declan said.

“The idea for this project has been in my mind for some time now – so it’s a dream to get the opportunity to start researching the novel in earnest.

The UCD Maeve Binchy Travel Award was inaugurated in 2014 to commemorate UCD alumna Maeve Binchy, one of Ireland’s best-loved writers.

The annual award is open to any UCD humanities student (undergraduate or postgraduate) and is generously supported by a philanthropic donation in memory of Maeve’s great love for travelling.

“This year marks the 10th anniversary of the death of Maeve Binchy, and it’s a very special honour for us to mark her rich continuing legacy for writers and readers through this award,” said Professor Margaret Kelleher, convenor of the competition.

“Declan is a very worthy winner and we look forward to the launch of his forthcoming novel and his future writing. On behalf of the judges, warm thanks to all who entered this year and we encourage students to reapply in years to come.”

The 2021 award judges were Niall MacMonagle, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne and James Ryan.

Previous UCD Maeve Binchy Travel Award winners include Henrietta McKervey, John McHugh, Aaron O’Farrell, Ryan Murphy, Rosa Jones, Gráinne Daly and Sree Sen.


“Without the award, the necessary fieldwork would be simply impossible. I can’t thank Gordon Snell and the judging panel enough.”

Declan Toohey

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