Poetry Ireland announces Liz Kelly as new Director

27th January 2022

Poetry Ireland is pleased to announce the appointment of Liz Kelly as the new Director of the organisation.  

Commenting on the appointment, Poetry Ireland Chair, Prof Ciarán Benson, said:  

“We are delighted Liz Kelly will be taking over the reins at Poetry Ireland. Liz is an exceptional programmer with extensive experience in strategic planning and a proven track record in initiating successful and innovative programmes and projects across the island of Ireland. As a recognised and respected cultural leader, Liz is very well placed to continue to build our networks and partnerships nationally and internationally. 

“She is passionate and committed and is perfectly placed to lead the work of Poetry Ireland in connecting people and poetry, and with the next period of ambitious development of the Poetry Centre at 11 Parnell Square, with partners The Irish Heritage Trust and the Irish Landmark Trust.”  

Liz Kelly’s appointment sees her take on the position held by Niamh O’Donnell, who will step down in March to join the Irish Theatre Institute as its Director.  

Commenting on her appointment, Liz Kelly said:  

“It is an honour to be appointed Director at this incredibly exciting time for Poetry Ireland. I look forward to working with the team to position poetry in all its richness and diversity, at the heart of our renewal, and as a focal point for reconnection at home and abroad. 

“The breadth of work Poetry Ireland does – from live events to professional development for poets, from education to publications, and much more - all help to make poetry more accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds and to champion and support Irish poetry and poets at home and abroad.” 

Ciarán Benson extended his thanks to Niamh O’Donnell, who has led and managed Poetry Ireland through challenging times, and whose work has ensured the development of the Poetry Centre at 11 Parnell Square remains on schedule, that Poetry Ireland is financially secure and that, even through the pandemic, the organisation has grown its poetry supports and programmes.  

Niamh O’Donnell said, “It’s with regret I depart Poetry Ireland, where I have felt great kinship. My decision has not been an easy one but I have missed the collaborative arts and have found myself drawn back into the service of Theatre.” 

Liz Kelly Biography 

Liz Kelly has extensive experience across the arts as a creative producer, facilitator and manager of arts programmes and events for local authorities, festival communities and local projects. At a national level, she has worked as a programme manager on both the venues and production companies portfolios for the Arts Council and as an adviser to the Arts Council on venues.   

She has facilitated and managed strategic planning projects, awards schemes, artist and community capacity building and local programmes such as Culture Night and Bealtaine for local authorities. She is currently working with Tipperary Arts Office on its festivals programme, combining advice, programming and development opportunities for local festivals. She has also worked at national level for the Bealtaine Festival, Sing Ireland (the national choral resource organisation), Music Generation and the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland. 

Liz was Director of Ennis Book Club Festival (2015 and 2016) and of dlr Mountains to Sea Book Festival (2018 to 2021 inclusive). She was the producer of Small Towns Big Ideas, a Galway 2020 programme through which 72 projects across Galway city and county mobilised local communities and artists to celebrate the diversity of Galway, its places, its people and its rich culture in both urban and rural settings, celebrating the innate creativity of the region.