Phelim Donlon

Phelim Donlon Playwright’s Bursary and Residency is an initiative of Irish Theatre Institute in association with Tyrone Guthrie Centre. The bursary was created in 2015 in honour of Phelim Donlon, former Drama Officer at the Arts Council and a dedicated member of the first Irish Theatre Institute PLAYOGRAPHYIreland Advisory Panel, in acknowledgement of his valued contribution to Irish theatre.

Recipients of the award receive an ITI writer’s bursary of €2,000 and a two weeks’ fully resourced residency in Annaghmakerrig. Artists are afforded time, physical resources and mentoring necessary to support the writing of a new play through this bursary.  An open call is made annually to playwrights resident in Ireland with at least one full length play staged by a recognised professional production company/producer.

Phelim Donlon (1936 - 2014)

Phelim began work at the Arts Council in 1983, and served as Film, Drama and Opera Officer, retiring in 2001. He was also Director of the Auditoria review of the built infrastructure for the performing arts throughout Ireland. In retirement, his commitment remained undiminished, and he served on the boards of many performing arts organisations.

Orlaith McBride, Director of the Arts Council, said: "Phelim's commitment to the arts in general and drama specifically was absolute. He was a passionate advocate for new and emerging talent, and did as much as anyone in the Arts Council's history to develop professional theatre in Ireland."

Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig

The overarching policy principle of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre (TGC) is to provide the conditions in which artists can focus exclusively and for extended periods on the creation and development of their work.

Previous recipients of the award are Fiona Doyle (2015/16), Dylan Coburn Gray (2016/17), Amy Conroy (2017/18) and Karen Cogan (2018/2019). The current recipient is Sonya Kelly (2019/20)


  • Sonya Kelly
    Sonya Kelly’s debut solo play, The Wheelchair on My Face, a Show in a Bag with Irish Theatre Institute(ITI), Fishamble and Dublin Fringe Festival toured for two years. It won a Scotsman Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Fringe 2012, and a Critics’ Pick in the New York Times. Her second play, How To Keep An Alien, was produced by Rough Magic and won Best Production at the Dublin Fringe, 2014. It toured the Brisbane Festival, Traverse in Edinburgh, Soho Theatre, The Irish Arts Center in New York, and the Auckland Arts Festival in New Zealand. Sonya’s short play, The Pet Sitter was commissioned by the Abbey Theatre as part of their Future Tense series. Her play, Furniture, produced by Druid Theatre premiered at Galway International Arts Festival in 2018 and was revived for an extensive national tour. Furniture won a 2019 Irish Writers Guild Award and the 2018 Stewart Parker Trust Award. Sonya has also participated in a number of residencies and mentorship schemes including, ADVANCE with Rough Magic, desk space at Corn Exchange, Six in the Attic with ITI, Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris and NT Studio in London.

  • Karen Cogan
    Karen Cogan’s first play The Half Of It won the Stewart Parker Award 2017 and the First Fortnight Award 2017. The Half Of It was nominated for five Fringe Awards. Drip Feed was shortlisted for the Verity Bargate Award and nominated for an Offie award for Best Performance Piece. Drip Feed played Edinburgh, Project Arts Centre and Soho Theatre and was produced by Soho Theatre and Fishamble: The New Play Company. Drip Feed has been commissioned for television by Witchery. Karen was chosen out of 3000 writers to be on Channel 4’s 4Screenwriting programme 2019. Karen’s work has been shortlisted for The Red Planet Prize, the BBC Writers Room, The Adopt-A-Playwright Award, Fishamble’s A Play For Ireland and BBC NI The Break series. Karen is The Hospital Club’s Theatre Emerging Creative for 2018. She has spoken on panels at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Festival and The Guilty Feminist. Karen trained as an actor at RADA.

  • Amy Conroy
    Amy Conroy is an actor, playwright, theatre maker and Artistic Director of HotForTheatre. Her first stage play, I ♥ Alice ♥ I, won the Fishamble Award for New Writing in the 2010 Dublin Fringe Festival and has enjoyed sold out runs nationally and internationally. It was broadcast on RTE Radio One, has been translated and performed in Poland, Italy and Iceland and is published by Oberon Books. Her second show, Eternal Rising of the Sun, won the Best Female Performer Award when it premiered at Dublin Fringe Festival 2011 and subsequently earned her a nomination for Best Actress in the Irish Times Theatre Awards 2011. In September 2013, Amy and her company HotForTheatre presented Break, which combined spoken word, music and text. Luck Just Kissed You Hello premiered at the Mick Lally Theatre as part of the Galway International Arts Festival 2015, before a sell-out run in Dublin Theatre Festival later the same year, and was nominated for Best New Play in the Irish Times Theatre Awards 2016 and toured nationally. Amy is an ITI Six in the Attic alumni and is currently writer in residence with Rough Magic Theatre Company.

  • Dylan Coburn Gray
    Dylan Coburn Gray is a writer based in Dublin. His work has won praise for its innovative use of language and playful approach to form, blurring the line between poetry and drama. Plays include Boys and Girls (Dublin Fringe 2013, winner of the Fishamble Best New Writing Award, nominated for the Stewart Parker Trust Award); Blackcatfishmusketeer (Dublin Fringe 2016, Edinburgh Fringe 2017); this is a room... (Dublin Theatre Festival 2017). He is a collaborating writer with Malaprop Theatre, winners of the 2015 Spirit of Fringe Award for Love+. With them he has co-written Jericho (Bewleys Cafe Theatre) and Everything Not Saved (Dublin Fringe 2017). He was awarded the 2017 Verity Bargate Award for his play Citysong.

  • Fiona Doyle
    Fiona’s work in theatre includes Coolatully (winner of the 2014 Papatango New Writing Prize) at the Finborough Theatre in London and for Mead Theatre Lab in Washington DC; Deluge (winner of the 2014 Eamon Keane Full-Length Play Award) at Hampstead Theatre Downstairs; The Annihilation of Jessie Leadbeater (ALRA); Abigail (The Bunker Theatre); The Ceasefire Babies (NT Connections 2018); and Ms Y (short) as part of the Young Vic’s Five Plays. Fiona is a recipient of a 2018 Fellowship from the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, a Cill Rialaig Artist’s residency, a Peggy Ramsay Foundation grant, and has been on attachment at the National Theatre Studio. Her most recent play, The Strange Death of John Doe, was a finalist for the 2018 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her work is published by Nick Hern Books and Methuen Drama.