Confident Ducks at Fighting Words - A Tribute to Our Friend Maeve Binchy

Gordon and Roddy
Fighting Words co-founder Roddy Doyle and Gordon Snell

A Tribute at the New Fighting Words Space in Dublin

During her lifetime, Maeve Binchy was a great friend of Fighting Words and a firm believer in helping young people to find their voices in order to build self-confidence and self-belief. 

"I think everybody has a story in them," Maeve said in a film about Fighting Words from 2011. "And most of us want to tell that story to everyone. But the problem is, the thing that gets in our way, is that we think, 'Well, why me? I couldn't possibly do it. No, no, no - no one would listen to me.' And this is why Fighting Words is such a splendid idea. Because what it does is take out that awful anxiety. It gives people self-esteem. It gives them the courage to write and express themselves. And this is why I support it and am proud to be connected with it."

Maeve went on to explain, "It's very important that people should have a voice and that they should know that they have a voice. Otherwise, they just go into themselves and think, 'Sure, nobody is going to listen to me.' It stops people from voting in elections and taking part in society in general if they think that people are not going to listen to them. And I think that that voice is very important to be heard."

In 2012, Maeve wrote the introduction to a collection of stories, Yet To Be Told, by Transition Year students at Mount Carmel Secondary School in Dublin’s north inner city. “I would love to know what I was thinking about over half a century ago when I was at school," Maeve wrote. "If we had been encouraged to write short stories, which we certainly were not, I wonder what I would have written about.”

Gordon and Alan
Gordon Snell and Fighting Words Chairperson Alan Gilsenan

Earlier this year, Fighting Words expanded its base in Dublin to include an additional space in the Behan Square building in Dublin 1. This new space allows us to offer more workshops than ever before to groups from Dublin and beyond. Artist, teacher and former Programmes Coordinator Rosa Devine created a beautiful piece of art featuring a Maeve quote for aspiring writers, selected by her husband and longtime Fighting Words board member Gordon Snell.

"I don't have ugly ducklings turning into swans in my stories," it reads. "I have them turning into confident ducks."

We could not ever say it better than that.

Find out more about Maeve Binchy at