Jaki McCarrick

Jaki’s new play, BELFAST GIRLS, was developed in January 2012 at the National Theatre Studio, London. The play won the 2011 Galway Theatre Festival New Playwriting Competition and was shortlisted for the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (2012).

BELFAST GIRLS was also recently invited by the Arts Council of Ireland to be read in Drogheda (Ireland) as part of 2012 National Commemoration Events for the Irish Famine.




Jaki McCarrick’s latest play about five young women travelling to Australia in 1850 draws a chilling parallel between the Irish Famine and today’s continuing banking crisis. The story of the so-called ‘orphan girls’ on board, for whom the voyage provides a fresh start – and also time to come to terms with the disaster they have left behind – is a savage attack on the policy (then and now) of ‘laissez-faire’.


Jaki’s previous play, LEOPOLDVILLE was staged at the Tristan Bates Theatre in April 2010, presented by the Papatango Theatre Group. It won the 2010 Papatango New Writing Award and was selected by David Hare as a finalist in the Yale 2010 International Drama Series. The play also received a staged reading by Curio Theatre in Philadelphia in 2011.




“A superbly dark, taut thriller” “A fascinating piece of theatre.”

RemoteGoat: 4 Stars

by Deborah Klayman on 16/04/10


“Impossible to shake off, the effects of this show plaster themselves on its audience…a stellar script…Expect to leave shaken.”

Spoonfed Theatre Journal: 4 Stars

Naima Khan on 15/4/10


“A sharp, well observed piece of writing that is performed beautifully by this young, ensemble cast. The tension builds and builds throughout the play culminating in a harrowing twist that both excites and disgusts in equal measure…Fantastic work.”

Broadway Baby, 5 Stars

Phil Tucker


“A fantastic, haunting, terrifying play …….very strong, young cast & tight direction. It’s the winning entry for The Papatango New Writing Competition 2010 and rightly so…”

 Shenagh Govan, The Group, Theatre Royal Stratford East


Jaki’s first play, The MUSHROOM PICKERS, won the 2005 SCDA (Scottish Drama Association) Playwriting Award, judged by Richard Wilson, and premiered at the Southwark Playhouse in 2006 to rave reviews. The play starred Catherine Cusack and Michael Culkin and was directed by Svetlana Dimcovic. THE MUSHROOM PICKERS premiered in the US in January 2009 at the Gene Frankel Theatre.




“If there is one new play currently on in London that you should definitely buy a ticket to as soon as possible, it’s The Mushroom Pickers. Its gentle humour and heartfelt pathos will no doubt act as a soothing balm against the West-end climate of over-stated cleverness and hollow hype.”

Theatrelink, Mary Couzens


“All the familiar ingredients are here: rustic eccentricity, colloquial lyricism, the Troubles. Yet fine performances and a subtle handling of the shades of morality lift this above the ordinary.”

Kieron Quirke, 4 Stars, Evening Standard




“McCarrick shows how the idea of Ireland versus its reality has always tormented its inhabitants, with the poetry of Monaghan poet Patrick Kavanagh frequently invoked.”

Claire Allfree, 4 stars, Metro


“In spite of the humour and banter that permeates this play, there’s an undercurrent of tension and fear reflecting the life-wrecking ‘troubles’ which have dominated the socio-political scene in Ireland for more years than any of us would prefer to remember”

Peter Brown, The Stage


“There’s a great deal to admire in new Irish playwright Jacqueline McCarrick’s debut work ‘The Mushroom Pickers’ …a compellingly dark and difficult play…steeped in the dialect and lore of Co. Monaghan…one of the play’s major strengths is its strong sense of place – the local landscape is presented throughout as both beguiling and dangerous – and McCarrick knows how to sift drama from the tensions and realities of everyday border county life…McCarrick’s play is unique in that it presents a part of Ireland rarely seen on Irish stages, and the playwright presents the realities of that region with courage and rare honesty.”

The Mushroom Pickers – Gene Frankel Theatre, New York Review by Arts Editor, Cahir O’Doherty


Other plays by Jaki include – THE MOTH-HOUR – read at the Soho Theatre, London, November 2006, also long-listed for the Bruntwood Prize 2006; THE CROW’S WAKE, short play, Union Theatre, London, March 2008, presented by Box of Tricks Theatre Company; THE AMERICAN HOTEL – reading presented The Tobacco Factory, Bristol 2009.


Jaki also writes fiction and poetry. Her award-winning short story, The Visit, appears in the The Best British Short Stories 2012 anthology published by Salt and edited by Nicholas Royal.



Her debut short story collection, Night and Autumn, is published next year by Seren Books.




* 2012 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for Belfast Girls (Finalist)

* Winner of the 2010 Liverpool Lennon Poetry Competition, with my poem, The Selkie of Dorinish, judged by Carol Ann Duffy

* Winner of the 2010 Wasafiri New Writing Award for Fiction – short story, ‘The Visit’, judged by Booker Pize nominee, Romesh Guneskera

* Winner of the 2010 Papatango Award for New Writing – Leopoldville

* Yale 2010 Drama Series Playwriting Competition (Current Finalist – Leopoldville)

* Asham Award for New Fiction (Shortlist) – The Congo (short story)

* Adrienne Benham Award – 2009 – (Shortlist) – Leopoldville

* Spinetinglers Dark Fiction Award – 2009 (Winner) – Blood (short story)

* Kings Cross Award for New Writing – 2009 (2nd Prize) – Leopoldville

* Kings Cross Award for New Writing – 2007 (Longlist) – The Moth-Hour

* Brave New Roles Award – Sphinx Theatre Playwriting Competition (Shortlist) – The Moth-Hour

* Bruntwood Prize 2006 (Longlist) – The Moth-Hour

* Winner of the 2005 Scottish Drama Association’s National Playwriting Competition (SCDA) – The Mushroom Pickers




2007 – Writer in Residence for the Pushkin Trust, Annaghmakerrig, Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Monaghan


2011 – Regional Bursary Recipient of the Tyrone Guthrie Residency to work on novel


2012 – Attachment to the National Theatre, London (to work on Belfast Girls)


2012/13 – Awarded Residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, Spring 2013.


Jaki studied at Trinity College, Dublin. She has completed an RNT Directors Course, 2001, Studied with Katie Mitchell, Peter Gill, William Gaskill and Nancy Meckler.


For more information please see Jaki’s blog http://jakiscloudnine.blogspot.com/


For Fiction Jaki is represented by the AM Heath Literary Agency, London.

Jaki McCarrick
is represented by:
Charlotte Knight office@knighthallagency.com
+44 20 3397 2901