John MacKenna's picture

John MacKenna

Ireland (b.1952)

John MacKenna is an Irish playwright and novelist.

MacKenna taught for a number of years before working as a producer at RTÉ Radio in 1980. Between then and 2002, when he left the station to spend more time writing, and acting with Meeting Lane Theatre Company, he worked in a number of areas - including music, education, current affairs, documentaries, features and religion - as a senior producer and commissioning editor.

Since then, MacKenna has produced several memorable series, including work on the Amish people of Pennsylvania; the Shaker Community of Sabbath Day Lake; a ground-breaking series called "Someone Has To Do It" and the highly-regarded "Secret Gardens of the Heart," which followed a young woman through the last months of her life. His radio documentary series on Leonard Cohen, "How The Heart Approaches What It Yearns", won him a Jacob's Radio Award.

He is the author of three novels, "Clare", "The Last Fine Summer" and "A Haunted Heart"; two collections of short stories, "The Fallen" and "A Year of Our Lives"; a volume of poetry and a biography of Ernest Shackleton; his memoir, "Things You Should Know" (October 2006), and his story cycle titled "The River Field" (autumn 2007, both published by New Island Books) won considerable critical acclaim.

MacKenna writes for, directs and acts with Mend and Makedo Theatre Co and his most recent works for that company are "Breathless" (2005) and "My Father's Life" (2006). His most recent theatrical work, "Who by Fire", for the Water to Wine Theatre Company is based on the experiences of a Holocaust survivor, and uses Leonard Cohen's songs the mood for a chilling exposition of the continuing threat of totalitarianism. It has toured Ireland to great popular acclaim.

In 2008 his play "Corner Boys" toured the country and "The River Field" was re-published by New Island Books.

Among the awards his books have won are the Irish Times Fiction Award and the C Day Lewis Award. He has also taught a number of courses in media studies and creative writing.

His son Ewan MacKenna now works as a sports journalist for the Sunday Tribune.
Non fiction