Rathmullan writer wants to shine light on struggles women face

AN award winning Rathmullan writer is using her platform to shine a light on the struggles women face in a 21st century society.

Talented writer and lecturer in Writing and Communications at ATU Donegal, Karen Quinn, is highlighting the difficulties women face in her new short story ‘MENopause’ which will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Friday afternoon at 3.45pm.

Her short story MENopause tells the tale of the manager of a bowling alley who struggles to relate to his menopausal employee.


Speaking to the Donegal News, Karen said she believes this is an important story to tell.

“The inspiration behind the piece came from listening to women talk about their experiences of working during the menopause, and I wondered what it would be like telling this story from a young male perspective.

“Immediately the characters came to me fully formed. It was so much fun to write. I love breaking down barriers with writing and encouraging people to talk and at times, laugh about what is usually left unsaid. I hope MENopause is a good representation of that,” said Karen.

Karen has been writing for over a decade and has been the recipient of many awards including the Northern Ireland Comedy Writers programme in 2016.

She is one of BBC Writersroom’s Belfast Voices 2022 and was longlisted for the Mammoth Screen TV Writer’s Award 2021, and twice shortlisted for the Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting award run by the International Emmy Committee, in both 2014 and 2015.

Despite being a published children’s writer with her work broadcast on television and published in short story collections, she said she still gets nervous about her work being shown to the world.

“You would think that I would be feeling relaxed about it, but I am so nervous.


“I don’t think that will ever fully leave me. I am going to take that as a good thing, though: obviously it means I still care. I’d be more worried if I took everything in my stride. So, most likely, I’ll listen to it in my car, with my dog, and far away from my family and friends. I hope my dog won’t judge it too harshly,” said Karen.

While her projects cover a wide range of topics, she aims to use her platform to shine the light on young women’s mental health and the everyday struggles they face.

She said she is deeply passionate about reducing the stigma around mental health in general, but especially around women’s mental health.

“What has attracted me to writing about mental health from a female perspective is because we are still, in many ways, changing past narratives on how women are seen in society.

“Throughout our lifetimes, women are constantly met with unattainable expectations and this is compounded by the challenges of rising inflation, lack of job opportunities, media, societal (marriage and children) and social and familial pressures.

“It is no wonder young women may feel that they have not met the milestones required to be an acceptable member of society.

“Personally, I am very familiar with these challenges. I think it is so important to highlight and explore them and their impacts and discuss ways that young women can live and thrive during these unsettled times.”

Karen said she discovered her love for writing while she was studying English and Drama at Queen’s University in Belfast.

At that time, she wanted to be an actor so was taking part in as many theatre productions as possible. But her writing career kicked off when she was playing the role of Bridget in Brian Friel’s Translations, and was introduced to playwright and screenwriter Owen McCafferty.

“We started talking about writing. I mentioned that I liked the idea of it.

“I had written little snippets in my younger years and I was a really big fan of a good book but I had never thought I could create anything substantial.

“Owen, who was the writer-in-residence at that time, asked me to write something for him regardless so I put together two pages of bad dialogue and that ended up being my first play that toured Ireland.

Very lucky

“Honestly it has been my life ever since. I feel very lucky that I was gutsy enough to try something new. As a young woman I had the tendency to put barriers in the way of my goals, but I am so glad that self-belief won out on this occasion.”

There are no signs of slowing down for the writer as Karen is currently working on putting the finishing touches to a new play, developing a comedy television series, working on her next novel, developing a writing and consultancy blog (, and preparing to direct her next short film.

“I love my work. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very hard.

“You don’t always have radio dramas to tune in to but I couldn’t imagine my world without it.

“It has led me to meeting the kindest, most creative and generous people and experiencing first-hand the positive impact writing can have on others.

“That is why I love it – it gives people the opportunity to feel heard,” she added.

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