Young Laois Writers Creative Writing Project

The Young Laois Writers Creative Writing Project  is a library project that has been funded by Creative Ireland as part of the 2024 Cruinniú na nÓg programme.  As a Library of Sanctuary, the library service values the diversity of our community and looks to showcase the range of voices, experiences, talents and cultures that are now a part of that.  We would like to thank tutor Ryan Dunne, our Portlaoise schools and most especially our talented young people who were generous and courageous enough to contribute.  We hope that you enjoy their writing as much as we did.


The stereotype TV show

By Salma Baagagah, Portlaoise College


I sat down on the brown sofa in our living room…

I have seen this show before – many times

The actors were European and American…

It didn’t matter, what really mattered is that they were white and blonde

They played under the snow

They wore whatever they wanted in school and they hung out everywhere looking good

They had friends

They were actors of a perfect world


Years later I got an invitation to one of these happy countries

I can finally be an actor instead of a watcher

I can imagine my happy life with friends my age

I don’t even have to imagine because it’s right in front of me

But I forgot one thing, my role can’t change

I am not white nor blonde nor blue-eyed

I am the watcher of a show I have seen before

I am the watcher of a perfect crafted world of lies



Who am I?

By Angela Babikanga, Dunamase College


This is a question I’ve struggled with since I was younger. Being born and raised in Ireland, I mainly participated in Irish culture. I danced in a Paddy’s Day parade and won feis after feis; I studied and spoke Gaeilge and even helped my peers improve theirs. Naturally, I’d think I’m Irish, but those around me would be asking me questions like “where are you really from?”

Then I began to say I’m from Congo, but I began to feel guilty. How could I claim to be from a country I’ve never stepped foot in, be a part of a culture that I had been embarrassed and ashamed to share until recently? The dancing I shied away from and the food I refused to eat. This guilt swallowed me as I explained where I was “really from”.

However, without knowing the Congolese culture I had rejected or the Irish culture I had cherished, they accepted this answer. Growing up like this made me question “who am I?” Am I who I want to be or who everyone expects me to be?

It wasn’t until one day during a culture night at the Dunamaise theatre that I woke up. That night I heard the story of a black woman, who in her teenage years had a similar predicament to mine. The confusion between being Irish or African, but in the end, she didn’t choose one or the other. She learned no matter what others said she was both – an African woman, raised in Ireland.

This is the world we young people are a part of. A place to say where we’re from without the guilt of being judged for their culture. A place with positive role models to show us it’s okay to be different from how others perceive you. A place where we’re free to explore who we are and what makes us, us.

Can I now answer the question “who am I?” No. I have a lifetime ahead of me with good times and possibly some bad times before I can answer that confidently, but I can tell you this. I am Angela Babikanga, a student of Dunamase College, a Congolese girl born and raised in Ireland. I still celebrate Irish culture, but I refuse to continue being embarrassed of my heritage no matter what anyone says.


Where is home?

By Tricia Pelser, Dunamase College


Countless times I have been approached by people expressing their ethnocentric beliefs. Whether these are strangers or people I know, I have been subject to passive complaints about the “lack of jobs due to foreigners” or their worries of “immigrants taking Irish homes” for almost my entire life. But perplexingly, when people discover that I am not ethnically Irish, these conversations become few and far between. Suddenly they are disinclined and urge not to “make things political”, but therein lies the issue. How is my very existence pigeonholed as a governmental topic?

Pitifully, I normally receive a desperate explanation of how they aren’t talking about people like me. I speak with an Irish accent and unless my appearance is nitpicked, I don’t fit the stereotype of the immigrants which they are referring to.

In a way, I am too Irish on the surface to be deemed as foreign, however I am equally too remote to be even considered as a local. This subsequently means that nothing I can do is acceptable. If I get even slightly discomposed over anti-immigrant protests, I am disrespecting the country which has been the feeding ground for my opportunities. Because according to those around me, these riots have nothing to do with race and all to do with the Irish nation. Yet if I stay complicit, I betray not only myself but also my home country.

But where even is my home? Is it in the country where I am shunned for residing, or is it the place where I am condemned for leaving? In this day and age, it feels as if there is no home for people like me. It is impossible to feel any sense of belonging or community when you fall outside the margin of acceptance multiple societies, and the only way to obtain any form of comfort is by finding other young people who have endured the same experience. My sense of integration comes solely from other people whose mixed culture has situated them in an awkward position where they are not completely involved, but also not completely isolated from the world around us. Although I am thankful to experience this in 2024 and live in a society where those around me are slowly becoming more accepting and tolerant and I have not undergone half of the same troubles as my parents or those who came before me, I still believe there is a lot we can do within our attitudes and actions to make life more untroubled for people like me.


How social media is shaping the world

By Theo Adams, St Mary’s CBS

What is social media? The Google definition refers to social media as “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking”. But if I were asked, “What is social media?” what would I say.

Would I start with the bottomless supply of entertainment, the mindless scrolling from one video to the next, the time slipping through your fingers without your notice? Or the joy you can find in meeting new people with common interests? Regardless of which topic I go to there exists an extensive rabbit hole of information to be learnt.

For example, in the news section, whether it is fake or true, you can learn something different every day. Social media can be the catalyst for countless lies spread across the globe, this could be to start an internet feud or just for the entertainment of another. From a passing glance I could easily absorb these lies myself, that is if I don’t check up on it personally. But between all these liars there exists the truth tellers, the people that do their research and post what they found as the story for others. Causing a reliance on these truth tellers to connect thousands to the outside world. Maybe the hardest part is personally choosing what to believe and what not to.

Surely, I would have to include the influencers, right. Maybe the dictators of social media, deciding what the masses will see about them and what will be held a secrete. There is a myriad of different personalities on social media, people who specialise in many different things like art, music, comedy or maybe the gym. I have spent more time using social media then I’d like to admit but I’m confident in saying I have only scratched the surface of these people.

But why become an influencer, why open yourself to the scrutinization of the internet? I suspect these people do it for a multitude of reasons, the biggest being fame and riches. Social media has made it easier than ever to become someone with fame, but this creates more people willing to try and become one of these new age celebrities. Driven by the potential riches that comes with this fame it seems like it’s worth a shot, except these are all volatile careers, who hasn’t seen their fair share of influencers fall from grace into the hell known as irrelevancy, I have anyway. This is because people will move on from a trend like flipping the pages of a book.

Regardless, it would probably be best to mention the amount of hate encompassing not only social media but the internet in general. The dark side that many ignore, the hate coming from jealousy and the joy coming from other’s failures. On social media people are more than happy to join the bandwagon of haters. This has rustled in more than a few people getting abuse from fake accusations but sometimes this hate can kill another’s career.

Not only has social media grown in size but it has evolved into a tool for everyone from young to old and even businesses. Organisations taking advantage of social media to intrude onto our devices and display their products to expand their name. This is as social media is possibly the biggest advertising stage ever. Even though the advert may only last a few seconds when it reaches millions of people multiple times in a day it more than does its job.

But to return to the question of what social media is, I would describe it as something to experience yourself because everyone’s experience on the internet is similar in some ways and different in others. There are too many different faces of social media for one person to describe and understand but I do see social media as something good and bad together and it is creating an ever-stronger foothold in our society.



The life of a 16-year-old in 2024

By Holly Cushen, Scoil Chríost Rí


What does it mean to be a teenager in 2024? Maybe it means getting strange looks off old people when wearing ripped jeans or a tank top or perhaps it means being thought of as trouble. We’re forced to do big exams like the junior cert and leaving cert, we have to figure out what to do with our lives, find a job we’d like to do, get good grades while finding time to enjoy being young. We are expected to make decisions about our future and be independent when half the time I struggle figuring out what I want for breakfast. Honestly, where would the world be without the brilliant contributions of teenagers? We come up with new words to keep you guessing, we change our clothes every other week like we’re spies trying to update their disguises and we speak in our own shortened down language because the effort of typing out actual words, that’s why we use our smh, wyd and brb etc. Now unlike popular belief, we aren’t absolute perfect angels. I understand that might be shocking news and you might need a minute to process but it’s true we aren’t all perfect even the superior, alpha generation that is the 2024 teenagers have their downfalls. A major one being our screen time and social media usage. Since, I’m somewhat self aware, I’ll admit my screen time could be a little better, but would the teens right now be half as lovable if they weren’t walking around like sleep deprived zombies because they stayed up all night staring at their phone or PlayStation? I don’t think so! You’ll thank us if a zombie apocalypse ever did happen because we’d be able to blend right in and could even save the world after posting about it first, obviously. Now, social media may come with downsides like unhealthy addictions, cyber bullying, digital overload and the infamous keyboard warriors who make fake accounts to say things without anyone knowing. But there’s positives too, like chatting with friends or family, opportunities and you can even start your own business. Some would argue that online learning is a positive aspect, but I highly doubt any teenager would agree. Yes, we may have survived a global pandemic, but surviving online school was much harder. Having to deal with poor connection, laggy teachers and more work than you’d do if you were actually in school? Yeah, I get it some didn’t find it bad, but I think I’d take my chances with a starved bear then going through online school again, at least on the bright side the bear doesn’t ask me to find x because he can solve his own relationships problems instead of asking around thirty teenage students. Back on topic, I get that this doesn’t imply to every teenager just the majority, but being a teenager in 2024 is difficult yet simple, we may have our phones glued to us and we may have our emo days where the whole world is against us and our lives are just too complex to understand but overall the teenagers in 2024 are pretty alright.


The struggle is real

By Khanyisa Gatsheni

Joseph sat in his room on the edge of his bed, with his fingers scrolling up to the edge of his phone screen, liking every reel he saw.  The world at vast and overwhelming, was contained within this small room. With a sanctuary of dirty clothes on top of his table or should I say what could have been a study table for him.

He was tired of being this way but had no way to change this. He couldn’t begin to study the mere thought it was very uncomfortable for him, and yet he was inspired by the fear of being average. It wasn’t even about whether the subjects are too hard or is it something he can’t like. He just couldn’t get himself to study, until a few hours before an exam or a test, whose results never fail to disappoint.

Instead of working hard and improving his grades by studying, he would do many monotonous things on his phone. He would open YouTube and go through them one by one, watching, commenting, waiting for replies….and this takes hours away from his day.

Being 18 in 2024 meant going on a new journey which had many challenges and unknown expectations. Joseph often felt like Victus, threading his way through a digital maze, the monster of anxiety lurking in every corner. Social media was Ariadne’s thread through the chaos but also a tether to the fear of missing out.

His parents spoke of their youth with a feeling of sentimental longing, and tales of times when things were pretty much less complicated when the future seemed like an adventure, not a looming shadow. They couldn’t understand why he spent all the hours on his phone, lost in virtual worlds and conversations. But for them, the digital world was a way to solve his problems, it was an extension of himself.

He is very uncomfortable with this life. He derives no real pleasure from these activities. They just gave him a temporary release. But the very thought of studying or even learning something that would be of some help made him feel so very uncomfortable that he subconsciously reverts to the mind-numbing time wasters.

There were 2 ways he saw that could help him; the first one was he can’t force his way through and push himself. That hadn’t worked in the past as he ended up feeling helpless and tired. The second one was to meditate to find out what is the source of this and how he can deal with it, but this again has not been very efficient and takes him nowhere. This discomfort seems too natural to him that he can’t even dissociate it from himself.

Later that day he sat by the window, watching the sunset, Joseph thought about changing what he has become

Joseph picked up his journal and began to write. Not a post to social media, but a letter to himself. He wrote about his dreams, fears and the disappointment he has experienced. He wrote about the balance he sought to make things right for himself and the importance of mental health, and his desire to make a difference in the world.


Being a young person in 2024 means being able to ask for help when you need help and rubbing of the attitude on your skin because you can be something. But well Joseph didn’t have all the answers but knew one thin g, that the future was in his hands, and he was the one to shape it.




Windows of my heart

By Anna Rohovska, Portlaoise College


A winter evening in Lviv. A cold evening that can be warmed only by the aroma of fragrant coffee, empty streets lit by lanterns, as in the times of the counts who lived here and the special historical Lviv cobblestones on which horse-drawn carriages drove. The centre is filled with cafes, the aroma of Lviv chocolate and pastries.


It’s already evening and I’m returning from the ballet at the opera theatre. The central Christmas tree in front of the theatre will be lit up on St. Nicholas Day. The holidays are almost here, which means that the fair will be opened before Christmas and the skating rink. The confectionery shop ‘Roshen’ has already put out chocolate gift packages, the coffee shop windows have already dressed up, the owners are adding new winter drinks: walnut cappuccino, truffle espresso, coffee with cardamom and cinnamon.


It’s quiet on the street. People must have hidden from the cold with a cup of coffee, a cat is cosy on the windowsill watching the snow falling on the bare trees of the Stryi Park, narrow streets reminiscent of France, and the architecture that reminds of the Austrian capital of Vienna – that’s what the Lord’s City of Lviv is like. Lions have been guarding the inhabitants of Rynok Square for centuries. The Ukrainian song ‘Shchedryk’, also known as the ‘Carol of the bells’, can be heard from afar.


I have already come home, my mother has baked ginger cookies with cinnamon, my sisters are hanging decorations on the Christmas tree that my father put up together with the cat. Everyone is preparing for the holidays. It seems such a cold day, but there are so many warm memories.


These memories will always reign in my heart, they are an integral part of my past and my dreams for the future. Due to the dark times that have befallen Ukraine, unfortunately, not for the first time, this picture that I am describing was a part of my life and became just a dream. Since its existence, our enemy has tried to destroy my people and our language and steal our culture and traditions. But I believe that just as the clouds disperse after a thunderstorm and the sun shines brightly again, a loud song in Ukraine will still be heard and will be echoed in the Carpathians, it will rumble through the steppes. The glory of Ukraine will be among nations.


Read More News Stories