My name’s Heather McGarrigle and I’m a professional writer in Northern Ireland, with a passion for creative ventures, the community and voluntary sector, and small businesses.
As well as being editor of The Patchwork Quill – celebrating culture, crafting and creativity in Northern Ireland – I am a qualified journalist, experienced in news and feature writing, as well as online content creation, editing, social media management and press communications.
In my journalism career, I have worked as a newspaper reporter, an editorial assistant on a fashion magazine, a journalist for interiors publications and a freelancer, writing for magazines, newspapers and websites.
I set up Quill Inc NI to make a living doing work that I’m truly proud of – helping organisations, entrepreneurs, individuals and editors to find the right words.
I live and work in Lisburn, Northern Ireland and I have loved the written word since childhood.
My earliest memories are of bedtime story readings with mum and dad. I was an avid reader and creative writing was my favourite subject in primary school; I wanted to be Enid Blyton when I grew up!
At age 18 I went straight into the world of work, working in administrative roles at Ulster Tatler and Greer Publications before getting my lucky break as an editorial assistant on Northern Woman magazine in 2006.
I joined the team at Ireland’s Homes Interiors and Living magazine later that year, which brought exciting challenges and opportunities – interiors shows, press trips and interviews in Ireland, England, Germany and Spain, and hands-on experience of magazine production.
In 2008, I took the plunge and went freelance. The ‘credit crunch’ had just begun to bite which made things tough, but I loved the variety, and the satisfaction when a new editor commissioned my story ideas.
I wrote for a number of consumer magazines, but moved into newspapers for the first time too, writing features for The Sunday Life.
In 2010 I gained my NVQ Level 4 certificate in Newspaper Journalism, and began freelancing at the Belfast Telegraph. I worked primarily on the news and business desks, but also loved writing gig reviews when festival season came around. Working in the newsroom of a national newspaper is an experience not everybody gets to have, and I’ll always be proud to say I worked at the ‘Bel Tel’.
Northern Ireland’s thriving arts scene inspired me to create The Patchwork Quill in 2011. It allowed me to document my own crafting pursuits, as well as explore and share my thoughts and findings on the creative sector.
It really captured my imagination and hasn’t let go; leading me to volunteer at arts festivals, make friends and contacts in the creative and crafting worlds, and to write for publications such as Culture NI.
I’ve also had quite a few office jobs, working in the public and private sector and in charities – these include New Life Counselling, the NI Ambulance Service, the NI Fire and Rescue Service, Mencap, and James Leckey Design.
So I’ve seen for myself the day-to-day realities of running businesses, charities and high-profile organisations, and understand the challenges they face.
My first memories are of falling in love with stories, and to this day that’s what makes me tick – finding the right words to tell a great story that people want to read.
Do get in touch if there is anything else you would like to know!