A BARROW-BORN writer and journalist has won a prestigious playwrighting competition in Ireland.

Phil Pearson, 55, saw off competition from more than 100 writers worldwide to take first place at the 10th annual Claremorris Drama and Fringe Festival with his new short play 'Up The Junction'.

The play, which was also performed in Ireland by Matt's Players, was the third time Pearson's work had been selected as a finalist at the County Mayo festival and it earned him a winning prize of 700 Euros (£611).

Pearson, a former deputy editor of the Mail and a sub-editor with the BBC and the Guardian, is now based in South Manchester where he works full-time as a writer with four short films and 14 plays to his name.

Two of his plays, 'Live Forever' and 'Blackpool, What A Sh!t Place To Die', have been performed to sell-out crowds on Furness stages in recent years with the latter currently being developed into a feature film.

He said: "I'm really thrilled to win first place in Ireland. I wasn't expecting it at all. I love it over there. The first play I wrote was performed at Claremorris back in 2014, so it's a very special place for me."

Claremorris Drama Festival co-ordinator Mary Esler said: "The Fringe is in its 10th year and going from strength to strength. We have anywhere between 80 and 100 entries each year, sometimes even more.  

"They come from every corner of Ireland, Great Britain, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The entries must be totally new work. The standard was very high again this year. All of the scripts were very entertaining."