Davy Byrnes story award: shortlist of six revealed

Tales of isolation in small-town Ireland, a boys’ football team, post-war Finland, the end of the world, a difficult daughter, and soured relationships vie for the €15,000 prize

Judges Anne Enright and Jon McGregor in Davy Byrnes, Dublin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Judges Anne Enright and Jon McGregor in Davy Byrnes, Dublin. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Fri, May 23, 2014, 11:57

Have you heard the one about the pub and the short-story competition? It sounds like a tall story in itself. But this is for real: Davy Byrnes, on Dublin’s Duke Street, is once again sponsoring an award for Irish writers.

“We felt that because Davy Byrnes was immortalised by James Joyce in Ulysses, when Leopold Bloom went for his Gorgonzola cheese sandwich and his glass of burgundy, we ought to do something to give something back to the arts – and particularly to literature,” says the pub’s owner, Redmond Doran.

The Davy Byrnes short-story award was previously held in 2004 and 2009. The first was won by Anne Enright, the second by Claire Keegan. This year Enright has returned as a judge, along with the English novelist Jon McGregor and the Chinese-American writer Yiyun Li.

This year’s competition attracted some 600 entries, which were whittled down to 30 by a panel of readers overseen by Declan Meade of The Stinging Fly Press.

The judges have chosen both a shortlist of six – which is being announced today – and the winning story, which will be revealed in early June. The winner will receive a prize of €15,000, and the six shortlisted stories will be published in one volume by The Stinging Fly Press in the autumn.




Sara Baume

Baume’s short stories have been published in The Moth, The Stinging Fly and the Irish Independent as part of the Hennessy New Irish Writing series. Her reviews and articles on visual art and books have also appeared online and in print. Her debut novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither, will be published by Tramp Press in 2015. She lives in Whitegate, Co Cork.

What the judges said: Solesearcher1 is set in a small town on the Irish coast, and the characters in it are creatures of habit. The story shows the moment when that sense of habit becomes strange, difficult and sinister, but there is great pleasure in the writing and this makes a piece that is about loneliness and isolation very enjoyable, somehow, with tenderness and insight on every page.”


Go Down Sunday

Trevor Byrne

Byrne was born in Dublin in 1981. His debut novel, Ghosts and Lightning, is published by Canongate. He is co-founder and senior editor at the Editing Firm. He is working on his second novel, and a series of short stories.

What the judges said: Go Down Sunday, the story of a boys’ football team on a week away in small-town Ireland, is an absorbing tale about the moments in which boyhood cracks open towards adolescence; the excitement of independence, the ease with which home is left behind. The story has a dark heart, and the reader is manipulated with the same ease as the main character; we are left, as in the best stories, with troubling questions.” 



Julian Gough

Gough sang on four albums by Toasted Heretic. He is the author of three novels, Juno & Juliet, Jude in Ireland, and Jude in London, and a poetry collection, Free Sex Chocolate. He has won the BBC National Short Story Award, and been shortlisted twice for the Everyman Bollinger Wodehouse Prize. He lives in Berlin.

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