Cork poet O'Sullivan wins Rooney prize


CORK POET Leanne O’Sullivan has won this year’s Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in recognition of her achievement and “outstanding promise” as a young poet.

The announcement was made last night by the provost of Trinity College Dublin, John Hegarty, at a special event in the Phoenix Park residence of US ambassador Dan Rooney.

The €10,000 prize, which is administered by the Oscar Wilde Centre for Irish Writing at Trinity School of English, is awarded for individual books or in recognition of a body of work.

O’Sullivan was born in 1983, and comes from the Beara peninsula in west Cork. She has published two collections, both from Bloodaxe, Waiting for My Clothes(2004) and Cailleach; The Hag of Beara(2009).

Chairman of the selection committee, Dr Terence Brown of Trinity College Dublin, said her poetry was “marked by intensity of personal feeling expressed in vivid imagery that sets powerful emotions in convincing mythic contexts”.

Now in its 35th year, the Rooney Prize was established by Mr Rooney, chairman of the US football team the Pittsburgh Steelers, to encourage young writers of promise. It is awarded to Irish writers under 40 years old who are published in Irish or English. O’Sullivan joins an illustrious list of former winners which includes Bernard Farrell, Neil Jordan, Frank McGuinness, Deirdre Madden and Anne Enright.

The poet was also the recipient of the 2009 Ireland Chair of Poetry bursary. She was nominated by then professor of poetry, Michael Longley, who praised her “technical enterprise and unembarrassed imagination”.