Double triumph for Barry at awards

 

IRISH NOVELIST Sebastian Barry, who triumphed in Britain earlier this year when he took the Costa Book of the Year Award, had a double triumph on home ground last night when he won two prizes at the Irish Book Awards with his novel The Secret Scripture, including the prestigious Hughes Hughes Irish Novel of the Year Award.

He emerged the winner from a strong shortlist that also included David Park, Joseph O’Neill and Hugo Hamilton.

Barry’s tale of Roseanne McNulty, nearing 100 and facing the unknown, as the west of Ireland mental hospital she’s been incarcerated in for decades prepares to close, also took The Tubridy Show Listener’s Choice Award, proving – if proof were needed – that as well as being top quality literary fiction, it is also highly readable and popular with a wide range of readers.

One of the novels he beat in this category was Aravind Adiga’s The White Tigerto which Barry lost out when it won the 2008 Man Booker prize.

Barry, who is in Boston, accepted his awards via video link.

Literati at the glittering prize- giving dinner in Dublin’s Mansion House, presided over by Miriam O’Callaghan, also saw Ronan O’Gara win the Energise Sport Irish Sports Book of the Year title.

If last Saturday’s Munster defeat in Croke Park was an unexpectedly black day for O’Gara, last night his penmanship was in the spotlight.

“The breezy tone of this engaging, candid read is pure O’Gara. This engrossing book sails straight between the posts,” said Irish Timesbook reviewer John O’Donnell when Ronan O’Gara: My Autobiography, (which was written with Denis Walsh) came out last year.

Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, whose 70th birthday this year has been celebrated widely, was also among the winners.

Stepping Stones by Heaney and fellow poet Dennis O’Driscoll, a highly original form of memoir in which Heaney reminisces and talks about his work via the probing questions of the younger poet, won the Argosy Irish Non-Fiction Book of the Year award.

Heaney, senior statesman of Irish letters, was chosen to present novelist, playwright and short story writer Edna O’Brien with the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award.

Marian Keyes’s This Charming Manemerged from a shortlist of bestselling authors Cecelia Ahern, Ross O’Carroll Kelly, Maeve Binchy, Cathy Kelly and Patricia Scanlan to win the Eason Irish Popular Fiction Book of the Year.

One of the most hotly-contested categories this year was the International Education Services Irish Newcomer of the Year Award. The prize was awarded to Dubliner Ronan O’Brien for his novel Confessions of a Fallen Angel. He beat off stiff competition from Kathryn Thomas, Kevin Power and Celine Kiernan.

Irish crime writing, rapidly in the ascendant as a genre, was celebrated at the awards for the first time, with the Ireland AM Irish Crime Fiction Book of the Year prize. The inaugural award, in what was described as “an extremely competitive category”, went to Blood Runs Cold by Alex Barclay.

Children’s author Derek Landy’s Playing With Fire won the senior prize in the Dublin Airport Authority Irish Children’s Book of the Year category, with the junior prize going to Before You Sleep by Benji Bennett.

The Best Irish-Published Book of the Year award was won by The Parishby Alice Taylor, published by Brandon Books.

Guests at last night’s gala bash included chef Rachel Allen, filmmaker Rebecca Miller and actress and budding author Amy Huberman, who as well as being recently engaged to Ireland rugby captain Brian O’Driscoll will be releasing her debut novel shortly.

This is the fourth year of these Irish book trade awards from which initial shortlists emerge through a ballot of Irish booksellers and librarians.

This year the public was invited to vote in all categories via the award’s website: www.irishbookawards.com

There is no prize money, but writers get a trophy and valuable publicity and shelf space in stores.