€15,000 Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year winner revealed

Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park wins award at Listowel Writers’ Week

Travelling in a Strange Land by David Park has won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year at the launch of the 49th Listowel Writers’ Week this evening.

The other shortlisted titles for the award, judged by Carol Drinkwater and Ian McGuire, were Sally Rooney’s Normal People; The Cruelty Men by Emer Martin; Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne; and The Hoarder by Jess Kidd.

Reviewing Travelling in a Strange Land for The Irish Times, Catherine Taylor wrote: “the significance of healing, communal or otherwise, is further explored in a deeply felt, brief (at under 200 pages) novel of personal tragedy and failure. Park uses a whited-out, almost impregnable midwinter landscape to explore the physical and emotional journey of Tom, a middle-aged father of three who is setting out from the family home near Belfast to collect his son Luke from university in Sunderland and bring him home for Christmas.”

Park, a former teacher, was born in Belfast in 1953, and now lives in Bangor, Co Down. Swallowing the Sun (2004) was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel Award, the Irish Novel of the Year Award, and the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize. His 2008 novel, The Truth Commissioner, won the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize and was adapted for television.


Kerry Group’s Frank Hayes said: “As the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award nears its 25th year, it continues to be a much sought after accolade in the Irish literary calendar and brings global prestige to the literature of Ireland. This year’s shortlist includes five wonderful novels that sit comfortably alongside the previous winners of this prestigious prize. Congratulations to each of the shortlisted authors and most especially to our Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year winner, David Park, for his illuminating work Travelling in a Strange Land.”

The €10,000 Pigott Poetry Prize was awarded to Ailbhe Darcy for her collection, Insistence. Leanne O’Sullivan’s A Quarter of an Hour and Martina Evans’s Now We Can Talk Openly about Men were also shortlisted.

This prize is for a published collection of poetry by an Irish poet and is sponsored by Mark Pigott, chairman and chief executive of PACCAR Inc, whose family emigrated from Listowel to the US in the late 1890s.

The John B Keane Lifetime Achievement Award, in association with Mercier Press, was presented to Listowel native Danny Hannon founder of the award-winning Lartigue Theatre Company in Listowel.

The festival continues until June 2nd and will feature Colm Tóibín, Steph Booth, Deryn Rees Jones, Alexandra Pringle, Joseph O’Connor, Elizabeth Day, Marianne Power, Emma Dabiri, Niall Breslin, Colm O’Regan, John Boyne, Stuart Barnes and Douglas Kennedy.

The National Children’s Festival which runs concurrently will feature Philip Ardagh, Róisín Meaney, Niall Breslin, Shane Hegarty, Chris Judge, Sheena Dempsey and Dave Rudden.

Full List of Award Winners 2019
Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award

David Park Travelling in a Strange Land
Emer Martin The Cruelty Men
John Boyne Ladder to the Sky
Sally Rooney Normal People
Jess Kidd The Hoarder

Pigott Poetry Prize

Ailbhe Darcy Insistence
Leanne O'Sullivan A Quarter of an Hour
Martina Evans Now we can Talk Openly about Men

Bryan MacMahon Short Story Award
Sarah Harte Submerged
Leo Cullen Red Ford Cortina
Richard Cahill The Last Time
Eoghan Egan Everything happens for a Reason… (and other lies)
Martin Malone By the River