Aingeala Flannery has won the €20,000 Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award for her debut, The Amusements, published last year by Sandycove, an exploration of life in the faded Waterford resort of Tramore, her mother’s hometown, in and out of season.
Judges Patrick Gale and Manveen Rana said: “We had such a hard time choosing a winner from a fantastically strong shortlist. I believe a bookseller could put any of these novels into a reader’s hands with the words, ‘Trust me, you’ll love it’, but we felt Aingeala Flannery’s painfully funny first novel, The Amusements, was arrestingly original in its layered portrayal of a community at once tight and divided.”
Irish Times reviewer Mia Levitin, likening it to the linked stories of Elizabeth Strout and Brandon Taylor, wrote: “Flannery deftly paints the details of place. You can almost smell the popcorn and candyfloss of the promenade in Tramore, and the stale beer of a dive bar.”
Jennifer O’Connell called it “a sharply delicious and warmly empathetic jaunt through the low-stakes scandals, bitter heartbreaks, rude awakenings and moments of redemption” of the town’s citizens.
Tom French won the €12,000 Pigott Poetry Prize, judged by Martin Dyar and Clodagh Beresford Dunne, for his collection, Company, published by Gallery Books.
“French’s wry narratives find their place in elegant stanzas,” wrote Irish Times reviewer Martina Evans, a former Pigott Prize winner, praising his “precise and lyrical” poems “while wide-ranging in subject and mood, are drawn together in their common theme of human connection”.
The John B Keane Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Stephen Rea by Seamus O’Hara. The ballroom of the Listowel Arms Hotel was the setting for the awards ceremony that marked the opening of the 2023 edition of Listowel Writers’ Week, the oldest literature festival in Ireland. Rea and O’Hara are both taking part in a gala reading of The Translations of Seamus Heaney at this year’s festival, which also features Pulitzer Prize-winners Richard Ford and Paul Muldoon.
For details of the festival programme visit writersweek.ie