‘Grace’ by Paul Lynch wins Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award

Colette Bryce’s ‘Selected Poems’ wins Pigott Poetry Prize at Listowel Writers’ Week

Paul Lynch has won the €15,000 Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award 2017 for his Famine novel, Grace, at the opening night of Listowel Writers' Week in Kerry. Adjudicators Jane Urquhart and Alex Preston chose it from a shortlist that included Sally Rooney's Conversations with Friends; Bernard MacLaverty's Midwinter Break; Lisa Harding's Harvesting; and Frank McGuinness's The Woodcutter and His Family.

Charles Shafaieh, reviewing for The Irish Times, called it "haunting and poetic". "Unlike the 'novelese' favoured by too many contemporary writers, these are sentences worth reading slowly. Though only suggesting the possibility of future greatness with Grace, Lynch has given us poignant glimpses of the human body's limits, that peculiar messiness of identity, and what happens when parts of a society fail to help, or even acknowledge, those in need."

Grace, which is published in paperback by Oneworld on June 7th, has been shortlisted for the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction (the winner is to be revealed on June 16th) and the $5,000 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. It will be June's Irish Times Book Club selected title.

The €8,000 Pigott Poetry Prize was awarded to Colette Bryce for her collection Selected Poems 2000-2014. Adjudicators Billy Collins and Deryn Rees Jones selected the work from a shortlist that included Michael Longley's Angel Hill and Sinéad Morrissey's On Balance, winner of the 2017 Forward Prize for Best Collection and 2017 Poetry Book Society Choice Award.


The 48th annual Listowel Writers’ Week was officially opened this evening by award-winning US poet Billy Collins. Festival chairperson Liz Dunn said: “This year’s festival programme is outstanding and covers such a wide variety of literature and responses to literature, that there really is something for everyone. It certainly justifies our Best Irish Festival 2018 award.”

The John B Keane Lifetime Achievement Award, in association with Mercier Press, was presented to poet Edna O’Brien in recognition of her outstanding contribution to literature internationally.

The festival continues until Sunday, June 3rd, and will feature a host of international and national writers including festival president Colm Tóibín, Margaret Drabble, Anthony Horowitz, Michael Longley, Colette Bryce and Eimear McBride.

Listowel Writers’s Week: full list of Prizewinners

Winners and Shortlisted

The Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award

  • Winner: Paul Lynch, Grace
  • Sally Rooney, Conversations with Friends
  • Lisa Harding, Harvesting
  • Frank McGuinness, The Woodcutter and His Family
  • Bernard MacLaverty, Midwinter Break

Pigott Poetry Prize

  • Winner: Colette Bryce, Selected Poems 2000-2014
  • Michael Longley, Angel Hill
  • Sinéad Morrissey, On Balance

Bryan MacMahon Short Story Award

  • Winner: David O'Donovan, Skinned Knees
  • Paul Lenehan, Stories for Girls
  • Patrick Freyne, August from Another Walthamstow
  • Joseph Sweeney, Halla
  • Niamh McCabe, This Much is Known

Duais Foras Na Gaeilge

  • Winner: Simon Ó' Faoláin, El Memorioso
  • Simon Ó'Faoláin, Cánóg Dhubh
  • Máire Ní Bhriain, Copóg
  • Máire Ní Bhriain, Éabha sa Ghleann
  • Micheál Ó Ruairc, Bhíomar ag dul ar saoire go hEochaill

Single Poem

  • Winner: Jeremiah Curtin, Remembering Dominic Nesbitt
  • Zillah Bowes, The Valley With Me
  • Judy Kane, Right of Way
  • Kathryn Burke, Picking Over the Remains
  • David Butler, Sound

Poetry Collection

  • Winner: Eilis Stanley, Medulla
  • Eoin Hegarty, Bronze
  • Zillah Bowes, The Valley the Air

Listowel Writers’ Week Originals Competition - Humorous Essay

  • Winner: Kevin Foley, Essay on the Merits of Winking in January
  • Séamas McNally, Maintenance with Mabel
  • Brian Buckley, It's All in the Mind
  • Stephen Coronella, My Time Has Come: Bearded Men are Back
  • Laura Gannon, The Day the Dial-Up Died
  • Rose Servitova, Up with the Waterford Stanley, Down with the Sod of Turf
  • Patrick Lynch, Croke Park Man

Con Houlihan Young Journalist Award

  • Diarmaid Blehein, A Korean Wedding – Where the Guests Come First

Creative Writing for Adults with Special Needs

  • 1st: Ricky Coonan, It Will Be Okay
  • 2nd: Jack Doherty, Trucks

Eamon Keane Full Length Play in association with Siamsa Tíre

  • Winner: Fergal O'Byrne, Extremophiles
  • Brendan Griffin, A Thousand Moments of Extraordinary Pleasure
  • John McManus, Lone Wolf
  • Nicola Keane, Close Enough to Feale
  • John McManus, An Ill Wind
  • Neil Flynn, A Bird Came Down the Walk
  • Patrick Hull, Seeking Apartment with a Kitchen View

Local Heritage Writing

  • 1st Bryan MacMahon - The Great Famine in Tralee and North Kerry
  • 2nd Paddy McGuinness - The Castlebar International Song Contest 1966-1988

Creative Writing

  • Elleesa Rushby, New Pet

Creative Writing for Youth

  • Creative Writing for 9 Years & Under: 1st: Maria Lenny, The Play Date; 2nd: Anna O'Sullivan, When My Friend Came to Tea; 3rd: Aisling Carroll, Ophelia
  • Creative Writing for 12 Years & Under: 1st: Charlotte Williams, Colours; 2nd: Cornelia Mangan, The King and Queen of China; 3rd: Victoria Lunin, Wild Life
  • Creative Writing for 15 Years & Under: 1st: Charlie Fitzgerald, Apocalypse; 2nd: Evelyn Flynn, Stress; 3rd: Ellie Ní Chearmada, Nellie
  • Creative Writing for 18 Years & Under: 1st: Freyja Hellebust, Literary Ghosts; 2nd: Sorcha Kennelly, Shift; 3rd: Gráinne Fitzgerald, January Tenth

Creative Writing for Special Educational Needs

  • 1st: Ruth Stewart, Dreams
  • 2nd: Sarah O'Leary, Documentary of Ivy Rose
  • 3rd: William O'Connor, Nature's Face