Niall Bourke wins McLaverty award; Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair winners revealed

A preview of Saturday’s pages and a round-up of the latest literary news

Reviews in The Irish Times this Saturday are Nicholas Allen on The Idea of the Union, edited by John Wilson Foster and William Beattie Smith; Barry Houlihan on The Golden Thread: Irish Women Playwrights, Vols 1 & 2, 1716-2016, edited by David Clare, Fiona McDonagh and Justine Nakase; Seán Hewitt on new poetry collections by Annemarie Ní Churreáin, Tua Forsström, Lila Matsumoto and Paul Muldoon; John Banville on The Renaissance Cities: Art in Florence, Rome and Venice by Norbert Wolf, translated by Cynthia Hall; Enda Delaney on Irish London: A Cultural History 1850-1910 by Richard Kirkland; David Wheatley on The Book of all Books by Roberto Calasso, translated by Tim Parks; Sara Keating on Land of the Ever Young: An Anthology of Working People’s Writing for Children from Contemporary Ireland, edited by Jenny Farrell; Catherine Toal on Modernism, Empire, World Literature and The Irish Expatriate Novel in Late Capitalist Globalisation by Joe Cleary; and Sarah Gilmartin on Somebody Loves You by Mona Arshi.

Saturday’s Irish Times book promotion at Eason’s is The Searcher by Tana French. You can buy a copy with your newspaper for just €4.99, a saving of €5.

Niall Bourke, whose debut novel Line was published this year by Tramp Press, has won the Linen Hall Michael McLaverty Short Story Award for his story The Catch. The two runners-up are Sadhbh Moriarty for Saint Caillín and The Carwash and Dawn Watson for The Condition of Stopped Time.

The winner will receive £2,000 and his story will be published in a limited edition anthology along with the stories of the runners-up, who each also receive £250. The anthology entitled The Catch and Other Stories will be available to purchase in the Linen Hall for £5.


The award was set up to foster and encourage the tradition of the Irish short story and has run biennially since 2006. McLaverty was one of the foremost proponents of the Irish short story. His archive was donated to the library by his executors in 2005.

Donal Ryan, who judged the prize with Patsy Horton of Blackstaff Press, said: “The Catch is a gleaming piece of work, an elegantly crafted study of the tension between tradition and pragmatism, as the young hunter strains against the bonds of convention. Place and action are rendered and melded so sublimely that the writer’s hand disappears completely, leaving the reader alone to witness and share the hunter’s defiance, her transgression and her triumph, to hear ‘each passing second as it sought to set itself, the tightening coil of the present moment preparing to move out against the future world.’”

The Irish Writers Centre has announced the 12 emerging writers who have been selected from almost 400 entrants to take part in Novel Fair 2022 on February 11th-12th, where they will pitch their work to top publishers and agents in a series of one-to-one meetings.

The winners are: Rachel Blackmore, Conor Duggan, Brian Kelly, Brian Kirk, Alison Langley, Orla Mackey, Peter Murphy, Mike Murray, Hesse Phillips, James Richards, Phyllida Taylor and Linda Walsh. The12 runners-up are: Suzanne Carver,William Foley, Emer Hoare, Robin Kelly, Helen Lahert, AudreyMcCready, John McCullough, Gary McKeever, Catherine O’Brien, John O’Donnell, Aoife Sheehan and Cassie Smith-Christmas.

The judges were authors Cauvery Madhaven, Gavin Corbett and Neil Hegarty, who said: “I was delighted and much impressed by the extraordinary quality of the writing, across a range of genres – a cheering reminder of the wealth and diversity of literary talent and creativity just waiting to be discovered.”


Poetry Ireland and Stanford University have announced that Emma Tobin from Ireland and Lauren Green from the US have been chosen froom more than 200 applicants to receive the inaugural Eavan Boland Emerging Poet Award.

The scheme creates an annual opportunity for two emerging poets, each of whom will receive €1,700, as well as three mentoring sessions by leading poets. The award was established in celebration of Eavan Boland and is being presented with the support of the Casey/Boland family and funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the US embassy, Dublin.

Director of Poetry Ireland, Niamh O’Donnell, said, “Eavan was a champion of new voices, she cherished inclusivity and ferociously pushed open doors for countless poets. Eavan always argued that space for new voices must be made and we’re delighted that this mission continues through the award. A big thank you to everyone who entered, and to our two judges, Paula Meehan and Jane Hirshfield.”

Tobin is a 24-year-old poet from Newbridge, Co Kildare, and has been published in The Irish Times and in Caveat Lector, UCD LitSoc’s student publication. She has an MA and an MFA in Creative Writing from University College Dublin, and is currently a PhD student at the university.

Tobin said: “I am stunned and overjoyed to have my poetry recognised by an award in honour of Eavan Boland, who was a tireless champion for marginalised poets whose work sought to challenge what it meant to make art and be human. It is my first belief that art – and particularly poetry – is a space where we can reimagine both our histories and our futures. It’s humbling to be one of the first ever recipients of an award that will no doubt inspire new voices in poetry for many years to come.”

Lauren Green is based in New York City. Her chapbook, A Great Dark House, is forthcoming from the Poetry Society of America. She has a BA from Columbia University and an MFA from the University of Texas-Austin.

Green said, “It is a tremendous honour to receive this award, which embodies Eavan Boland’s expansive generosity and devotion to emerging poets. Hidden inner lives, overlooked daily occurrences-these are the depths through which Boland’s poems trawl. She brought to the surface a keen understanding of the human experience, and in doing so, flooded them with light. I hope, in some way, that my work can reflect a spark of the compassion, perspicacity, and force of spirit she so fiercely embraced.”


RTE Gold broadcaster Rick O’Shea has so far raised almost €40,000 in his annual Christmas book club appeal after Australian actor Russell Crowe and author Derek Landy each donated €5,000 This is the fourth year of the RTE presenter’s Christmas Book Club Appeal, whose beneficiaries this year are the Peter McVerry trust and the DSPCA.

“In the three years to this we’ve raised over €115,000. And that is no small chunk of change...” O’Shea said. The appeal will remain open until January 1st.

Readers can donate here.

Emily Cullen has been appointed as the inaugural Meskell UL-Fifty poet in residence at University of Limerick’s creative writing programme.

Cullen has published three poetry collections: Conditional Perfect (Doire Press, 2019), In Between Angels and Animals (Arlen House, 2013) and No Vague Utopia (Ainnir Publishing, 2003). She has served as arts officer of NUI Galway; director of the Patrick Kavanagh Centenary in 2004 and director of Cúirt International Festival of Literature (2017-2019).

Prof Joseph O’Connor, Frank McCourt Chair of Creative Writing, said: “I extend heartfelt thanks to Paddy and Darlene Meskell, whose generous support has made this new role possible at UL Creative Writing. We are all immensely excited to have a writer and teacher of Emily Cullen’s talents join the team. As UL approaches its 50th anniversary year of 2022/23, it’s wonderful that our relationship with the creative arts is deepening.”

Lynn Buckle has been longlisted for the Barbellion Prize 2021. Her novel What Willow Says, published by epoque press, is the only Irish book on this international prize list, which was founded by Jake Goldsmith to raise disabled voices in literature. The winner will be announced in 2022. Buckle was also published in an anthology of deaf/hard-of-hearing writers last month by Arachne Press, What Meets the Eye? The Deaf Perspective. Edited by Sophie Stone and Lisa Kelly, it includes a foreword by poet Raymond Antrobus and is available in paperback and in sign language videos.

Volume 7 of Winter Papers, Ireland's annual anthology for the arts, was published by Curlew Editions last month. West Cork Literary Festival hosts co-editor Kevin Barry e in conversation with three of the contributors – Alan McMonagle, Jess Raymon and Susanne Stich – on Tuesday, December 28th, at 7pm. The video will be released on the West Cork Literary Festival website and YouTube channel .


As part of her residency with Mayo Arts, author Elizabeth Reapy has made a five-part podcast about the creative process, produced by Donal McConnon, which features 17 writers with links to Mayo, including Colin Barrett and Mike McCormack. You can listen to it on Spotify here or on the Mayo Arts Council's page here.

An Post has issued the 2021 Irish Stamp Yearbook, which contains the complete collection of Ireland’s 2021 stamps, which marked events and activity ranging from the Antarctic Exploration to Ireland’s Pride Movement and acclaimed Irish singer-songwriters including Christy Moore and Hozier.

Aileen Mooney, An Post Irish Stamps, said: “Each year, our stamp collection seeks inspiration from some of the nation’s most exciting and noteworthy events in our history and present day, creating a time capsule for generations to come. The 2021 yearbook is a reminder of our challenges, inspirations and aspirations, as well as an acknowledgement of Ireland’s significant milestones and historic events, to be enjoyed by people of all ages and interests.”

It is now available at and can also be purchased at the GPO, Dublin.