The Irish publishing world celebrated the best in Irish writing last night, at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards. More than 500 guests attended the event at the DoubleTree hotel (formerly the Burlington). Among those in attendance were Frank McGuinness, Sinead O'Connor, Sean Óg Ó Hailpín, DJ Carey, Cathy Kelly and Patricia Scanlan.
Irish Times columnist Michael Harding was perhaps the most delighted man in the room and can now claim the double distinction of critical and popular acclaim.
His Staring at Lakes won the John Murray Show Listeners' Choice award and the Non-Fiction Book of the Year award. The book, which draws on his columns for this paper, began as a study of depression but developed into a memoir about growing old, love and marriage. "Writers get to tell their stories, which is a privilege. Everyone who gets to share their story, that's an act of healing," said Harding. "It does you good, in therapy terms, to share what's wrong with you. So in a sense all art is a form of feeling." He is halfway through his next book, "a story about Cavan. I've discovered for myself that memoir is an art form I like, so why would you stop?"
As for the ceremony itself: "These galas, they're show business and it's good and it's glitter. I consider myself a very small little minion in that big circus of celebrity but at least it's nice to rub shoulders with the hoi polloi of RTÉ. "
John Banville was given the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award 2013, and a screened tribute to Seamus Heaney featured contributions from former US president Bill Clinton and writer Edna O’Brien, who called Heaney a “very deep and radical poet”.
Roddy Doyle took the Novel of the Year award for The Guts, his book about the return of Jimmy Rabbitte, while Irish Times columnist Paul Howard won Popular Fiction Book of the Year for the latest in the Ross O'Carroll-Kelly series, Downturn Abbey. Fintan O'Toole's A History of Ireland in 100 Objects won Best Irish Published Book of the Year.
Irish crime fiction is enjoying something of a golden age, and this year's most wanted is Louise Phillips for her second book, The Doll's House. The award was presented by the State pathologist Marie Cassidy.
This year's Newcomer of the Year is Niamh Boyce for The Herbalist. Writing in this paper, Anna Carey called it "the most entertaining yet substantial historical novel since Joseph O'Connor's Star of the Sea".
Derek Landy won the Senior Children's Book of the Year for Last Stand of Dead Men, the latest Skulduggery Pleasant adventure, while Benji Bennett won in the Junior category for When You Were Born.
The winners in the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2013
Eason Novel of the Year: The Guts by Roddy Doyle
National Book Tokens Non-Fiction Book of the Year and the John Murray Show Listeners' Choice award: Staring At Lakes: A Memoir Of Love, Melancholy and Magical Thinking by Michael Harding
International Education Services Popular Fiction Book of the Year: Downturn Abbey by Ross O'Carroll-Kelly
Best Irish Published Book of the Year: A History of Ireland in 100 Objects by Fintan O'Toole
Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the Year: The Doll's House by Louise Phillips
Avonmore Cookbook of the Year: 30 Years at Ballymaloe by Darina Allen
RTÉ Television Sports Book of the Year: Seven Deadly Sins by David Walsh
Writing.ie Short Story of the Year: The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind by Billy O'Callaghan
Bord Gáis Energy Bookshop of the Year: The Clifden Bookshop, Clifden, Co Galway.
Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year: The Herbalist by Niamh Boyce
Specsavers Children's Book of the Year - Junior: When You Were Born by Benji Bennett
Senior: Skulduggery Pleasant: Last Stand of Dead Men by Derek Landy