The Irish Times Travel Writer winner 2015: ‘a writer heavily disguised as a teacher’

The winner of our travel writing competition is Ruth Petherick, with her emotional story from Cambodia and Vietnam

We're delighted to announce that the winner of The Irish Times Amateur Travel Writer competition is Ruth Petherick for her emotional story inspired by a journey to Cambodia and Vietnam. It’s a tale that is stuffed with atmosphere and feeling. The judges, who were unanimous in their decision, felt it went beyond the realm of where a travel story is expected to bring the reader and connected the writer, her subject and the reader in a very strong way.

The writing style was fluid and beautifully descriptive, bringing us momentarily into the lives of the people she met and reminding us of our place in a complicated world. The ending touches readers in an unexpected way. You can read the full story here.

Ruth Petherick is from the Liberties in Dublin. She teaches English in Assumption Secondary school in Walkinstown and describes herself as “a writer heavily disguised as a teacher”. She previously spent time teaching English in China and, having spent her career so far encouraging her students to write, she has recently decided that she needs to follow that path herself.

The winning article will be published in print in Saturday’s Weekend Review and Ruth will travel on assignment for The Irish Times to cover a travel story abroad in the Spring. The destination will be revealed at an informal event in the Irish Times building in mid-December.


The vote was divided between an online poll that comprised 30 per cent of the total vote and a judging panel that awarded the remaining 70 per cent. Ruth came second in the online poll behind Patrick Holloway’s story from Brazil who received the most votes online. Marie Noonan’s story from China was in third place in the online vote.

The judging panel awarded their 70 per cent of the total vote by scoring the articles for story angle, writing style and how much they inspired the reader to travel.

The judging panel was: Orna Mulcahy, Managing Editor, Features; Rachel Collins, Irish Times journalist; Gary Quinn, Features Digital Editor; Ciara Kenny, Irish Times journalist; Emer Sugrue, Irish Times journalist and Aoife Valentine, Irish Times journalist. You can read all ten of the shortlisted articles here