Kavanagh award to Leitrim poet


As Irish poetry awards go, one of the best-known is that named after the garrulous Patrick Kavanagh, whose statue on Dublin's Grand Canal is known with sly affection as the Crank on the Bank. On Sunday in Inniskeen, on the stony grey soil of Monaghan, money changed hands, but no burgling of banks went on.

The 1999 Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award of £1,000 - for the best collection of poems by a poet who has not yet been published in book form - was presented to Leitrim-based Eibhlin Nic Eochaidh. In second place was Liam Aungier from Kildare and in third was Tony O'Dwyer from Galway.

What plans has Nic Eochaidh for the loot? "I've already gone out and bought two big lots of poetry books - most of them secondhand, though," she says. "My copy of Moya Cannon's Oar is missing its cover, but all the rest of it is there inside." Nic Eochaidh is currently studying for her M Phil in creative writing at Trinity - but after this win, she'll probably be the one doing the teaching.

Down in Galway, playwright and poet Vincent Woods will be going back to college shortly - not to study, but to teach. He has recently been appointed NUI Galway's latest writer-in-residence. The appointment of a playwright to the post is timely, as the college now has its own theatre and will be introducing graduate theatre studies from next autumn.

Woods will be running drama and poetry workshops from January. Would-be award winners should write to him c/o the Dept of English, NUI, Galway before the end of this month if they wish to be considered.

The Collins Press has republished Mairead Dunlevy's Dress in Ireland, A History (£14.99). Dunlevy goes by the exotic title of Keeper of the Art and Industrial Division in the National Museum, so she was exceptionally well-placed to study our historical costume.

The book follows the, ahem, pattern of dress styles in this country from earliest evidence of jewellery, shoes and cloaks, through the medieval era to the time of the first World War. The 19th-century photographs here, depicting both the wealthy and the poor are as interesting for their historical and sociological dimensions as they are for their sartorial ones. And, if you want to see some of the original costumes in this book, you can trot up to Kildare Street and wander among the glass cabinets for yourself.

It seems like every week now word comes of another new writing competition. The one which caught Sadbh's eye this week is the Cathal Bui Summer School poem and story competition. Them lads up in Cavan are looking for poems of up to 40 lines, and stories of up to 2,000 words.

Judges are Carlo Gebler (fiction) and Noel Monaghan (poetry). Entry fees are £3 per poem or story, so the Scrooge in Sadbh's Christmas spirit notes there's obviously more mileage to be got from writing stories, word for word. Closing date is next St Patrick's Day. Entry forms from Jim Nolan, Cornagee, Blacklion, Co Cavan - yes, Blacklion, it was roaring long before we ever heard of the Celtic Tiger.

On Wednesday, in Trinity's New Common Room, From Galaxies to Turbines: Science Technology and the Parsons Family (Institute of Physics Publishing, £35), was launched by Jane Grimson, president of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland. The author was the college's Fellow Emeritus, W. Garrett Scaife.

Over the generations, the Parsons were responsible variously for the invention of the steam turbine (the kind that powered the hapless Titanic), as well as the famous telescope with its six-foot diameter lens at Birr Castle.

The Parsons have been fascinating Scaife for almost four decades now. "I came to TCD to teach in 1962 and, every day in the Museum Building, I used to pass a turbo-generator in a glass box in the hall. One day I had a proper look at it: it had been there since 1885, and was invented the year before by Charles Parson. That's really where the interest began for me."

Scaife reckons the most significant engineering development of this century has been the computer, of which he had early first-hand experience. "The first computer in Ireland was in the engineering department in Trinity!"

1912: Mary Agnes Barr models her wedding dress before her marriage in Moville, Co Donegal, to Michael Doherty. The dress was made by local dressmaker Cissy McDaid. From Dress in Ireland - A History by Mairead Dunlevy