Poetry celebrating craft of carpentry wins award


Liam O Muirthile, poet, playwright and columnist with this newspaper, has won this year's Clo Iar-Chonnachta Literary Award, which is run in conjunction with Udaras na Gaeltachta.

O Muirthile has received the £3,000 accolade for his collection of poetry, Walking Time agus Danta Eile. The runner-up in the competition was Celia de Freine, a poet, playwright and former scriptwriter for the TG4 soap, Ros na Run. She received second prize of £2,000 for her collection of poetry, entitled Faoi Chabaisti is Rionacha.

Liam O Muirthile's play, Liodan na hAbhann, has been showing at Amharclann de hIde, to much critical acclaim, and another production with his name to it, Fear an Tae, was staged in Spiddal this month by Aisteoiri an Spideil.

His portfolio of published works already includes two poetry collections, Tine Chnamh, published by Sairseal O Marcaigh, and Dialann Bothair, published by Gallery Press. He has also written a novel, Ar Bhruach na Laoi, published by Comhar. An Peann Coitianta 1 agus 2 comprises two collections of his columns for The Irish Times.

The title poem for his award-winning work, Walking Time, describes the relationship between a father and son. It draws on the time craftsmen used to spend walking to their place of work, either from the bus or from home, and for which they were paid. The collection also includes a series of poems about carpentry, being both a tribute to the skill and a metaphor for the craft of poetry. Some of the lyrics in the collection are in the style of the early Irish lyric.

Celia de Freine's collection is a selection of her work over seven years, and its themes include inequality, war and emigration - discussed in a "light, surreal style", according to the citation. Serious subjects are reflected in a "refreshing, humorous" manner, and the poetry is bolstered by the author's refusal to "accept anti-climax".

De Freine has won awards before, including the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 1994, the Dun Laoghaire Poetry Competition in 1996, and the British Comparative Literature Translation Award at the University of East Anglia. She was given a bursary by the Arts Council in 1997 to help her complete this work, which is her first poetry collection. Formerly scriptwriter for the popular Ros na Run, her first episode was nominated for the Celtic Film and Television Festival in 1998.

The two winners were drawn from a shortlist of five, which included Jackie Mac Donncha, Rody Gorman and Siobhan Ni Shuilleabh ain. The closing date for next year's competition has already passed, with £5,000 earmarked for a writer deemed to have achieved a high standard in publishing a novel. In 2001, the award will be for a collection of short stories or a long play, and the closing date for that is December 17th, 2000.

Recipients of the award to date have been Padraig O Siadhail in 1996, for his novel, Peaca an tSinsir; Pol Breathnach in 1997 for his collection of poems, Do Lorg: Danta agus Aortha and last year, Joe Steve O Neachtain, for his short story collection, Clochmhoin.