We really couldn’t have asked for a better day to officially launch our 42nd Listowel Writers’ Week. The sun has been splitting the sky all day, and the sound of birdsong has filled the air. What a fabulous start to what promises to be a fantastic festival. The crowds gathered from far and wide this evening at The Listowel Arms Hotel for the Opening Ceremony of Listowel Writers’ Week 2013, the high point of which was the announcement that Gavin Corbett won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award for his novel, This is the Way. An extended interview with Gavin will be posted to this Blog on Thursday morning.
The coveted €15,000 Kerry Group Award is the largest monetary prize for fiction available solely to Irish authors. The other four shortlisted authors were Lucy Caldwell for All The Beggars Riding, Claire Kilroy for The Devil I Know, Kathleen MacMahon for This Is How It Ends and Thomas O’Malley for This Great Desolation.
The second novel from Dublin-based author, This is the Way tells the story of a modern-day Traveller hiding in Dublin from his people and their blood feuds, and coming to terms with his powerful, mythic inheritance.
Gavin (pictured) was born in the west of Ireland and grew up in Dublin, where he studied History at Trinity College. This is the Way, his second novel, is published by Fourth Estate in he UK and by Faber in the US (Winter 2013). He has recently moved back to Dublin from New York.
Speaking about the 2013 Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award, Frank Hayes, Director of Corporate Affairs, commented, “Our Award celebrates excellence in Irish fiction writing. This year’s shortlist included five exceptionally talented Irish writers whose work showcases the breadth of literary talent in Ireland. Gavin Corbett, as the recipient of the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award, is a worthy winner and I would like to congratulate him on his outstanding novel, This is the Way.”
This year’s Opening Ceremony, officially launched by journalist and author John Bowman, featured a slew of literary prizes, including the John B Keane Lifetime Achievement Award in association with Mercier Press, which was presented to poet John Montague. New for the first time this year is The Nilsson Local Heritage Writing Award which was won by Mario Corrigan.
The winners of our full range of Literary Competitions were also announced and are as follows:
The Bryan MacMahon Short Story Award – Ethel Rohan
Duais Foras na Gaeilge – Simon O’Faolain
Eamon Keane Full Length Play – Fergal O’Byrne
The Single Poem – Karen O’Connor
The Poetry Collection – Connie Roberts
Originals Short Poem – Paddy Conneff
Originals Humourous Essay – John Fitzgerald
Originals Short Story – Mairead Ní Chroinin
The Irish Post New Writing Competition – Joanna Connery-Cripps
Con Houlihan Young Sports Journalist Award – Emily Cahill
Kerry County Council Creative Writing 9 and Under Category – Aoife Sharkey
Kerry County Council Creative Writing 12 and Under Category – Hannan Rudden
Kerry County Council Creative Writing 14 and Under Category – Molly O’Mahony
Kerry County Council Creative Writing 16 and Under Category – Amy Cahill
Kerry County Council Creative Writing 18 and Under Category – Laura Enright
Kerry County Council Creative Writing A Limerick (all ages to 18 yrs) – Liam Kennedy
Kerry County Council Creative Writing 14 and Under Special Category – Emma Louise Jordan
Kerry County Council Creative Writing 18 and Under Special Category – Jack Kingston
Music was provided by Noel O’Grady. A five-time Oireachtas na Gaeilge winner he came back to his native North Kerry this evening to perform, through song, his individual interpretations of leading Irish writers. Superb stuff!
Our President, Colm Tóibín, gave a wonderful talk on the theme of homecoming and exile. He said that it is ‘an idea that runs through Irish fiction – the emotions surrounding homecoming and exile in writing never being clear.’
The festival continues until Sunday, featuring a wealth of talent from Ireland and abroad, with appearances from Thomas Keneally, Colum McCann, Nadeem Aslam, Rebecca Miller, Audrey Niffenegger, Colm Tóibín, Willy Vlautin and many more.
This year, for the first time, we have included an Italian-Irish literary exchange. This event is free of charge and takes place on Friday at 5.30pm at The Seanchaí Centre. To celebrate The Gathering, we are also hosting a number of events focusing on The Experience of Migration in Contemporary Irish Writing, Mapping the Irish Famine, The Irish-American Short Story/Poetry and a bi-lingual Tribute and Celebration of the work of Máire Mhac an tSaoi, and for which Máire will be in attendance.
There will also be a fabulous and diverse range of drama, music, film, art exhibitions, a literary bus tour, walking tours plus an exciting and expanded Children’s Programme.
Come to Listowel this weekend – if you’re not already here – for here is the place where culture meets craic!
The festival runs until Sunday 2 June. www.writersweek.ie