We are absolutely delighted to announce the poetry shortlist for the Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year 2023, in association with An Post Irish Book Awards.

Many entries were received again this year for the Irish Poem of the Year 2023 poetry competition. Here are our Four Finalist:

Audrey Molloy

Owen Gallagher

Theodore Deppe

Mary O’Donnell


To the first, a brass Zippo inlaid with the faint cartography

of our nakedness;

the second, a maidenhair fern, the lacy fronds of which
have graced the windowsills of every life I’ve lived;

to the third, a cloud confected from the contents
of a beachball, which is to say, nothing at all;

the fourth, two birds—Guilt and Regret: an ibis that pecks

and an emu that ruptures your gut with its toe;

to the fifth, a bouquet of dock, nettles and dandelion clocks

tied up with a Gordian knot;

the sixth, a biopsy of my shallow heart, taken by pine needle

from the chamber with the trapped hummingbird;

and to you, Great Love, I leave a radio—a crystal set

of galena and copper—fine-tuned to eternity.


Poet:  Audrey Molloy

Published: The Weekend Australian

Date: 24th June 2023

Publisher: Jaya Savige (poetry editor for The Australian)


They sat at a reserved table, by the sea,

with a white linen tablecloth, napkins,

glasses for water and wine, an elderly couple.

She could have been on the front cover of Vogue.

He could have done with a fashion makeover.

Silence was their main course. The sky

was barely blue. The sun was setting. The sea calm.

He started to cry and couldn’t stop.

She tried to comfort him. Then she started to cry.

The waiter stood by. The manager stood by.

Cutlery and glasses were suspended in mid-air

as we all stared. When they had cried

themselves dry, the waiter brought their bill.

They left hand-in-hand. The moon was in the sky.


Poet:  Owen Gallagher

Published: Poetry Ireland Review 139

Date: April 2023

Publisher: Poetry Ireland


“…to unpath’d waters, undream’d shores.”

A Winter’s Tale, Act 4, Scene 4

Frost warning, so into their beds
tuck the lettuce and spinach. Feel the cold
through the legs of our jeans.

We are leaving. We won’t get to taste
this growth but it must be protected,
we planted it, we must give it a chance.

Where are we headed? Lettuce, spinach,
we don’t know the least of it.
Even the weeds are luminous

under the Globe Theatre of the moon.
The stars are as unreadable as ever,
but I’d say they are auspicious. I’d say

for the moment we are all safe, (no,
that’s impossible) (yes, but just now it feels
that way, everyone has called,

everyone’s accounted for).
Then the apparition of white cows, mud
over their spectral flanks, a goodbye party

from another townland
that makes us laugh. Startled
when they see us, they continue

down the peninsula. Where
are we headed? To the unpathed,
to the undreamed, to the benedictions

of water and shore. Come inside
and sleep before the journey. The garden—
we must leave it behind—is all tucked in.


Poet:  Theodore Deppe

Published: Atticus Review

Date: 24th February 2023

Publisher: Atticus Books



Poet:  Mary O’Donnell

Published: Fish Publications

Date: July 2023

Publisher: Clem Cairns

Poet’s Bios

Audrey Molloy


Audrey Molloy’s debut collection, The Important Things (The Gallery Press, 2021), was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney First Collection Poetry Prize and won the Anne Elder Award. She recently launched her second collection, The Blue Cocktail (The Gallery Press, 2023). She has a masters degree in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University. Her work has appeared in The Stinging Fly, The Moth, Poetry Ireland Review, Banshee, Southword, Cyphers, and The Irish Times. She lives in Sydney with her family.

Theodore Deppe


Theodore Deppe fell in love with Ireland when he walked a thousand-mile circle around it when he was 19. In 2000, he and his wife poet Annie Deppe moved to Ireland and became citizens. He has published seven collections of poems: Children of the Air and The Wanderer King with Alice James; Orpheus on the Red Line with Tupelo; Beautiful Wheel, Liminal Blue and Riverlight with Arlen House; and Cape Clear: New and Selected Poems with Salmon). His work has appeared in many journals on both sides of the Atlantic, including Poetry Ireland Review, Stinging Fly,

Cyphers, Irish Pages, Crannog, Poetry, Kenyon Review, and Ploughshares. He won a Pushcart Prize and was awarded two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships in the US. After working as an RN for twenty years, he switched careers and has taught in Master’s programmes in writing in Ireland, the US, and the UK. He lives in Connemara.

Owen Gallagher


Owen Gallagher was born in Gorbals, Glasgow. He left school at 15 and worked in factories and on building sites, also as a street-sweeper and bus conductor. He lives in London and was a teacher in Southall, London.

He attended the University of London and the University of Glamorgan.

His recent publication is: Clydebuilt, Smokestack Books, England, 2119. Shortlisted for The Scottish Poetry Book of The Year, 2021.

His publications include:

Clydebuilt Smokestack Books, England, 2119. Shortlisted for The Scottish Poetry Book of The Year.

A Good Enough Love, Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2015. Nominated for the T.S.Eliot Award.

Tea with the Taliban, Smokestack Books, England, 2012.

Sat Guru Snowman, Peterloo Poets, England, 2001, reprinted 2002.

The Sikh Snowman an illustrated (by Fiona Stewart) children’s picture book was published in November 2020 by Culture Matters and reprinted in December 2020.

Mary O’Donnell


Mary O’Donnell has worked professionally as a writer of poetry and fiction for over thirty years, as well as being a creative writing teacher at Maynooth University, Galway University, UCC, on Carlow University Pittsburgh’s MA course in Creative Writing, and at Dublin’s IWC. She has published seventeen books since 1990, most recently the chapbook Outsiders, Always, from Southword Editions, Cork. The first of her four novels, The Light Makers, was an Irish bestseller and her poetry and stories are frequently taught on university courses. A collection of essays on O’Donnell’s work—Giving Shape to the Moment: the Art of Mary O’Donnell—appeared during 2018 with contributions by Spanish and Irish academics and writers. Her poetry has been translated to Hungarian, Spanish and most recently to Portuguese in a bilingual edition from the Brazilian publisher Arte y Lettras. She is an invited participant, reader and lecturer at literary events both in Ireland, Europe and South America. As a writer, she is grateful to have been able to pursue the calling she truly loves. She received a PhD in Creative Writing from UCC in 2019 and since 2001 she has been honoured by membership of Ireland’s affiliation of artists, Aosdána. www.maryodonnell.com.

Photograph credited to photographer Mark Reddy