The winners of the annual Poetry Aloud competition, which is organised by the National Library of Ireland (NLI) and Poetry Ireland, have just been announced.
Poetry Aloud is an annual poetry speaking competition for post-primary school students across the island of Ireland. It has grown from just a few hundred entries since its launch in 2007 to 1,700 entries in 2017, with 143 schools nationwide participating.
The competition has three categories: junior, intermediate and senior. The prescribed poems for this year were ‘Little Skellig’ by Moya Cannon (junior); ‘Lullaby’ by Francis Ledwidge (intermediate) and ‘State Funeral’ by Thomas McCarthy (senior).
Speaking at the final, Bríd O’Sullivan of the NLI’s Learning and Outreach Department said: “Encouraging young people to engage with poetry, and nurturing the art of poetry speaking have been long term commitments of the National Library of Ireland. We’re proud to host Poetry Aloud in partnership with Poetry Ireland, and it is heartening to see it continue to grow on year.
“The competition presents a wonderful opportunity to welcome students from across the country through our doors, and we hope it is the start of a long-lasting relationship with the Library and with poetry speaking. Congratulations to all involved.”
National Winners of 2017 Poetry Aloud
The Poetry Aloud competition comprises three stages: the regionals; the semi-finals; and the final. A national winner is chosen from each category by a panel of esteemed judges and receives a prize of €300. The 2017 judging panel comprised of actor and overall winner of Poetry Aloud 2008, Sam McGovern; Librarian at University College Cork, John FitzGerald and Director of Poetry Ireland, Maureen Kennelly.
The 2017 Poetry Aloud national winners are:
Junior category: Brendan Mac Domhnaill, Coláiste Oiriall, Co. Monaghan.
Intermediate category: Holly Micklem, Wesley College, Ballinteer, Dublin.
Senior category: Liam Rush, St.Kevin’s CC, Dunlavin, Co.Wicklow.
From the three national category winners, Brendan Mac Domhnaill was chosen as overall winner and awarded the Seamus Heaney Poetry Aloud Award. The perpetual trophy is designed by Meath-based sculptor Fiona Smith-Darragh. The overall winner receives an additional €200.
The late Seamus Heaney was a significant supporter of Poetry Aloud. In 2009, he was presented by the British Library with the David Cohen Prize for Literature. In addition to the main award, the winner each year nominates the recipient of a subsidiary prize. In nominating Poetry Aloud for the award, Seamus Heaney cited the extraordinary way in which the competition seeks to celebrate the joy of speaking and listening to poetry as well as the fact that there is a strong North-South dimension to the competition.