TWO young, emerging poets who write in Irish have been named as the winners of this year’s Michael Hartnett Poetry Award.
Dubliner Marcus Mac Conghail and Monaghan woman and academic, Caitríona ní Chléirchín will be presented with their award on the opening night of Éigse Michael Hartnett in Newcastle West on April 16 where they will also perform their work. The judges described them as “two emerging poets with distinctive voices” whose poetry is “powerful, courageous, sassy and important.”
The Michael Hartneet Poetry Award is jointly funded by Limerick City & County Council Arts Office and The Arts Council and is awarded annually to mark Newcastle West native Michael Hartnett’s contribution to literature in English and Irish. The €4,000 prize is awarded on alternate years for work as Gaeilge or in English.
Caitríona Ní Chléirchín, whose winning collection An Bhrídeach Sí is dedicated to her late mother, said her award success will inspire her to continue writing poetry in Irish and that she was “deeply honoured”.
“I have devoted my life to Irish-language poetry as a poet, lecturer and critic and I have a great love of and affinity with Michael Hartnett’s poetry, especially the collection Necklace of Wrens, and the poem ‘An muince dreolíní’. I was honoured to have one of my poems featured in the collection ‘I live in Michael Hartnett’ which was launched at Eigse Michael Hartnett 2013. Winning this award means an immense amount to me,” said Ms. Ní Chléirchín.
“An Bhrídeach Sí, Caitríona’s second collection, showcases a poet with a mature confident voice,” the judges, Gabril Fitzmaurice and Róisín Ní Ghairbhí said. “The poems are full of passion and also quiet reflection on life and love and death.”
Joint winner Marcus Mac Conghail who is also a singer and songwriter said he was “blown away” by his unexpected success. I never met Michael Hartnett but growing up I remember the talk about his ‘A Farewell to English’. That artistic act left a great impression on me so to be a co-recipient of an award set up in his memory is hard to believe,” he said.
Marcus Mac Conghail’s poetry is rooted in contemporary life, the judges said, and influenced by his own experience as a musician. His collection Ceol Baile, his first, includes energetic Beat riffs, quiet gently lyrics and good-humoured poetic snapshots. The poems are articulated in an Irish which merges a rich Gaeltacht idiom with a confident metropolitan twist”
Eigse Michael Hartnett runs from April 16 to 18 in Newcastle West and will feature among others, Joseph O’Connor, Kevin Barry, Peter Fallon, Martin Hayes and Dave Power and actor Pat Kinevane. Full details on www.eigsemichaelhartnett.ie