Two poets to share Michael Hartnett Poetry Award 2016

  Award will be presented at Eigse Michael Hartnett in a fortnight's time

Norma Prendiville


Norma Prendiville

Two poets to share Michael Hartnett Poetry Award 2016

Doireann Ní GhrÍofa and Listowel-born poet John McAuliffe (below) are this year's joint winners of the Michael Hartnett poetry award

THE Listowel-born poet, John McAuliffe and Doireann Ní Ghríofa, who grew up in Co Clare, are this year’s winners of the Michael Hartnett Poetry Award.

And they will travel to Newcastle West, the home  town of poet Michael Hartnett, to collect their award and read from their collections on Thursday, April 14 when this year’s Eigse Michael Hartnett gets underway.

“It's both a confirmation and a great encouragement to receive the award, especially since I've been reading and thinking and talking about Michael Hartnett's poems, the lyrics, the narratives, the ballads, for as long as I've been writing,” said John McAuliffe when the awards were announced this week.

His collection The Way In (Gallery Press 2015) shared the honours with Clasp (Dedalus Press 2015) by Doireann Ni Ghríofa.  

One of this year’s judges, poet Rita Ann Higgins said of his winning collection:” These are well wrought poems that challenge and sing.”

 The other judge, poet Gerard Smyth said the collection “consolidates the promise” of McAuliffe’s other three collections. “Keenly tuned-in to particular experiences of his own generation, he is a sharp-eyed poet who catches the moods of domestic space and revels in the daily quotidian. Nothing seems to escape him.” 

Mr McAuliffe is a native of Listowel but is now a lecturer in poetry at the University of Manchester where he is co-director of the Centre for New Writing.

“I'm absolutely over the moon!” said  Doireann NíGhríofa, who grew up in Kilnamona, Co Clare but now lives in Cork with her husband and four young children.  “Hartnett is a hero of mine, so this is such a delight for me. Hartnett is a writer who has become very dear to me, and I feel such a deep resonance with Hartnett's work in both languages.”

“As I wrote 'Clasp' ,my first book in English following two books as Gaeilge, those lines from Hartnett's 'Inchicore Haiku' felt particularly resonant: "My English dam bursts/and out stroll all my bastards./Irish shakes its head,” she said.

I’m so pleased to accept an award in his name and to wear his ‘muince dreoilíní / necklace of wrens’”,” she said.

“I trust this voice. I trust these poems. Earthiness and physicality jostle for position in Clasp. She is breaking new ground with her fresh, fearless approach to memory and motherhood, loss and love,” Rita Ann Higgins said in her judge’s citation.

Fellow judge Gerard Smyth said that Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s “ versatility, vitality and emotional range are hugely impressive.”.

“On the basis of Clasp, Ni Ghríofa is on course to become a major talent, a poet who seems set to move more deeply into the places from which her poetry comes,” he said.

The two poets will share a prize fund of €4000 which is sponsored jointly by Limerick City and County Council Arts Office and the Arts Council.

Previous winners of this prestigious award include Julie O'Callaghan, Vona Groarke, Kerry Hardie, Sinead Morrissey, Paddy Bushe, Maurice Riordan, Aine Ni Fhoghlu, James Harpur, Peter Sirr, Mark Roper and Jo Slade.

The Michael Hartnett Poetry Award will be presented on the opening night of Eigse Michael Hartnett, the literary and arts festival which runs every April in Newcastle West and which takes place this year from Thursday, April 14 to April 16.

This year’s programme includes high-profile names such as Colum McCann, Donal Ryan, Michael Coady, Rita Ann Higgins and Colm Mac Con Iomaire. Also featuring will be Mary Hartney, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Jo Slade, Mike MacDomhnaill, Míchéal Rowsome and the Stanzas

The award-winning novelist and short story writer, Donal Ryan will launch the Eigse Michael Hartnett 2016 programme in the Red Door Gallery, Newcastle West next Monday. All are welcome to attend at 6pm.  

Details of this year’s Eigse are available on