Tag Archives: Listowel Writers’ Week

Supporting books and bookstores in the U.S. and Ireland


Here are the winners.


On our way back from a long, post-election weekend on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, my wife and I stopped at Unicorn Bookshop on U.S. Rt. 50, which offers “a full range of secondhand books, everything from the average to the rare.” We walked out with an armful of books, though I couldn’t find any Irish-related titles of interest.

BGE IBA brand mark CMYK blue 2015On 16 November, Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards will announce the winners of this year’s contest at a gala ceremony in Dublin. Established in 2007 by a coalition of Irish booksellers, “the over-riding motivation behind the awards is to celebrate the extraordinary quality of Irish writing, to help bring the best books to a wider readership annually, and to promote an industry under severe competitive pressures,” the contest website says.

Winners are decided by an online web-poll divided into two constituencies, a public vote and a specialist Academy vote, weighted equally and combined to produce the winners. The Academy includes 300 booksellers, librarians, non-shortlisted authors, reviewers, and journalists.

See the shortlist for Fiction Awards in 10 categories, including the Listowel Writers Week Poem of the Year. Nonfiction Awards are being contested in six categories, including cookbook and sport.


On the First Day of June

On the first day of June, 2012, my wife and I attended the Listowel Writers’ Week, which this year opens on the same date. We attended a reading by poet Paul Durcan at the Listowel Arms Hotel, the lovely River Feale shimmered outside the ballroom window, just beyond where the poet sat at a small platform.

A highlight of the performance was his reading of “On the First Day of June.”

I was walking behind Junior Daly’s coffin
Up a narrow winding terraced street
In Cork city in the rain on the first day of June …

… Outside in the streets and the meadows
In Cork and Kerry
On the first day of June on the island of Ireland
Through the black rain the sun shown.

Four years later, it remains one of my favorite moments in Ireland.