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Gradam Filíochta Bliantúil Mhicíl Uí Airtnéide 2012
This annual award was established by Limerick County Council and is jointly funded by Limerick County Council and the Arts Council to mark Michael Hartnett's contribution to literature in English and Irish. Awarded in alternate years to books of poetry in the Irish and English language, this year the award is for a collection of poems in Irish and must be a poet’s first or second collection published in the last three years. With a prize of €6500, the specific aim of the Michael Hartnett Poetry award is to encourage and support poets’ writing endeavours.
An adjudicating panel comprised of three poets, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Paddy Bushe and Louis de Paor described the standard of the collections submitted as extremely high. The level of interest was also the highest ever in the Irish section. This level of interest is according to Limerick county arts officer Joan Mac Kernan," a testimony to the fact that the award has become an embedded feature of the Irish poetry landscape since it was inaugurated in 2000 and is now one of the most prestigious and best-funded poetry awards in the country".
This year’s judges in response to the high standard of the entries, wished special mention to be given to those poets who were shortlisted: Chomh Gar ‘gus is Féidir by Andreas Vogel: Gabháil Syrinx by Aifric Mac Aodha: Turasanna by Cliodhna Cussen and An Fear sa Ghealach by Philip Cummings.
Poet Stiofán Ó Cadhla and his collection An Creideamhach Déanach emerged as the winning poet and title by distinguished adjudicating panel, of the Michael Hartnett Poetry Award 2012. The collection, the poet’s first, contains both older and more recent poems and this was reflected in the judges’ citation when they describe An Creideamhach Déanach ‘as a weighty, considered book, assembled over many years, and has a quality of achievement that is rare in a first collection.’
Speaking after the announcement this week, Stiofán said his first reaction was one of surprise, followed ‘by a degree of contentment’. ‘It is unexpected and I am grateful for the thoughtfulness and acknowledgement entailed by such a decent prize in honour of such a great individual,’ he said. ‘I have the greatest respect for Michael Hartnett and a well-thumbed (in reasonable condition) copy of Adharca Broic is evidence of that. Hartnett had a genuine poetic gift and was intellectually courageous.” He continued: “Ireland can be a difficult country to be honest in at times. Michael Hartnett was heroic in a way; he was brilliantly honest and willing to buck the trend. He wrote ‘A Farewell to English’ in 1975, two years after Ireland entered the EEC. We need a more reverse modernism like that.”
Dr. Stiofán Ó Cadhla was born in Ring, Co. Waterford and raised both there and in Bishopstown, Cork. He is a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of Folklore in University College Cork. He has written many articles and books on various aspects of traditional culture and folklore including an analysis of the prose of poet Seán Ó Ríordáin, The Holy Well Tradition and his most recent, a series of essays on folklore called An tSlat Feithleoige: Ealaiona an Dúchais 1800 – 2000 Stiofán, although now living in Cork with his wife and three children, retains his strong link with the Ring of his childhood. He is not the first Ring man to win the Hartnett award. In 2008, Aine Uí Fhoghlu won the prize for her second collection of poems in Irish. Last year’s winner was another Waterford-born man, Peter Sirr, writing in English. Stiofán also maintains links with Galbally, Co. Limerick where his parents and grandparents came from.
Cllr. Mary Harty, Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council, will present Stiofán Ó Cadhla with the Michael Hartnett poetry award, on the opening night of Eigse Michael Hartnett in Newcastle West, Co. Limerick on Thursday April 26th. On the night Stiofán will read from his winning collection to an audience that will include President Michael D. Higgins.
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