Poetry Aloud Poetry Speaking Competition

Our annual poetry speaking competition for post-primary schools, organised in partnership with the National Library of Ireland. 


Poetry Aloud is an annual poetry speaking competition open to all post-primary students on the island of Ireland. It is organised by Poetry Ireland and the National Library of Ireland. Since it was launched in 2006, Poetry Aloud has grown from just a few hundred entries to almost 2,000 entries in 2016.

The late Seamus Heaney was a significant supporter of Poetry Aloud. When he won the David Cohen Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Literature, he nominated Poetry Aloud for the accompanying Clarissa Luard Award, and he remarked, “I truly believe Poetry Aloud deserves all the support it can get, because it promotes literature, and , in particular, poetry, widely, intimately and to inestimable effect. But fundamentally, I choose it because it brings poetry into the memory and affections of the young in a way that will make it a lifelong possession and value”. This year the competition also received a donation from the John S Cohen Foundation in memory of Seamus Heaney.


The competition has three stages: regional heats, which take place in different venues across the country; the semi-finals; and the final, which is held at the National Library of Ireland.

Participant categories

Junior: 1st and 2nd year from Republic of Ireland & years 8, 9 and 10 from Northern Ireland.
Intermediate: 3rd and 4th year from Republic of Ireland & years 11 and 12 from Northern Ireland.
Senior: 5th and 6th year from Republic of Ireland & Upper and Lower 6th forms from Northern Ireland. 


The prescribed poems in this year's regional heats commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Patrick Kavanagh.
>> Download an applicaton form now  

Regional Heats: 12 – 27 October 2017

Regional Heats in 2017 will take place at various venues around the country.

Participants will speak TWO poems:

ONE poem from this prescribed list:
Junior Category: 'Kerr's Ass' by Patrick Kavanagh
Intermediate Category: 'Inniskeen Road' by Patrick Kavanagh
Senior Category: 'Shancoduff' by Patrick Kavanagh

and ONE poem from the prescribed anthologies listed:
The Rattle Bag edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes (Faber and Faber, 1982)
Lifelines: Letters from Famous People About Their Favourite Poem edited by Niall MacMonagle (Any edition)
Windharp: Poems of Ireland since 1916 edited by Niall MacMonagle (Paperback, Penguin Ireland, 2016)

Chosen poems in all stages of the competitions must be no less than 12 lines. 

Semi-Finals: 16/17 November 2017

National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Participants will speak TWO poems:

ONE poem from this prescribed list:
Junior Category: 'Homage to Omey' by Joan McBreen
Intermediate Category: 'St Kevin and the Blackbird' by Seamus Heaney
Senior Category: 'Coole Park, 1929' by W.B. Yeats

and ONE poem from the prescribed anthologies listed above.

Final: 1 December 2017

National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2. Participants will speak TWO poems:

ONE poem from this prescribed list:
Junior Category: 'Little Skellig' by Moya Cannon
Intermediate Category: 'Lullaby' by Francis Ledwidge
Senior Category: 'State Funeral' by Thomas McCarthy

and ONE poem from the prescribed anthologies listed above.


Each category winner receives €300 and book tokens to the value of €300 for the winner’s school library. An overall winner will be chosen from the three category winners and will receive a further €200, the Seamus Heaney perpetual trophy and a signed book of poetry. The runner up in each category will receive a book token Certificates of participation will be presented to all finalists.

How to Apply

Download an application form and return it by Monday 25 September 2017.
>> Download an application form now 

Watch finalists from Poetry Aloud 2016


Watch finalists from Poetry Aloud 2013

Previous winners

In 2014 Poetry Aloud partnered with The Works, RTÉ Television’s flagship arts show, and RTÉ Radio One’s The John Murray Show on A Poem for Ireland, The Best-Loved Irish Poem of the Last 100 Years. Finalists from the Poetry Aloud competition appeared on The Works reading a selection of Ireland’s best-loved poems.

In April 2014, Niall Ó hAnnagáin, Poetry Aloud’s 2013 winner, joined poets and musicians including Paul Muldoon and Paul Simon on stage at the National Concert Hall in a special tribute to Seamus Heaney. Fifteen-year-old Niall, who was the youngest person on stage, spoke 'Mid-Term Break' to great acclaim.




Nathan Quinn O’Rawe, De La Salle College, Belfast, Co. Antrim

Kevin Fitzpatrick, St. Macartan's College, Monaghan

Megan Nar, St Louis Secondary School, Monaghan

2013 Niall Ó hAnnagáin from Coláiste Ailigh in Letterkenny
2012 Shauna Hession, St Michael's Holy Faith Secondary School, Finglas
2011 Corey Duffy, Christian Brothers Grammar School, Omagh
2010 Aoife Franklyn, St Andrew's College, Dublin
2009 John King, Belvedere College, Dublin
2008 Samuel McGovern, St Andrew's College, Dublin
2007 Niamh Kenneally, Ursuline College, Sligo
2006 Katherine Wade, Ursuline College, Sligo