National winners announced at tenth annual Poetry Aloud competition

2nd December 2016

The winners of the tenth annual Poetry Aloud competition, organised by the National Library of Ireland (NLI) and Poetry Ireland, were announced on Friday (02.12.16) at the final round of the competition, held at the National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

Poetry Aloud is an annual poetry speaking competition for post-primary school students across the island of Ireland and was launched in 2006.  Since then, it has grown extraordinarily from just a few hundred entries to over 1,600 entries in 2016. The competition has three participant categories: junior, intermediate and senior. The prescribed poems this year were ‘The Long Vacation’ by Katherine Tynan (junior); ‘Genius’ by Moya Cannon (intermediate) and ‘Easter 1916’ by W.B. Yeats (senior).

Speaking at the final, Bríd O’Sullivan, of Learning and Outreach at the National Library of Ireland said: “Poetry Aloud has been a standout event in the Library calendar for the past decade. Year on year we’re astounded by the quality and volume of entrants. This goes to prove that the art of poetry speaking is continuing to thrive. As this centenary year comes to an end, it is particularly fitting to hear Yeats’ ‘Easter 1916’ recited here today.

“We have thoroughly enjoyed welcoming students from all corners of Ireland to the NLI for Poetry Aloud and we hope that all involved have enjoyed themselves too. It is a remarkable achievement to progress through all stages of this competition given the high number of entrants. We’d like to extend our sincere congratulations to all finalists.”

National Winners of 2016 Poetry Aloud
The Poetry Aloud competition comprises three stages: the regionals; the semi-finals; and the final. A national winner is chosen from each category by a panel of esteemed judges and receives a prize of €300. The 2016 judging panel comprised Sabina Higgins, Professor Margaret Kelleher and Director of Poetry Ireland, Maureen Kennelly.

The 2016 Poetry Aloud national winners are:

  • Junior category: Daniel Nordon, Coláiste Lú, Dundalk, Co Louth;
  • Intermediate category: Nathan Quinn O’Rawe, De La Salle College, Belfast, Co Antrim;
  • Senior category: Grace Halton, St. Louis High School, Rathmines, Dublin 6.

From the three national category winners, Nathan Quinn O’Rawe was chosen as overall winner and awarded the Seamus Heaney Poetry Aloud Award. The perpetual trophy is designed by Meath-based sculptor Fiona Smith-Darragh. The overall winner receives an additional €200.

This year’s Poetry Aloud runners up, who each receive a book token, are:

  • Junior category: Aoife Devlin, Ursuline College, Sligo, Co Sligo;
  • Intermediate category: Callum Martin, St. Patrick’s Cathedral Grammar School, Dublin 8;
  • Senior category: Nancy Murphy, Rathdown School, Glenegeary, Co Dublin.

Book tokens to the value of €300 were also presented to a teacher from each winning school to contribute towards adding new stock to the school library. 

The late Seamus Heaney was a significant supporter of Poetry Aloud.  In 2009, he was presented by the British Library with the David Cohen Prize for Literature.  In addition to the main award, the winner each year nominates the recipient of a subsidiary prize. In nominating Poetry Aloud for the award, Seamus Heaney cited the extraordinary way in which the competition seeks to celebrate the joy of speaking and listening to poetry as well as the fact that there is a strong North-South dimension to the competition. Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol has provided significant support for Poetry Aloud this year.