Poetry Aloud Poetry Speaking Competition

Poetry Aloud, an annual poetry speaking competition for post-primary schools, organised by Poetry Ireland and the National Library of Ireland in partnership with University College Cork.


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 in partnership with University College Cork. Since it was launched in 2006, Poetry Aloud has grown from just a few hundred entries to almost 2,000 entries in 2017.

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”. 


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. 


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.

Watch highlights from Poetry Aloud 2019

Watch highlights from Poetry Aloud 2018


Watch highlights from Poetry Aloud 2017


Watch highlights 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.

2019 Ellie Reynolds, Lismore Comprehensive School, Co Armagh
2018 Majella Votta, Mercy Secondary School, Co. Kerry
2017 Brendan Mac Domhnaill, Coláiste Oiriall, Co. Monaghan
2016 Nathan Quinn O’Rawe, De La Salle College, Belfast, Co. Antrim
2015 Kevin Fitzpatrick, St. Macartan's College, Co. Monaghan
2014 Megan Nar, St Louis Secondary School, Co. Monaghan
2013 Niall Ó hAnnagáin from Coláiste Ailigh in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal
2012 Shauna Hession, St Michael's Holy Faith Secondary School, Co. Dublin
2011 Corey Duffy, Christian Brothers Grammar School, Co. Omagh
2010 Aoife Franklyn, St Andrew's College, Co. Dublin
2009 John King, Belvedere College, Co. Dublin
2008 Samuel McGovern, St Andrew's College, Co. Dublin
2007 Niamh Kenneally, Ursuline College, Co. Sligo
2006 Katherine Wade, Ursuline College, Co. Sligo