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 is open to all students attending a second-level school on the island of Ireland. The first round of Poetry Aloud 2023 will consist of virtual competition in lieu of on-site regional heats.

We will outline here how the competition will run this year.

First round

      • Participating teachers to select students to represent their school from any of the three categories (Junior, Intermediate, Senior)

      • Teachers will submit a phone video recording of the students speaking the prescribed poem from memory (professional recording is not required) See guidelines at the end of the form.

      • A panel of qualified adjudicators representing Poetry Ireland and the National Library of Ireland will adjudicate the entries.

      • The closing date for submission is Friday 29 September

Students speak one poem according to their category

Junior Category: Overhead by Jamie O’Halloran

Intermediate Category: The Lookout by Jane Clarke

Senior Category: At the court of the curlews, Magheramore by Martin Dyar

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

Watch highlights from Poetry Aloud 2022


Watch highlights from Poetry Aloud 2020

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.

2022's winner was Luke Dolan who recently appeared on stage at the Abbey in 'An Afterwards: A Celebration of Seamus Heaney' alongside Michael Longley, Vona Groarke, Stephen Rea, Donal Lunny and many more. 




Alice Mackle, St Patrick's Academy, Dungannon, Co Tyrone

2020 Caitlín Ní Raoghaill, Gaelcholáiste Cheatharlach, Askea, Carlow
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