On Friday 4 December, 36 finalists from all over Ireland took part in the final of this year’s competition. We received 1805 entries to this year’s Poetry Aloud competition – the highest number ever.
After a series of regional heats at many venues across the country and two semi-finals, 36 students participated in the national final. Students represented schools from Antrim, Armagh, Carlow, Cork, Donegal, Down, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Kilkenny, Laois, Louth, Monaghan, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford, and Wicklow.
Having listened to the students speak a poem by WB Yeats in the first round and a poem chosen from the listed anthologies in the second round, we didn’t envy the judges their task! After a period of deliberation, the judges announced the winners and the runners-up in each category:
JUNIOR Category: Kevin Fitzpatrick, St. Macartan's College, Monaghan
INTERMEDIATE Category: Nuala Whittle, St. Kevin's Community College, Dunlavin, Co. Wicklow.
SENIOR Category: Alice Magorrian, Assumption Grammar School, Ballynahinch, Co. Down
Runners – Up:
JUNIOR Category: Róisín Ferguson, Maryfield College, Drumcondra, Dublin 9.
INTERMEDIATE Category: Harry Deacon, St Andrew’s College, Booterstown, Dublin.
SENIOR Category: Aisling O’Connell, Notre Dame Secondary School, Dundrum, Dublin 14.
The OVERALL WINNER for 2015: Kevin Fitzpatrick.
All 36 participants were presented with a Certificate and a book on the Yeats exhibition by Dr Sandra Collins, Director of the National Library of Ireland. The winners received a cash prize and book tokens were presented to the teachers from the winning schools. The runners-up were presented with book tokens. The winners and runners-up also received a copy of the book Windharp: Poems of Ireland since 1916.
Overall Winner, Kevin Fitzpatrick was presented with the perpetual trophy The Séamus Heaney Poetry Aloud Award by judge, Professor Geraldine Higgins. The judges for the final were Colm Keegan, Poet; Professor Geraldine Higgins, Director of Irish Studies at Emory University and curator of the forthcoming Heaney exhibition and Maureen Kennelly, Director of Poetry Ireland. They commended all the students on their excellent performances.
Thanks to the schools who hosted the regional heats and to the Linen Hall Library in Belfast, the Mullingar Arts Centre and to the Glór Theatre in Ennis who also hosted regional heats this year. Also, many thanks to the teachers and parents who prepared the students.