Winners of Trócaire Poetry Ireland Poetry Competition 2021 announced

26th August 2021

Poetry Ireland and Trócaire are delighted to announce the winners of the 2021 poetry competition, which this year had the theme ‘Pathways to Peace’. 

The winners and runners-up are across six categories: adult published, adult unpublished, primary junior, primary senior, post-primary junior and post-primary senior. 

Jane O’Hanlon from Poetry Ireland said, “With winners from nine counties again this year, we’d like to thank everyone who entered and to those who helped and encouraged them.  

“This has been a difficult year, particularly for schools which had to close again for part of the year. We really appreciate everyone - teachers, parents and young writers - for their continued interest and support for the Trócaire Poetry Ireland Poetry Competition. The adult categories this year feature Mary Turley-McGrath - a previous winner in 2014 - and the quality of the poetry is, again, superb.” 

The annual poetry competition raises awareness about current global citizenship, justice, ecological and equality issues. This year’s theme explored the effects of conflict on people’s lives and how, with pathways to peace and the support of others, people can try to put the pain of conflict behind them and rebuild their lives. 

As a physical awards ceremony isn’t possible due to Covid-19 restrictions, Poetry Ireland and Trócaire look forward to celebrating the winners of the competition with a streamed video event. This will take  place on Poetry Ireland’s YouTube channel at 6pm on Culture Night (Friday 17 September). A booklet of the winning poems is due to be published in 2022. 

Poetry Ireland and Trócaire would like to thank the judges of this year’s competition: Catherine Ann Cullen (Poetry Ireland Poet in Residence), Aidan Clifford (retired former director of the Curriculum Development Unit) and Joanne McGarry (Campaigns and Volunteer Manager at Trócaire). Many thanks also to our TY Remote Placement, Sinéad O’Reilly, a previous winner and runner-up, who provided admin support this year.   

Congratulations to all this year’s winners and runners-up, and thank you to everyone who entered. 

Adult Published Category   

‘As We Were Leaving’   
Attracta Fahy 

‘Omar’s Song’   
Mary Turley-McGrath 

‘Toll Road’   
Jean O’Brien 

Adult Unpublished Category 

‘The Table’   
Sinéad Griffin 

Gormfhlaith Ní Shíocháin Ní Bheoláin 

‘The Winding Path’   
Caroline Bracken 

Primary Junior Category   

‘Every little helps’   
Preksha Utekar    

Primary Senior Category   
‘Journey to Peace’   
Liam York 

‘Peace on the Horizon’   
Hannah Murphy     

Post-Primary Junior Category   

‘Forgiving the past’   
Naomi Wall 

Cara Maguire 

Post-Primary Senior Category    

‘Hold me, my friend’   
Essie Toyo Wuddah 

‘Under Construction’   
Sarah Fitzgerald  

‘Living for Light’ 
Varshika Mecheri                                                                                                                                              

‘I mbróga no mbochta’ 
Aedamar O’Callaghan                                                                                                                                                            

Bios – winners of adult categories 

Attracta Fahy 

Attracta Fahy’s background is Nursing/Social Care. She lives in Co Galway, works as a psychotherapist, and is a mother to three children. She completed her MA in Writing NUIG’ 17, and was October winner in The Irish Times; New Irish Writing 2019. She was nominated for Pushcart 2018, Best of the Web 2019, shortlisted for 2018 Over The Edge New Writer of The Year, and longlisted in 2019, shortlisted for Allingham Poetry Prize both in 2019 and 2020.  

Attracta has been published in many magazines and journals at home and abroad, including, Poetry Ireland ReviewBansheeStinging FlyOrbisPoetheadCrannóg and The Honest Ulsterman. Her chapbook was chosen by Poet Kevin Higgins as one of the best poetry books of 2020 for The Morning Star newspaper. She was recently one of ten emerging poets chosen for the first-ever Dedalus Press Mentoring Programme. 

Mary Turley-McGrath 

Mary Turley-McGrath has published four collections of poetry, the most recent is After Image (Arlen House, 2020). Her poems have appeared in many anthologies including The Strokestown Anthology, Reading the Future, Future Perfect, and The SHOp Anthology. Her work has also been published in Poetry Ireland Review, The Irish Times, Cyphers, and Crannóg

She was the winner of the Trócaire/Poetry Ireland Competition in 2014; also the inaugural Francis Ledwidge Poetry Award, and was shortlisted at Listowel Writers’ Week and Cúirt. Mary holds an M. Phil in Creative Writing from Trinity College Dublin. She is a member of the Poetry Ireland Writers in Schools scheme and is working on a new collection, and a biography. 

Jean O’Brien 

Jean O’Brien’s new collection called Stars burn Regardless is due from Salmon Publishing this autumn, her last collection was her New & Selected Fish on a Bicycle (Salmon Pub. 2016/2018). She was the Writer in Residence for Co Laois and was awarded a Patrick Kavanagh Fellowship in 2017/18. She recently had a poem included by the Irish Ambassador to Washington in his women poets month in February. She had a poem included as part of the poets on the Dart. 
An award-winning poet she has won the prestigious Arvon International prize, The Fish Poetry Prize along with other awards. She holds a Master of Phil in cw/poetry from Trinity College, Dublin. Ireland.  

Sinéad Griffin 

Sinéad Griffin’s poetry has been published in The Honest UlstermanSkylight 47Channel Literary Magazine, The Irish Times Hennessy New Irish Writing, The Waxed Lemon and Poems from the Heron Clan VIII anthology. She was placed on the Fish Poetry Prize 2020 shortlist, Bray Literary Festival 2020 longlist, South Dublin Libraries Poetry Competition shortlist 2019 and was runner-up Reclaim the Vision of 2016 Poetry Competition. Following a career in the Irish biotechnology sector, she lived with her family in both Paris and Edinburgh. She now lives in Dublin with her husband and three adult daughters. 

Gormfhlaith Ní Shíocháin Ní Bheoláin 

Gormfhlaith Ní Shíocháin Ní Bheoláin is a poet, writer, pianist, sean-nós singer, tin whistle player and set dancer. She won second place in Comórtas Filíochta fé 21 at an tOireachtas in 2020 with her poem Sa Choill. She also came second in the competition run jointly by Aerach Aiteach Gaelach and An Cumann Gaelach TCD with her short story Turas Taxi (2021). She directed two radio plays, Cruachás by Celia de Fréine and Rogha gach Díogha by Alan Titley with an Cumann Drámaíochta UCC (aired August 2021 on Raidió na Gaeltachta).   

She is currently in her final year of her undergraduate degree in Music and Irish in UCC. She holds a Quercus Creative and Performing Arts Scholarship (2019-present) which she was awarded for her proficiency in music. Among the other awards she has recently received are the Dónal ‘Doc’ Gleeson award for excellence in music performance (Department of Music UCC 2020) and a Comhaltas Scholarship (Dept of Music UCC 2020).  

Caroline Bracken 

Caroline Bracken’s poems have been published in AbridgedThe NorthGutterBangor Literary JournalSentinel Quarterly Review, the Irish Times, the Fish AnthologySonder Magazine, the Ogham StoneBest New British and Irish Poets 2019-2021 and elsewhere.  She was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series 2018.