Trócaire Poetry Ireland Poetry Competition 2019

Trócaire’s annual poetry competition, in association with Poetry Ireland, uses the arts to raise awareness about the leading global justice issues of our time. The annual competition opens for entries in spring each year, with an awards ceremony in the National Library of Ireland in late May. The competition is open to published poets, un-published poets, spoken word poets and students.

Paska Amdo tends her crop on the land she has been allocated at the Palabek Refugee Settlement Camp supported by Trócaire. Photo: Mark Stedman.

2019 Theme: ‘Land is Life’

This year the competition explores the theme ‘Land is Life’. The videos below show how one family and their community has been forced from their land, and how they are working to build a new life for themselves. Poets are encouraged to explore a local to global perspective, and reflect on Ireland’s own history of hunger and migration.


The Global Refugee Crisis (Post-Primary Lent video 2019) from Trocaire on Vimeo.
This video explores how people are forced from their land, focusing on Syrian refugees in Lebabon.

This animation, written for children, tells the story of how Brigit’s family was affected by the Irish potato famine in the 1840s, and how Sami’s community in Syria is being devastated by war today.

Categories for entry

The competition is always FREE to enter and is open to young people, children and adults alike, at all stages in their writing careers. Many published poets have participated in the competition, including, in no particular order, Daragh Bradish, Eileen Casey, Joseph Horgan, David Butler, Lorraine Carey, Angela T. Carr, Nicki Griffin, Afric McGlinchey, Dairena Ní Chinnéide, Ann Joyce, Karen O’Connor, Wilma Kenny, Mary Turley-McGrath, Eleanor Hooker, Jane Clarke, Geraldine Mitchell, David Mohan and Breda Joy.

Poems in English or Irish, written or spoken word, are welcome in all six categories: 

Published poets
Unpublished poets

Junior: 1st-3rd year
Senior: Transition Year-Leaving Certificate

Junior: 3rd/4th Class
Senior: 5th/6th Class

Competition calendar

Entries open: Monday 21 January 2019
Deadline for applications: Friday 29 March 2019
Winners notified: Early May 2019
Awards Ceremony: Late May 2019, National Library of Ireland 

How to enter

Entries for the 2019 competition are now closed. The 2020 Competition will open in early 2020.


The 2019 judging panel is poet Geraldine Mitchell, Aidan Clifford and Trócaire’s Patricia Groves.


Each year, the winning poems are published in booklet form and presented to the winners at the awards ceremony. The booklets are also distributed at events throughout the year, including poetry readings, Culture Night, literary festivals and schools workshops, ensuring a wide readership. Winners and runners up are invited to read at our lunchtime awards ceremony at the National Library of Ireland in Dublin, and many past winners have gone on to read at events and festivals around Ireland. Winning poems will be considered for publication by the editor of Poetry Ireland Review


Winners: Two-week stay at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig OR a Tablet OR time in a recording studio to the value of €300 (for spoken word poets), plus subscription to Poetry Ireland Review for one year OR assessment of work through Poetry Ireland's Critical Assessment Service. 

Runners-up: Tickets to a literary festival to the value of €250, plus subscription to Poetry Ireland Review for one year OR assessment of work through Poetry Ireland's Critical Assessment Service. 

Highly commended: Book Token, plus subscription to Poetry Ireland Review for one year OR assessment of work through Poetry Ireland's Critical Assessment Service. 


Winners: Kindle Fire plus visit by an author to your school

Runners-up: Book token plus visit by an author to your school

Highly Commended: Book token

(Note: Prizes must be claimed by 31 December 2019)

Competition Rules

»Download the competition rules

Poetry in Primary Schools


Human Beans Animation from Trocaire on Vimeo.

Little Sprout discovers how to make the world a better place for every bean.

Trócaire produces educational resources for schools, and this year the focus is on land rights. For a full list of resources, visit the primary schools land rights page.

You can download a copy of the primary teachers’ resource, with lots of cross-curricular activities here. Curriculum links are listed on Page 6.

Poetry in Post-Primary Schools

Our poetry competition connects to the formal schools’ curricula in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, across many subjects, including Geography, History, Religion and politics.

See Page 4 of the post-primary teachers’ resource on Land Rights for a full list of curriculum links here

Previous Winning Entries

Booklets of the winning poems from previous years are available to download here:

» 2018: When Love Conquers Fear 
» 2017: Before the Storm
» 2016: Forced to Flee: This is our Exodus
» 2015: Feeling the Heat
» 2014: It's up to us
» 2013: Today's Children, Tomorrow's World

For updates about the competition, please visit us on our Facebook page: and
or follow us on Twitter: @PoetryIreland and @trocaire.