Trócaire Poetry Ireland Poetry Competition 2020

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. The competition is open to published poets, unpublished poets, spoken word poets and students.

In the face of rampant logging in Honduras, Angela (39), and three of her children, Nicole (14), 
Jocsan (5) and baby Helen (6 months) have all been threatened. Photo: Simon Burch/Trócaire. 

2020 Theme: ‘Standing Her Ground’

This year the competition explores the theme ‘Standing Her Ground', inspired by the extraordinary stories of hardworking women who are holding their families together, battling enormous odds, including threats like violence, intimidation and drought, to provide food for their children and are battling to keep their children, and the earth, safe from harm.

Poets of all ages are encouraged to explore the theme, from a local to global perspective.

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Unpublished poets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 20 January 2020
Deadline for applications: Friday 20 March 2020 -- Extended to Friday 12 June 2020, due to Covid-19 crisis.
Awards Ceremony: Autumn 2020

How to enter:

Entry for the 2020 Trócaire Poetry Ireland Poetry Competition has now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered.


The 2020 judging panel comprises Poetry Ireland’s Poet In Residence, Catherine Ann Cullen, Aidan Clifford, retired former director of the Curriculum Development Unit, and Trócaire’s Joanne McGarry. 


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 2020)

Competition Rules

»Download the competition rules

Poetry in Primary Schools

Younger poets in primary school can explore fun educational materials with their teachers, and make the connection between their own experiences and those of children thousands of miles away.  

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

Post primary students can learn how defending rights also protects families and the planet, and can try out the exciting new Exploitation Game to really get a feel for what it is like to battle an oil company for control of their land. 

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.