Trócaire Poetry Ireland Poetry Competition 2021

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 The competition is open to published poets, unpublished poets, spoken word poets and students.

Ajak with her son Ngor (8 months) and Awut with her granddaughter Nyajima (2), who feature on the Trócaire box for 2021. Photo credit: Achuoth Deng 

2021 Theme: ‘Pathways to Peace’

This year the competition explores the theme of conflict; how families who have lost their homes and loved ones to war are rebuilding their lives through love and friendship. Fleeing their homes with nothing but the clothes on their back, people trek through dangerous territory with no food or water for themselves or their children. When they reach safety, the struggle continues to earn money, grow food and attend school. But with pathways to peace and the support of others, they are able to start new lives based on love, friendship and kindness, and to try and put the pain of war behind them and begin again.  

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, John Donaghy, 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Unpublished poets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 15 March 2021 
Deadline for applications: Friday 7 May 2021 - deadline extended to Thursday 27 May 2021
Celebration Event on Culture Night, September 2021 

How to enter:

Entries are now closed for the 2021 competition.


The 2021 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 2021)

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.

Post primary students can learn more about Peace and Justice here

Previous Winning Entries

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

» 2020: Standing Her Ground
» 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.