Back in August last year when I discovered I was to be published in the Sunday Tribune and consequently was shortlisted for the Hennessy XO Literary Awards I couldn’t speak. I was visiting my parents in Kerry and couldn’t get the words out to explain the significance of this news. I may have circled the kitchen several times saying ‘I don’t believe it!’
Last night, seven months later, at the actual award ceremony; held in the dining hall in Trinity College, Dublin, the sense of occasion, of being part of something of great significance was very much still with me. It was heightened by the surroundings, the photograph session, the receiving of certificates from Ciaran Carty (editor of the New Writing section of the Sunday Tribune) himself, the presence of the judges Carlo Gebler and Paula Meehan and hononary guest Neil Jordan. I also saw John Boyne from a distance!
Of the shortlisted authors; I met and chatted with Alice Redmond, Cliona O’ Connell, John O’ Donnell, Michael O’ Higgins (who won the Emerging Fiction Category) , Niamh Boyce, Kate Dempsey, Olive Broderick (who won the poetry section) and Madeline d’Arcy who won the First Fiction and was the overall Hennessy Irish Writer 2009. They were a great bunch of people who love what they do and I suppose it was an emotional night for all the writers; having been so honoured to be shortlisted and being so close to the ultimate prize. Then for some; the privilige and joy of stepping over the threshold to the roll call of winners and some of us momentarily bereft but for myself knowing that writing itself is the prize and that the fire is still there to do more and better.
But I received another prize that night, the words of Carlo Gebler who announced the Emerging Fiction category. He said of my story Bog Body
‘I was incredibly taken with this, its very poetic, the language is extraordinary, very finely wrought and beautiful. The events described are sinister/ frightening and although it was not realistic, within the context of the story and the rules that apply within the story it makes perfect sense. It’s very short, but what I admired, what we admired was this writer’s ambition which is fantastic.’
For the Sunday Tribune press release on the awards see here