In person at the Hennessy’s

About to leave for the awards. Will get my hands on some glitzy ceremony photos asap.

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


  1. I think I’ve said it all before but congratulations, congratulations, congratulations. You’ve done so well and you’re a true winner. I can’t tell you how moving I found your story – such beautiful language that evoked a sense of being right there watching the scene unfold. Honestly, it gave me shivers. You should be so proud. And by the way, you look fab too. Maria x

  2. wow just look at those eyebrows… better than a face lift… you look gorgeous… really!

    And your description is great too… so glad you enjoyed it.,.. and may it be the first of many!

    Onward and upward girl

  3. Wow, Alison. Talk about the icing on the cake. I’d frame those words and hang them up in your office! Congratulations, its sounds like you had a great night. You look lovely in your pic too.

  4. What a gorgeous post. You are wonderful to have made it to the awards. Your writing is beautifully evocative and sensitive. Carlo Gebler and Paula Meehan *admired* your work. They *admired* it. I’d stick my eyes on kebab skewers for that kind of admiration.

    Well done. You deserve to have been there last night.

    Ever onward!

    Hazel x

    1. Thanks so much for your beautiful comments and congrats. All of us who love to write have to keep going, the praise and seals of approval and evidence that we have done something that is of value to others is a spur. The awards were a wonderful event but its the wonderful feedback on my story from general readers is just as important to me!

  5. Hi Alison, nice to meet you on the night. Hope you get make it to Galway next friday, I’d say it will be a less formal occasion. Enjoyed the awards , though still getting over drinking brandy in high heels with my heart in my mouth for three hours! niamh

    1. Hi Niamh,

      Yes, great to see you. I think we have Galway sorted. Yes, I’m feeling a lot more relaxed about the night and about the outcome! It was an emotional night, great occasion but as you say, takes a bit of coming down from. All the best.

  6. Alison, how wonderful! This was truly an honor and those words are definitely for framing. You should put those on your sidebar on your website. What a special night and you should be VERY proud!

    That picture is really nice – you looked great for your big night.

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