Michael Hartnett Award

I was so moved that ‘Clasp’ was announced as joint winner of this year’s Michael Hartnett Award for Poetry. He is a writer who has become very dear to me, and I feel such a deep resonance with his work in both Irish and English. As I wrote ‘Clasp’ (my first book in English following two books as Gaeilge), certain lines from Hartnett’s ‘Inchicore Haiku’ felt particularly resonant: “My English dam bursts/and out stroll all my bastards./Irish shakes its head.”


Michael Hartnett

Michael Hartnett is a hero of mine, and I’m so pleased to accept this award in his name, and to wear his “muince dreoilíní / necklace of wrens”.


Winner of the Michael Hartnett Poetry award 2016 Doireann Ni Ghriofa being presented with her award by Mayor Liam Galvin, photo by Dermot Lynch

It was lovely, too, to accept the award in Hartnett country, surrounded by the geography so familiar from his work.


2016-04-14 Opening of Eigse Michael Hartnett Poetry and Arts Festival Newcastle West PHOTOGRAPHY: DERMOT LYNCH

Here are the judges’ citations for the award-

“Earthiness and physicality jostle for position in Clasp. Doireann Ní Ghríofa is breaking new ground with her fresh fearless approach to memory and motherhood, loss and love. I trust this voice, I trust these poems.” -Rita Ann Higgins


Keynote speaker, Rita Ann Higgins at the opening of the Eigse Michael Hartnett Festival, photo by Dermot Lynch

“Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a poet pushing boundaries, uncovering new ways of expressing the flux of the modern world, and doing so with a daring lyricism. Her versatility, vitality and emotional range are hugely impressive. With her Letterfrack sequence, for example, she handles a delicate subject with tender care. On the basis of Clasp, Ní Ghríofa is on course to become a major talent, a poet who seems set to move more deeply into the places from which her poetry comes.” – Gerard Smyth


Gerard Smyth, poetry editor, Irish Times, judge, Michael Hartnett Poetry award, photo by Dermot Lynch

My gratitude to the judges for selecting my book – míle buíochas ó choí leis an mbeirt agaibh – and thanks also to the committee of Éigse Michael Hartnett, to Limerick City and County Arts Office and to the Arts Council for their generous sponsorship of this award. Warm congratulations to my fellow awardee, John Mc Auliffe. You can order his wonderful collection ‘The Way In’ from The Gallery Press, here.


Mayor Liam Galvin presenting the Michael Hartnett Poetry award 2016 to John McAuliffe, photo by Dermot Lynch