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The Farmgate Café National Poetry Award

2020 Winner

2019 Winner

About the prize



2020 Winner


The Gravity Wave by Peter Sirr
published by The Gallery Press (2019)

The Munster Literature Centre is pleased to announce the winner of the 2020 Farmgate Café National Poetry Award: The Gravity Wave by Peter Sirr (The Gallery Press, 2019). The award of €2,000 is given to the best book published in English, in the previous calendar year, by a poet living in Ireland. The award is sponsored by Cork’s famous restaurant The Farmgate Café. The judges this year were UK-based poet and academic Ailbhe Darcy, US-based poet and academic Thomas Dillon Redshaw and Cork-based poet and publisher Billy Ramsell.

Peter Sirr lives in Dublin where he works as a freelance writer and translator. He teaches a course in literary translation for the Translation Centre in Trinity College, Dublin. His most recent collection of poems is The Gravity WaveSway, versions of poems from the troubadour tradition, was published by Gallery Press in 2016. The Rooms was published by Gallery in 2014 and shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award and the Pigott Poetry Prize. The Thing Is, published by Gallery Press in 2009, was awarded the Michael Hartnett Prize in 2011. The Gallery Press has also published Marginal Zones (1984), Talk, Talk (1987), Ways of Falling (1991), The Ledger of Fruitful Exchange (1995), Bring Everything (2000), Selected Poems and Nonetheless (both 2004). A novel for children, Black Wreath, was published by O’Brien Press in 2014. RTE has broadcast several of his radio dramas. He is a member of Aosdána and is married to the poet Enda Wyley.


Peter Sirr reading six poems from his winning collection



2020 Shortlist.

The shortlist in alphabetical order was:

  • When the Tree Falls by Jane Clarke (Bloodaxe Books)
  • The End of the World by Patrick Deeley (The Dedalus Press)
  • May Day 1974 by Rachael Hegarty (Salmon Poetry)
  • The Gravity Wave by Peter Sirr (The Gallery Press)
  • Threading the Light by Ross Thompson (The Dedalus Press)



    Jane Clarke is the author of two poetry collections The River and When the Tree Falls (Bloodaxe Books 2015 & 2019) as well as an illustrated chapbook, All the Way Home, (Smith|Doorstop 2019).






    Patrick Deeley is a poet, memoirist and children’s writer. He is the 2019 recipient of the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Poetry Award. His best-selling memoir, The Hurley-Maker’s Son, was shortlisted for the 2016 Irish Book of the Year Awards.






    Rachael Hegarty was the winner of the Francis ledwidge Prize and Over the Edge New Writer of the year. Her debut collection, Flight Paths Over Finglas (Salmon Poetry), won the 2018 Shine Strong Award.






    Peter Sirr's most recent collections are The Gravity Wave (2019), a Poetry Book Society recommendation and Sway (2016), versions of poems from the troubadour tradition. The Rooms (2014) was shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award.





    Award Presentation at the Cork International Poetry Festival


    Inaugural winner of the Farmgate Café National Poetry Award

    a quarter of an hour

    A Quarter of an Hour by Leanne O’Sullivan
    published by Bloodaxe Books (2018)


    Leanne O’Sullivan is from the Beara Peninsula in West Cork and was educated at UCC. Her acclaimed first collection, Waiting for my Clothes, was published by Bloodaxe in 2004. Three more collections, also from Bloodaxe, have appeared since – Cailleach: The Hag of Beara (2009), The Mining Road (2013) and A Quarter of an Hour (2018). She received the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Irish Poetry in 2011 and a UCC Alumni Award in 2012. Her work has been included in various anthologies, including Best Irish Poetry 2010 (Southword Publishing), Selina Guinness’s The New Irish Poets (Bloodaxe Books, 2004) and Billy Collins’s Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (Random House, 2003). Leanne was the recipient of the 2009 Ireland Chair of Poetry bursary and in 2010 was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. Formerly a writer-in-residence at UCC, she was appointed lecturer in creative writing in 2016.

    The award is for the best original collection published in the previous calendar year (2018) by a poet living in Ireland. Over forty titles were in contention.

    The award includes a €2000 cash prize and is sponsored by the renowned Farmgate Café in the English Market, Cork, and is an initiative of the Munster Literature Centre. The award is different from any other in that it is exclusively for books of new work by poets living in Ireland. Books translated into English for the first time are also considered and this year included works originally written in Irish and Galician. The three judges scored the books without mutual consulting and the books with the highest aggregate scores were chosen as winner and commended. The jury for the award consisted of Cork-based Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh, London-based Maurice Riordan and Paris-based Professor Cliona Ní Riordáin.

    Leanne O’Sullivan, inaugural winner, said “I’m honoured to be the inaugural recipient of the Farmgate Market Cafe National Poetry Award, particularly for this book which means so much to me. I’m grateful to the judges for choosing that book and to Kay and Rebecca of the Farmgate for all the support they have shown poetry down through the years.”

    Prize judge, Maurice Riordan said of the winning title, “Leanne O’Sullivan is possessed of a haunting lyric voice which, in A Quarter of an Hour, draws us into an area of surface tension where personal crisis – a husband stricken and then recovering from a deadly illness – interacts with our experience of the non-human. ‘Dawn’, the poem that gives the book its particular title and focus, captures in its evocation of the dawning world the ‘here to not here’ of becoming; and as readers we are given access throughout to that dimension between the mundane and the mythic that normally eludes articulation, but here finds expression in limpid, precise poems. At once tender, exploratory and grace-filled, this finely orchestrated collection attests to the wholeness of natural life and, resonant with folkloric wisdom, it re-awakens the spirit to a fresh sense of the mystery and precariousness of our world. It is an astonishing achievement.”

    Rebecca Harte of the Farmgate Market Café said, “We opened the doors of the Farmgate Café in the English Market in 1987. Since that time poetry (and in particular, Cork’s community of poets) has been part of our working life and is a key element of what makes the Farmgate Café special. So, it seems fitting, in our 25th year, that we would inaugurate the Farmgate Café National Poetry Award, and support richness and diversity of poetry in Ireland.”

    Director of the Award Patrick Cotter said, “I’m delighted we have a new award exclusively for poets living and working in Ireland. Without the generosity of the Farmgate Market Café, stalwarts, in their support for the arts, this award would not be possible.

    Six other titles were highly commended by the judges. They are: Orpheus by Theo Dorgan, The Last Straw by Tom French, The White Silhouette by James Harpur, Notions by John Kelly, Love The Magician by Medbh McGuckian and This One High Field by Michelle O’Sullivan.



    About the prize

    The Farmgate Café National Poetry Award was established in 2019 with sponsorship from one of Cork's most loved restaurants - The Farmgate Café. The partnership between the Munster Literature Centre and the Farmgate received the Business to Arts 2019 Best Small Sponsorship Award.

    The award is a cash prize of €2000 for the best collection published in English by a poet resident in Ireland during the previous calendar year. Collections in translation are considered. In its inaugural year the award went to Leanne O'Sullivan for her Bloodaxe collection a Quarter of an Hour. O'Sullivan can be seen receiving her award here. In it's second year the warard went to Peter sirr for his Gallery Press collection The Gallery Wave. Sirr reads from his collection here.




    Submit to Southword

    Poetry 1st Dec - 28th Feb
    Fiction 1st Jan - 31 Mar




    2021 Publications

    Liz Houchin

    New Irish Voices no. 6




    Southword 41

    November 2021




    Aneas 2

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    Southword 40

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