SOPHIE GRENHAM reports on the biggest night of the year for the Irish literary community …
For many of Ireland’s distinguished writers, Christmas has truly come early; particularly legendary crime author Liz Nugent who bagged a double win at the An Post Irish Book Awards on November 27. Now in its 13th year, the prestigious ceremony is the Irish book community’s unofficial Christmas party, drawing writers, publishers, booksellers and media personalities from all over the country and beyond. The lobby twinkled with festive lights, decorated Christmas trees and merry spirits who enjoyed plenty of fizz. There were selfies galore as guests caught up with old friends and made some shiny new ones.
Sally Rooney, James Kavanagh and William Murray, Emilie Pine, Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen, Cora Staunton, Sarah Webb, Lynn Ruane, Roger O’Reilly, Diarmuid Johnson and Peter Donnelly were just some of the attendees who went home armed with recognition. It was an exceptionally strong year for female writing with many women authors dominating headlines. The event as always, brought a slew of famous faces, such as Graham Norton, Dara Ó Briain and Niall Breslin.
This year’s show was presented by Keelin Shanley, while each author was interviewed by RTÉ’s Evelyn O’ Rourke after they received their prize. Full highlights of the An Post Irish Book Awards will be broadcast on RTÉ One at 10.15pm tonight, Thursday, November 29.
The Clayton Assiette of Seafood; Pipette of tiger prawn with Marie Rose sauce and seaweed salad, Kilkeel harbour crab with crème fraiche and lime, Molloy’s smoked salmon roulade.
Traditional turkey and ham with sage and onion stuffing and fresh cranberry sauce.
Voulevant with mushrooms and seasonal vegetables.
Thick vanilla custard, rhubarb compote quenelle, cinnamon streusel crumb.
Covinas, Sauvignon Blanc Macabeo
Covinas, Tempranillo Syrah Cabernet
The usual glasses of champagne, plus plenty of Guinness.
Each guest received a cloth tote goodie bag filled with three books and numerous treats. In mine were copies of The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, Milkman by Anna Burns and Cornflakes for Dinner by Adrian Comerford, a special An Post gift Jiffy bag, One Hundred Years a Nation on CD (Shaun Davey, Paul Muldoon), a Skelligs chocolate lolly, an Irish Book Awards keep cup, a reading head lamp and an RTÉ pen and some Christmas stamps.
- Attendees wiped away tears as Cathy Kelly delivered a deeply moving tribute to the late Emma Hannigan who received an An Post Special Award, collected by her husband Cian McGrath on her behalf.
- Watching the newly anointed Man Booker Prize winner Anna Burns wandering through the hallway, and not getting five feet before she was collared by a fan.
- Alison Lyons, Jackie Lynam (both from Dublin UNESCO City of Literature) and I braving the red carpet, only to be met with a mostly indifferent paparazzi – do they not know who we are? Many thanks to photographer Ger Holland for capturing our glamour!
- James Kavanagh bounding up and enveloping me in an embrace. We worked together many moons ago in Brown Thomas, when he was eighteen. It was the perfect moment to congratulate James and his partner William Murray on their success.
- Helen Cullen introducing my blushing self to Niall Breslin (Bressie) in the bar. I wrote my very first published print article about his band, The Blizzards, when I was only twenty-three. He is, as always, a gracious gentleman. It looks like I’m on the guest list for his next gig.
- As usual, I was in excellent company. Just some of the people I spoke to were PJ Lynch, Sinéad Gleeson, Sarah Maria Griffin and her husband Ceri Bevan, Patricia Gibney, Remie Michelle Clarke, Andrea Mara, Cormac Kinsella, Evelyn O’Rourke, Eithne Shortall, Margaret Madden, Rob Maguire, Catherine Ryan Howard, Rick O’Shea and Liz Lyons, Sinéad Crowley, Adrian White, Elizabeth Murray, Dave Rudden, Liz Nugent, Nuala O’Connor and her husband Finbar McLoughlin, Mia Gallagher, Caoilinn Hughes and Helena Mulkerns. My fellow diners at the press table included Sue Leonard, Martin Doyle, Nadine O’Regan, Gillian Hamill, Regan Hutchins, and Breda Brown from Unique Media.
- Not recognising the very patient Peter Donnelly as we grabbed a breath of fresh air outside the hotel.
- Lounging about chatting in the wee hours with the fantastic Alex Barclay, Donal Ryan and his lovely wife Anne Marie Ryan among others in the hotel lobby, after everyone had been shooed out of the bar.
See the guests in the gallery below:
Images courtesy of Ger Holland Photography and www.writing.ie
Below is the full list of winners for the An Post Irish Book Awards 2018.
TheJournal.ie Best Irish Published Book of the Year Winner
Lighthouses of Ireland by Roger O’Reilly (Collins Press)
National Book Tokens Children’s Book of the Year (Junior)
The President’s Cat by Peter Donnelly (Gill Books)
National Book Tokens Children’s Book of the Year (Senior)
Blazing a Trail by Sarah Webb and Lauren O’Neill (The O’Brien Press)
Dept 51@ Eason Teen / Young Adult Book of the Year
The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan (Bloomsbury)
Eason Book Club Novel of the Year
Normal People by Sally Rooney (Faber & Faber)
Specsavers Popular Fiction Book of the Year
The Importance of Being Aisling by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen (Gill Books)
Irish Independent Crime Fiction Book of the Year
Skin Deep by Liz Nugent (Penguin Ireland)
Sunday Independent Newcomer of the Year
Notes to Self by Emilie Pine (Tramp Press)
Onside Non-Fiction Book of the Year
People Like Me by Lynn Ruane (Gill Books)
Ireland AM Popular Non-Fiction Book of the Year
The Cow Book by John Connell (Granta Books)
EUROSPAR Cookbook of the Year
Currabinny Cookbook by James Kavanagh and William Murray (Penguin Ireland)
Bord Gáis Energy Sports Book of the Year
Game Changer by Cora Staunton with Mary White (PRH Transworld Ireland)
RTÉ Radio 1’s The Ryan Tubridy Show Listeners’ Choice Award
Skin Deep by Liz Nugent (Penguin Ireland)
Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year
“Birthday” by Brian Kirk
Writing,ie Short Story of the Year
“How to Build a Space Rocket” by Roisin O’Donnell (From The Broken Spiral, edited by R. M. Clarke)
The Love Leabhar Gaeilge Irish Language Book of the Year
Tuatha De Denann by Diarmuid Johnson (Leabhar Breac)
The Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award was received by Thomas Kinsella.
Of this year’s stream of victors, Maria Dickenson, Chairperson of the An Post Irish Book Awards has said, “This is a really outstanding line-up of winners. It demonstrates the absolute breadth of quality writing we have in Ireland, right across the genre spectrum. It is also great to see so many female writers winning accolades this year. Many of them, including Emilie Pine, Sarah Webb, Lynne Ruane, Cora Staunton and Sally Rooney, are all writing about what it means to be a modern woman in contemporary Ireland and it is striking that these authors used the art of writing to tell their stories in such a truthful and honest way.”
The public can now vote for their overall An Post Book of the Year winner by going to www.irishbookawards.irish.
The winner will be announced in January and anyone who votes is in with the chance of winning €100 in National Book Tokens. Previous winners include John Crowley, Donál Ó Drisceoil, Mike Murphy and John Borgonovo for Atlas of the Irish Revolution, Mike McCormack for Solar Bones, Louise O’ Neill for Asking for It, Mary Costello for Academy Street, Donal Ryan for The Spinning Heart, Michael Harding for Staring at Lakes, and Belinda McKeon for Solace.
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