Lynn Buckle wins Barbellion Award; Irish authors and booksellers on several charts

Critics in The Irish Times this Saturday are Keith Duggan on Rob Davies’ Jackpot and Patrick Foster’s Might Bite; Mia Levitin on We Were Young by Niamh Campbell; Seán Hewitt on Best New Poetry; Wendy Erskine on How to Gut a Fish by Sheila Armstrong; Carol Ballantine on Mia Döring’s Any Girl; Paul Howard in Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes; Liam Bishop on The Story of a Life by Konstantin Paustovsky; Tom Conaghan on Wendy Erskine’s Dance Move; and Sarah Gilmartin on Ella Baxter’s New Animal. In the magazine, Maeve Higgins talks to Una Mullally about her new collection of essays, Tell Everyone on This Train I Love Them. Mia Döring talks to Roisin Ingle about her memoir Any Girl and the sex trade in Ireland.

Andrea Mara’s All Her Fault is this weekend’s Irish Times Eason offering. You can buy this popular thriller for €4.99, a savings of €5, when you buy the paper at any branch.

The 2021 Barbellion Prize, the international book prize for promoting sick and disabled voices in writing, has been won by Irish author Lynn Buckle’s What Willow Says, published by Époque Press.

“What Willow says is undeniably brilliant,” said judge, writer and bookseller Eleanor Franzén, “potentially both disorienting and reorienting to a non-deaf audience, which is really what I think is the best writing on all kinds experiences should be.”

What Willow Says is a powerful story of change and acceptance, as a deaf child and her grandmother experience the lyrical beauty of sign language through their love of trees, and against the backdrop of mythical legends and old bogs.

“Reading the nominations for the Barbellion Prize made one thing absolutely clear – disability literature has never been as vibrant and deeply alive as it is today,” said Judge Karl Knights, writer, poet and laureate of the 2021 New Poets Prize.

“We are delighted to present the award to What Willow Says by Lynn Buckle,” said Jake Goldsmith, Founder and Director of the award. “There was a stellar shortlist this year – it’s a common thing to say, but picking a winner is tough. In the years to come, when we have the capacity, we intend to award a prize to all the pre-selected authors, the trophy going to the winner, the first among equals.

Rónán Hession, in his contribution last December to the Irish Times Books of the Year 2021, wrote: “In a strong year for Irish writing, the star was Lynn Buckle’s poetic What Willow Says.

Buckle, a British-born artist and writer who has lived in Ireland for 30 years, has previously been nominated for the Republic of Conscience Award. She receives £1,000, plus a copy of Diary of a Disappointed Man from WNP Barbellion. Barbellion (Bruce Frederick Cummings 1889-1919), in whose honor the award is named, was an English journalist and naturalist who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He wrote eloquently, controversially and movingly about his life, health and impending death in The Journal of a Disappointed Man, as well as in his A Last Diary.

Sue Divine

Guard Your Heart by Sue Divin (Macmillan Children’s Books) has been shortlisted for the Yoto Carnegie Greenaway Awards 2022, the UK’s longest running and best-loved book awards for children and young people. The author’s day-to-day work in community relations and peacebuilding in Derry informed his first YA novel which deals with the legacy of the Troubles. Wild Child by Dara McAnulty, illustrated by Barry Falls (Macmillan Children’s Books) was part of the long list for the 2022 Yoto Greenaway Medal. Wild Child begins in Dara’s own backyard and it takes us to the hills, woods and ponds, highlighting his own favorite animals, flora and fauna. He explains all the elements of the environment that fascinated him at a young age, and which continue to do so today.

The shortlists will be announced on March 16 and the winners on June 16 at a ceremony at the British Library.

Barry Falls

Kudos to Bridge Books, Dromore, Co Down; Halfway Stairs, Greystones, Co Wicklow, Kennys Bookshop, Galway; Little Acorns Bookshop, Derry; O’Mahony’s, Limerick; and The Company of Books, Dublin, all of which have been shortlisted for the 2022 Island of Ireland Independent Bookseller of the Year award. The winner will be announced on March 16 and will then be entered for the overall prize, which will be announced at the British Book Awards winners ceremony on May 23.


Two titles with strong Irish interest made the 2022 longlist of the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses. Turas Press, founded in Dublin in 2017 by Liz McSkeane, won the award for Anamaria Crowe Serrano’s novel In the Dark. Epoque Press, based in Brighton but with a strong Irish roster, has been selected for Ryan Dennis’ The Beast They Turned Away, a novel set in an Irish farming community.

The award is the only one in the UK that pits novels against collections of short stories and translates against English-language novels. Four collections of short stories confront six novels, and the original languages ​​include Indonesian, Arabic, Danish, Catalan and French. Out of more than 100 submissions, six new presses were selected for the first time. Each shortlisted press will receive £500 for their work producing high value literature.

The shortlist will be announced during States of Independence, a free book festival, hosted by De Montfort University’s Leicester Center of Writing on March 26. Each of the shortlisted presses will receive £1,500 (£1,000 for the press; £500 for the writer), and as is now tradition, the winner(s) get the glory.

The other preselected presses are: And Other Stories for Somebody Loves You by Mona Arshi; Dar Arab for Five Days Untold by Badr Ahmad, translated by Christiann James; Daunt Books for Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga, translated by Melanie Mauthner; Fitzcarraldo Editions for Dark Neighborhood by Vanessa Onwuemezi; Fum D’Estampa Press for The Song of Youth by Montserrat Roig, translated by Tiago Miller; Lolli Edition for After The Sun by Jonas Eika, translated by Sherilyn Nicolette Hellberg; Peninsula Press for Sterling Karat Gold by Isabel Waidner; and Tilted Axis Press for Happy Stories, mostly by Norman Erikson Pasaribu, translated by Tiffany Tsao.


This year, due to ongoing development work at Avondale, it will not be possible to hold the usual Parnell Summer School in August. It is proposed to instead have an Ivy Day Symposium at the Woodenbridge Hotel, Co Wicklow, on October 7th and 8th. The traditional wreath-laying ceremony at Parnell’s grave to mark Ivy Day will then take place at Glasnevin Cemetery on October 9.

Ivy Day is the anniversary of the death of Charles Stewart Parnell on May 6, 1891, and has in recent years been celebrated on a Sunday close to that date. James Joyce staged one of his best-known stories in Dubliners following an Ivy Day commemoration.

The theme of the symposium will be “New Beginnings”. This reflects both Ireland’s re-emergence after the pandemic and the centenary of the founding of the independent Irish state which Parnell and his supporters had sought through constitutional means. It also recognizes the centenary of the publication of Joyce’s Ulysses, which represented a new beginning in Irish cultural history.

Program details will be announced in the coming months. Inquiries about participation should be directed to Muriel Moroney, Honorary Secretary of the Parnell Society ([email protected]).

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