Poets Mary O’Donnell and Pat Boran were in studio with John to announce the winners of our Listowel Writers Week Poetry Competiton, which they judged with Jinx Lennon and the assistance of Míchéal Ó Huanacháin.

The winners were:

Adult: Michael Ray, from Castlefreke, Clonakilty, Co Cork for “Stilt Men”

Senior: (fourth to Sixth year student) James Killeen, Terenure, Dublin 6, Transition Year student at Terenure College

Junior: Aisling O’Leary, a third year student from Carrignaveen,Inniscarra,Co.Cork.

Our three winners will be presented with their awards at the Opening Night of Listowel Writers’ Week on Wednesday 1st June and will read to an audience on Thursday June 2nd.

Highly Commended were:

Closing Down by Hugh O'Donnell

The Ghost Estate by Clare Blayney

Aisling by Geraldine Moorkins Byrne

Moving Houses by Helena Nolan

Imirce by Réaltán Ní Leannáin. The judges awarded Réaltán a special from our Irish language entries.

Highly commended amongst our Irish language entries were Máire Wren for “An Traonach”, Doireann Ní Ghríofa for “Aiséirí Mhóinéir”, and Muiris Sionóid for ÉIRE 2011.

Also singled out for special mention by our judges were After the Ice by Marie Mc Sweeney; At the Seawall by Nuala Eustace ; 'Where are the Sheets' by Eoin Rock; Aifric McGlinchey's 'Backward Glance'; , “Spider Thoughts by Damien Mallon, Keady Co Armagh”; “The Brooch” by Mick Corrigan; “Fragrance in Kinsale” by Derek McRobin, “Have you Heard” by Sorcha Kenny; “Reading the Pressure” by Nollaig Rowan; New Neighbour-Nora Brennan ;The Reckoning by Brian Kirk; Dream On in Ireland 2011 by Tony Suttle; Birth by Elizabeth O’Carroll.

Stilt-Men by Michael Ray

After fashioning stilts they scrambled up,

pudding-faced, surveying their Lilliput with a strut.

Like the forest-felling invaders of the past,

they laid concrete, raped the land.

These lofty locomotors joined hands,

their union enclosed in a golden circle dance,

musing from rarefied heights

at the insignificance of the ground.

Even as buttons began bursting they continued

to stitch up in their finest cloths.

Some, red nosed stilters slithered down,

melted into the crowd.

While others, too late, plummeted

through gathering clouds, bounced

off hedge-lined banks, impaled on their stilts,

stuck pigs squealing innocence.

Wedding – James Killeen

In the church it’s all so lovely, people dressed in fine suits and dresses some not

Video cameras and flashes all around, someone please tell the priest to get on with it

Out of the church, the weather ain’t so great, but still it’s a great day nonetheless

We arrive at the hotel and a few drinks are had

Kids scream and shout and run about, someone please tell them to shut the hell up

There’s a lot of talking and that horrible laugh from the old fat lady

And then it’s time for dinner, thank God, I’m starving

Again a lot of talking and that horrible laugh from the old fat lady

Why must I talk to all these old people? I don’t know you, I just want food

Food is served and I don’t know what it is so I pick at it and pretend I’m eating

And then come the speeches, oh the dreaded speeches

Unfortunately no one made a fool of themselves, just a lot of clapping and toasting

Now it’s time for the best part of the night: The band! I’ve never seen so many 80 year olds dancing like 18 year olds. They’re mad

People dance for hours and hours and eventually it’s time to wind down

The kids are still running about and a few veterans are still on the dance floor

I myself am fairly knackered

Everyone slowly, but surely makes their way back to their rooms

To go straight to bed and get some sleep. Well, maybe not everyone!

IRELAND 2011 – Aisling O’Leary

No news now at six,

declared too depressing.

Just left with angry murmurs and persistent

rants and fretting.

Hated politicians,the TDs in the Dail,

Apparently responsible for our great fall.

No more talk of celtic tiger times,

Supposedly when all was great and all was fine.

So now we stand in our shattered country,

Its seems impossible to imagine economic recovery.

No jobs,no money for our generation,

What happened to our great nation?

But I'm just a teenager what do I know?

Of economics and the value of the euro.

Of bailouts and ever growing debts

On borrowing,increasing interest and the latest budget.

Power and greed got us into this mess.

When bankers lined their pockets and now we have a banking crisis.

A recession ended but now here, not now with us

Just an angry girl looking at a nations empty purse..

Some of the poems commended by our judges

Closing Down - Hugh O'Donnell

First the lighthouse, sweet shop, then the museum.

After that the hospital with its taxi rank and street-

care, the pride of men in high-vis jackets pushing

a barrow. Soon prisons are over-crowded with time

added for good behaviour. It’s that tight a girl can’t

put on make-up, couples sublimate on line.

Even the President sells up although it’s not her house,

the animals, due to rationing, quit the zoo. Births drop,

schools shut, birds fall out of trees. It’s curious

the way the bedridden walk again, traffic loosens up,

soldiers take unofficial leave. So a patriot tosses

in his sleep. No one can handle that much peace.

Moving Houses by Helena Nolan

“a new shift in the property market”

Houses are moving, all over Ireland,

Tired of waiting for their owners to move in,

They roam in search of them.

Tearing their foundations from the dirt,

Dragging unpainted walls, raw skirting boards,

They wander down the rough, unfinished roads.

Houses are moving, all over Ireland,

Searching the vacant pavements for an occupant,

For someone to decorate, to inhabit, them.

Their barren windows stare, with single glaze,

Their empty hearths are cold,

Even the rats have deserted them, in shame.

Houses are moving, all over Ireland,

The spines of stairways crumble with the strain,

Grey roof tiles fall, like shattered chandeliers.

Each day, we hear the sound of glass dreams, breaking,

Each night, we sit up late and count the cost

Of hungry ghosts, out hunting, for a host.

The Ghost Estate - Clare Blayney

A hard hat sticks in the mud;
its yellow cup fills with rain.
In the distance , houses, half- built
struggle, like blind men. up the hill.

Inside the empty shell of one
a small boy plays. Rat-a-tat-a-tat.
He is a cop in New York city.

He moves, leaping from wall to wall.
Bullets ricochet over his head.
People explode in bursts of red.
Sirens scream.

From the house, his mother, a grey ghost, Stares out. Watches him play.
The zero eight is still in the drive.
She can smell the scent of him there.

She watches him trail back along
the broken pavement. Past the
empty houses. Looks at the green
where children played,

in black and white on the Architect’s drawing.

He pushes open the door. Past the avalanche of bills on the floor. Stops. Listens. It is a familiar sound. Silence. His mother does not turn around. He disappears from view.

Aisling – Geraldine Moorkins Byrne

She came to me in a dream, an aisling of vodka

Sat on the bed and said

Howya,

swinging last season’s Hermés.

“It’s such a pity, isn’t?” she said. “I was enjoying that.”

The last time I saw her, she was an old woman.

Not so well dressed, though she still wore green.

The eyes were the same though, and the air.

Ten thousand years will give you some dignity.

The party’s over, I repeated the cliché.

She gave me a look.

Really?

I could tell she was vexed

“Don’t you start, and all,” she said. “I’m not finished yet.”

She flicked her long hair, dark eyes defiant;

I can hock the jewellery and sell the cars

I can go back to ploughing that bloody green field

I’ve a few tricks in my crane bag yet.

Imirce 2011 Réaltán Ní Leannáin

‘Mo shuí i seomra mo mhic,

Ciúin ionam féin.

Binneas éin,

Glaine earraigh,

I mbarr an tí.

Anáil isteach,

A gháire is a ghlór.

Anáil amach,

Seomra fuar folamh.

Rinne tú nead beag duit féin

Anso i mbarr an tí,

Go dtí gur oscail tú na sciatháin

Is gur imigh tú uainn

Mar ba dhual.

Ireland 2011 – Lucy O’Toole (Junior)

It seems to me our ancient harp

Has gone out of tune,

As people no longer play or dance

Just whinge at a deaf moon.

Gone are the happy Irish,

Frowning businessmen here to stay,

But what we have, that they never will

Is hope for a happier day.

Hope for a land where it buckets rain

We don’t care long as grass is green.

Hope for a land that’s not gluttonous or poor

So we’re on our toes, but not stingy or mean

Hope for a land with room for the young

Where we’re no shipped off like cargo.

Hope for a land with pride and respect

So we don’t have to beg for a loan or to borrow

But what kind of place could aspire to such?

Nowhere on Earth, maybe not even Heaven.

Maybe you’re right, but here’s where to start:

In Ireland, Twenty Eleven.

IRELAND 2011 Roisin Vaughan, Aged 11

I'm here today and I have to say

I'm very lucky to be

I want this to last until I'm a hundred and seven

This is ireland in 2011

There's internet and ipod and everything new

Can't think of anymore but I don't have a clue

There's alot more things that were not there before

But the best thing of all, when I walk out the door

The people, the neighbours and everyone else,

They are as kind and good hearted that they can be

That's the best thing in ireland 2011 that occurs to me!