RTÉ Short Story Competition 2020: Shortlist

***UPDATE*** Shortlist is out! You can now read the 10 shortlisted stories from the 2020 competition at rte.ie/culture  

RTÉ Short Story Competition 2020

"Challenging, entertaining, reflective and surreal" -- announcing the 2020 shortlist

After a record number of entries -- over 4,000 -- in an extraordinary year, RTÉ has announced the shortlist of the RTÉ Short Story Competition 2020 in honour of Francis MacManus. 

The 10 shortlisted stories, selected by Danielle McLaughlin, Vincent Woods and Madeleine Keane, are:

Beneath the Trees, Where Nobody Sees, by Julie Cruickshank

Everything Will Be Recorded, by Seán Mackel

Flower Wild, by Shane Tivenan

Guinness & Coke, by Lochlainn McKenna 

Hands; A Downpour, by Aengus Murray 

Neadú, by Ceri Garfield

Kissing Booth, by Alan Walsh

Tactics, by Andrew Maguire 

The Brow of the Hill, by Edel Moloney 

The Shape on the Strand, by Katherine Duffy 

As a measure of the particularly high calibre of this year's entries, the judges also wished to give special mention to a further five stories: 

The Atlantic's Cold Edge, by Kieran Marsh; Fata Morgana, by Paul Duffy; Cast Offs, by Lem Kinlon; Eggs Bed, Bed Eggs, by Rory Duffy and Dead Water, by James Martyn Joyce.

Competition judge Vincent Woods said: "The standard of entry this year was very high. There was a palpable sense of unease running through many of the stories that came to us – a reflection of pandemic times, perhaps? The diversity of voices and themes is reflected in the shortlist of ten stories to be broadcast, a mix of the challenging, entertaining, reflective and surreal."

Fellow judge Danielle McLaughlin congratulated all the writers on the shortlist. "Their stories are right up there with the best of my reading during this whole pandemic," she said. And Madeleine Keane added: "Judging the RTÉ Short Story Award was a complete joy in the midst of all the strangeness and upset of this year. It was so uplifting to read the richness and range, the diversity and imagination of these short fictions."

Producer of the competition series, Sarah Binchy, said: "This is a really strong, vibrant shortlist. Assured in voice, visually powerful, these stories will linger long in a listener's mind. We look forward to sharing them with a wide audience."

You can read all 10 shortlisted stories on rte.ie/culture, in advance of a special Arena programme with Seán Rocks on RTÉ Radio 1 at 7pm on Monday 28 September when the top prizes will be announced. The overall winner receives €3000, second prizewinner €2000 and third €3000. All 10 stories will then be broadcast, starting with the winning story that same evening, Monday 28 September at 11.20pm as part of Late Date, and continuing every weeknight at the same time until Friday 9 October. The stories will also be podcast.

The ten stories will be read on air by Cathy Belton, Lalor Roddy, Ingrid Craigie, Éanna Hardwicke, Liam Carney, Bríd Ní Neachtain, Bláithín MacGabhann, Ignacy Rybarczyk, Derbhle Crotty and Jane Brennan. 

About the Competition

A competition for original short stories for radio was first established in 1986 in memory of Francis MacManus (1909-1965), the Kilkenny-born novelist, biographer and former Head of Talks and Features at Radio Éireann. Since its establishment, the competition has been a launching pad for many writers who have gone on to receive national and international acclaim, including Claire Keegan, Molly McCloskey, Anthony Glavin, Danielle McLaughlin and Nuala Ní Chonchúir.

The winning and shortlisted short stories are produced for radio and voiced by some of Ireland's most talented actors of the stage and screen. In recent years these have included Peter Hanly, Ali White, Emmet Kirwan, Cathy Belton, Ingrid Craigie, Denis Conway, Andrew Bennett, Caitríona Ní Mhurchú, Kathy-Rose O'Brien, and many more. Listen to podcasts from past series here

Free to enter, the RTÉ Short Story Competition is open to anyone over 18 living on the island of Ireland, or living abroad who holds an Irish passport. Next year's competition will open for entries in spring 2021. 

The RTÉ Short Story Competition in honour of Francis MacManus is produced by Sarah Binchy. 



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Producer: Sarah Binchy

Broadcast Co-Ordinator: Carolyn Dempsey

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