RTÉ Short Story Competition 2021 in honour of Francis MacManus

The Competition is now closed for entries. We received over 2,500 entries to this year's competition and reading and judging has now commenced. The shortlist will be announced in September 2021


Writers have until Friday 7 May, 2021 to submit their short story to this year's competition, which will be judged  by writers Lisa McInerney, Declan Hughes and Lucy Caldwell.

Lisa McInerney says: "One of the reasons Irish people have such an affinity for the short story, I think, is our lively, playful vernacular, our love of timing and tall tales, and commanding the attention of an audience. What I love to find in a short story is a fresh twist in the telling, whether through a clever turn of phrase, or special clarity of character. And all the better if we can hear the heart beating in every sentence." 

Fellow judge, Lucy Caldwell says: "When you're writing your story for the RTÉ Short Story Competition, you are writing for the listener, even more than for the reader.  I still think it’s a kind of magic, that a stranger’s voice can travel over that mysterious thing called airwaves, and reach us, enter us, disarm or distract or maybe even change us.  These are your super powers.  Use them wisely – use them well.  I can’t wait to hear your stories."

And Declan Hughes says: "The Irish short story is in rude health, with a vigorous infrastructure of literary journals, magazines and publishing opportunities. I read a lot of work in progress and can testify to the seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy and talent out there. I’m very much looking forward to reading the submissions for RTÉ’s Francis MacManus Short Story award, which has played an important role in the development of Irish short fiction for over 30 years."

The 35-year-old literary prize recognises and rewards the best new Irish fiction writing for radio. Free to enter, last year's competition, which coincided with Ireland's first lockdown, attracted record entries – over 4,000.

A shortlist of ten stories will be announced in September, and the top prizewinners will be announced on an Arena special programme later on.

The overall winner will receive €3,000, while €2,000 and €1,000 will be awarded to the second and third place prize winners respectively. A further seven runners-up will receive €250 each, and all 10 shortlisted stories will be published on rte.ie/culture and broadcast in a season of new writing on RTÉ Radio 1 in the autumn. 

See competition rules for all details on how to enter. In the meantime, you can read recent winning and shortlisted entries here and also listen back to past podcasts. Good luck!

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. 



Contact the Show


Producer: Sarah Binchy

Broadcast Co-Ordinator: Carolyn Dempsey

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