Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award Winner for 2021

Patrick Kavanagh Award WINNER 2021

Sponsored by Grant Thornton 


The winner of the 2021 Patrick Kavanagh Award is Jerm Curtin, from Boherbue in north-west Cork. He lives in Spain where he teaches English as a foreign language.


The Award is given to a poet who has yet to publish a full collection. It was not awarded in 2020 because of the pandemic.


The judge, the poet and novelist Brian Lynch, said, ‘Although this year’s competition had to be held at short notice, the response was unexpectedly large. I think Covid and the isolation associated with it led to a great deal of soul-searching and a pent-up demand for communication, which the Kavanagh Award released.’


He described Jerm Curtin’s collection, ‘The Drowned City’, as a vision of Cork permanently under water due to climate change – cars in the streets are replaced with kayaks – accompanied by a tender study of Noreen Daly, a recognisable but fictitious aging woman from Kanturk living alone in the city.


‘Curtin combines the sensitivity to language of a poet with a novelist’s eye for character’, Brian Lynch said.


The contest for the Award was extremely close. He described ‘Realpolitik’, the entry by the runner-up, David Spencer, as ‘a harsh yet witty blend of Derbyshire dialect, mixed with memories of a Strabane childhood, and raw present day experiences as a father in Berlin’.


Brian Lynch said, ‘Choosing between two such disparate poets proved to be extremely difficult. Jerm Curtin was a runner-up in 2019 and it would come as no surprise to me if David Spencer did that in 2022. If so he is likely to be facing stiff competition from this year’s highly commended entries. I have chosen to name eight of them but there were many more. They are: Colette Colfer, Lucy Rebecca Holme, William Keohane, Katie Martin, Maeve Henry, Ainín NíBhroin, Jess McKinney and Ashley O’Neal.



The Kavanagh Award, which is worth €2,000, has marked the beginning of the careers of many of Ireland’s leading contemporary poets, including Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Paul Durcan and Sinéad Morrisey. The Patrick Kavanagh Society and the Patrick Kavanagh Centre, which is now the direct responsibility of Monaghan County Council, are very grateful for the patronage of the Award by Grant Thornton, the Arts Council and Monaghan County Council.

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Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award 2021 details announced

Poetry Award
The Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award for a first unpublished collection of poems in English is open to poets, born in the island of Ireland, or of Irish nationality, or long term resident in Ireland.


We are delighted to announce the resumption of the award after the necessary cancellation of 2020’s edition.  It is particularly significant as 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of our very first award in 1971, when Sean Clarkin from Wexford was the inaugural recipient of the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award.

Other previous winners include Eileán Ni Chuilleanáin, Paul Durcan, Thomas McCarthy, Peter Sirr, Sinead Morrissey, Conor O’Callaghan, Celia de Freine and Joseph Woods.

We are also delighted to announce that the recipient of this year’s award will receive €2,000, which is an increase of €1k on the most recent award.

Closing date for entries is Thursday 19th August 2021.

The award will be presented on Friday 24th September 2021 the opening evening of the annual Patrick Kavanagh Weekend at the Patrick Kavanagh Centre.

Click here to download the award rules and entry form. Alternatively contact the Patrick Kavanagh Centre. See contact details below.

Patrick Kavanagh Centre, Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan.

Tel. +353 (0) 429378560


Culture Night @ Patrick Kavanagh Centre

The Patrick Kavanagh Centre are delighted to announce a very special bilingual evening of music & poetry as part of our CULTURE NIGHT celebration in the refurbished Patrick Kavanagh Centre on Friday 18th September.  We will host performances from Culture Night TRAILBLAZER the composer Michael Gallen, legendary Irish band Scullion alongside the poet Caitríona NiChléirchín amongst other guests.

The event will be broadcast live online by our virtual event partners StreamFox

A very limited number of tickets will be available for this event.
For more information contact the Patrick Kavanagh Centre box office 0429378560 or email


‘I’m down in the city, you know where to find me I’m up on the top floor, just under the moon’

This is the refrain from Sonny Condell’s timeless anthem, Down In The City, and it’s the inspiration for Scullion to head out on the road for evenings of songs, conversations, tunes and stories.

Scullion have been singing and playing everywhere from bar rooms to box rooms the world over for several decades. Scullion was formed in Ireland in the late 70’s at a time of great musical innovation. Bands such as Planxty, The Bothy Band and De Danann were at their creative peak and legendary Irish label Mulligan Records was releasing The Boomtown Rats, The Radiators, Midnight Well, Sonny Condell and Scullion.

Scullion has always been a coming together of different musical strands and traditions. The mainstay of the band was and is Sonny Condell. Sonny writes music and songs that are powerful, poetic and soulful. He is one of Irelands most enduring creative artists and along with guitarist Robbie Overson and vocalist Philip King, creates the signature sound of Scullion.



Michael Gallen is an award-winning Irish composer, songwriter and performer. Growing up with traditional Irish music and folk song, his work blends contemporary composition with musical language drawn from an Irish idiom. He is the Artistic Director of new Irish opera company Straymaker.

Michael’s work has been performed by leading ensembles including the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, Contempo Quartet, Opera Theatre Company, Crash Ensemble, Miroirs Étendus and Chamber Choir Ireland. He has been involved in several high-profile collaborations in dance and theatre, and recently toured Session, a piece made in collaboration with choreographers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Colin Dunne, to major festivals and venues across Europe. His first large-scale opera, Elsewhere, is set to premiere in Ireland and internationally in 2021/22, and a new opera-film project entitled Ways of Disappearing will also go into development in 2021.

Michael is the lead singer with Irish band Ana Gog, and performs as a solo pianist and electronic music artist under the moniker Sudden Wells.

Michael Gallen


Caitríona is an Irish-language poet, critic and lecturer at St. Patricks College, Drumondra.  She is originally from Monaghan and published her debut collection of poetry in Irish in 2010, Crithloinnir, which won first prize in the Oireachtas competition for new writers. Her scond collection, An Bhrídeach Sí, published in 2014, has won the Michael Hartnett Prize 2015.  She completed her doctorate on the poetry of Nuala NíDhomhnaill and Biddy Jenkinson in 2014. She has published poetry in Comhar, Irish Pages, Cyphers, The Stinging Fly, Ab tUltach and An Guth and others. Liam Carson has compared her work to that of the famous Russian poet, Marina Tsvetaeva. SHe is the new love lyricist writing in Irish today and is strongly influenced by the poetry of Máire Mhac and tSaoi.

Caitriona NiCleircin

Culture Night is brought to you by The Arts Council in partnership with Monaghan County Council