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Bardic Festival 2021 Winners

Ballydonoghue Bardic Festival Adult Competition Results 2021

The James Award

“Free Love” by Mike Gallagher, Renagown, Co. Kerry.

Highly Recommended:

“ Fireside Memories” by Margaret O’Shea, Abbeyfeale, Co. Limerick.

“ Thanks” by Leo Smyth, Gort, Co. Galway.


Quiet Man Maurice Walsh Award: Short Story

1: “The Bind” by David Butler, Bray, Co. Wicklow.

2: “Humane” by Mike Guerin, Newmarket, Co. Cork.

3: “The Derryquay Meander” by Noel King, Tralee, Co. Kerry.

Highly Recommended:

“The Red Lad and the Panda” by Tom Ryan, New Quay, Co. Clare.

“Rainbow” by Jenny Darmody, Ashbourne, Co. Meath.

“Paddy” by Barbara Hartigan, Castleconnell, Co. Limerick.


Robert Leslie Boland Award: Poetry

“New Directions” by Michael Farry, Trim, Co. Meath.

“Holy Shapes” by David Gilroy, Athboy, Co. Meath.

“Visit” by Mick McGann Jones, Killorglin, Co. Kerry.

Highly Recommended:

“ The politics of gardening. A manual” by Sven Kretzschmar, Germany.

“ A Gardeners’ Guide for the Hopeless” by Carolann North, Articlave, Co. Derry.

“ Shoebox” by Mick McGann Jones, Killorglin, Co. Kerry.

                                                                                             Eileen Sheehan, judge



As Gaeilge:

  1. “Mathar agus Leanbh”; Daithí Ó Cíosáin, East Commons, Ardfert, Co. Kerry.
  2. “Achainí na mBeach Meala”; Máire Dinny Wren, Leitir Ceannainn, Co. Donegal.
  3. “An Bhírus”; Joan Lyons, Ballybunion, Co. Kerry


Highly Recommended:

Creid Nó Ná Creid; Tony O’Shea, Ballydonoghue and Dublin.


(50 lines max) Robert Leslie Boland Award.

Short Story – (2,500 words max) Quiet Man Maurice Walsh Award.

Dán – (50 línte ar a mhéad) no Gearrscéal (2,500 focal ar a mhéad) as Gaeilge.

Duais Phádraig Liath Ó Conchubhair.


Poem – (50 lines max) or Short Story (1,000 words max) in English – The Chrissie Nolan Creative Writing Award.

Dán – (50 línte ar a mhéad) no Gearrscéal (1,000 focal ar a mhéad) as Gaeilge.

Entry Fees: Adults €10, Children €5 for up to two entries in any combination.

Prizes: Adults €150, €100 and €50 in each category; Children €100, €75 and €50 in the form of Book Tokens

New Writing Challenge for the Senior Scribbler!

The Ballydonoghue Bardic Festival Committee is delighted to announce a Special Prize:

                         – The James Award –

Sponsored by James, an outstanding poet and artist friend of the BBF from Santa Fe, New Mexico

For the best writing in any category, (Poetry, Fiction, Memoir, Humour, Etc.) by a Writer

                   75 years young and above!

Poem 50 lines max; Prose 2500 words or less. Entry fee €10

Closing Date: May 31st, 2021

Workshops/Lectures (on either Zoom or face-to-face at dates to be announced)

Stand and Deliver!

Voice Coaching with Priscilla Donovan

Priscilla Donovan has been a performing artist and singer for 50 years. She has thorough knowledge of how to communicate verbally and has taught singing, drama and recitation for the past 20 years. She is also an author with a published book of short stories, Simple Gifts.

Advanced Poetry with John W Sexton,

Multitalented John W. Sexton is the author of six poetry collections, most recently Petit Mal (Revival Press 2009), The Offspring of the Moon (Salmon Poetry 2013) and Futures Pass (Salmon 2018). A chapbook of his surrealist poetry, Inverted Night, came out from SurVision in April 2019. His poem The Snails was shortlisted for the 2018 An Post / Listowel Writers’ Week Poem of the Year Award.

Spring into Writing!

Writing for all ages, abilities and experience, with Kim Arnold

Kim Arnold is a highly experienced author and mentor with a recognized track record of excellence in teaching and writing guidance.   She is the founder/owner of Font which specialises in all aspects of academic, corporate, technical and creative writing, from editorial services and writing clinics to professional ghost writing and individual writing mentorship.  Kim has also established and leads the Close Company creative writing day school here in Kerry and is a creative writing tutor for a number of community youth projects being run under the auspices of the KETB.  Kim’s personal writing interests include poetry and drama.

History Forum on Hedge Schools in North Kerry

With Historian Declan Downey

Tomáisín’s Bar

Sean-Nós Dancing – Learn to do The Brush Dance

with Miriam Costello

A wonderful Sean-Nós and Set-Dancing Teacher from Lisselton, Miriam has 13 County titles, nine Munster titles and an All-Ireland to her name.

Festival Launch (in a Perfect World!)

 at The Thatch Bar with Joe McGill


Also in a Perfect World…

…Grand Concert in Tomáisín’s Function Room

with Donal Murphy and Breaking Trad!


Fabulous Raffle Prizes!

(Guaranteed, whatever the state of the world!!!)

St.Teresa’s Parish Church, Ballydonoghue 

Beautiful Bilingual Mass with Hymns and Traditional Music, dedicated to Students of the Parish, past and present.

Ballydonoghue/Lisselton CCE will offer Traditional Music Masterclasses in a wide range of instruments at Lisselton National School, organised by Kevin O’Neill.

Maidin na mBard

De Domhnaigh,11 a.m. go 12.00.

Caifé & Comhrá,

Filiocht & Craic

 i dTí an Tuí (The Thatch Bar!)

Míc Oscailte – 12.00 go 2 pm.

Bardic Festival 2021

The Ballydonoghue Bardic Festival seeks to honour the memory of Pádraig Liath Ó Conchubhair, who was born in Lisselton in 1745 and died around 1820.  He was a Hedge Schoolmaster, Poet and renowned Academic who established The Lisselton Bardic Court, known as ‘Cúirt na Súagh’, The Court of the Wise.

A Brief History of the Ballydonoghue Bard

There are lots of famous people from Lisselton, writers, footballers, ambassadors, soldiers, teachers, priests, nuns and many others. In this last group are the poets. It’s not often we hear about the poets from this area but they’re here now, and at one time Lisselton was famed for the standard of its poetry and of the schools of poetry around here. At that time there was great respect for poets and poetry, for alongside of poetry, they were well versed in literature, science and Latin.

Pádraig Liath Ó Conchubhair was born in 1745 and died around 1820. He was married to Eibhlín Ní hArtnain. Pádraig was highly intelligent and well-read, an outstandingly skilled teacher and leader of a group of master teachers of similar skills and disposition. He was also a native Irish speaker.

Pádraig instituted an annual Court for poets in Lisselton. Famous people from far and near attended these assemblies, people like Micheál Óg Ó Longáin. The Court was known as ‘Cúirt na Súagh’, The Court of the Wise. In 1803, the title Príomh-Ghiúistís, Cumann na mBard, (Chief Magistrate, Bardic Association) was bestowed on Pádraig Liath Ó Conchubhair of Cúirt na Súagh in Lisselton. A great honour indeed!

When you think about people like this man and the history Lisselton has in poetry, isn’t it a pity we don’t have a statue in his memory and as an influence on young people today. I use the term ‘influence’ because specialists in this field assure us that Pádraig and the schools he founded had a huge influence on the famous writers that have come out of North Kerry over the years. As I’ve said, Pádraig was a man of learning who used his native language in his poetry and in educating the people.

What then brought that era to an end in Lisselton, you ask? The introduction of The National School System in 1833 is probably one answer. The Great Famine of 1845 to 1849 contributed also.

But courage springs eternal in Kerry and in the years that followed, poets began to write again, in no small way due to the seed that was planted by Pádraig two hundred years ago, the same seed that still flourishes in Lisselton today.

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