This year’s Beckett-Joyce Award ceremony proved to be an historic occasion in more ways than one. Now in its twenty seventh year, the competition and the occasion have become a wonderful shared experience for both Clongowes Wood College and Portora Royal School, Enniskillen. This year’s ceremony, held in the Community Library in Clongowes on Tuesday 5th. May, was enjoyed by the nine short-listed entrants, Mr. Mark Lochrin and the Rector Fr. Michael Sheil SJ, representing the Clongowes Union, Mr. Stephen Redmond, President of the Portora Union, members of staff and management from both schools, members of the Jesuit Community and, very specially, Fr. John Looby SJ. whose inspiration brought this competition into existence back in 1988.
Clongowes Wood, celebrating its bicentenary year, was hopeful that the adjudication might fall its way, but this was very much in the hands of an independent arbiter who had no way of knowing the provenance of the nine entries. This task was given to Dr. John Kenny, John McGahern Lecturer in Creative Writing at NUIG. Having completed his task with great diligence and considerable insight, John was unable to attend on the evening because of an unfortunate confluence of events. Fatefully, the task of delivering John’s adjudication was graciously accepted by Fr. Looby, bringing the necessary gravitas to the occasion.
John (Kenny) provided a text of his evaluation not only of the prize winners but of all nine entrants. This very appropriate gesture reminded everyone that all of these young writers are gifted and worthy of affirmation. And so to the awards…
- 4th. Prize went to Megan Gordon (Yr. 14; Portora)
- Jnt. 2nd. Prize went to Thom Wilson (Yr. 13; Portora) and Robert Gibbons (Grammar; Clongowes)
- 1st. Prize went to Hugh Patrick Tunney (Rhetoric; Clongowes) for his substantial short story Felag.
This is the first time in the history of the competition that a student has won the award twice. It is also worth mentioning that Hugh Patrick was second in the competition in 2013. In his adjudication, John Kenny had the following comments:
‘…the sheer scale of the endeavour is very impressive – not simply in terms of the length of the narrative as it exists currently, but with regard to the breadth, the sheer scope of both the intent and the attempt on paper to realise this intent… this is a stirring and touching story which conjures up an often keen sensory experience of the world it describes for the reader.’
Congratulations also to Robert Gibbons who has been awarded a prize at the Cecil Day Lewis Literary Awards in the very same week. Hugh Patrick and Robert have now returned to the more mundane task of preparing for their Leaving and Junior Certificate exams respectively. We wish them and all the competitors well in their endeavours.
Mr Martin Wallace