Leitrim Guardian 2021 Literary Awards finally presented

Leitrim Guardian 2021 Literary Awards finally presented

(From left) Joe Dolan (MJ McManus award), Sinead Gilligan (Leitrim Guardian Literary award), Dr Blaithin Gallagher (Editor), Kate O'Reilly , Nora McGillen and Jack Collum

The Leitrim Guardian Literary Awards were held in the Bush Hotel last Friday, August 27. This event had been postponed due to Covid and in keeping with national Covid guidelines it was a much smaller, shorter event than usual, with social distancing in place and the use of the outdoor garden in the beautiful evening sunshine for the refreshments.

Tommy Moran, the Chairman of the 2021 edition, welcomed the guests and thanked the sponsors, Gabriel Cronin, Dental Technician and Gallagher's Boxty House, Dublin. 

Dr Blaithin Gallagher, the Editor of 2021 edition, introduced the award winners and presented them with their prizes.  Blaithin thanked our adjudicators, in particular Mr Fergus Mulligan of Fergus Mulligan Communications.  Blaithin spoke about the importance of these awards in finding previously unpublished talent and in fostering an interest in writing and the subsequent careers of several former winners.

She said “Huge congratulations to you, our literary award winners.  Well done on your work, you join an illustrious list of people who have gone on to enjoy a career in writing.”

She invited each recipient to read an excerpt from their piece, while Bláíthín read excerpts from the work of those authors who could not be in attendance. 

The poetry awards, sponsored by Gabriel Cronin, Dental Technician, Drumshanbo, were presented first.

Nora Gillen won 1st prize in the Poetry section for her poem entitled The Window Box.

Helen Pinoff won 2nd prize for her poem entitled Wolf. 

Jack Collum won 3rd prize for his poem entitled Lunchtime on Summerhill.

The Leitrim Guardian Literary award sponsored by Gallagher’s Boxty House, Temple Bar Dublin, was won by Sinead Gilligan for her story entitled, Thursday's Child.

Joe Dolan, a former Leitrim Guardian Person of the year is this year's recipient of the Leonard Perpetual trophy and the M J McManus Literary award for his article Tourism; A taste of Leitrim. Joe spoke on behalf of all the winners and expressed his appreciation and admiration for the energy and enthusiasm that it takes to sustain something like the Leitrim Guardian for so long and he said, "That is true volunteerism.”

Leitrim Guardian Young Writers Awards

The Leitrim Guardian Young Writers Awards were first introduced by Blaithin when she became editor of the publication. She wished to give young writers an outlet to have their talent recognised as well as to encourage a lifelong interest in this historic publication, first published in 1968 among the younger cohort. The competition has attracted entries from the local area, from surrounding counties and from the children or our diaspora across the world. These prizes are kindly sponsored by Gallagher's Boxty house.

Kate O' Reilly, from Annaduff, won the Young Writers Primary Schools section for her account of life during lockdown. 

Suzanne Gallagher from Perouse in France won the Post Primary section prize for her piece entitled Change.

Blaithin spoke about the importance of this publication in continuing to foster talent. She mentioned the many authors that have been published in the journal such as John McGahern, Vincent Woods, Rosemarie Rowley, Brian Leyden and Trish Bennett to name but a few,  some of whom used the award as a springboard into a writing career.  Bláíthín said,

“Please note the significance to yourself of winning this award. You have been chosen by an independent adjudicator. I would encourage you all to continue writing.”

She went on to acknowledge all contributors saying, “Thank you to all of our contributors. I know it is a brave step to take when submitting work for publication, but without such submissions, the work you have taken the time to write, this publication would not be possible. It certainly would not be the unique magazine it is today. The contents of this publication provide a small window on Leitrim life and reflect the vitality of our proud pluralist community.”

Bláithín finished up by thanking everyone for their support during her tenure as editor, “This is my last year as editor. After 11 years, I pass on the baton to Mr Tommy Moran. It is in good hands. It has been my honour and privilege to be the curator of these stories of the past, the present and the future, to have played a small part in archiving information about the life of people here in Leitrim and further afield. Thank you to everyone who has been part of this journey.”

Tommy Moran thanked all the guests for coming and everyone enjoyed some refreshments outside.

The Leitrim Guardian 2021 is still available in shops or online at

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