Ballygar man claims title of Bard of Connacht 2023

John Ralph from Ballygar is the 2023 Bard of Connacht, following an event at Creggs Harvest Festival.

Poets from all over the island gathered in Creggs for the second annual Bard of Connacht, which has a prize fund of €1,000. Earlier in the day, Emma Hosty, a student from the Mountbellew area, was named as the Junior Bard of Connacht, and Amelia Dermich, a student in Colaiste an Chreagain, Mountbellew, took second prize.

The finalists for the Bard of Connacht were as follows: Frank Brandon from Creggs with his poem ‘Epic Journey’, Anne Byrne from Boyle with ‘Inhale’, Greg Carey from Shannon with ‘Leaving’, Niamh Cooper from Clonakilty with ‘The Promised Land’, Michéal Coughlan from Sligo with ‘The Journey of Us’, Ger Duffy from Tramore with ‘Doolough’, Henry Hudson from Dublin with ‘Burren’, Mike Hutchinson from Williamstown with ‘Terra Repromissionis Sanctorum’, Rosanna Myles from Monaghan with ‘Epic Journey’, and finally John Ralph from Ballygar with ‘Journey Back to the Promised Land’.

Fourth place and a prize of €100 went to Anne Byrne, third prize and a prize of €150 went to Mike Hutchinson, Niamh Cooper won second prize and €250, and the top prize, €500 plus the Vincent Keaveny trophy went to John Ralph with ‘Journey Back to the Promised Land’. His poem was a powerful plea to go back to nature, to treat the earth with respect and to stop using harmful chemicals in our everyday lives.

Welcoming guests to the event, Sean Beirne of Kilbegnet Historical Society spoke of the importance of poetry as a medium of expressing emotions and thanked all who took part in this year’s event for taking the time to put pen to paper. Over 70 entries were received. He also thanked the three judges who took the time to adjudicate on each entry and determine the finalists and eventual winners.

Larry Kilcommins of Kilbegnet Historical Society thanked the many sponsors of the event and hoped that some of the students who took part in the Junior Bard competition would feature in the Bard of Connacht event in years to come.