Rory Duffy named Bard of Connacht

Connacht has a new Bard, Rory Duffy from Athlone, who was unveiled as the Bard of Connacht at an event in Creggs on Monday evening.

Ten finalists in the Bard of Connacht poetry competition read their poems to assembled guests before the winner was announced and the Athlone native was named as the province’s new Bard.

Organisers Kilbegnet Ballinakill Historical Society were delighted with the interest in the event and the level of engagement from poets across Ireland and beyond. They now hope to make the poetry competition an annual event.

While Rory took first place with his poem ‘A Silent Carol’, second place went to Mick Beirne, a native of Rooskey, Co. Roscommon, who lives in County Kildare and who submitted a poem called ‘Eibhlin’s Story’. Third place went to Anne Byrne from Boyle, Co. Roscommon for ‘The Dying Fields’ and fourth place went to Sean Hallinan from Ballintubber Abbey, Co. Mayo, for ‘Fear Gortach’.

Rory Duffy is an established poet, having had his poetry published in a number of journals. He has received a number of awards for his poetry and is also the author of short stories and plays, many of which he has received recognition for.

Reacting to the win, Rory stated: “It was such a lovely surprise to win and to have my poem picked by the judges. The welcome from the people of the community was so warm and inclusive. I will be back!”

As winner of the Bard of Connacht, Rory received a cheque for €500 and the Vincent Keaveney Memorial Trophy, which was sponsored by Seamus Coleman. Larry Kilcommins of the Kilbegnet Ballinakill Historical Society thanked Michael Ward of Ward and Burke for his generous sponsorship of the prize money of €1,000. He also expressed his delight at the level of interest and enthusiasm generated by the poetry competition.

The theme of this year’s Bard of Connacht competition was the Irish Famine of 1847 and the event was explored throughout the Creggs Harvest Festival weekend with a lecture by Willie Gacquin and historical walk by Christy Cunniffe.