The Roscommon Poets’ Prize 2016

(open to poets living in Co. Roscommon or members of Roscommon Writers groups)

The Roscommon Poets Prize

A poem in Irish or English of not more than 70 lines submitted by a resident of County Roscommon or a member of a County Roscommon Writers Group

Prizes: 1st. €200, 2nd. €100 & 3rd. €75

Competition Results
1st Prize Laurence Henson
2nd Prize Niamh Cunningham
3rd Prize Louise Cole
Highly Commended Maureen Lydon
Highly Commended Catherine Ryan
Highly Commended Bernadette Tansey

Roscommon Poets' Prize, L-R Noelle Lynskey (Judge), Laurence Henson (1st), Catherine Ryan (HC), Maureen Lydon (HC), Louise Cole (3rd), Bernadette Tansey (HC)

Roscommon Poets’ Prize, L-R
Noelle Lynskey (Judge), Laurence Henson (1st), Catherine Ryan (HC), Maureen Lydon (HC), Louise Cole (3rd), Bernadette Tansey (HC)

Shortlist 2016

The Shortlist for the Roscommon Poets’ Prize at the 18th Strokestown International Poetry Festival has been announced. The Poets are Louise G. Cole, Moyne, Ballaghaderreen (“Fur Coat and No Knickers”), Niamh Cunningham, Lisacul, Ballaghaderreen (“December 1st”), Laurence Henson, Strokestown (“Man and Boy”), Maureen Lydon, Ballintubber (“Whispering Scythe”), Catherine Ryan, Trien, Castlerea (“Snapshots”) and Bernadette Tansey, Elphin (“The Lonely Islands”). The Competition Final takes place at Strokestown Park House on Saturday, 30th April, 2015.

Louise G. Cole performs her poetry every month at the Word Corner Café in the Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon, and at occasional pop up shows in the West with the Hermit Collective. Last year, she was placed third in Strokestown’s Roscommon Poets’ Prize. She blogs about reading, writing and other stuff (including poetry) at

Louise Cole
Fur Coat and No Knickers

Niamh Cunningham
December 1st

The wind is icy cold.
That eternal distant dog
echoes through the grey dim day.
Cats dart inside.
Bare branches, black against the sky.

The path is slushy,
the gate dripping wet.
I take turf in for the fire, spread grain for the birds,
an apple for the pony.
Mud sticking to every strand, he chews.
Time passes silently between us.
I wonder if he is delighted by the treat,
or if it just happened like the rain.

Turning back toward the house,
I watch the birds swoop down.
Low grey clouds pull us in close.
It is a day to share the burden.

A lone yellow rose
smells of rain and sweet perfume,
pregnant with the promise of a year not yet born.

Laurence Henson
Man And Boy

When he wasn’t at the war
our father taught me how to cast a fly…..
and drown a worm……
but not about the birds and bees,
for that he was too shy.

Good-natured, family man
sing-a-long pianist, clerk.
In uniform, D-day +6
he drove a desk across to France.
He wasn’t asked to fire his gun
just push his pen and help
to file away the Germans
under ‘K’-Kaput and ‘H’ for Hun.

He survived that war.
In ‘civvy’ street he settled in
which suited us much better
than his demob suiting suited him.

Then, overnight it seemed, boyhood was gone.
It was my turn to go and fight
Some battles of my own.
Now precious few years further on –
‘He’s dead!’
His body lost that other war no body wins.

We congregate in ‘no-mans land’, where
gravestone sentries mark time by date,
and marble Saints pull rank on me
for things not said, forever now, forever late.

Relative strangers shake my hand,
rub mothballed shoulders as we stand
awkward on fresh-dug earth
beside a new slit trench,
to slip the cords and lower him down
beside our Mum, their two-part harmony
rejoined for good,
and feel once more that final wrench
as hand-grenades of ‘dust-to-dust’
detonate on polished wood.

Suddenly, I fancy, down there with him,
the boy once he used to be.
I wish I could have known him then….or
………………is that boy beside him…. me?

Catherine Ryan’s passion for growing her own vegetables together with flowers and herbs for the bees, is equal to her love of writing. She is a member of the Millwheel Writers group in Castlerea with whom she has shared many years of writing for fun and experimentation, with a few serous moments thrown in. She has only lately taken to poetry and achieved some success with it. She reads it with the Hermit Collective in venues round the county and beyond.
Catherine Ryan

My father’s photo albums are withering in storage
colour streaking in Texas heat, pages sticking into ruin,
all those seconds in a life forgotten, uncared for.
My childhood revolved around his never-still camera,
the endless evenings he stuck and labelled,
his neat white script on the grey pages I poured over,
trying to remember the tiny curly haired girl in bloomers
or the relatives on picnics beside a freezing Scottish sea,
as if these markers defined the days I couldn’t remember
or that I chose to forget.

Did the albums define my father’s life as he snapped
through his years choosing brightness and smiles
over tears or darkness of soul?
His garden plants became his stars as we foraged
far afield from the parental nest
Why did he do it all?
Did his life in these flashes of aliveness
blot out the colourless difficult unmemorable days?
Or were all his days camouflaged on celluloid
into technicolour snippets, the aura of success?

They moulder away now as his body does
and I look at my pictures splashed on Facebook,
e-mailed to my brother far away, showing pixels of my life –
all the brightest bits in my garden that verges on wilderness,
the smiling faces of family without their irritated surliness
and the shimmering wings of a dragonfly basking in the sun.
Now the seasons are misting, autumn turning, with winter in tow
and my body too will compost while I leave digital flickers of passion,
instantly removable at the press of a button,
beaming through the confusion and blind alleys of my life

Bernadette Tansey lives near Elphin Co Ros
I went back to Adult ED when I retired,
Sitting my English Leaving cert and achieving an A was great.
Then getting certs in Personal and Inter- personal skills
A Cert in textiles.
Completed an ECDL Course in five modules.
Got a CERT, in a BEAUTY course.
I was Shortlisted for the Ros Poets Prize in 2015
Won the Hannah Greally Short Story award
Won the Short Story in the dear old Elphin Award
I was Shortlisted for the Silver Surfer Award in DCU.
I now enjoy writing.

The Lonely Islands

Along the shores thatched roofs with tufts of green grass stand in rows.
Black smoke-stained stones still hang, holding on.
The crust scum windows bare no light
Now a shelter for four legged friends
From a north-east wind.

The dark ribs of potato beds spaced on the side hills.
A battered Currach hidden among reeds
Rocks itself to sleep, as waves wash empty shells
And nature turns her head with
No mercy.

The churchyard mounds bare names erased with time
Fathers, brothers, victims of a vengeful sea.
Widows, mothers, weep over lobster pots
As children wait with hungry eyes
Not yet knowing.

The islands hold their sorrows, the wind sighs,
As the salt spray from the sea
Licks their wounds.

Contact details

Strokestown Poetry Festival Strokestown County Roscommon Ireland Tel: +353 71 9633759 (10am – 1pm) Email: