This Competition is now closed. The Shortlist has been announced. The prize will be awarded in Strokestown on Friday May 1st 2020.

Percy French Prize for Witty Verse 2020


William Percy French (1 May 1854 – 24 January 1920) was born at Cloonyquin House, near Elphin Co. Roscommon, only a few miles from Strokestown. He was one of Ireland’s most popular songwriters and entertainers in his day, writing primarily in comic verse. He is also well known for his landscape watercolours.
Writers are invited to compete for the Percy French Prize at the Strokestown International Poetry Festival. This is the category where humour is prime. The poems here are intended to be recited to a live audience, so they need to be easily understood on first hearing. And they need to have a lightness of touch combined with a wry take on life. If you want to get a flavour of the sort of tone the judges will be hoping to find, you should read through some of Percy French’s well-loved verses, or listen to his songs.
Some examples: Are Ye Right There, Michael, Are Ye Right? Abdul Abulbul Amir. Eileen Og. Shlathery’s Mounted Fut.
We don’t want you to ape Percy French, of course, but we hope to find a confident and original entry that raises a laugh and raises the spirits.


Judge 2020 Margaret Hickey

Margaret Hickey lives beside the Shannon in east Galway. Her first book, Irish Days: Oral Histories of the Twentieth Century, was published by Kyle Cathie in 2001. Her latest book, Ireland's Green Larder, a social history of Ireland as seen through the prism of food and drink, was published by Unbound in 2018.
She is a member of two creative writing groups - Portumna Pen Pushers and The Peers - and is Vice Chair of Portumna Arts Group. She is also a keen amateur painter and supporter of the Irish Workhouse Centre. She is a previous winner of this prize.