Submissions for 2019 Book Prize

Adrian Duncan — Love Notes from a German Building Site *WINNER*

Book cover of Love Notes from a German Building Site by Adrian DuncanPaul, a young Irish engineer, follows his girlfriend to Berlin, and begins work on the renovation of a commercial building in Alexanderplatz. Wrestling with a new language, on a site running behind schedule, and with a relationship in flux, he becomes increasingly untethered.

Set against the structural evolution of a sprawling city, this meditation on language, memory and yearning is underpinned by the site’s physical reality. As the narrator explores the mind’s fragile architecture, he begins to map his own strange geography through a series of notebooks, or ‘Love Notes’.

This is at once a treatise on language, memory, building and desire, relayed in translucent Sebaldian prose in a voice new to Irish fiction. Adrian Duncan is a Berlin-based Irish visual artist who originally trained as a structural engineer. His short-form fiction has appeared in The Stinging Fly, gorse, The Moth, The Dublin Review and Meridian (US), among others. His feature film on Irish engineer Peter Rice, co-directed with Feargal Ward, premiered at the Dublin International Film Festival 2019.

Andrew Jones — Beloved Assassin

Book cover of Beloved Assassin by Andrew JonesThe events in this story encompass the civil war years and afterwards. This is not a WAR story, but the story of one young man’s bizarre involvement in that momentous era. It is also the story of how four different women influenced his life. One almost got him killed, another saved him from death. The third rescued him from despair, while the fourth brought him a kind of contentment.

Andrew Jones is originally from Dublin and now lives in Mullagh. He has won awards for short stories and flash fiction, winning the Roscommon Writer of the Year Award 2017 for one of his short stories.


Anne Griffin — When All is Said *Shortlisted*

Book cover of When All Is Said by Anne GriffinAt the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan. He’s alone, as usual — though tonight is anything but. Pull up a stool and charge your glass, because Maurice is finally ready to tell his story.

Over the course of this evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories — of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice — the life of one man will be powerfully and poignantly laid bare.

Heart-breaking and heart-warming all at once, the voice of Maurice Hannigan will stay with you long after all is said.

Anne Griffin is an Irish novelist living in Ireland. Anne was awarded the John McGahern Award for Literature, recognising previous and current works. Amongst others, she has been shortlisted for the Hennessy New Irish Writing Award and the Sunday Business Post Short Story Award.

Anne's debut novel When All Is Said will be published by Sceptre in the UK and Ireland on 24th January, 2019 and by Thomas Dunne Books in the US and Canada on the 5th March, 2019. It will also be published by Rowohlt Verlag in Germany, Delcourt in France, by Harper Collins Holland in the Netherlands, by Wydawnictwo Czarna in Poland, and by Tyto Alba in Lithuania.

Colm Regan — Ann Devine, Ready for her Close Up

Book cover of Anne Devine Reader for her Close Up by Colm ReganMeet Ann Devine, a riddle, wrapped up in a fleece, inside a Skoda Octavia.

Now that her youngest has flown the nest, Ann finds herself at a loose end. Until, that is, she is put forward for the Kilsudgeon Tidy Towns Committee.

Yet all is not neat and tidy in Kilsudgeon. There are strange sightings of people who aren't local driving 4x4s with a yellow reg, a man bun requesting kefir in the restaurant and a quad bike at a funeral.

What does this have to do with rumours of a brand new television series to rival Game of Thrones? And what will it all mean for Kilsudgeon's newly proposed town park?

A lot, as it happens.

As the town begins to fill up with the film crew, extras and a Hollywood star who is fond of the drink, everyone welcomes the chance to make a few bob and to finally get enough broadband to send an attachment.

Or nearly everyone. Harmony is threatened when the newcomers seem to be doing more damage than good and the last straw is when Ann’s pride and joy — a floral arrangement in a boat — is trashed. She’s about to discover what it means to go viral…

Colm O’Regan is a critically acclaimed stand-up comedian, columnist, broadcaster and author. He writes a weekly column for the Irish Examiner and has written for national online and print media on both sides of the Irish Sea. Colm is also a columnist with RTÉ Radio 1’s Drivetime, BBC World Service’s In The Balance and BBC World News’ Talking Business. He also writes and presents RTÉ’s occasional comedy programme, Colm O'Regan Wants a Word. As a stand-up comedian, he has performed all over the world and he has appeared on RTÉ’s Late Late Show and on Comedy Central. Colm also set up and runs the @irishmammies Twitter account which has over 220,000 followers and was the inspiration behind his three bestselling books of Irish Mammies. His most recent bestseller was Bolloxology. From Dripsey in County Cork, Colm now lives in Dublin but he’s up and down that road a good bit.

David Brennan — Upperdown

Book cover of Upperdown by David BrennanDavid Brennan's debut novel is a dark reimagining of 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin'.

Things in the town of Upperdown are not as they seem. The Professor struggles with his devotion to proving the Riemann Hypothesis and he walks the streets seeking a solution whilst battling his own deeper preoccupations.

The appearance of a stranger in town, the Piano Man, leads to the resolution of the rat infestation but when the town's children start to go missing it is clear something darker has been set in motion.

David Brennan currently resides between Ireland and Asia. He has been nominated for the Hennessy New Irish Writer Award 2019.

He was one of the winners of the Irish Novel Fair 2018. In 2016 he won the Frank O'Connor Mentorship Bursary Award and has been shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story award (2017), the Fish Memoire award (2018) and the Doolin Short Story award (2016). He was longlisted for the Colm Tobin Award (2017).

David Foley — The File Note

Book cover of The File Note by David FoleyJames Hadfield is a middle-aged solicitor with Timmons & Associates in the sleepy village of Kilcreddin. The death of Lord Barrington, his firm’s most important client, is immediately viewed with suspicion in the locality, and a high-profile murder inquiry is soon under way. As more deaths follow, a handwritten note found by Hadfield throws him into the middle of the investigation, along with Hilary, the office manager, Mick, the law clerk, and Lucinda, the new apprentice. Hadfield’s friend FitzHerbert, a Senior Counsel specialising in criminal law, quickly finds himself involved as they try to piece together what happened. All the beneficiaries of the Barrington will are suspects, while none have an alibi, and it seems Hadfield may even be in the frame. Love is also in the air, but where exactly that might lead is not entirely clear. Will Hadfield solve the mystery – and help apprehend the guilty party – before he, she or they can strike again? With more twists and turns than an old country road, The File Note is a classic page-turner that offers intrigue and romance in equal measure.

David Foley was born in Dublin, where he still lives with his wife and two children, and he has worked there as a solicitor for nearly thirty years. This is his first novel.

Deirdre Shanahan — Caravan of the Lost and Left Behind

Book cover of the Caravan of the Lost and Left Behind by Deirdre ShanahanEva takes her teenage son Torin away from petty crime and gang violence in London to the safest place she knows: her father's caravan in Ireland. Eva hopes to stay and find the daughter she left behind but Torin, rootless, can't settle there.

Caravan of The Lost and Left Behind is about dislocation and becoming unanchored, the disturbance when you're wrenched out of your environment, and the need for a home and belonging.

Deirdre Shanahan writes fiction — having published several stories in the USA, UK and Ireland. She has been visiting speaker several times at The London Irish Writers Summer School, London Metropolitan University and has taught at Brunel University, St Mary’s University and held writing workshops in schools.

Her work has been read at Liars League and she has read at The Word Factory, London.

Eleanor O'Reilly — M For Mammy

Book cover of M for Mammy by Eleanor O'ReillyMeet the Augustts: Ma and Da, Jenny and Jacob, and their no-nonsense Granny Mae-Anne.

Complicated as only families can be, they are bound together by their love for one another, and for a piping hot bag of chips. When misfortune strikes and Granny moves in, they learn to understand each other anew through new stories and old memories. Sometimes, in a family as complicated as the Augustts, it's not always what is spoken that makes the most sense.

M for Mammy is an uplifting story about the unique comfort of home, the language we can find when the words aren't there, and the power of a family to heal itself.

Eleanor O'Reilly is a teacher of English and Classical Studies who has just completed an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Having first started writing five years ago, she has received several literary prizes, including the 2015 RTE Francies McManus Radio Short Story Award and the 2013 William Trevor International Short Story Award, and has been shortlisted for several others, including the 2016 Colm Toibin Literary Award.

She lives in Ireland with her husband Brian Kelly, their daughter Ella Kelly, and a whole menagerie of pets. M For Mammy is her debut novel.

Elizabeth Mac Donald — Matter of Interpretation

Book cover of Matter of Interpretation by Elizabeth Mac DonaldIt’s thirteenth-century Europe and a young monk, Michael Scot, has been asked by the Holy Roman Emperor to translate the works of Aristotle and recover his ‘lost’ knowledge.

The Scot sets to his task, travelling from the Emperor’s Italian court to the translation schools of Toledo and from there to the Moorish library of Córdoba. But when the Pope deems the translations heretical, the Scot refuses to desist. So begins a battle for power between Church and State – one that has shaped how we view the world today.

Elizabeth Mac Donald’s debut novel, A Matter of Interpretation, was published by Fairlight Books in September 2019.

Elizabeth was born in Dublin, where she studied Italian and Music at University College Dublin. She was awarded an Italian government scholarship and pursued post-graduate studies at the Univeristà del Sacro Cuore, ‘La Cattolica’, Milan. She then taught English at the University of Bari before moving to Pisa, where she still lives with her husband and son. In her spare time, Elizabeth sings in the choir of the Scuola Normale, Pisa.

Elizabeth’s translations of the short stories of Liam O’Flaherty were the first in Italy (Terre e scogliere d’Irlanda, Edizioni ETS, 1994). She has translated the poetry of Dermot Healy, Seamus Heaney, Brendan Kennelly and many others. Her collection of short stories, A House of Cards, was longlisted for the Frank O’Conner International Short Story Award.

Homan Potterton — Knockfane

Book cover of Knockfane by Homan PottertonKnockfane is an enthralling drama exploring inheritance, heirship and family legacy, set against the backdrop of the Ireland of its time and the conventions, customs, mistrust and suspicions which governed both Protestants and Catholics, as they come to terms with each other’s world in a rapidly changing society.

Ireland in the mid-twentieth century, and Julia and Lydia Esdaile live with their widowed father, Willis, at Knockfane, a country house and farm where the Protestant Esdaile family have lived for centuries. When Willis inexplicably banishes his only son and heir, Edward, he concocts a complex plan to protect and preserve Knockfane for succeeding generations. But time passes, and Willis dies, and soon his intentions are threatened and thwarted by unforeseen events. Ultimately, it must fall to his daughters – the headstrong, confident Julia and the quiet, reflective Lydia – to protect the Knockfane legacy.

Suffused with gentle lyricism, this is an enthralling, elegant drama that explores the complexities of family, inheritance and legacy against the backdrop of the Ireland of its time, steeped in the conventions, customs, and deep-seated suspicions which governed both Protestants and Catholics in a rapidly changing society following Irish independence. Knockfane is a Big House novel for a new generation.

Homan Potterton was born in 1946 and brought up in Ireland. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and of Edinburgh University, he was an Assistant Keeper at the National Gallery, London (1974–80) and Director of the National Gallery of Ireland (1980–88). He was Editor of Irish Arts Review, 1993–2002. His memoir of growing up on the family farm in County Meath, Rathcomick: A Childhood Recalled (2002), was a best-seller. He is the author of several art books and catalogues including The National Gallery, London (1977), Canaletto (1978) and Dutch 17th and 18th Century Paintings in the National Gallery of Ireland (1986).

Jane Ryan — 47 seconds


Detective Garda Bridget Harney’s obsession with Seán Flannery began when he claimed his assault on an underage victim was ‘consensual’.


But the case against him fell apart. Bridget realises no rules hinder Flannery, so why should they hinder her?


When a severed arm is found in a pig carcass in Dublin docks, her instincts tell her Flannery is involved. Her colleagues say there is no evidence. But Bridget refuses to let Flannery slip further into the darkness.

Jane Ryan studied with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland and has worked in the technology sector in UK and US multinationals for nearly twenty years. Her short stories are published online with and in print. She was short-listed for the Hennessy Literary Award in November 2017 and her most recent short story appeared in an anthology entitled Strange Love Affairs. Her debut novel, 47 Seconds, is currently available as are her articles in the Irish Times and the Irish Daily Mail. She lives in Dublin with her husband and two sons.

Kealan Ryan — The Middle Place

Book cover of The Middle Place by Kealan RyanOne minute Chris had been having a smoke, talking to his wife, and the next minute he was dead, killed with one punch. There’s not a lot about being dead that he likes. He’s stuck in this middle place with the ability to delve into the individual lives he cares about – to know what they are feeling and thinking. He is beginning to realise that in life he wasn't such a great guy. In death, he can’t say goodbye to his wife, toddler son and friends. He is determined to figure out how to haunt the person who killed him. Chris wants to rise again, to live again. He wants to feel his wife again, feel the air in his lungs, feel the sea again but something won’t let him go.

Kealan Ryan is an actor and author. He has starred in a number of movies including Lift (2016), Tall Tale (2017) and Famine. The Middle Place is his debut novel.

Lucy Sweeney Byrne — Paris Syndrome *Shortlisted*

Book cover of Paris Syndrome by Lucy Sweeney ByrneParis Syndrome: a psychological condition brought on by dismay that Paris does not live up to one’s romantic expectations. Symptoms may include hallucinations, anxious sweating, and extreme ennui.

In these eleven stories, debut author Lucy Sweeney Byrne invites us to experience travelling the world alone as a young woman, with all its attendant pleasures and dangers.

The staff of a boat moored in Brooklyn rebel against their tyrannical boss. A drifting writer house-sits in the wilds of Donegal in the midst of a health scare. At a Paris graveside, two hungover tourists struggle for feeling and meaning. And in Mexico, a frustrated artist navigates a city both dangerous and alluring.

Whether set in New York, Oaxaca, Havana or back home in Dublin, the result is by turns sharp, fearless and heartbreaking. Laced with biting humour and devastating observations, Paris Syndrome introduces a unique literary talent.

Lucy Sweeney Byrne's essays and stories have appeared in BansheeThe Dublin ReviewThe Stinging FlyLitroGrist and elsewhere. Her work was chosen for inclusion in the twenty-year anthology, Stinging Fly Stories. She was a semi-finalist for the Zone 3 Press Creative Nonfiction Book Award. Her first collection, Paris Syndrome, is due for publication with Banshee Press in September 2019. She has twice been awarded a literature bursary from The Arts Council of Ireland.

Madeline Breen — The Secret Lives of Roses

Book cover of The Secret Lives of Roses by Madeline BreenUna is a vibrant, outspoken commercial radio DJ who discovers she has cervical cancer. Pauline is her cousin, a mother of five kids under 12 and finds herself pregnant with number six. Claire was Pauline’s childhood friend. She now works as a nurse in a family planning clinic, dealing with IVF and more recently, abortion services. She has hit the menopause. Their stories converge in a modern Ireland, where ‘women’s problems’ are still handled badly by society, in spite of the country’s more liberal political landscape.

Madeline Breen holds a BA (Joint Hons) Drama and Theatre Studies and English from University College Cork. She has been shortlisted for WexWorlds Short Story Competition 2018 and longlisted for the Colm Tóibín Short Story Award at the 2019 Wexford Literary Festival. She has been published in Ireland’s Own Anthology 2019 and her book The Secret Lives Of Roses is available now.

Nicole Flattery — Show Them a Good Time *Shortlisted*

Book cover of Show Them a Good Time by Nicole FlatteryAn urgent and unforgettable collection of stories, Show Them a Good Time explores types — men and women, their assigned roles and meanings - in modern society.

A young, broke Irish woman narrates her relationship with a successful comedian in New York; two hapless university students take to the stage in a bid to assert their autonomy; a school teacher makes her way through a series of dead-end dates, gamely searching for love or distraction as the world teeters towards ruin.

The characters in these magnificently accomplished stories are haunted as much by the future as they are by their pasts. Exuberant, irreverent and loaded with dark humour, Show Them a Good Time marks the arrival of a strikingly original new voice in fiction.

Nicole Flattery's work has been published in the Stinging Fly, the White Review, the Dublin Review, BBC Radio 4, the Irish Times, Winter Papers and the forthcoming 2019 Faber anthology of new Irish writing. Her story 'Track' won the 2017 White Review Short Story Prize. She is twenty-nine years old and lives in Galway.

Oisín Fagan — Nobber

Book cover of Nobber by Oisin FaganAn ambitious noble and his three serving men travel through the Irish countryside in the stifling summer of 1348, using the advantage of the plague which has collapsed society to buy up large swathes of property and land. They come upon Nobber, a tiny town, whose only living habitants seem to be an egotistical bureaucrat, his volatile wife, a naked blacksmith, and a beautiful Gaelic hostage. Meanwhile, a band of marauding Gaels are roaming around, using the confusion of the sickness to pillage and reclaim lands that once belonged to them.
As these groups converge upon the town, the habitants, who up until this point have been under strict curfew, begin to stir from their dwellings, demanding answers from the intruders. A deadly stand-off emerges from which no one will escape unscathed.

Oisín Fagan has had short fiction published in the Stinging Fly and the anthology Young Irelanders, with work featured in the Irish Museum of Modern Art. In 2016, he won the inaugural Penny Dreadful Novella Prize for The Hierophants. Hostages, his first collection, was published in 2016. He is a recipient of the 2016 and the 2018 Literature Bursary Award from the Arts Council of Ireland.

Ronan Hession — Leonard and Hungry Paul

Book cover of Leonard and Hungry Paul by Ronan HessionLeonard and Hungry Paul are two quiet friends who see the world differently. They use humour, board games and silence to steer their way through the maelstrom that is the 21st Century.

'The figure in Munch's painting isn't actually screaming!' Hungry Paul said. 'Really, are you sure?' replied Leonard. 'Absolutely. That's the whole thing. The figure is actually closing his ears to block out a scream. Isn't that amazing? A painting can be so misunderstood and still become so famous.'

Leonard And Hungry Paul is the story of two friends trying to find their place in the world. It is about those uncelebrated people who have the ability to change their world, not by effort or force, but through their appreciation of all that is special and overlooked in life.

Ronan Hession lives in Dublin with his partner and two children. His band Mumblin Def Ro was short listed for The CHOICE MUSIC awards.

Sarah Davis-Goff — Last ones left alive

Book cover of Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-GoffRaised by her mother and Maeve on Slanbeg, an island off the west coast of Ireland, Orpen has a childhood of love and stories by the fireside. But the stories grow darker, and the training begins. Ireland has been devoured by a ravening menace known as the skrake, and though Slanbeg is safe for now, the women must always be ready to run, or to fight.

When Maeve is bitten, Orpen is faced with a dilemma: kill Maeve before her transformation is complete, or try to get help. So Orpen sets off, with Maeve in a wheelbarrow and her dog at her side, in the hope of finding other survivors, and a cure. It is a journey that will test Orpen to her limits, on which she will learn who she really is, who she really loves, and how to imagine a future in a world that ended before she was born.

Sarah Davis-Goff’s writing has been published in the Irish Times, the Guardian and LitHub. Last ones left alive is her first novel. She was born and lives in Dublin.

Sue Rainsford — Follow Me to Ground

Book cover of Follow Me to the Ground by Sue RainsfordIn house in a wood, Ada and her father live peacefully, tending to their garden and the wildlife in it. They are not human though. Ada was made by her father from the Ground, a unique patch of earth with birthing and healing properties. Though perhaps he didn’t get her quite right. They spend their days healing the local human folk – named Cures - who visit them, suspiciously, with their ailments.

When Ada embarks on a relationship with a local Cure named Samson, and is forced to choose between her old life with her father, and a new one with her human lover. Her decision will uproot the town – and the Ground itself – for ever.

Sue Rainsford studied History of Art at Trinity College, Dublin, and works as an arts writer. While studying Visual Arts she read Simone de Beauvoir and became fascinated by the poetic, metaphorical language around the female experience. From here emerged the book's hints of magic realism and other unique imagery. Sue Rainsford lives in Dublin. Follow Me to Ground is her first novel. Her second, Redder Days, is due to be published by Doubleday in 2020.

Vivienne Kearns — The Emerald Dress

Book cover of The Emerald Dress by Vivienne KearnsPRESENT DAY DUBLIN

Lucy Young travels to Dublin to search for her ancestor Hugh Gavin who emigrated from Dublin to Boston in 1720. She brings with her a 300- year-old diary written by the Duchess of Alden of Boden Castle, Dublin. When Lucy contacts Professor Patrick Ralley of Trinity College Dublin to donate the Alden diary to the university, she asks for his help to research Hugh Gavin s life and her family s possible connection to the castle. In their search they will uncover a secret that has lain hidden for three hundred years.

DUBLIN, 1719

Abigail Harton s father is a medical doctor who has used the last of his family s savings to fund a charitable hospital in the city. He has saved the lives of the wife and son of the Duke of Alden in childbirth and hopes that the Duke will provide an annuity to support his work.

Meanwhile Abigail and her mother must use their considerable talent at embroidery to provide for the household, and Abigail designs an emerald-silk damask cloth for weaver Hugh Gavin. She also accepts work from Hugh s sister Mary to embroider a dress made from the cloth, which has been commissioned by Miss Elizabeth Goulding to be worn at the upcoming Duke of Alden s Ball at Boden Castle.

But an event occurs at Boden Castle the night of the ball that will lie secret for the next three hundred years, until Lucy and the Professor uncover the secret of the emerald dress.

Vivienne Kearns grew up in Dublin as one of five children; living first in the city centre, before moving out to the newer suburbs in Tallaght which were built in the 70’s. As a teenager she became interested in fashion and started designing and making her own clothes. Dressmaking has always been in her family – her aunt Kathleen was a tailor and her grandmother made her daughters’ wedding gowns. At secondary school Vivienne decided she wanted to be a fashion designer, and one of her designs was chosen, along with NCAD graduate designs, for the ‘Youngline’ show on RTE in the early 1980s – she even got to go on the show to model her own dress. However, her love of literature would intervene and after reading Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre she knew she wanted to study English, which she did at University College Dublin. After college, she went onto train and qualify as an English teacher, but she was successful in the Donnelly visa and moved to Los Angeles for a year.

When she returned from LA, she worked in Hodges Figgis bookshop in Dublin, which she still recalls as one of her best jobs ever. Vivienne went on to work as a technical writer and project manager in the e-learning industry for 20 years and now works in University College Dublin in an administrative role. She has travelled the world for work, mostly to the US and Cape Town, South Africa, and has also visited India, and China including the city of Xi’an, which is the terminus city of the Silk Road. It was after reading Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring that Vivienne knew she wanted to write – and she would ultimately attend a historical writing course facilitated by Tracy Chevalier and Louise Doughty, which helped culminate in the publication of The Emerald Dress.