President Higgins launches the
Kavanagh Weekend in Inniskeen

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina
President Michael D Higgins was in Inniskeen on Friday night to present this year’s Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award.

President Michael D Higgins was in Inniskeen on Friday night to present this year’s Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award.

The Kavanagh Centre has played host to Presidents in the past: President Robinson in 1994, and President McAleese in 1998 and 2004. This is a first however, given President Higgins is himself a published poet and author.

On the night, it was a previously unpublished writer, John FitzGerald, University Librarian at University College Cork (UCC) who walked away with the 2014 Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award.

He received the award from President Michael D Higgins who opened the Kavanagh Weekend.

John’s poetry has yet to appear in print, but that looks set to change with this win.

The Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award was established in 1971 and is the longest running award of its type in Ireland.

John FitzGerald now joins the ranks of previous winners including Paul Durcan, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Celia de Fréine, Thomas McCarthy, Peter Sirr, Sinead Morrissey and William Wall.

And Dundalk man Paddy Carroll who launched his novel about Patrick Kavanagh entitled Borrikeen, was also at the opening of the festival.

Paddy Carroll, a native of ‘Kavanagh Country’, has blended fact and fiction to give readers a very human perspective on the life of our celebrated poet and his influences.

Through enlightening and witty accounts, sourced from extensive memoirs and quotations from Kavanagh’s work, Paddy moulds an uplifting novel which captures the poet’s loves, labours and literary achievements in one engaging story.

Available now in select bookstores (€25), and on amazon.co.uk (£11.99).