Congratulations to Elaine Feeney, the winner of the 2021 Kate O’Brien Award for her debut novel As You Were, published by Harvill Secker. She wins a €2000 cash prize sponsored by Bill and Denise Whelan. The Award was presented as part of the 37th annual Limerick Literary Festival in Honour of Kate O’Brien in February 2021.

The 2021 shortlist was as follows;

The Temple House Vanishing by Rachel Donoghue

Oona by Alice Lyons

A Quiet Tide by Marianne Lee

As You Were by Elaine Feeney

Big Girl Small Town by Michelle Gallen

This Happy by Niamh Campbell

The Kate O’Brien Award was established in 2015. It celebrates new Irish writing by a female author. It was established by the organising committee of the Kate O’Brien Weekend to celebrate Irish Women’s Writing in memory of Kate O’Brien. It is an honorary award which celebrates debut Irish fiction; this award is a great affirmation for the debut winner and a recognition of the literary quality of the book. There is a presentation to the winner at the Limerick Literary Festival in honour of Kate O’Brien.

It is an award presented for debut book which could be either a book of short stories or a novel. The competition is open to debut female writers so long as they are Irish. There are no age or geographic limitations. The shortlist is announced at the beginning of January and the shortlisted authors are invited to the Festival, where the winner is announced.

In 2015, the winner was Martine Madden for her novel Anyush.

In 2016, the shortlist was Caitriona Lally with Eggshells, Danielle McLaughlin with Dinosaurs On Other Planets, Doreen Finn with My Buried Life, and Sara Baume with Spill Simmer Falter Wither. 2016 winner was Sara Baume.

In 2017, the shortlist for the award was Tanya Farrelly with When Black Dogs Sing, Roisin O’Donnell with Wild Quiet and E.M. Reapy with Red Dirt. The winner of the Kate O’Brien 2017 award was Tanya Farrelly.

In 2018, the shortlist for the award was Lisa Harding with Harvesting, Maria Hoey with The Last Lost Girl, Andrea Mara with The Other Side Of the Wall, and Sally Rooney with Conversations With Friends. The winner of the Kate O’Brien 2018 award was Lisa Harding for her novel Harvesting.

In 2019, the shortlist for the award was Eileen Battersby with Teethmarks On My Tongue, Rebecca O’Connor with He Is Mine And I Have No Other, Caroline O’Donoghue with Promising Young Women, Sue Rainsford with Follow Me To Ground, and Dervla McTiernan with The Rúin. The winner of the Kate O’Brien 2019 award was Sue Rainsford.

In 2020, the shortlist for the award was Sarah Davis Goff with Last Ones Left Alive, Nicole Flattery with Show Them A Good Time, Lucy Sweeney Byrne with Paris Syndrome, and Anne Griffin with When All is Said. The winner of the Kate O’Brien 2020 award was Nicole Flattery.

We celebrate the shortlisted authors and the winner on the Sunday of the Festival.

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