Kate O'Brien Award

The Limerick Literary Festival in honour of Kate O’Brien is pleased to announce Aoife Fitzpatrick as the winner of the 9th annual Kate O’Brien Award for her novel The Red Bird Sings.

Aoife Fitzpatrick
Aoife Fitzpatrick with committee members Vivienne Mckechnie & Marie Hackett

The winner of the 2024 Award was chosen from the following shortlist:

Slant by Katherine O’Donnell published by New Island Books

The Red Bird Sings by Aoife Fitzpatrick published by Virago

The Last Days of Joy by Anne Tiernan published by Hachette

The judges for this year’s Award are committee member Marie Hackett, writer and critic Niall MacMonagle, poet and committee member Vivienne McKechnie, writer and Children’s book buyer for Kenny’s Bookshop Grainne O’Brien and novelist Donal Ryan.

The Kate O’Brien Award comes with a €2000 cash prize sponsored by Bill and Denise Whelan.

Past Winners and Nominees...

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 Tana Farrell.

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 Ruin. 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.

In 2021, the shortlist for the award included Rachel Donoghue with The Temple House Vanishing, Alice Lyons with Oona, Marianne Lee with A Quiet Tide, Elaine Feeney with As You Were, Michelle Gallen with Big Girl Small Town and Niamh Campbell with This Happy. The winner of the Kate O’Brien 2021 award was Elaine Feeney.

In 2022, the shortlist for the award was Sarah Gilmartin for Dinner Party, Louise Kennedy for The End Of The World Is A Cul De Sac. Annie Macmanus for Mother Mother, Una Mannion for A Crooked Tree, Eimear Ryan for Holding Her Breath and Fiona Scarlett for Boys Don’t Cry. The winner of the Kate O’Brien 2022 award was Una Mannion.

In 2023, the shortlist for the award was Emilie Pine for Ruth and Pen, Olivia Fitzsimons for The Ouiet Whispers Never Stop, and Sheila Armstrong for How to Gut a Fish. The winner of the Kate O’Brien 2023 award was Emilie Pine.

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