Saturday, 28 October 2017

Benedict Kiely Short Story Competition at Omagh Literary Festival

I attended the 16th Omagh Literary Festival over the weekend to read my winning story, Eden is Burning, at the inaugural Benedict Kiely Short Story Competition event at the Strule Arts Centre (Strule Hoose o' Airts). Omagh is the county town Tyrone and it sits on the Strule River which was heavy and brown  with autumn rain when I visited. Benedict Kiely, after whom the competition is named was born near Dromore in 1919, not far from Omagh and would go on to become one of Ireland's most prolific writers and broadcasters. I was honoured to come first in the competition and very grateful to head judge Carlo Gébler for deeming my story worthy of the win.

The great Ben Kiely
It was a privilege to meet people who knew Benedict Kiely personally, especially his wife Frances, who presented me with a copy of his selected stories. It was also my pleasure to meet current and previous organisers of the festival, all of whom made me feel very welcome. My time at the festival left me with a desire to read more of Kiely's work and to further explore Northern Ireland's history and relationship with the south.

LtoR: Carlo Gébler, Frances Kiely, Adam Trodd
The festival also hosted its first ever poetry slam event which was run by poetry (and life) partners Colin Dardis and Geraldine O'Kane. Colin also runs Lagan Online which is a great resource for all things writing. The overall winner was Nathan Armstrong whose poetry packed a punch and gave us a giggle at the same time.

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