Munster Literature Centre
Ionad Litríochta an Deisceart

The Farmgate Café National Poetry Award was established in 2019 with sponsorship from one of Cork’s most loved restaurants, The Farmgate Café. The partnership between the Munster Literature Centre and the Farmgate received the Business to Arts 2019 Best Small Sponsorship Award.

The Farmgate Café National Poetry Award

The award was a cash prize of €2000 for the best collection published in English by a poet resident in Ireland during the previous calendar year. Collections in translation were considered. The award was different from any other in that it was exclusively for books of new work by poets living in Ireland. Judges scored the books without mutual consulting and the books with the highest aggregate scores were chosen. In its inaugural year the award went to Leanne O’Sullivan for her Bloodaxe collection A Quarter of an Hour. In it’s second year the award went to Peter Sirr for his Gallery Press collection The Gravity Wave.

Previous Winners


The Gravity Wave by Peter Sirr
published by The Gallery Press (2019)


The judges this year were UK-based poet and academic Ailbhe Darcy, US-based poet and academic Thomas Dillon Redshaw and Cork-based poet and publisher Billy Ramsell.


The shortlist in alphabetical order was: When the Tree Falls by Jane Clarke (Bloodaxe Books), The End of the World by Patrick Deeley (The Dedalus Press), May Day 1974 by Rachael Hegarty (Salmon Poetry), The Gravity Wave by Peter Sirr (The Gallery Press), Threading the Light by Ross Thompson (The Dedalus Press).


A Quarter of an Hour by Leanne O’Sullivan
published by Bloodaxe Books (2018)


The judges this year were Cork-based Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh, London-based Maurice Riordan and Paris-based Professor Cliona Ní Riordáin.


The shortlist in alphabetical order was: Orpheus by Theo Dorgan, The Last Straw by Tom French, The White Silhouette by James Harpur, Notions by John Kelly, Love The Magician by Medbh McGuckian and This One High Field by Michelle O’Sullivan.

Leanne O’Sullivan, inaugural winner, said “I’m honoured to be the inaugural recipient of the Farmgate Market Cafe National Poetry Award, particularly for this book which means so much to me. I’m grateful to the judges for choosing that book and to Kay and Rebecca of the Farmgate for all the support they have shown poetry down through the years.”

Prize judge, Maurice Riordan said of the winning title, “Leanne O’Sullivan is possessed of a haunting lyric voice which, in A Quarter of an Hour, draws us into an area of surface tension where personal crisis – a husband stricken and then recovering from a deadly illness – interacts with our experience of the non-human. ‘Dawn’, the poem that gives the book its particular title and focus, captures in its evocation of the dawning world the ‘here to not here’ of becoming; and as readers we are given access throughout to that dimension between the mundane and the mythic that normally eludes articulation, but here finds expression in limpid, precise poems. At once tender, exploratory and grace-filled, this finely orchestrated collection attests to the wholeness of natural life and, resonant with folkloric wisdom, it re-awakens the spirit to a fresh sense of the mystery and precariousness of our world. It is an astonishing achievement.”

Rebecca Harte of the Farmgate Market Café said, “We opened the doors of the Farmgate Café in the English Market in 1987. Since that time poetry (and in particular, Cork’s community of poets) has been part of our working life and is a key element of what makes the Farmgate Café special. So, it seems fitting, in our 25th year, that we would inaugurate the Farmgate Café National Poetry Award, and support richness and diversity of poetry in Ireland.”

Director of the Award Patrick Cotter said, “I’m delighted we have a new award exclusively for poets living and working in Ireland. Without the generosity of the Farmgate Market Café, stalwarts, in their support for the arts, this award would not be possible.