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Top book award for Kilnamona’s Doireann

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Kilnamona’s Doireann Ní Ghríofa was among the winners at the Irish Book Awards.

Doireann scooped the non-fiction book of the year for her prose debut, ‘A Ghost In The Throat’ at the 2020 An Post Irish Book Awards. A bestseller, the book finds the eighteenth-century poet Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill haunting the life of a contemporary young mother, prompting her to turn detective.

On Thursday night, she followed this up by being named winner of the Book of the Year.

Doireann is also the author of six critically-acclaimed books of poetry, each a deepening exploration of birth, death, desire, and domesticity. Awards for her writing include a Lannan Literary Fellowship (USA), the Ostana Prize (Italy), a Seamus Heaney Fellowship (Queen’s University), the Hartnett Poetry Award, and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, among others.

“I cannot believe I won this award,” Doireann admitted. She paid tribute to the individuals “helped and heartened” her along the way in writing the book including her publishers Tramp Press “for picking this book out of their slush pile”, the “extraordinary booksellers who believed in it” and the readers for taking the story “into their hearts”.

This year’s awards attracted a record number of votes from the Irish public. Other winners included the late Keelin Shanley, Graham Norton, Louise O’Neill, Sinead Burke, Donal Ryan, Professor Luke O’Neill, Mark Tighe and Paul Rowan.

Congratulating the winners, John Treacy, Chairperson of the An Post Irish Book Awards, said: “Their work represents the very best of Irish writing and in a difficult year their books have brought readers great comfort and inspiration. Let’s also consider Irish booksellers who have suffered greatly during the lockdowns and carried on regardless.

“Ireland is blessed with many wonderful bookshops, chains and independents, so this Christmas, I would urge readers to visit their local bookshops. Irish writers, Irish readers, Irish bookshops – there’s an alliance we can all get behind.” Meanwhile voting is open for the overall Irish book of the year, which will be announced on December 10.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, and A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to -

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