As part of the Iron Mountain Literature Festival and with the support of the McGahern Estate Leitrim County Council developed the John McGahern Award to encourage the development of emerging Irish writers and to pay tribute to the exceptional contribution of John McGahern to literature, and to Leitrim.

John McGahern is one of Ireland’s most respected and celebrated authors. His fiction is critically acclaimed internationally, has been translated into many languages and has appeared in many anthologies. He was a member of Aosdána and won numerous awards, including the Irish-American Foundation Award, the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, and the Prix Etranger Ecureuil. He taught at universities in Ireland, England, the USA and Canada. Amongst Women, which won both the GPA and Irish Times Award, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and made into a BBC television series.

The recipient, who receives a prize of €2,500, will be announced on Saturday 9th October 2021 during the festival

Who Can Apply:


This is an open call to emerging writers of fiction resident in the Republic of Ireland. Applicants must have had some fiction or short stories published in a recognised journal or anthology selected by an established publisher or editor.

How to Apply:


Applications are accepted on-line through the link at the bottom of this page and must include:

  • A cover letter outlining current projects and your motivations and interests as a writer.

  • An up to date biography.

  • Three samples of up to 500 words each from three separate recent works.

    • ​The title of each uploaded file should be in the form 'last name' 'first name' 'title'. (E.g. McGahern John - The Barracks Excerpt.pdf)

    • The cover page of each work sample should list the title of the work only and must not contain the author’s name or any other identifying information.

    • All attachments should be in .pdf, ,doc or .docx format


​Works submitted are judged anonymously.

Application Deadline:


Midnight Friday 23rd July. No late applications will be considered. Applications will be acknowledged by email on receipt.



Selection Process:

Applications go before a selection committee nominated by Leitrim County Council . The successful applicant will be notified no later than 17 September, 2019. The recipient of the award will be publicly announced on Saturday 9th October 2021 as part of an online event during the Iron Mountain Literature Festival.

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