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Cathaoirleach of Leitrim County Council, Cllr. Paddy O'Rourke presenting the 2021 John McGahern Award to Sonya Gildea.



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.

The recipient, who receives a prize of €2,500, will be announced on Friday 7th October 2022 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 format

​All works submitted are judged anonymously.


Application Deadline:

Midnight Friday 29th July 2022. 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 16th September 2022. The recipient of the award will be publicly announced on Friday 7th October 2022 at The Dock, Carrick on Shannon as part of the Iron Mountain Literature Festival.

Previous John McGahern Award recipients

2021 - Sonya Gildea

2020 - Niamh Mac Cabe

2019 - Zoë Comyns

2018 - Sean Tanner

2017 - Anne Griffin

2016 - Phil Kearney Byrne

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.

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