Date Released: 25 February 2013
“Publicists of all kinds, philanthropists, literary men, lovers of their kind, poets, brilliant writers, artists, have all been conquered by the valiant heroism of the Dublin workers ...”
James Connolly spoke these words about the 1913 Lockout – the 100th anniversary of which occurs this year. Indeed, it is through the most famous novel of one of Ireland's most renowned social commentators, James Plunkett's Strumpet City, that we can reach back and watch the Lockout unfold.
It is thus very fitting that The Irish Writers' Union, together with the Irish Writers' Centre, ICTU, the UNESCO City of Literature Committee, Dublin City Council and the 1913 Committee, have launched the James Plunkett Short Story Award.
This award is open to anyone to enter. Rather than a single competition, the Plunkett Award will run three 'mini' competitions. Three winners from each will be selected to compete for an overall prize in October. At that point, a prize of €2,000 will be awarded to the winner, with €1,000 to the runner up and €500 for the third place. Additionally, each of the 'mini' competition winners will get to speak at the prestigious Irish Writers' Centre. The winner will get to read their work at an event in Dublin Libraries later in the year as part of its One City, One Book promotion. This year, the libraries have chosen Strumpet City. Finally, talks are being held to have the winning entry published in a journal of repute – there will hopefully be an announcement on this very soon!
The competitions will be judged by guest judges. The first will be renowned short-story writer Jack Harte, author of the famous Murphy of the Underworld. Jack will read with the three shortlisted stories from the first mini-competition in April, thus bringing the emerging and the established writers together.
The short story occupies a special place in the Irish writing world. It is a destination of sorts – a place that most writers visit. Some stay and some move on – but it has become a destination of inspiration for generations of Irish muse-seekers. This award gives the short story the recognition it deserves as an integral Irish cultural artefact.
More details about the Award can be found on www.ireland-writers.com, including entry requirements, rules and regulations.
It is hoped that this competition will provide an outlet for emerging writers. It is hoped that it will show the strength of the short story in Ireland. And, above all, it is hoped that it will bring Plunkett to mind and allow all of us to reach back through his works to 1913 and that watershed moment in Irish history that carved the ideals of trade unionism deep into the Irish National consciousness.