2014 Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award

Davy Byrnes Short Story Award

We are delighted to announce that the winner of the 2014 Davy Byrnes Short Story Award is… Sara Baume for her story ‘Solesearcher1’.

Sara was presented with a €15,000 cheque this evening, June 3rd, at Davy Byrnes pub. Anne Enright, one of this year’s competition judges and a previous winner of the award, was on hand to do the honours. The five remaining shortlisted authors have all received €1000 each. An anthology of the six stories will be published in the autumn, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank every one of you who submitted a story to the competition.

The judges’ comments:

“Beautifully shaped, vividly imagined and realised, this story is the work of an original talent, a writer who has a distinctive vision and the formal discipline the short story requires.

‘Solesearcher1’ is set in a small town on the Irish coast and the characters in it are creatures of habit. The story shows the moment when that sense of habit becomes strange, difficult and sinister, but there is great pleasure in the writing and this makes a piece that is about loneliness and isolation very enjoyable, somehow, with tenderness and insight on every page.”

Sara Baume was born in Lancashire, England, in 1984. She grew up in County Cork and studied Fine Art in IADT Dun Laoghaire before completing the MPhil in Creative Writing at Trinity College. Her short stories have been published in The Moth, The Stinging Fly and the Irish Independent as part of the Hennessy New Irish Writing series. Her reviews and articles on visual art and books have also appeared online and in print. Her debut novel, Spill Simmer Falter Wither, will be published by Tramp Press in 2015.


The five remaining shortlisted stories were:

Trevor Byrne – ‘Go Down Sunday’

Judges’ comments:

“‘Go Down Sunday’, the story of a boy’s football team on a week away in small-town Ireland, is an absorbing tale about the moments in which boyhood crack open towards adolescence; the excitement of independence, the ease with which home is left behind. The story has a dark heart, and the reader is manipulated with the same ease as the main character; we are left, as in the best stories, with troubling questions.”

Trevor Byrne was born in Dublin in 1981. His debut novel, Ghosts and Lightning, is published by Canongate. Trevor is co-founder and senior editor at The Editing Firm. He’s currently working on his second novel, and a series of short stories.

Julian Gough – ‘Harvest‘

Judges’ comments:

“‘Harvest’ is a story in which very little happens—a woman and her husband stay up late to watch the Oscars, and have distracted conversations in which neither is quite listening to the other, and, finally, make love. It’s a sweet and powerful evocation of a mature relationship, with the suggestion of unfathomable loss at its heart. Oh; and the world ends, terribly and awesomely and inescapably. And whether you read the apocalypse as awesome prophecy or tender metaphor, this is a superb story.”

Julian Gough sang on four albums by Toasted Heretic. He is the author of three novels, Juno & Juliet, Jude in Ireland, and Jude in London, and a poetry collection, Free Sex Chocolate. He has won the BBC National Short Story Award, and been shortlisted, twice, for the Everyman Bollinger Wodehouse Prize. He lives in Berlin.

Arja Kajermo – ‘The Iron Age’

Judges’ comments:

“‘The Iron Age’ is set in post-war Finland when the country is dominated by the Soviet Union and forgotten by the rest of the world. Seen through a young narrator’s eyes, life is full of hardships and puzzlement and dark humours. A memorable chronicle of a family’s struggle during a less well-known period in history.”

Arja Kajermo was born in Finland and grew up in Sweden. She drew strips for In Dublin magazine in the 70s, subsequently published as Dirty Dublin Strip Cartoons. She drew for The Irish Times, The Evening Press, and The Sunday Tribune. She now draws for the Swedish morning newspaper Dagens Nyheter, with three cartoon books published in Sweden. She lives in Dublin.

Colm McDermott – ‘Absence’

Judge’s comments:

“In ‘Absence’ we read about two men and a woman and a dog afflicted with epilepsy—so much could have gone right: friendship, neighbourship, ownership, even love. Yet things go wrong, and in place of trust is mistrust; in place of forgiveness, resentment; and in place of love, loneliness.”

Colm McDermott was born in 1988 and grew up in Clane, County Kildare. In 2010 he completed a Pharmacy degree in Trinity College Dublin and worked for a time in the pharmaceutical sector. He has been writing since his early teens but has yet to publish. He is currently working as a volunteer English teacher in Cambodia. The story, ‘Absence’, was written on the road, in cafés, guesthouses, on planes, buses, travelling across Indonesia, Borneo and the Philippines.

Danielle McLaughlin – ‘The Dinosaurs on Other Planets’

Judge’s comments:

“In ‘The Dinosaurs on Other Planets’ a difficult daughter brings a new man with her when she comes home to visit. This story has no big point to make, nothing is overstated, everything feels particular and right. This is a real landscape with real people in it, and the emotions that rise to the surface here are all the more moving for being true.”

Danielle McLaughlin’s stories have appeared in various newspapers, journals and anthologies, most recently The Fog Horn, The Penny Dreadful, The South Circular, Southword and What’s the Story? Recent awards for short fiction include the Willesden Short Story Prize 2013, the Merriman Short Story Competition (2013) in memory of Maeve Binchy and the Dromineer Literary Festival Short Story Competition 2013. She lives in Cork with her husband and three children.

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