Rooney, O'Toole and O’Reilly among winners at Irish Book Awards

Rooney, O'Toole and O’Reilly among winners at Irish Book Awards

Sally Rooney, Fintan O'Toole, Séamas O’Reilly and Marian Keyes were among the winners at last night's An Post Irish Book Awards.

Last week it was announced the ceremony would be moved to online only due to the worsening coronavirus rates in the country.

Rooney won Novel of the Year for Beautiful World Where Are You (Faber) while O'Toole scooped Non-Fiction Book of the Year for We Don't Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Ireland Since 1958 (Head of Zeus), O'Reilly landed the award for Biography of the Year for Did Ye Hear Mammy Died? (Fleet) and Keyes won Author of the Year. 

Catherine Ryan Howard received the Crime Fiction Book of the Year award for 56 Days (Atlantic Books), while Keith Earls and Tommy Conlon won the Sport Book of the Year for Fight Or Flight: My Life, My Choices (Reach Sport). Newcomer of the Year went to Louise Nealon for Snowflake (Manilla Press) and Cookbook of the Year was awarded to Donal Skehan's Everyday Cook (Hodder & Stoughton). 

The Irish Book Awards were first awarded in 2006 and showcase work across 20 categories from novels and non-fiction to poetry, short stories and the Irish language. Four new categories were added this year, including the An Post Bookshop of the Year, The Library Association of Ireland Author of the Year, The Dubray Biography of the Year and The Bookstation Lifestyle Book of the Year.

This year, over 187,500 votes were cast by the public to select the winners in each category, up 33% on 2020. Readers are now being invited to vote for their overall An Post Irish Book of the Year. The winner will be announced as part of a one-hour special on RTÉ One television on 8th December exploring the six nominated books. All voters are also in with a chance of winning €100 worth of National Book Tokens. Previous winners of the An Post Irish Book of the Year include Doireann Ni Ghriofa for A Ghost in the Throat (Tramp Press) and Mike McCormack for Solar Bones (Tramp Press). 

Last night's awards also saw Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen's Aisling and the City (Gill Books) crowned Popular Fiction Book of the Year while Lifestyle Book of the Year went to Laura De Barra for Décor Galore (Transworld Ireland). Best Irish Published Book of the Year went to The Coastal Atlas of Ireland (Cork University Press) by Val Cummins, Robert Devoy Barry Brunt, Darius Bartlett and Sarah Kandrot.

Children’s Book of the Year (Junior) was awarded to A Hug for You (Sandycove) by David King, illustrated by Rhiannon Archard, while Children’s Book of the Year (Senior) went to The Summer I Robbed a Bank (Puffin) by David O’Doherty and illustrated by Chris Judge. Sinead Moriarty won Teen and Young Adult Book of the Year for The New Girl (Gill Books).

The RTÉ Audience Choice Award went to Your One Wild And Precious Life (Pengin Life) Maureen Gaffney and Short Story of the Year was given to Deirdre Sullivan for Little Lives. Irish Poem of the Year was awarded to Siobhan Campbell for "Longboat at Portaferry". 

Tadgh Mac Dhonnagain won Irish Language Book of the Year for Madame Lazare (Futa Fata) while Kennys Bookshop and Art Gallery, Galway won Bookshop of the Year in a new category.

David McRedmond, c.e.o. of An Post, said: “As we continue to face down the greatest global challenge of our lifetime, the power of books and reading is much more evident, bringing escape, solace and satisfaction. Trusted and appreciated, local bookshops provide the essential human link between author, publisher and reader. We are very pleased to support the new category of Bookshop of the Year in 2021 and we congratulate all the Kenny family on their success this year.”

Ann-Marie Power, RTÉ group head of arts and culture added: “Reading is helping to sustain many people throughout the pandemic and it's wonderful to see the variety of books and authors highlighted in this year's awards ceremony.”

Irish writer Sebastian Barry also received this year’s Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award, whose previous winners have included Colm Tóibín, Thomas Kinsella and Seamus Heaney.

Commenting on this year’s winners, John Treacy, chairperson of the Irish Book Awards, said: “We really are so lucky to have such marvellous writers in this country. We have so many promising young writers, more women writers than ever, writers representing minority and marginalised Irish communities, and this will only grow in the years to come."