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The Kate O’Brien Award Call for Submissions


The Kate O’Brien Award was established in 2015 by the organising committee of the Limerick Literary Festival in honour of Kate O’Brien  to celebrate Irish Women’s Writing in memory of Kate O’Brien. It is an honorary award presented to the best debut novel/short story collection by an Irish female author. The competition is open to all debut fiction by female writers so long as they are Irish. There are no age or geographic limitations. The shortlist is announced at the beginning of December and the shortlisted writers are invited to the Festival. This award is a great affirmation for the debut winner and a recognition of the literary quality of the book. There is a presentation to the winner at the Limerick Literary Festival.

The judges are the Committee: Marie Hackett (committee member), Eileen O’Connor (committee member), Vivienne McKechnie (poet and committee member), Donal Ryan (novelist) Sarah Moore Fitzgerald (novelist) and this year we also have critic and writer, Niall MacMonagle.


In 2015, the winner was Martine Madden for her novel Anyush.


In 2016, the shortlist was Caitriona Lally with Eggshells, Danielle McLaughlin with Dinosaurs On Other Planets, Doreen Finn with My Buried Life, and Sara Baume with Spill Simmer Falter Wither. The winner was Sara Baume.


In 2017, the shortlist for the award was Tanya Farrelly with When Black Dogs Sing, Roisin O’Donnell with Wild Quiet and E.M. Reapy with Red Dirt. The winner was Tanya Farrelly.


In 2018 the shortlist was Sally Rooney’s Conversation with Friends, Maria Hoey’s The Last Lost Girl, Andrea Mara’s The Other Side of the Wall and Lisa Harding’s Harvesting. And the winner was Lisa Harding.


In 2019 as the submissions were so strong we had a shortlist of five novels: Eileen Battersby’s Teethmarks on My Tongue, Dervla McTiernan’s The Ruin, Rebecca O’Connor’s He is Mine and I Have no Other, Caroline O’Donoghue’s Promising Young Women and Sue Rainsford’s Follow Me to Ground.  The Winner was Sue Rainsford.


We celebrate the shortlisted authors and the winner on the Sunday of the Festival after the Kate O’Brien lecture with photographs and press coverage.


Our website is


We would require you to submit six copies of any book eligible and should the author/s be shortlisted for the Award or win it we would need a guarantee that this would be included in the bio on any further books the author publishes or reprints of their current ones.


I hope that this answers all the questions.  We would be delighted to receive any books for consideration.


The books should be sent to me at:


Cahervalley House



Co. Limerick





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