The judges for the writing category of the Neill O’Neill Creativity Awards were blown away by the standard in all three sections.
There were hoards of entries at national school level with the entries clearly reflecting the grá children in Mayo have for their county. Choosing winners and merit winners was an unenviable task for the judges.
The writing judges were Mayo News award-winning columnist, Seán Rice, Mayo News Living Editor, Ciara Moynihan and acclaimed author, EM Reapy from Claremorris.
The winner of the national school writing category was Katie Foley from The Valley NS, Achill who wrote a highly entertaining personal piece about St Patrick’s Day in Achill.
“I thought the story about St Patrick’s Day in Achill being a particularly Mayo thing was very evocative by bringing a personal touch, with humour, to a scene that would be recognisable right across the county,” said Ciara Moynihan.
“The winning entry was fantastic, I found it so funny,” said Seán Rice.
The Merit winners were, in alphabetical order: Amelia Fahy, Scoil Phádraig, Westport; Niamh Heraty, Gaelscoil na Cruaiche, Westport; Mary-Kate Lonergan, Carrowholly NS; Laoise Quinn, Scoil Phádraig, Westport.
“You couldn’t but be impressed. At times you’d have to remind yourself that these were national school pupils’ entries. They were terrific. There are some very talented young writers out there,” said Seán Rice.
The place where I belong
The winner of the Secondary School Writing Category was Caoilinn Gaughan from St Joseph’s Secondary School in Castlebar who wrote a vivid piece about the lake and woods around her home in Snugboro. Her story was titled: Mayo – the place where I belong.
“It blew me away. I thought the standard of writing was incredible. It was poetic, well-controlled, the details were really well chosen,” said EM Reapy.
The merit winners were: Maude Cullen Mouze, Sancta Maria, Louisburgh; Mark Hastings, Rice College, Westport; Aoife Joyce, Balla Secondary School; Conaill Muldoon, Rice College, Westport.
“I’m really excited about the future of Mayo writing after reading these entries. It’s strong at the moment, but just wait until these guys start writing,” added Reapy.
The Curious, Beautiful Stage
The adult writing winner was EM Martin for her piece The Curious, Beautiful Stage, an observational piece on her life in Mayo.
“It was beautifully written, graphic and evocative. You can live every moment of the story. The writer brings a freshness to the ordinariness of daily life in simple, powerful language. A story that captures Mayo in all its moods,” said Seán Rice.
The adult merit winners were: Cian Dunne, Moyhastin, Westport; Kevin Martin, Murrisk, Westport; Seamus McNally, Deerpark East, Westport; Hepsebah O’Reilly, Knappagh, Westport.
“I thought it was great, so diverse. You could see all sorts of influences, and the way people brought in the Mayo vernacular was very good,” added Ciara Moynihan.
“There were so many of the entries that I really enjoyed reading from start to finish. The humour and the detail and the way we were brought along with the story really drew me in,” said Seán Rice.
National School winner: Katie Foley, The Valley NS, Achill.
National School merit winners: Amelia Fahy, Scoil Phádraig, Westport; Niamh Heraty, Gaelscoil na Cruaiche, Westport; Mary-Kate Lonergan, Carrowholly NS; Laoise Quinn, Scoil Phádraig, Westport.
Secondary School winner: Caoilinn Gaughan, St Joseph’s Secondary School, Castlebar.
Secondary School merit winners: Maude Cullen Mouze, Sancta Maria, Louisburgh; Mark Hastings, Rice College, Westport; Aoife Joyce, Balla Secondary School; Conaill Muldoon, Rice College, Westport.
Adult winner: EM Martin, Kinuary, Killawalla.
Adult merit winners: Cian Dunne, Moyhastin, Westport; Kevin Martin, Murrisk; Seamus McNally, Deerpark East, Westport; Hepsebah O’Reilly, Knappagh, Westport.