The Reading Association of Ireland Book Awards were presented last night at the start of their 33rd conference in St Patrick’s College, and there was a clean-sweep for O’Brien Press books. Represented on the night by Michael O’Brien (Publisher), Susan Houlden (editor), Ruth Heneghan (marketing) and myself, we were abuzz with anticipation: these awards were the first for Irish children’s books, are selected and judged by an expert panel of judges (who remain anonymous, under the terms of the awards) and are awarded every two years.
Finian O’Shea, chairman of the Awards Committee, presented the Special Merit award to Conor Kostick for his book Move, but also for Epic (my personal favourite, I must admit! But then I have played a lot of role-playing games and read a lot of fantasy books) and Saga, saying that this body of work makes a significant contribution to the field of Science Fiction in Irish literature — he also said that giving the Special Merit award to Conor was decided unanimously among the judges.
A big cheer greeted Celine Kiernan whose fantasy novel The Poison Throne won the RAI Book Award. Finian O’Shea described it as ‘a wonderful read’ and said that ‘the jury were loud in their praise of the author’. This hugely-successful book (the first in the Moorehawke Trilogy) has been an international sensation, and we were particularly thrilled for Celine that she has won an award in Ireland. Celine gave an impassioned speech calling for all book reading, particularly by children, to be applauded: if people want to read about sexy vampires, then let them!
Of course, the party didn’t end there! We were delighted that three other O’Brien Press titles were on the shortlist, and they all received awards to reflect this, as well as some very kind words from Finian: he described Hal’s Sleepover as ‘a perfect book for it’s audience’, which my kids would certainly agree with!
- Éanna ni Lamhna for Wild Dublin
- Maddie Stewart for Hal’s Sleepover
- Brendan O’Brien for The Story of Ireland
So to end, here is a picture of the five happy O’Brien Press authors with Michael O’Brien, Publisher. From the left: Éanna, Michael, Celine, Conor, Maddie and Brendan. Well done, one and all!