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Author Caitriona Lally awarded the 2018 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature

Photograph: Ms Caitriona Lally.

Author Caitriona Lally has been awarded €10,000 as this year’s winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, intended for emerging Irish writers. Caitriona, from Dublin, was awarded the prize for her debut novel Eggshells, published by Liberties Press and re-published by HarperCollins. The novel is a whimsical, touching story about loneliness, friendship, and hope. It chronicles the wanderings of Vivian, a lonely woman who believes herself to be a fairy whose days are spent searching Dublin for the “thin places” that might return her home. Award-winning author Caitriona studied English Literature at Trinity College Dublin. During the economic downturn in 2011, she found herself unemployed and it was during this period of unemployment that she began her journey to publication. Caitriona was one of the twelve writers short-listed in the 2014 Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair, which culminated in a book deal for Eggshells.  She has had a colourful employment history, working as an abstract writer and a copywriter, as well as a home-help in New York, and an English teacher in Japan. Caitriona enjoys working as a cleaner in the early mornings before sitting down to write fiction.

Photograph: Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast, Ms Caitriona Lally & Dr Peter Rooney

The ceremony was hosted in Trinity College Dublin by the Provost, while the prize is administered by the Trinity Oscar Wilde Centre for Irish Writing to honour this year’s emerging Irish writer who shows exceptional promise. The event also paid tribute to the Rooney Prize benefactors, the late Daniel Rooney, a former US Ambassador to Ireland, who sadly passed away in 2017, and his wife, Patricia Rooney. The College is deeply honoured that Dr Peter Rooney, their nephew, is the new benefactor of the Rooney Prize, continuing the Rooney family’s long association with Irish Literature and support for the longest-established prize in Ireland.

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The Rooney Prize for Literature

The Rooney Prize for Irish Literature is awarded annually to an emerging Irish writer under forty years of age, through the generosity of the late Dr Daniel Rooney, a former US Ambassador to Ireland, and former Chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh, USA and his wife Patricia. Dr Peter Rooney, their nephew, and his husband, Mr John Curran, will continue to support the longest literary award in Ireland.

The prize was established in 1976 and until 2007 it was administered by Mr Jim Sherwin. Since 2007 the prize has been administered in the Trinity Oscar Wilde Centre for Irish Writing of the School of English.

It should be noted that the prize is awarded to a body of work that the selection committee considers one of exceptional promise. A single remarkable work may warrant an award but the committee is keen to consider writers who have begun to establish an oeuvre. Publishers who may wish to bring the committee's attention to a writer or writers who they think should be considered for the prize, may seek further details of how to do so from Ms Sophia Ní Sheoin ( at the Trinity Oscar Wilde Centre. One should note that in its deliberations, the committee is not limited to such suggestions.

The selection committee for the Rooney Prize comprises: Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, poet, critic and editor (Professor Emeritus, TCD), Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, novelist and dramatist (Lecturer in Creative Writing, UCD), Carlo Gébler, novelist and playwright, Riana O'Dwyer, critic (Senior Lecturer in English, National University of Ireland at Galway), Rosie Lavan, critic (Assistant Professor of English TCD ) and Jonathan Williams (Literary Agent and Editor).

Previous Winners of the Rooney Prize

  • 1976 Heno Magee
  • 1977 Desmond Hogan
  • 1978 Peter Sheridan
  • 1979 Kate Cruise O'Brien
  • 1980 Bernard Farrell
  • 1981 Neil Jordan
  • 1982 Medbh McGuckian
  • 1983 Dorothy Nelson
  • 1984 Ronan Sheehan
  • 1985 Frank McGuinness
  • 1986 Paul Mercier
  • 1987 Deirdre Madden
  • 1988 Glenn Patterson
  • 1989 Robert McLiam Wilson
  • 1990 Mary Dorcey
  • 1991 Anne Enright
  • 1992 Hugo Hamilton
  • 1993 Gerard Fanning
  • 1994 Colum McCann
  • 1995 Philip MacCann
  • 1996 Mike McCormack
  • 1997 Anne Haverty
  • 1998 David Wheatley
  • 1999 Mark O'Rowe
  • 2000 Claire Keegan
  • 2001 Keith Ridgyway
  • 2002 Caítriona O' Reilly
  • 2003 Eugene O'Brien
  • 2004 Claire Kilroy
  • 2005 Nick Laird
  • 2006 Philip Ó Ceallaigh
  • 2007 Kevin Barry
  • 2008 Leontia Flynn
  • 2009 Kevin Power
  • 2010 Leanne O'Sullivan
  • 2011 Lucy Caldwell
  • 2012 Nancy Harris
  • 2013 Ciarán Collins
  • 2014 Colin Barrett
  • 2015 Sara Baume
  • 2016 Doireann Ní Ghríofa
  • 2017 Elizabeth Reapy