Please excuse a bit of awkward boasting – and possible snivelling – as I report that I have been named the winner of this year’s Molly Keane Creative Writing Award. It was news I had to keep under my hat for a few weeks, which was fine because I needed that time to process the information (project status: ongoing).
I love Molly Keane’s work, a writer who demonstrated the sharpest observational skills wrapped in a satin quilt of gentle wit and warmth. So to win an award named in her honour means a huge amount to me. The imposter syndrome has never felt greater.
I was given a wonderful welcome last weekend at the prize-giving in Lismore, Co Waterford, as part of the IMMRAMA Festival of Travel Writing. Reader, I blubbed a bit, read a bit and met some beautiful people. For that unforgettable experience, I have to thank the judging panel which was represented at the ceremony by Kate Murphy, Lani O’Hanlon of the Molly Keane Writers Retreat Centre, who really set me off with her kind words of encouragement, and Margaret Organ, Arts Officer for Waterford City & County Council. And I want to thank my writing group, whose feedback is so vital to everything I write.
Finally, I must mention my brother Denis O’Leary, who drove all the way from Roscommon to Lismore via Cork in order to accompany me. This year is proving a bit challenging in Wordherding Towers, so the support was much appreciated. Den, thanks for the Andy Williams, the hypnotic swallow-watching and the sharing of the blaa.