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Award on the double for Creative Writing at UL as lecturer scoops novel prize

University of Limerick lecturer Donal Ryan has won the award for Irish novel of the year
Thu, 26 Nov 2020

University of Limerick lecturer Donal Ryan has won the award for Irish novel of the year – following in the footsteps of his university colleague Joseph O’Connor.

Donal, Lecturer in Creative Writing at UL, was awarded the Eason Novel of the Year prize at Wednesday night’s An Post Irish Book Awards 2020 for his stunning novel Strange Flowers.

From Nenagh, Co Tipperary, Donal came to Creative Writing at UL initially as Writer in Residence in 2015 and is now Lecturer in Creative Writing, a central member of the team. He lives locally with his wife Anne Marie and their two children.

His debut novel The Spinning Heart became a contemporary classic and is now on the Leaving Certificate English course. Strange Flowers was published to rave reviews in summer 2020.

His victory in the Irish Book Awards on Wednesday night makes UL Creative Writing the only writing programme in Ireland to have two teachers win the coveted Novel of the Year Award in subsequent years, Strange Flowers following Professor O’Connor’s novel Shadowplay in 2019.

Keelin Shanley, Graham Norton, and Professor Luke O’Neill were among the winning authors at this year’s An Post Irish Book Awards, held virtually on rte.ie on Wednesday night.

This year’s awards attracted a record number of votes from the Irish public, and, for the first time ever, audiences around the world were able to watch the An Post Irish Book Awards ceremony as it happened online.

First hosted in 2006, the An Post Irish Book Awards showcase a diverse mix of exceptional writing from new and established writers across sixteen categories, with this year’s awards ceremony taking place online due to the global pandemic. The Awards are Ireland’s biggest literary celebration, championing everything from novels and non-fiction to poetry, short stories and the Irish language.

This year’s awards ceremony was hosted by Evelyn O’Rourke, while the overall winner of the ‘An Post Irish Book of the Year,’ will be unveiled in a television programme, presented by Miriam O Callaghan, on RTÉ One at 10.15pm on Thursday, December 10.

For more on the Creative Writing programme at UL, see here.