THIS year’s Clare Champion Short Story Competition not only attracted its largest ever number of entries but it also saw some previous entrants scooping top prizes.
At the presentation of prizes in De Valera Library, Ennis last Thursday night, Clare Champion editor Austin Hobbs said the competition has been a huge success since its inception.
“It has been an incredible experience over a number of years and we are delighted to see huge participation in it,” he commented.
He said the competition gives young people a chance to let their imagination “run riot a bit, without having to worry about the parameters of the Leaving Cert or Junior Cert structure”.
Clare Champion managing director, John Galvin, added that over 270 young people had submitted entries, the largest number ever to enter the competition.
He complimented all who had taken the time to write a story. “After a hard day at school, not to mention homework, it’s not easy to put pen to paper.”
Mr Galvin noted the deadline for the competition had to be extended because of the stormy weather and that many of the entries then had bad weather as a theme. “You can get a subject anywhere, so keep your eyes open,” he joked.
He noted the judges had been very impressed with the standard of work.
First place in the senior category was won by Ellen Brogan of Coláiste Muire, while Sarah Flynn of Scoil Mhuire, Ennistymon scooped second.
Sarah said she had spent quite a bit of time on her entry. “It took a few weeks to get it done. When I heard about the competition, I got it finished in time.” She says her favourite author is American John Green and she really enjoyed his novels The Fault In Our Stars and Looking For Alaska.
Sarah is preparing for the Leaving Cert and is considering studying business afterwards but says she will definitely keep up writing fiction as well.
Third place in the senior category was won by Sean Hanrahan of St Joseph’s Secondary School in Spanish Point.
His story, which was written in rhyme, was done in a fairly concentrated period of time. “It took about seven or eight hours over two days,” he said.
Writing fiction in rhyme is hardly an easy task. He said the structure, rather than the plot, came first for him.
“I always intended for it to rhyme, so I suppose the structure [came first], but I wanted it to make sense as well.”
Also facing the Leaving Cert in the coming weeks, he hopes to study medicine at third level.
In the junior section, Aoife Daly from St Anne’s Community College Killaloe returned to the winners circle as she claimed the top prize for the second year-in-a-row.
Inspired by the millennial Brian Ború celebrations, the 13-year-old’s short story I Am is told from the point of view of the banshee, Aoibheall.
Speaking about her winning entry, Aoife said she wanted to put a twist on the classic Brian Ború tale, which has been told and re-told in Killaloe for some months now.
“I was involved in one of the pageants last year and I was the evil banshee. Brian Ború is topical at the moment but I wanted to tell the story from a different point of view,” she said.
Another previous winner in the junior category, Michael McNamara from Rice College, Ennis, took the second prize for his short story entitled Mistaken Identity.
His story centres on a train journey whereby the narrator is confronted with someone he loathes. Michael said he enjoys writing and following a train journey to the All-Ireland hurling final last September, he decided to bring various elements of this journey into his short story.
Fourteen-year-old Róisín O’Donoghue of Mary Immaculate Secondary School in Lisdoonvarna wrote a story inspired by the havoc caused by the weather earlier this year.
Entitled Storm Christine, Róisín said she drew on her own experience of the storm, as she lives close to Lahinch. Told from the perspectives of a photographer, a restaurant owner and surfer, this cleverly-told story netted the second year student this year’s third prize.
The winning stories will follow.