Gaoth Dobhair author in final of Irish Book Awards

GAOTH Dobhair author Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde has been named Love Leabhar Gaeilge Irish Language Book of the Year award winner at the An Post Irish Book Awards for his latest work Cnámh.

Mac Giolla Bhríde previously won athe Prose Work Prize in the 2018 Oireachtas Literature Competition for this collection of short stories.

Speaking to the Donegal News this week, the author admitted that he had been ‘surprised’ to receive a telephone call relaying the good news.


The Irish Book Awards is the annual highlight of the Irish literary calendar but, due to Covid-19, the physical awards didn’t take place last week. Instead, the winners were announced live on the website.

“They rang me beforehand to do an interview and that got me by surprise,” he said.

“It’s a collection of 17 short stories, written in a range of styles but set in modern times. Cnámh has a lot of resonance in the Irish language. It’s connected with both life and death and there’s a lot of Irish sayings that would use the word Cnámh which is the Irish for bone,” he added.

There’s always been a strong tradition in Ireland of short story telling and while Mac Giolla Bhríde mentions reading both O’Flarataigh and Mary Lavin his primary influences came from Russia.

“I fell in love with short stories as a young person when I was reading and exploring literature. Reading short stories by the Russians like Chekhov and even Dostoyevsky really grabbed me. It seemed like they had something more tangible,” he said.

“I also like novels but short stories are my preferred medium. I think a lot can be said through a short story. It’s fast and also usually better written. Sometimes, novels can be wordy and contain a lot of fat whereas, to me anyway, short stories are more concise – more precious even,” he added.

A qualified engineer, Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde is now a full-time writer and publisher.


“There is a rich tradition in West Donegal of Irish language writers with the likes of Michelle Nic Pháidín and Máire Dinny Wren. I have a publishing company called Éabhlóid and we’ve published a number of story story writers – there’s a healthy Irish language scene. We’ve four books coming out before Christmas so we’re very busy at the moment,” he explained.

“The Irish Book Awards is the main literary prize in Ireland. It has prestige and all writers look out for it each year. It also helps people make decisions about what books to read,” he said.

Having worked across both England and Ireland for ten years as an engineer, Eoghan and his partner were settled in Dublin before the pandemic.

“I’m glad I’ve left the theodolite behind me. Ten years looking into holes on building sites convinced me that it wasn’t a career path that I wanted to pursue any longer.

“It’s nice to be able to make a living being creative and writing, full-time, in the Irish language. There was not a lot of room for me to be creative in my previous job. Following blueprints that other people made wasn’t really doing it for me,” he admitted.

Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde is also an acclaimed script writer. Working alongside Patrick Collins he has worked on two films – Silence and Song of Granite – both of which were give world wide releases.

The 2012 feature film ‘Silence’ received its international premier at London International Film Festival in 2013 while ‘Song of Granite’ was the Irish nomination for best Foreign Language Oscar 2018.

“Screen writing is very different as is working on scripts with Pat rather than writing for yourself. It has allowed me to do a different type of writing,” he said.

“We had been based in Dublin but came home at the start of this thing (pandemic). It’s nice to get back home. We hadn’t planned to come this early in our lives but it hasn’t been a bad experience,” he added.

The awards, which were held virtually, also honoured late RTE journalist Keelin Shanley for her memoir A Light That Never Goes Out. This year’s awards attracted a record number of 143,000 votes from the Irish public.

A second Donegal author, Sunday Times journalist Mark Tighe, who is from Convoy, who came together with Paul Rowan to write Champagne Football won the Sports Book of the Year award.









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