Our Competitions


In view of the extraordinary times in which we are all currently living, Words By Water: Kinsale Literary Festival has decided to make some changes to its annual short story and poetry awards.

Rather than leave the theme open, we invite writers and poets to reflect on the current challenges our society faces and address them in story and poem. The theme remains broad, we leave it up to you to decide if you want to address the Covid-19 outbreak specifically or look at a particular facet such as isolation or the changes the restrictions have wrought in our social structures.

With new norms for everything from how we say goodbye to lost loved ones to how we shop and interact with each other on the street, we think there is huge scope for poets and writers to address the current situation. We will also welcome entries which, rather than looking at life as it is now, imagine how our lives will look in the post-pandemic future.

Competitions for young people

This year, as we are unable to host our outdoor play and other events for young people in our area, we will also hold separate short story competitions for younger writers from Cork. Our U16 competitions will be free for young people to enter, and capped at one entry per entrant.

In addition to the prize of book vouchers and publication in The Echo, we are also hoping to choose a selection of entries for an online compilation, and may publish a physical copy of this collection in the future.

Short Story Competition 2020

Poetry Competition 2020

Short Story Competition 2020 for writers aged 12-16 (Age on August 31 2020)

Short Story Competition 2020 for writers aged 8 – 11 (Age on August 31 2020)

Competition Winners

Short Story

Winner: Cadenza by Rachael Murray

2nd: Coercion Cake by Rhiannon Lewis

3rd: On Edge by David Butler


Judges comments:
General comment on the shortlist
There were so many well-written entertaining, heart-breaking and funny stories in the shortlist that it was very difficult to whittle it down to just three winners. In the end the winning stories were selected as they were both on theme and excellently written.
1. Cadenza
This story is an original and imaginative take on one person’s experience of the post-covid world. Set in the near future, full of mystery and suspense from the outset, the slow release of information creates a reading experience that is both poignant and heart-warming. 
2. Coercion Cake
This is a witty, insightful story in which adult sibling rivalry is brought into focus through different approaches to socialising post-lockdown. The tension between characters is presented with humour using skilfully executed dialogue, internal monologue and vivid scene-setting. 

3. On Edge

It takes great skill to deal with a difficult topic without talking about it directly. This story achieves this to a chilling result for the reader. The dialogue is fantastic and the tension builds brilliantly throughout the story right to the last line.


Winner: Prelapsarian by Partridge Boswell

2nd: To the Barber of Labrraid Loingsech by Niamh Twomey

3rd: Rolling a Cigarette by Daniel Johnson


Irish Poetry

Winner: Cóisir an Taoisigh by Caitriona Lane

2nd: Lasair Choille by David Butler

3rd: Íomhánna an Iarthair by David Butler



Seventy-Two Hours by Sophie Peare

What does the sky know? By Sarah Fitzgerald

Water by Jack Peterson Harrington

Wump’s Killer Wasps V’s The Captains of the Earth by Louie Shortall