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RT SHORT STORY COMPETITION 2023 WINNERS ANNOUNCED

27/10/2023

RT SHORT STORY COMPETITION 2023 WINNERS ANNOUNCED

MR HOO' BY JOHN O'DONNELL WINS FIRST PRIZE OF 5,000

It's a fabulous thing to read and fall in love with a story Judge, Ferdia MacAnna

TESSA AND VIVIANE' BY JULIE CRUICKSHANK WINS SECOND PRIZE OF 4,000

BREATHE' BY ROBIN LIVINGSTONE WINS THIRD PRIZE OF 3,000

AT SPECIAL LIVE EVENT AND LIVE ON AN ARENA SPECIAL ON RT RADIO 1

www.rte.ie/writing | www.rte.ie/Culture | #rteshortstory

Mr Hoo' by John O'Donnell, an exquisite and touching story about an easily-led, bird-loving young fellow's trip to the dark side - and subsequent redemption, in the words of the judges, has been announced as the winning story in this year's RT Short Story Competition in honour of Francis MacManus. The announcement was made at a special RT Radio 1 Arena RT Short Story Special live programme hosted by Sean Rocks in the Pavillion Theatre Dun Laoghaire and broadcast live on RT Radio 1.

The winning stories were selected by writers Ferdia MacAnna, Kathleen MacMahon and Claire Kilroy.

As winner, John O'Donnell received a cheque for 5,000.

Second Prize went to Tessa and Viviane' by Julie Cruickshank who was presented with a cheque for 4,000, while Third Prize went to Breathe' by Robin Livingstone who was presented with a cheque for 3,000. The seven runners-up received 250 each.

Commenting on this year's judging, Kathleen MacMahon said: Choosing the winner from the richness of the ten stories on the shortlist was daunting, but it was storytelling that prevailed in the end these three came closest to perfection.

Ferdia MacAnna said: This is my second stint as a judge and once again it was a privilege to dive headlong into new work by so many talented writers. It was illuminating to hear the works brought to vivid technicolour life by the reading of talented actors. The 10 shortlisted stories are composed with craft, wry wit, insight, humour and originality as well as fearless storytelling. If there is a theme in these marvellous visions, then in my view it's this: the stories chronicle aspects of LOVE in so many of its shapes and forms. Beautiful, touching, funny, well-crafted visions of imagination and beauty. Long Live Love.'

Claire Kilroy said: It was thought-provoking and fascinating and a thoroughly satisfying experience. As writers, we came to this with different tastes. Yet, when we sat down to judge the written stories, we were unanimous in our verdict, and when we came together a second time to discuss the recorded stories, we were again unanimous. I loved the process because it proved that literary quality shines.

WHAT THE JUDGES SAID ABOUT MR HOO'

Ferdia MacAnna said: This is the work of a talented, visionary writer. The gullible protagonist Bird' is a truly memorable creation. I didn't want this story to finish.

Kathleen MacMahon said: An exquisite story, it had everything I want as a reader. From the little bit of mystery at the beginning (Mr Hoo?) to the lovely voice of the boy and his romantic notions. I enjoyed the raucous wit, the comedy, and the tension. There's depth in the story, when the mother tells him he's a good boy I found that very moving. And of course, it lands with the most beautiful image at the end. A beautiful story of a good lad who seeks flight but gets caged. We all loved this story, so it was easy to choose it as the winner.

Claire Kilroy said: It's exhilarating to see a story built around a metaphor, that of a bird, which is sustained beautifully but never overplayed, and lands in the closing lines with such grace.

WHAT KATHLEEN MacMAHON SAID ABOUT TESSA AND VIVIANE'

This story is brilliantly crafted, taking the mother's life backwards from her first appearance as a very boho corpse, to her final apparition as a little girl untouched by life. The daughter is lost and looking for purpose, but even this is denied by the mother's precipitous death. The daughter's voice is sassy and unsentimental. I loved the mother's voice too, in all its colour. The little details are beautifully observed. The story of a complicated life, it rings gloriously true.

WHAT CLAIRE KILROY SAID ABOUT BREATHE'

This writer has an uncanny ability to alight on details that are so authentic as to put the reader there. He has imagined himself fully into his young protagonist's shoes or his boots, rather, his red Doc Marten boots of which he is so proud. With exceptional pacing, the reader (or listener) is hurtled from the young man's body into his head as he panics on the operating table. In capturing the claustrophobia of a being unable to breathe, the writer captures the claustrophobia of Belfast during the riot years.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS OF THE PRIZEWINNING STORIES

First Prize: Mr Hoo

John O'Donnell is a writer and a lawyer. His work has been published and broadcast in Ireland and abroad. Awards include the Irish National Poetry Prize, and the New Irish Writing Awards for Poetry and Fiction. He has published five poetry collections. His collection of short stories Almost the Same Blue was longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize. Rainbow Baby, a play for radio, was broadcast on RTE's Drama On One and won a prize at the New York Festivals Radio Awards. He lives and works in Dublin.

About the story: John says: Mr Hoo is loosely based on a real case; I still remember the late Professor Nial Osborough recounting the grisly facts to us in First Year Criminal Law. As a kid, the need to belong is overpowering; you'll do nothing your parents ask of you, but you'll do anything for your friends.

Second Prize: Tessa and Viviane

Originally from Galway, Julie Cruickshank lives and works in Dublin. This is her third time to be shortli
LINK: https://about.rte.ie/2023/10/27/rte-short-story-competition-2023-winne...
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