originally posted Nov 2008
It was lashing rain when I got off the train in Belfast. I was tempted by the taxis, but thought my euros might take a hit. By the time I reached the Linenhall Library I was soaked to the bone. The librarian and administrator of the award, John Killen, greeted me politely enough, but only 5 seconds of politeness. He was busy with the logistics of the day, and waved me ahead for the tea and sandwiches. At that point I was sure I had not won. They always tell the winner in advance at these kind of things, I told myself.
I was pleased to see a familiar face on the shortlist, Belfast’s Rosemary Jenkinson. She’s a short story writer and playwright with a play coming up next week at the Old Museum Arts Centre, Belfast.
The prize was judged by writer Carlo Gébler and editor Anne Tannahill. The names of the runners-up were announced first. Gébler described the third place story and why he liked it, then called out: “Is Suzanne Walsh here today?” scanning the room left and right.
The same for Margaret Irish (who will be giving a reading in Galway next Thursday.)
When my story title was called out I enjoyed several seconds of secret fame.
Then the photographs and shaking hands began. McLaverty’s daughters and granddaughter were there. I met them again by chance on the train back to Dublin and we had a long chat to shorten the journey.
The story was written in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin when I lived there. You had to leave your coat and bag at the Garderobe. There was a café attached with cheap tea and coffee. This is where I first began to read German.
Here’s the official announcement.