Aingeala Flannery Wins The John McGahern Book Prize

By Olivia Emily

8 months ago

Three Irish writers are recognised for their work

The University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies has revealed the winner of its annual John McGahern Book Prize, which commends Irish writers for their debut work published in the year prior. And the winner is…

Aingeala Flannery Wins The John McGahern Book Prize

Judge Colm Tóibín has named Aingeala Flannery as the winner of the John McGahern Book Prize for works published in 2022 for her novel, The Amusements. Flannery’s debut novel, published by Penguin, will be officially presented on Saturday 7 October 2023 (along with the £5,000 prize) at the Liverpool Literary Festival. Meanwhile, Flannery will read from the winning novel, which was also named the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year 2023 earlier this year.

‘Aingeala Flannery captures domestic scenes and intimate family dramas with an acute eye and a profound sense of sympathy,’ Tóibín says of The Amusements. ‘Some scenes are rendered with brilliant comic timing and gusto; in other scenes, she dramatizes the conflict between generations and between neighbours with insight and flair. She links the stories and the characters with real ingenuity so that a picture emerges not just of a small seaside town on the south coast of Ireland but an entire society in a state of restlessness and flux.’

Congratulations, Aingeala.

What Is The John McGahern Book Prize?

Now in its fourth year, the John McGahern Book Prize awards a £5,000 prize to an Irish writer or writer resident in Ireland for their debut novel or short story collection. Previous winners are Adrian Duncan (Love Notes from a German Building Site; 2019), Hilary Fannin (The Weight of Love; 2020), and Louise Kennedy (The End of the World is a Cul de Sac; 2021). 

This year’s prize will award books published in 2022, judged by: 

  • Professor Dame Janet Beer, the recently retired Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool
  • Frank Shovlin, a Professor of Irish Literature at the University of Liverpool
  • Dr Eleanor Lybeck, a senior literature lecturer at the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool

The Shortlist

With 13 submissions carefully considered by the panel, the three shortlisted books are:

  • The Amusements by Aingeala Flannery
  • Hearts & Bones by Niamh Mulvey
  • Catchlights by Niamh Prior

‘After the success last year of Louise Kennedy’s terrific collection, The End of the World is a Cul de Sac, it was interesting to see short stories and novels indistinguishable from story collections becoming dominant this year,’ Professor Shovlin told the Irish Times.

‘The other clear trend that continues in new Irish fiction is the flourishing of women writers – our shortlist is entirely female, as were 11 of the 13 eligible entries,’ Professor Shovlin added. Recent popular Irish women writers include Sally Rooney, Naoise Dolan and Anna Burns. 

‘We look forward to seeing the final adjudication of our judge Colm Tóibín later this summer and welcoming the winner to read and receive their prize at the Liverpool Literary Festival on the weekend of 6–8 October,’ Professor Shovlin said.

Submissions are now also open for books published in 2023 at