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Annual Poetry Competition

Trócaire’s annual poetry competition, in association with Poetry Ireland, uses the arts to raise awareness about the leading global justice issues of our time. The annual competition is open for entries from mid-January to Easter each year, with an awards ceremony in the National Library of Ireland in May.

winning poets at the 2016 awards event in national library may 2016

Winning poets at the awards event at the National Library of Ireland, Dublin, May 2016

2016 competition 

The theme of this year's competition is Forced to Flee: "This is our exodus"

A great human tragedy continues to unfold in Syria and in the wider Middle East. Over 250,000 people have died in the Syrian conflict, 12 million are homeless and more than 4 million of them are refugees, mostly in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. 

A river of distressed humanity flows into the heart of Europe from this conflict. While the overwhelming European response is to welcome these people, there is also a realisation that something important and irreversible in taking place before our eyes.

It is the strong sense that we can no longer isolate ourselves in our secure and wealthy fortress Europe from the rest of a humanity suffering poverty, war and injustice.

An award ceremony for the winners takes place on Thursday 26th May at the National Library of Ireland.

Download the 2016 booklet of winning entries:

Forced to Flee: "This is our exodus" (PDF booklet)

WATCH: "This is our exodus" a video about the situation faced by refugees entering Europe via the Balkan states.

Categories for entry

The competition is open to young people and adults alike, at all stages in their writing careers. Many published poets have participated in the competition, such as Afric McGlinchey, Dairena Ní Chinnéide, Ann Joyce, Karen O’Connor, Wilma Kenny, Mary Turley-McGrath, Eleanor Hooker, Jane Clarke, Geraldine Mitchell, David Mohan and Breda Joy.

There are six categories in the competition: two for adults and four for children and teens: published and non-published adult poets; first level junior and senior cycle students; and second-level junior and senior cycle students.

Watch this space for details of how to enter the next competition in early 2017.


Over the years, the panel of judges has included well-known, established Irish poets such as Mary Shine Thompson, John F Dean, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Theo Dorgan.

Each year, the winning poems are published in booklet form and presented to the winners at the awards ceremony. The booklets are also distributed at events throughout the year, including poetry readings, Culture Night, literary festivals and schools workshops, ensuring a wide readership.

Education and youth arts

Exploring global justice through art forms such as poetry, performance, music and painting is a fun and creative way to engage young people in complex issues. The competition also connects to the formal schools’ curriculum across many subjects, including Geography and English.

Previous winning entries

Booklets of the winning poems from previous years are available to download here:

2016: Forced to Flee: "This is our exodus" ​

2015: Feeling the Heat

2014: It's up to us

2013: Today's Children, Tomorrow's World

The poetry competition is funded through Trócaire’s Irish Grant Scheme (Mobilising for Justice), which is designed to support community and voluntary organisations in Ireland to take action on global justice issues.