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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.

Before the storm

Brothers Carlos Daniel (left) and Christian Javier (right) from Honduras, their community is frequently impacted by dangerous storms and floods.

2017 competition 

The theme of this year's competition is "Before the Storm", exploring how people prepare for extreme weather events caused by climate change.

Honduras is one of the poorest countries in Central America, with approximately one million households living below the poverty line.

It is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and was the worst-affected country in the world from 1993 to 2014.

During this period of time, at least 65 extreme weather events affected Honduras, including six of the 12 strongest hurricanes of the 20th century.

In October 1998, Honduras was hit by Hurricane Mitch, resulting in more than 10,000 deaths, devastation of the country’s infrastructure and drinking water network, and extensive crop losses.

Working with Trócaire, some of the most vulnerable communities in Honduras are taking action to ensure that they can fight back against the effects of climate change... this is called 'Disaster Risk Reduction', or DRR.

It means making a plan to prepare for the next extreme weather event, to ensure the least amount of damage possible. DRR is what you do to get ready... "before the storm".

An award ceremony for the winners takes place at the end of May 2017 at the National Library of Ireland.

Watch this video from Honduras for more information about how people are preparing for the coming extreme weather events. 

Categories for entry

The competition is FREE to enter and 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.

The 2017 competition opens for entries on Friday 20th January, and closes on Friday 17th March (St Patrick's Day). 


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. Our judges for 2017 are award-winning poet Jane Clarke, Aidan Clifford from the CDETB's Curriculum Development Unit and Trócaire's Trish Groves.

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.