Irish Book Awards

Eavan Boland, one of Ireland’s greatest poets, to be honoured with the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2017

November 20, 2017

The Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards is delighted to announce that Irish poet Eavan Boland is the recipient of this year’s ‘Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award’. Eavan will be presented with the award at the annual event in Dublin on Tuesday, November 28th in the presence of celebrated Irish authors representing the very best of Irish fiction, poetry, sport, crime, food, children’s and non-fiction writing.

Eavan Boland will join a host of other distinguished Irish writers and poets in the Irish Book Awards’ Hall of Fame who have received the ‘Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award’. Former recipients include; John Montague, JP Donleavy, Paul Durcan, John Banville, Maeve Binchy, John McGahern, Edna O’ Brien, William Trevor, Nobel prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney and Jennifer Johnston.

Eavan Boland was born in Dublin in 1944. The daughter of a diplomat and a painter, Boland spent her childhood in London and New York, later returning to Ireland to attend secondary school in Killiney and university at Trinity College in Dublin. Her first collection, 23 Poems (1962), was published when she was still a student and her early work was informed by her growing awareness of the troubled role of women in Irish history and culture.

Boland has spoken of the “difficult situation” she experienced as an Irish woman poet: “I began to write in an Ireland where the word ‘woman’ and the word ‘poet’ seemed to be in some sort of magnetic opposition to each other. I couldn’t accept the possibility that the life of the woman would not, or could not, be named in the poetry of my own nation.” Years later during her inaugural Presidential speech of 1990, Mary Robinson quoted the poet approvingly; “I want the women who have felt themselves outside history to be written back into history; in the words of Eavan Boland ‘finding a voice where they found a vision’.

Currently editing Poetry Ireland Review, Eavan Boland recalls “standing in a bookstore in Dublin when I was a young poet – Greene’s in Clare St, or Hodges Figgis perhaps – taking a journal down from the shelf and opening it at a new poem.” Many, many collections later with a hugely distinguished career in academia still flourishing, and her poetry a fixture on the Leaving Cert, Eavan Boland’s sense of wonder and enchantment at the power of poetry remains undimmed.

For her art, for her eloquence and for her stalwart advocacy for poetry, The Board of the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards is proud to honour Eavan Boland as the winner of the 2017 Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award.

A spokesman for the Board of the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards said:

“We cannot think of a more deserving Lifetime Achievement honouree than Eavan Boland. It’s not just that her poetry is internationally acclaimed for its depth and subtlety, but Eavan has been a huge inspiration to women writers in a country that has not always treated them with appropriate respect. She joins our other Lifetime Achievers, Edna O’Brien, Jennifer Johnston and Maeve Binchy in a formidable pantheon of strong independent women writers. We salute her and congratulate her warmly”.

This is the twelfth year of the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards, which are dedicated to honouring Irish writers across the entire publishing spectrum. This year’s shortlist features a diverse array of acclaimed authors and well known Irish personalities including literary heavyweights.

RTÉ Television will be broadcasting highlights of the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards on RTÉ One on Wednesday, 29th November during the primetime slot of 9:30pm. This programme will showcase one of the biggest celebrations of Irish writing, with many of Ireland’s most celebrated and loved authors in attendance.

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